<![CDATA[SASFOR - Terrorism]]>Sun, 14 Feb 2016 14:14:38 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Losing the plotĀ ]]>Sat, 26 Mar 2011 05:47:49 GMThttp://www.sasfor.com/terrorism/losing-the-plot
Ramtanu Maitra
Ramtanu Maitra is a regular columnist with the Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), a news weekly published from Washington DC. He writes columns for Asia Times of Hong Kong, Frontier Post of Peshawar and some other newspapers in Asia on South Asian political economy and Asian security. He has written on terrorism in a number of publications in the United States and India.

Remaining in denial, Washington-based Pakistan experts are contributing to its failure, says Ramtanu Maitra.

Washington, 25 March 2011: With the handover of $2 million-plus in "blood money" to Pakistani relatives of his shootout victims, the controversial Raymond Davis is back in the United States.

While Davis's release has enraged vast numbers of Pakistanis, it has pleased others, including US state department officials and the Pakistan "experts" in Washington.

Think-tank based Pakistan experts are particularly relieved by the Davis settlement, because the unsavory event had put them in a dilemma about who to support and who to condemn.

These pundits that are tied to one or another faction of the American political spectrum find it difficult to keep the party line going vis-a-vis the US-Pakistan relationship: namely, that it is mutually beneficial, substantive, vital, and deep-rooted. 
As a result, they focus on extraneous matters, and contrive to insert Jammu and Kashmir into the debate, to somehow justify the rabid anti-Americanism within Pakistan.

They would like to blame Islamabad for it but the Afghan crisis prevents them.

Meanwhile, the contradictions proliferate and play out. Droning the "bad guys" in Pakistan's tribal areas warring against US and NATO forces finds complete acceptance in the US.

But hitting the Pakistani "terrorists" attacking Jammu and Kashmir does not.

You could categorize this as "talking-heads' license." But more often than not, commentators on US-Pakistan relations mistake the wood for the trees, fixing on one or another aspect of the relationship as if it were the Rosetta Stone.

For example, last November, prior to president Barack Obama's visit to India and other Asian nations, Moeed Yusuf, South Asia adviser at the US Institute of Peace's Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention advanced a disingenuous argument.

Yusuf argued that the Kashmir issue was not only central to improving India-Pakistan relations but US resolution of the J and K dispute would grow America-Pakistan ties.

"While the situation in Afghanistan and the threat emanating from Pakistani Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has preoccupied the international community in recent years, long-term stability in South Asia cannot be achieved unless Indo-Pak normalization becomes reality. Kashmir remains the single most important outstanding issue," Yusuf proclaimed.

"The objective reality in terms of Pakistan's state policy vis-a-vis terrorism in India is difficult to decipher," Yusuf went on in a paper on "U.S.-Pakistan-India". "Pakistan pledges incapacity to eliminate all anti-India groups completely in the short run. This is valid. However, whether incapacity is complemented by lack of will -- as India contends -- is not clear."

"Regardless, what is clear is that Kashmir remains intrinsically linked to acts of terrorism -- it is the outstanding nature of this dispute that allows militant groups in Pakistan to rally and continue operating with a certain amount of legitimacy," Yusuf concluded.

In other words, the US-Pakistan relationship also includes the deal that Washington must impose a resolution of the Kashmir issue on India.

Missing the wood...

In late January, the US Institute for Peace (USIP) held a one-day programme, "The Future of Pakistan," that featured many of the most prominent experts.

Speaking in it, Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution warned that the US must not squander the symbolic value of Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari's expected visit to Washington, and be careful not to bad-mouth him ahead of the trip.

Riedel suggested that Zardari ought to be asked to address a joint session of Congress to make the case for Pakistan. "He can fight for what Pakistan needs," Riedel said.

He also held that Obama's pledge to visit Pakistan was rich with substantive and symbolic value. Riedel said Obama should get out of Islamabad to meet as many Pakistanis as he can.

"This is an enormously important visit," added Riedel. "He needs to connect with the Pakistani people."

It is another matter that the Davis dispute and its prickly resolution have put Obama's visit to Pakistan on long-term "hold".

Another USIP academic, Andrew Wilder, pointed out that money may not be the all-encompassing solution. Since 2001, the US has given Pakistan some $15 billion in American aid, but the US-Pakistani relationship remains weak, at best.

Georgetown University's Christine Fair (a former USIP senior research associate) noted that "It really is important that we think about a new "big idea" for Pakistan."

Fair said that the US and Pakistan actually don't share strategic interests but can build a long-term alliance anyway.

For example, Islamabad does not believe that the US accepts Pakistan as a nuclear state. But if Washington conferred legitimacy on Pakistan's nuclear programme, it could change the dynamic, she argued.

"Putting that out on the table," Fair argued, "creates an enormous space for us to talk about what you, Pakistan, can do to deal with these strategic issues over which we disagree so much."

On the other hand, Brookings Institution's Stephen Cohen focused on Kashmir. "The United States must have its own views on Kashmir. I think we should speak up and talk about this," he said.

Another view is that the Kashmiris themselves must count for more. "For too long the Pakistanis and the Indians have been talking as if the Kashmiris don't exist," says the AtlanticCouncil's Shuja Nawaz. "I see Kashmir as a great opportunity."

Needed: Plain talking

One can begin to get an idea of what these experts are evading from an article by Arnold Zeitlin, "How Pakistan Is Seen by the Washington Think Tanks," that appeared in the Pakistani daily, The News, in February.

Zeitlin served as the first AP bureau chief in Islamabad in 1969 and was a close friend of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Zeitlin pungently wrote, "If Pakistan and the US were a married couple instead of being strategic players (if not partners), counselors would recommend at least a long, trial separation, if not total divorce."

Though not part of the Washington punditocracy, Zeitlin attended the USIP's discussion. He thought it "might have been more realistic to adopt the title used by the Heritage Foundation, which called a conference on Pakistan and the US "Deadly Embrace."

"Washington," observed Zeitlin, "hosts what appears to be an endless fascination that borders on fantasy about the Pakistan-US relationship...Much of the DC hand-wringing about Pakistan often focuses on what the US must do to save its relationship with that benighted country."

"I suspect the nervousness over saving Pakistan is rooted more than 60 years ago when the notorious China lobby of Henry Luce and others branded those Mao-influenced diplomats in the State Department as traitors for losing Chiang Kai-shek's China to Mao Ze-Dong. None now wants the distinction of losing Pakistan, even if Pakistanis are doing a good job of it themselves."

Ramtanu Maitra is South Asia analyst for the Executive Intelligence Review in Washington DC. 

<![CDATA[What Did Abdulmutallab Accomplish?]]>Thu, 21 Jan 2010 10:18:01 GMThttp://www.sasfor.com/terrorism/what-did-abdulmutallab-accomplish
Ramtanu Maitra is a regular columnist with the Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), a news weekly published from Washington DC. He writes columns for Asia Times of Hong Kong, Frontier Post of Peshawar and some other newspapers in Asia on South Asian political economy and Asian security. He has written on terrorism in a number of publications in the United States and India. 

Ramtanu Maitra

The December 25 incident, when the Nigerian-origin student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to blow himself up over the Detroit Airport inside a passenger jet ready to land, has brought back in full fury the fear of murderous al-Qaeda in the American people’s mind. While the mainstream media is busy trashing the nation’s security system, a series of questions bother the mind of attentive observers.

The line of inquiry goes like this: It was certainly a planned operation. He was surely guided by others who helped him to board the aircraft with explosives stitched into his underwear. As it happened, they did not detonate. But why did he wait till the plane was getting ready to land in Detroit instead of trying to blow himself up while the aircraft cabin was fully pressurized? No doubt, a fire and explosion in a fully pressurized cabin at a height of 30,000 feet-plus could cause a lot more mayhem than in a cabin already being de-pressurized. 
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
The question is inevitable: Was this individual, who was working with al-Qaeda in London while was studying there, set up with fake explosives? Is it possible that, whether he knew it or not, Abdulmutallab did not in fact fail? Was his mission “merely” to revive the horrible memories of 9/11 and restore the fear of an omnipotent al-Qaeda to top place in Americans’ jaded memory? Under the circumstances, and reviewing related events and information, one might reasonably answer yes.

The Saudi Similarities

Last August, the Yemen-based al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for an assassination attempt on Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Muhammad bin Nayif, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The unidentified militant, who attacked bin Nayif while pretending to surrender to authorities, used an identical explosive to that carried by Abdulmutallab - and it too, failed to detonate. Although claimed by al-Qaeda as part of their campaign to overthrow the Saudi royal household, the attack in fact did no damage. But it did serve to reinforce the belief among some that Saudi Arabia does not support the extremists. (Why would terrorists attack their benefactors?)

Subsequent information made available by Agence France Presse on Jan. 6 shows that at least two Guantanamo Bay prisoners, among others rehabilitated in a special program in Saudi Arabia following release from detention, have since rejoined the jihadists. These former Guantanamo Bay detainees, Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri and Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, appeared in a threatening al-Qaeda movie earlier this year. According to the report, Said Ali al-Shahri (or al-Shahri) passed through the Saudi “rehabilitation” program for former jihadists before resurfacing with al-Qaeda in Yemen. Some reports indicate that Abdulmutallab was in contact with both these individuals. 

The Saudi rehabilitation program in question is conducted under the aegis of the same Saudi Deputy Interior Minister targetted in the August attack claimed by AQAP. While the world was becoming increasingly frustrated about the Saudi royal household’s continued support for various Islamic jihadists, the so-called assassination attempt against Nayif conveniently bolstered his anti-fundamentalist image. It is obviously necessary to create some credible confusion now and then to prevent public opinion from asking why Muhammad bin Nayif has actually been “vetting” terrorist suspects and placing them back into the terrorist nests.

But what triggered the designed-to-fail attempt by Abdulmutallab? Part of the answer to that question lies in the ongoing war in Afghanistan, where the United States has recently committed another 30,000-plus troops to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” the terrorists functioning there. Another part of the answer lies in the growing frustration among the American people who expected President Obama to scale down the Afghan conflict to save human lives and reduce non-productive expenses which the debt-ridden and economically weakened country can ill-afford.

Yet another part of the answer lies in an attempt to reshape President Obama’s foreign policy which in its first year promoted diplomacy over conflict. The heating up of the Yemen situation, where jihadists have long established a solid base, has pushed President Obama to a corner. Abdulmutallab’s attempt to create mayhem inside a US-bound plane brought the issue to the fore: should we intervene in Yemen, where al-Qaeda has clearly strengthened itself? So far, the president has rejected military intervention. But one does not know if or when he may change his mind on that.

What al-Qaeda could achieve

What is evident though is that the Obama administration is keen to raise the fear level - often a precursor to arbitrary action. Ray McGovern, a retired CIA officer-turned-activist, in his column at the Truthout website, commented on a question and answer session at the White House press briefing following the Abdulmutallab incident. What transpired there indicates how the Obama administration may choose to “use” the incident.

After President Obama briefly addressed the Abdulmutallab incident and wrote “must do better” on the report cards of the national security schoolboys responsible for the near-catastrophe, McGovern notes, he turned the stage over to his counterterrorism guru, John Brennan, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

After listening to the duo’s remarks about channeling “intelligence streams,” fixing “no-fly” lists, deploying “behavior detection officers,” and buying more body-imaging scanners, McGovern reports, the no-nonsense, 89-year-old veteran correspondent Helen Thomas asked why Abdulmutallab did what he did. Here’s the exchange between Thomas and Brennan:

          Thomas: “Why do they want to do us harm? And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why.”

         Brennan: “Al-Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents… They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al-Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he’s (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al-Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death.”

          Thomas: “And you’re saying it’s because of religion?”

       Brennan: “I’m saying it’s because of an al-Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way.”

         Thomas: “Why?”

      Brennan: “I think this is a — long issue, but al-Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”

        Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.”

Brennan’s subterfuge, as pointed out by McGovern, indicates that the Obama administration was simply interested in conveying to the people is that al-Qaeda is back, and the administration is now determined, as much as the Bush administration was, to take measures, whatever is needed, to deal with the threat to ensure protection of the American people.

What preceded Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow himself up over the Detroit Airport was certainly an American system failure, or an oversight, or what President Obama calls “failing to connect the dots.” At the same time, however, we must also acknowledge that the gloss that al-Qaeda had developed as a mighty adversary of the United States had been fading. It is interesting to note that that fading was not only based on the fact that al-Qaeda has not carried out any heinous activity within the United States since 9/11, but also because as many reports indicate, the organization has been systematically decimated by the US military over the last nine years.

Citing an unnamed senior US intelligence official, ABC News journalists Richard Esposito, Matthew Cole and Brian Ross wrote on Dec. 2, 2009, that, according to the best estimate of the intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense, there were approximately 100 al-Qaeda members left in Afghanistan. That relatively small number was part of the intelligence passed on to the White House before President Obama presented his new Af-Pak policy on Dec. 1. There, Obama stated: “Al-Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same number as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border.”

In an October interview with CNN, Obama’s National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones had put the number at “fewer than a hundred.” And during the same month, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., cited “intelligence” in referring to “about a hundred al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.”

Other counter-terror analysts interviewed by ABC News said the actual number of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is less important than their ability to train others in the Taliban and have ideological influence. At a Senate hearing, former CIA Pakistan station chief Bob Grenier testified that al-Qaeda had already been defeated in Afghanistan. “So in terms of in Afghanistan,” asked Sen. John Kerry, “they have been disrupted and dismantled and defeated. They’re not in Afghanistan, correct?” Replied Grenier: “That’s true.”

Was al-Qaeda Weakened?

Almost a year ago, in February 2009, National Public Radio’s Tom Gjelten pointed out in an article posted on the NPR Web site, “US Officials: Al-Qaeda Leadership Cadre ‘Decimated,’” that the “CIA-directed airstrikes against al-Qaeda leaders and facilities in Pakistan over the past six to nine months have been so successful, according to senior US officials, that it is now possible to foresee a ‘complete al-Qaeda defeat’ in the mountainous region along the border with Afghanistan.” In other words, al-Qaeda was not only “disrupted, dismantled and defeated” in Afghanistan, as Bob Grenier pointed out months later in a Senate hearing, but as far back as February 2009, the word was around that the CIA drones had virtually annihilated the al-Qaeda terrorist group hiding along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas as well.

At the time, Gjelten cited another senior US official who noted that the counterattacks by US and NATO forces had resulted in “a significant, significant degradation of al-Qaeda command and control in recent months.” However, other officials interviewed by NPR, who asked not to be identified because of sensitivities surrounding the CIA campaign, were more cautious. They said it is too early to declare victory in the struggle against al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, and they cautioned at the time that a number of the factors that explain the recent successes could still be reversed.

Nevertheless, it was evident that the level of success should not be understated. “In the past, you could take out the No. 3 al-Qaeda leader, and No. 4 just moved up to take his place,” one official said. “Well, if you take out No. 3, No. 4 and then 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, it suddenly becomes a lot more difficult to revive the leadership cadre,” the official told NPR. The US officials interviewed by NPR attributed the success to improved intelligence on al-Qaeda operations in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area, some of it gathered as a result of “human penetration” of the network.

It is somewhat confusing why Obama administration officials claimed as early as February 2009 that the US effort to annihilate al-Qaeda had met with significant success, and then, after the somewhat amateurish attempt by Abdulmutallab to blow up the Northwest Airlines plane, the same administration officials now claim that al-Qaeda is once more an urgent and mortal threat to the United States.

One can, however, see a pattern in this ambiguity. Whether al-Qaeda proper, or a group of anti-US jihadists who have been activated throughout southwest Asia, southeast Asia and Africa, are weaker, or stronger now than before is difficult to determine, since the jihadists were recruited in large numbers, thanks to the money made available by the Saudis and the explosion of opium production in Afghanistan. What was important for the administration was to claim “success.” Such a declaration is not only good for morale, but it also helped convince the US Congress to allocate more funds for the “global war on terror” at a time when the country is undergoing a deep recession. 

President Obama’s decision to send another 30,000-plus troops to Afghanistan raised the war bill there by at least $30 billion to $40 billion annually. Had the administration not made public that it had met with a significant level of success in its war against al-Qaeda, the main enemy of the United States, it is likely that the plan to incur additional expenditure and deploy more troops would have met with more resistance at home.

President Obama’s Afghanistan policy has convinced only a handful that it is viable. Many in the United States are of the view that the president will not be able to accomplish what he has promised there, namely the establishment of a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. It is likely that in the coming days many more Americans will demand that the President develop a better formulation to end this long war and instead increase investments at home to employ more than 20 million Americans who are out of work.

Failure to create jobs for the unemployed Americans and failure to achieve success in the Afghanistan war could surely deal a serious blow to the Obama presidency. But not having a plan that can bring back such a large number of jobs quickly may lose some of its sting in the face of evidence that the American population is again under direct, mortal threat from al-Qaeda and that Americans’ very lives are very much in danger. Therefore, the prime concern of the administration should properly be to make the population safe at home. 

Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt can be seen to have accomplished quite a bit, in this view.

<![CDATA[South Asian Terrorism: All Roads Lead to the British Empire]]>Fri, 20 Mar 2009 04:16:16 GMThttp://www.sasfor.com/terrorism/south-asian-terrorism-all-roads-lead-to-the-british-empire
Ramtanu Maitra is a regular columnist with the Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), a news weekly published from Washington DC. He writes columns for Asia Times of Hong Kong, Frontier Post of Peshawar and some other newspapers in Asia on South Asian political economy and Asian security. He has written on terrorism in a number of publications in the United States and India. 

By Ramtanu Maitra

This is the first part of a two-part series. Next week:“Baluchistan and FATA in Pakistan.”

March 20—The growing violence throughout Pakistan since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in the Winter of 2001, the November 2008 attack on Mumbai, India, and many other smaller terrorist-directed killings in India, and the gruesome killing of at least 70 top Bangladeshi Army officers in a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed last month, were evidence that the terrorists have declared war against the sovereign nation-states in South Asia. The only bright spot in this context is Sri Lanka, where a powerful terrorist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), better known as the Tamil Tigers, are about to lose their home base. That, however, may not end the LTTE terrorism, particularly since it is headquartered in London, where many South Asian terrorists are maintained in separate cages for future use by British intelligence, with the blessings of Her Majesty’s Service.

Since none of the South Asian countries, where the terrorists are gaining ground, have, so far, shown the ability to evaluate, and thus, eliminate, the growth of this terrorism, it is necessary to know its genesis, and how it has affected the leaders of the South Asian nations to the detriment of their respective security. What is evident is that the South Asian terrorism has little to do with territorial disputes among nations, but everything to do with the past British colonial rule which poisoned the minds of the locals, so they have become disloyal to their own countries. 
In this article, we will deal with the terrorism that continues to prosper in India’s northeast; and the terrorism in Sri Lanka, brought about by the British-induced ethnic animosity among its citizens

This history is the narration of a tragedy, since those who fought for independence in these South Asian nations, made enormous sacrifices to bring about their independence; many of those heroic figures turned out to be mental slaves of the British Empire, and pursued relentlessly the policies that the British had implemented to run their degenerate Empire.

India’s Northeast

Six decades after India wrested independence from its colonial rulers, its northeast region is a cauldron of trouble. Located in a highly strategic area, with land contiguous to five countries—Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and China—it is full of militant separatists, who take refuge in the neighboring countries under pressure from Indian security forces. Since most of these neighboring countries do not have the reach to control the border areas, the separatist groups have set up armed training camps, which, over the years, have attracted international drug and gun traffickers. As a result of such unrelenting terrorist actions, and violent demonstrations over the last five decades, this part of India remains today a dangerous place.

These secessionist groups were not created by New Delhi, although New Delhi failed to understand that the promotion of ethnic, sub-ethnic, and tribal identities were policies of the British, who had come to India to expand their empire. The British Empire survived, and then thrived, through identification, within the subcontinent, of various ethnic and sub-ethnic groups and their conflict points; and then, exploited those conflict points to keep the groups divided and hostile to each other.

India and the other South Asian nations failed to comprehend that it was suicidal to allow a degenerate colonial power to pursue such policies against their nations. As a result, they were carried out by New Delhi for two ostensible reasons: One, to appease the militants, and the other, to “allow them to keep” what they wanted— their sub-national ethnic identity. The policy deprived the majority of the people of the Northeast of the justification for identifying themselves as Indians.

The die was cast in the subversion of the sovereignty of an independent India by the British Raj in 1862, when it laid down the law of apartheid, to isolate “the tribal groups.” The British came into the area in the 1820s, following the Burmese conquest of Manipur and parts of Assam. The area had become unstable in the latter part of the 18th Century, following the over-extension of the Burmese-based Ahom kingdom, which reached into Assam. The instability caused by the weakening of the Ahom kingdom prompted the Burmese to move to secure their western flank. But the Burmese action also helped to bring in the British. The British East India Company was lying in wait for the Ahom kingdom to disintegrate.

The Anglo-Burmese War of 1824-26 ended with a British victory. By the terms of the peace treaty signed at Yandaboo on Feb. 24, 1826, the British annexed the whole of lower Assam and parts of upper Assam (now Arunachal Pradesh). The Treaty of Yandaboo provided the British with the foothold they needed to annex Northeast India, launch further campaigns to capture Burma’s vital coastal areas, and gain complete control of the territory from the Andaman Sea to the mouth of the Irrawaddy River. What were London’s motives in this venture? The British claimed that their occupation of the northeast region was required to protect the plains of Assam from “tribal outrages and depredations and to maintain law and order in the sub-mountainous region.”

The ‘Apartheid Law’

Following annexation of Northeast India, the first strategy of the British East India Company toward the area was to set it up as a separate entity. At the outset, British strategy toward Northeast India was:

• to make sure that the tribal people remained separated from the plains people, and the economic interests of the British in the plains were not disturbed;

• to ensure that all tribal aspirations were ruthlessly curbed, by keeping the bogeyman of the plains people dangling in their faces; and,

• to ensure the tribal feudal order remained intact, with the paraphernalia of tribal chiefs and voodoo doctors kept in place. Part of this plan was carried out through the bribing of tribal chiefs with paltry gifts.

Lord Palmerston’s Zoo

The British plan to cordon off the northeast tribal areas was part of its policy of setting up a multicultural human zoo, during the 1850s, under the premiership of Henry Temple, the third Viscount Palmerston. Lord Palmerston, as Henry Temple was called, had three “friends”—the British Foreign Office, the Home Office, and Whitehall.

The apartheid program eliminated the Northeast Frontier Agency from the political map of India, and segregated the tribal population from Assam, as the British had done in southern Africa and would later do in Sudan. By 1875, British intentions became clear, even to those Englishmen who believed that the purpose of Mother England’s intervention in India, and the Northeast in particular, was to improve the conditions of the heathens. In an 1875 intelligence document, one operative wrote: “At this juncture, we find our local officers frankly declaring that our relations with the Nagas could not possibly be on a worse footing than they were then, and that the non-interference policy, which sounds excellent in theory, had utterly failed in practice.”

Apartheid also helped the British to function freely in this closed environment. Soon enough, the British Crown introduced another feature: It allowed Christian missionaries to proselytize among the tribal population and units of the Frontier Constabulary. The Land of the Nagas was identified as “virgin soil” for planting Christianity.

“Among a people so thoroughly primitive, and so independent of religious profession, we might reasonably expect missionary zeal would be most successful,” stated the 1875 document, as quoted in the “Descriptive Account of Assam,” by William Robinson and Angus Hamilton.

Missionaries were also encouraged to open government-aided schools in the Naga Hills. Between 1891 and 1901, the number of native Christians increased 128%. The chief proselytizers were the Welsh Presbyterians, headquartered in Khasi and the Jaintia Hills.

British Baptists were given the franchise of the Mizo (Lushai) and Naga Hills, and the Baptist mission was set up in 1836.

British Mindset Controlled New Delhi

Since India’s Independence in 1947, the Northeast has been split up into smaller and smaller states and autonomous regions. The divisions were made to accommodate the wishes of tribes and ethnic groups which want to assert their sub-national identity, and obtain an area where the diktat of their little coterie is recognized.

New Delhi has yet to comprehend that its policy of accepting and institutionalizing the superficial identities of these ethnic, linguistic, and tribal groups has ensured more irrational demands for even smaller states. Assam has been cut up into many states since Britain’s exit. The autonomous regions of Karbi Anglong, Bodo Autonomous Region, and Meghalaya were all part of pre-independence Assam. Citing the influx of Bengali Muslims since the 1947 formation of East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh in 1971, the locals demand the ouster of these “foreigners” from their soil.

Two terrorist groups in Assam, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic front of Bodoland (NDFB) (set up originally as the Bodo Security Force), are now practically demanding “ethnic cleansing” in their respective areas. To fund their movements, both the ULFA and the NDFB have been trafficking heroin and other narcotics, and indulging in killing sprees against other ethnic groups and against Delhi’s law-and-order machinery. Both these groups have also developed close links with other major guerrilla-terrorist groups operating in the area, including the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Muivah) and the People’s Liberation Army in Manipur. In 1972, Meghalaya was carved out of Assam through a peaceful process. Unfortunately, peace did not last long in this “abode of the clouds.” In 1979, the first violent demonstration against “foreigners” resulted in a number of deaths and arson. The “foreigners” in this case were Bengalis, Marwaris, Biharis, and Nepalis, many of whom had settled in Meghalaya decades ago. By 1990, firebrand groups such as the Federation of Khasi, Jaintia, and Garo People (FKJGP), and the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) came to the fore, ostensibly to uphold the rights of the “hill people” from Khasi, Jaintia, and the Garo hills. Violence erupted in 1979, 1987, 1989, and 1990. The last violent terrorist acts were in 1992.

Similar “anti-foreigner” movements have sprouted up across the Northeast, from Arunachal Pradesh in the East and North, to Sikkim in the West, and Mizoram and Tripura in the South. Along the Myanmar border, the states of Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram remain unstable and extremely porous.

While New Delhi was busy maintaining the status quo in this area by telling the tribal and ethnic groups that India is not going to take away what the British Raj had given to them, Britain picked the Nagas as the most efficient warriors (also, a large number of them had been converted to Christianity by the Welsh missionaries), and began arming and funding them. The British connection to the NSCN existed from the early days of the Naga National Council. Angami Zapu Phizo, the mentor of both factions of the NSCN, had led the charge against the Indian government, spearheading well-organized guerrilla warfare. Phizo left Nagaland hiding in

a coffin. He then turned up in 1963 in Britain, holding a Peruvian passport. It is strongly suspected that the British Baptist Church, which is very powerful in Nagaland, is the contact between British intelligence and the NSCN terrorists operating on the ground at the time.

‘Dirty Bertie’ and the Nagas

Once Phizo arrived in Britain, Lord Bertrand (“Dirty Bertie”) Russell, the atheist, courted Phizo, and became his new friend. Russell was deeply impressed with Phizo’s “earnestness” for a peaceful settlement. What, perhaps, impressed Russell the most is that Phizo had control over the militant Nagas, who had launched a movement in the mid-1950s under the Naga National Council (NNC) to secede from the Indian Republic. In a letter dated Feb. 12, 1963, Sir Bertrand told Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, “I find it hard to understand the difficulty of coming to an agreement which would put an end to the very painful occurrences incidental to the present policy of India.”

It is believed in some circles that New Delhi’s 1964 ceasefire with the Nagas might have been influenced by the letter from Russell that was handed to Nehru by Rev. Michael Scott. Scott later went to Nagaland as part of a peace mission, along with two senior Indian political leaders.

While Russell was pushing Nehru to make the Nagas an independent country through peaceful negotiations, British involvement in direct conflict continued. On Jan. 30, 1992, soldiers of the Assam Rifles arrested two British nationals along the Nagaland-Burma border. David Ward and Stephen Hill posed as members of BBC-TV, and were travelling in jeeps with Naga rebels carrying arms. Subsequent interrogation revealed that both were operatives of Naga Vigil, a U.K.-based group. Both Ward and Hill claimed that they started the organization while in jail, influenced by Phizo’s niece, Rano Soriza. Both have served six-year prison terms for various crimes in Britain. Naga Vigil petitioned for their release in the Guwahti High Court. Phizo’s niece took up the issue with then-Nagaland Chief Minister Vamuzo.

Sri Lanka’s Violent Ethnic Strife

In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tiger terrorist group is in its last throes. Ousted by the Sri Lankan Army from almost all of its “claimed” territories, the militants are now holding on to about 19 square kilometers of land, with about 70,000 Sri Lankan citizens, mostly of Tamil ethnic origin, as their hostages. It is evident that they will be totally routed by the end of this month.

While the U.S. Pacific Command personnel in contact with New Delhi are formulating an evacuation plan for the hostages, London and the European Union are trying to protect the last vestiges of Tiger territory by urging Colombo to work out a cease fire with the terrorists.

The emergence of violent conflict between the Tamil Sri Lankans and the Sinhala Sri Lankans, which gave birth to the London-backed Tamil Tigers, was yet another product of the British colonial legacy. This ethnic conflict, which has engulfed this little island, and unleashed unlimited violence in the region for almost three decades, is, as in the case of Northeast India, due to the British mindset of the Sri Lankan and Indian leaders involved in “resolving “the crisis.

To begin with, Sri Lanka (then, Ceylon) had the misfortune to be colonized by three brutal European colonial powers—the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British. Nonetheless, it is to the credit of the locals that they withstood these brutes and prevented the break-up of the country.

After the Dutch ceded Sri Lanka in the 1801 Peace of Amiens, it became Britain’s first crown colony. Immediately, the British colonials started setting up the chess pieces. The ruling Kandyan King, of Tamil ancestry, was ousted with the help of local chieftains of Tamil and Sinhala origin. The coup set up the British crown as the new King.

As part of the “divide and rule” policy, the British colonials promoted the Buddhist religion, resulting in the 1817 Uva rebellion. The Buddhist religion was given protection by the Crown, and the people were told that Christianity would not be imposed on the unwilling masses as had happened during Portuguese and Dutch rule. Following the quelling of the rebellion, the British did what they do best: They carried out one of the worst massacres of the 19th Century, wiping out all able-bodied Sinhalese men from the Hill Country, and 80% of the native population of able-bodied, according to one report. The Kandyan Kingdom was the kingdom of both the Tamils and Sinhalas—both these groups came from India to settle on that island.

One specific impact of the British colonial presence was the emergence of English as the local language, undermining both the Sinhala and Tamil languages. According to one historian, the two most important effects observed during British rule were: one, by the start of 20th Century, the English language became the passport to getting employment; and those who had an English education became dominant in Britain’s handcrafted Sri Lankan society. Due to input of the Christian missionaries, more minority Tamils could read and write English, as opposed to the southern Sinhalese and Kandyan Sinhalese.

The other observed impact on Sri Lankan society of British colonial rule, was the reconstituting of the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly of 1921 had 12 Sinhalese and 10 non-Sinhalese, at a time when the Sinhalese constituted more than 70% of the population. Things changed in 1931, when, out of 61 seats, the Sinhalese won 38. This troubled the Tamils, because they had had special privileges under British, and never wanted to accept the dominance of the Sinhalese majority.

In addition, the British also brought to the island a million workers of Tamil ethnic background from Tamil Nadu, and made them indentured laborers in the Hill Country. This was in addition to the million Tamils already living in the provinces, and another million Mappilla Muslims, whose mother tongue is Tamil. Thus, the British sowed seeds of ethnic discord. During the colonial rule, the minority Tamils had a disproportionate representation in the bureaucracy.

The Role of British Assets in Independent Sri Lanka

However, when in 1948, the British finally left the island, they left behind their assets, in powerful places, many of whom were educated at Oxford-Cambridge, and some of whom had adopted Christianity, on both sides of the ethnic divide London had so carefully created.

Instead of seizing the opportunity to build the nation and set about undoing the misdeeds they were forced to carry out under British rule, beginning in the 1950s, Sinhalese-dominated governments implemented public policies that would institutionalize the majority community’s dominance. Sinhala was declared to be the country’s sole official language; Buddhism was favored as the state religion; and the unitary nature of the state ensured Sinhalese political domination. Major Sinhalese-Tamil riots in 1956, 1981, and 1983 further heightened Tamil insecurities.

Meanwhile, the Tamils began to press for autonomy. Political parties, such as the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), utilized conventional means, which included participating in coalition governments. Militant Tamils, the LTTE, sought the creation of an independent Tamil state, referred to as Tamil Eelam, which would comprise the North and East of the country.

Throughout the 1980s, various Tamil rebel groups engaged in attacks against the Colombo government and its security apparatus. However, the situation worsened on that island because of the British mindset of New Delhi, which made a number of attempts to intervene in the violent Sri Lankan situation. Besides helping the Tamils to get armed training and intelligence, New Delhi, under late-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, deployed around 50,000 Indian peacekeepers (IPKF) in Tamil areas in Sri Lanka to help ensure peace. In return, the Sri Lankan government agreed to devolve power to the North and East through the creation of autonomous provincial councils.

Neither Colombo nor the Tamil militants were sincere about the deal; both were looking at the Indian troops as the barriers against their independent state. The failure of the Indian intervention led to more deaths and the assassination of Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, and India’s Rajiv Gandhi, among many other high-level Sri Lankan officials, by the terrorist Tamil Tigers.

London: Break Up India into 100 Hong Kongs

But, the British were in the middle of all this. Besides the fact that the LTTE was headquartered in London, and raising most of its illegitimate funds from Britain and its former colonies in Australia, South Africa, and Canada, within ten days of Gandhi’s death, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, who would be assassinated by the LTTE in May 1993, forced the hasty departure from Sri Lanka of British High Commissioner David Gladstone. The charge was that Gladstone, a descendant of the Victorian-age Prime Minister William Gladstone, was interfering in local election politics. But he had also been criticized earlier for allegedly meeting with known drug traffickers in Sri Lanka. Gladstone, who had previously spent years in the Middle East, was a known British intelligence link to the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad, which was involved in training both the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the LTTE.

Britain’s continuing intent to break up India was also expressed openly in this political context. On May 26, 1991, only five days after the British-controlled LTTE-led assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the Times of London, the premier voice for the British Foreign Office, put forward this view in an editorial entitled “Home Truths”: “There are so many lessons to be learnt from sorrowing India, and most are being muttered too politely. The over-huge federation of almost 900 million people spreads across too many languages, cultures, religions, and castes. It has three times as many often incompatible and thus resentful people as the Soviet Union, which now faces the same bloody strains and ignored solutions as India. . . .

“The way forward for India, as for the Soviet Union, will be to say a great prize can go to any States and sub-States that maintain order without murders and riots. They should be allowed to disregard Delhi’s corrupt licensing restrictions, run their own economic policies, and bring in as much foreign investment and as many free-market principles as they like. Maybe India’s richest course from the beginning would have been to split into 100 Hong Kongs.”

<![CDATA[America's War on Terrorism and Chinese Strategy]]>Thu, 28 Feb 2002 10:41:27 GMThttp://www.sasfor.com/terrorism/americas-war-on-terrorism-and-chinese-strategy
Brig. Vijai K Nair (Retd)
Brig. Vijai K Nair (Retd). Dr. Nair an M Sc. in Defence Studies and a Ph. D. in Political Science. He specializes in Nuclear Strategy formulation and nuclear arms control negotiations. He has considerable experience on issues related to NPT, CTBT and FMCT.  Dr. Nair is currently revising the nuclear strategy for India [in keeping with nuclear transience] suggested in his book “Nuclear India.” Besides two tenures of combat duty, in service experience includes being a Member Army Experts Committee - 1989-90; Core staff officer to the Committee on Defence Expenditure 1990.
He is the Life Trustee of the Forum for Strategic & Security Studies; and, Managing Director, Magoo Strategic Infotech Pvt Ltd.  An information service providing daily news updates and analyses on “Nuclear Agenda’s”. 

This analysis 
by Brig. Vijai K Nair originally published in "China Brief" by The Jamestown Foundation . China Brief Volume: 2 Issue: 5 [February 28, 2002].

By Brig. Vijai K. Nair (Retd)

Directly and indirectly, America's war on terrorism challenges China's strategy to gain influence in the Central and South Asian region. This strategy was born of the need to adopt a generally more assertive foreign policy following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the fact that activism in Central Asia did not immediately confront the interests of Russia or America. But it remains to be seen which options Beijing will use to reassert its influence there.

Beijing's long-term national objective is to match and eventually surpass American global power, both politically and economically. It takes into account the asymmetry of capabilities and the need for a graduated approach in a world where American primacy is well established. As early as the mid-1980s, China recognized that the existing environment precluded extending its political influence to its east and north (areas of singular and vital interest to the United States and Russia). This limited it to its western and southwestern flanks, where the influence of the premier powers was at best tenuous.


Beijing conceived a "West-bound strategy" as phase one of its efforts to incorporate states into its sphere of influence. External interference was to be kept to a minimum by focusing Washington on the East while insidiously gaining a foothold in the West.

The only serious obstacle to this strategy is the American presence and strategic interests in the Middle East, and, to a lesser extent, the geostrategic location of its perceived rival India. The main issue--that is, the United States--was tackled by diverting U.S. attention to the east (highly visible military maneuvers posited as a threat to Taiwan). 
The India problem was dealt by encircling Myanmar to the east and Pakistan to the west, enhancing the strategic infrastructure in Tibet, encouraging the Maoist movement in India (through its ally the Pakistan ISI) and securing a hinterland to the Indian Ocean with "in-theatre" ports for its maritime forces.

China banked heavily on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) it formed in 1996 and 1997 [1] as the instrument through which it would be able to project its influence and power in Central Asia. That region would, it hoped, be a source of much-needed strategic energy resources, a buffer for sensitive Xinjiang province and a launch pad for its larger strategic aspirations in West Asia. It had actively sought to build its military influence in a number of countries through questionable arms deals--the sale of missiles to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Syria, for example, and nuclear weapons related technology, materials and equipment to Pakistan.


In strategic terms, the infusion of American presence in to Central Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan has seriously upset China's security calculus on which its West-bound strategy is predicated. The importance of this became apparent when Beijing warned Washington that China's stakes in Pakistan were as high as America's stakes in Israel. Its political, military and economic investment in Pakistan over the last two decades has been many times the magnitude of its efforts to bring Taiwan into the fold.

Unfortunately for Beijing, Pakistan's dire economic straits made it necessary for China to take a greater stake in developing Pakistan's Indian Ocean port of Gwadar, which could provide access for China's navy in the future. China has also had to take bigger risks in facilitating Pakistan's proliferation efforts, such as continuing its assistance to the long-range Shaheen II missile program. September 11 caught China off guard. It had not yet gotten all the elements of its West-bound strategy in place. The SCO had not congealed sufficiently to provide a suitable base in the Central Asian States. Furthermore, its efforts to assist Pakistan, and thereby itself, in acquiring a meaningful economic hold over Afghanistan were at an incipient stage.

The Chinese leadership is reported to have viewed this "as the most significant shift in the global balance with dangerous implications for China's world standing and its interests in Central and Southwest Asia."

With Pakistan caving in to American demands, China's position in the region has unraveled. In September, China substantially beefed up its forces along the Afghanistan-Xinjiang border along the Wakhan Corridor. Government sources in Delhi suggest that these military assets crossed over the Khunjerab Pass and deployed in the Hunza regions of Pakistan astride the Karakoram highway. The importance of this deployment was underscored by a visit from senior leaders of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Military Commission to the China-Afghan border. [2]

Beijing has major stakes in the war against terrorism. It has clearly enunciated that Pakistan is as central to its national security interests as Israel is to Washington. This, with its diminished leverage in Islamabad, could very well be the driving force that induced the United States to take Pakistan on board the coalition effort against terrorism. If so, a closer look at the possible postwar scenarios--in which a firm and enduring U.S. commitment becomes a prerequisite to keep Pakistan out of the Chinese strategic ambit and its implications for India--is called for. India must carry out its own independent assessment and develop an appropriate "hedge" ... now. In such a scenario the levels of trust and confidence necessary for a cooperative relationship are likely to be the first casualties.

"Geopolitically, America's prolonged stay might add to China's concerns. Beijing would certainly not like the United States to establish bases in South or Central Asia. A U.S. base in Uzbekistan, for instance, would not be in China's strategic interests." [3]

Chinese leadership's skepticism of American presence in Pakistan would be increased by the possibility that Washington may gather additional evidence of Chinese collusion in Pakistan's nuclear program, and that such information may reveal new details about China's own.

With America intending to maintain a military presence at the bases provided by Musharraf at Karachi, Jacobabad, Dalbandin and Pasni in proximity of the Gwadar port project, it is clear that Washington does not intend to withdraw its forces without achieving its objectives--whatever they may be. As such, we can expect to see a conflict of interests developing within the Pakistani military establishment between the pro-China and pro-U.S. factions. China can be expected to fuel this dissension in its efforts to regain lost ground.

U.S. interests in Afghanistan are governed by many factors. These include "its mineral wealth; oil reserves of the Central Asian Republics; containing China from a hitherto open flank; keeping Russia and the Central Asian Republics under close watch and extending its political influence in the region under the guise of the war on terrorism." [4] Each of which is, of course, antipathetic to China's grand strategy.


Beijing is unlikely to be complacent about the denigration of its strategic interests and can be expected to employ all means at its disposal--political, economic and military--to ward of being contained from what it considered its open flank. Among its options: undermine U.S. capacities to maintain a military presence in the region by encouraging subversive activity [5]; confront America in Pakistan using its missile diplomacy (perfected along the Pacific Rim); undercut the tenuous linkages being established between Russia and the United States; switch the thrust of its strategy through Myanmar and the Bay of Bengal; put forward its plans to confront India by increasing its military to military cooperation with Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka while unleashing subversive elements in India; increase its influence in the Central Asian states through clever application of the SCO; and so on. We can expect to see a combination of all these options in some form or the other.

As a starter, Chinese forces released at the close of the border dispute with Russia have been moved into the region and are subordinated to the People's Armed Police and sent South to Xinjiang and Tibet. [6] More recently, China has started making military noises opposite Sikkim and Arunachal in North East India [7] where it professes territorial claims and refuses to recognize India's sovereignty over Sikkim. China's military recently sent arms shipments to Burma, highlighting efforts by the People's Liberation Army to back the ruling military junta there. [8] Government sources in Delhi indicate that Chinese nuclear technicians, under PLA protection, were sent to Afghanistan to remove evidence of radiological materials that could have been traced back to Beijing. This suggests a far deeper Sino-Pak collusion in the proliferation of WMDs than has been reported earlier.

The Sino-U.S. relationship is undergoing a phase of turbulence suggesting major upheavals in the Asian security environment. There are clear indications that all the States in the South Asia region are being drawn into the vortex of the whirlpool started by the U.S. war on terrorism. The short-, mid- and long-term ramifications on India's security are significant. As the predominant regional power it must plan for and contribute to stability in the region both during and after the war of terrorism. The compatibility of the larger interests of both the United States and India are of an extraordinarily high order. If exploited properly, they can be used to shape close ties between the two democracies. Are we doing enough and are we getting it right?


1 BBC World: Monitoring. "Five Countries Sign Central Asian Security Agreement" July 4, 1998.

2 "China's 'Green Corridor.'" October 12, 2001 Geostrategy Direct. Com. East West Services.

3 Ayesha Siddiqa-AghaOpinion: Presenting Pakistan In Negative Light. The DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2001.

4 Lt. Gen. [Ret.] Khalid Mahmud Arif. Opinion: Power Game In Hindukush. The DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2001.

5 Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough. The Washington Times, December 21, 2001. 'Inside The Ring--Notes From The Pentagon--China-Al Qaeda Nexus.'

6 Geostrategy Direct. Week of December 4, 2001.

7 Pakistan News Service [PNS]. China Moves Troops To Diffuse Indian War Threat. Lahore, December 27, 2001.

8 Geostrategy-Direct, January 1, 2002. 'China Ships Arms To Burma.'