Tuesday, March 9th, 2021 16:32:15

Tentacles of Terror De-radicalisation to combat terrorism

By Syed Wajid
Updated: February 15, 2021 7:55 pm

Terrorism a word too loaded with the gravest security threats to mankind. It is a seriously daunting challenge to deal with terror for its elusive and diffused nature. The whole world understands the underlying  meaning with its core message to the world. Terrorism has had a gory saga since 1980 with close to 7000 incidents in which it claimed more than 5000 lives.  The U.S. department of State defines the word terrorism as premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups intended to wreak havoc among the civilians and the government as a whole. This solely aims to hit tourism that generates employment and collects substantial revenues for the government. The attacks on September 11, 2001 on the WTC (World Trade Centre) and the Pentagon in America proved that terrorism is a serious problem for the whole world. The civilian airliners  loaded with fuel and the passengers became the weapons used in the assaults. That caused a colossal damage with as many causalities on the ground as ever known to the history of terrorism.  26/11 Mumbai attack killing many left an indelible mark on millions of minds in the country.

 

The terror modules galore

Terrorist sabotage in Algeria targeting women and children was executed. A truck-bomb stormed US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, Tanzania and Dar-es-Salaam.  The first major suicide terror attack in the Middle East was in December 1981 where an Iraqi embassy was destroyed  in Beirut killing 27.  Even Pakistan, believed to fund terrorism, fell victim to the satanic design when on December 16, 2014 six-gunners affiliated to Tehreek-i-Taliban carried out a terror attack on Army Public School in the city of Peshawar that massacred more than 100 children. It was intended to retaliate against Operation  Zarb-e-Azb.

The factors cited for triggering terror are poverty, unemployment, civil strife, human rights abuses, injustices, political disturbances, economic unrest,  financial insecurity, marginalization and radicalization. Terrorism has surfaced with emergence of AQ (Al- Queda) and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), Jihadi Terrorism with strong and deep roots in the theological discourse used to radicalize a potential terrorist either through the way of internet; online or personal interaction. India and other South Asian nations are going through a different kind of radicalization that happens in the remote rural and urban areas of India through Tablighi  and Wahhabi missionaries. As it has been seen that radicalization leads to extremism and terrorism. Al Queda, ISIS, HM (Hizbul Mujahideen), IM (Indian Mujahideen) and LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) are believed to be outcomes of radicalization. Some AQ affiliated militants outfits are JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammad) Afghan Taliban, TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan)  backed by Pakistan, HuJI (Harkat-ul-Jihad al- Islami, Pakistan and Bangladesh), HuM (Harkat-ul-Mujahideen) and LeT from J&K.

Let’s take a quick look at the Kashmir in the 80s and post the death of  Sheikh Abdullah (Sher-e-Kashmir) in 1982.

Terrorism as seen in the valley  based on extremism, radicalism, fanaticism, separatism and activism targeted liberation of their society from the oppressor which surfaced with the weapons of communal hatred, religious frenzy, separatist tendency and later on they picked the guns against the government.  Terrorist violence is aimed at  achieving the disengagement of Jammu and Kashmir from India and its annexation to Pakistan.  This is the terrorists’ commitment to the extermination and subjugation of the Hindus as they do not want separation from India.   In Kashmir, Islam, an identity, had existed for more than seven centuries and by its inherent nature and its fundamental presence in the socio-political and cultural aspect was a fact, broadly considered. It is believed that the valley had extremism, forced conversion and bigotry in the colonial area. Islam in Kashmir was different than the one in other states and south Asian countries for the fact it was tolerant, liberal and accommodative.  Besides, the relation on the line of two major faiths was cordial; both the  communities took an active part in celebrations and festivals whether it be Amarnath Yatra or celebration at Charar-e-Sharif. They shared the common rituals and customs in marriages that were also a strong bond between the two of them to maintain a healthy relation. The valley never witnessed communal riots or the destruction of Hindu temples; however, internally, the separatist movement had long been brewing within the state.  After the death of Sheikh Abdullah in 1982, the mistrust stemming from political developments began to stir and that was between Kashmir and Indian establishments. Pakistan unleashed a proxy war in Kashmir and there came a massive influx of Mujahideen fighters trained, financed and funded by Pakistan and America.  The separatist and extremist forced the lakhs of Kashmiri pundits (an educated peace-loving minority class) to leave their own homes in the 199os.

Looking back on the year 1989, a widespread armed insurgency started in the valley of Kashmir which continued till abrogation of Article 370 by the Modi run NDA  government as the valley is quite peaceful with no unrest as stated by the Central  Home Minister Amit Shah.

A good number of Afghan Mujahideen entered Kashmir following the end of the Soviet-Afghan war until 1992. After that, JKLF  (Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front) was started by Yasin Malik with Ashfaq Majid Wani and Farooq Ahmed Dar this is how militancy in the valley started.

This sanctity of Kashmiriyat was then replaced by extremism. Later on, the hardliner religious and fundamentalist organizations like JAH(Jamiyat Ahle-Hadith),  JeL (Jamat-e-Isllami), Hurriyat Conference, TJ (Tablighi Jamaat), TuM (Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen), HM (Hizbul Mujahideen), LeT (Lashkar-e-Toiba), JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammad) and many other such outfits took root. Whereas transitional terrorist groups like Al Queda and ISIS were controlled by ISI, (Inter-Services Intelligence). Earlier on,  JKLF started by Yasin Malik was replaced by HM, Islamic in its proclamations.  LeT  was inspired by Wahhabis and JeM by Deobandi. Many terrorists active in Kashmir received training in the same Muslim seminaries (madrasas) where Taliban and Al-Queda fighters studied, their connections with AQ cannot be ruled out. It is believed that Fazlur Rehman Khalil, leader of Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, a militant outfit signed Al-Queda’s 1998 declaration of holy war, designed to attack all Americans and their allies. Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar many times travelled to Afghanistan and met Osama-bin-Laden, AQ chief for funding the organization to execute ‘work’. Later on, AQ established a wing in Kashmir, as a source says.

Over a period of some years, LeT has split into two factions Al Mansurin and Al Nasirin; another new group has emerged SKM (Save Kashmir Movement). HuM formely known as Harkat-ul-Ansar and LeT are being operated from Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. Many other groups are running in Kashmir, but Al-Badr is quite active. Jaish and Lashkar are the members of UJC (United Jihad Council).  JeM is believed to have attacked J&K state assembly in Srinagar in October 2001. It also hijacked IA Flight IC 814 to Kandhar and bartered for Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of the organization lodged in Tihar, Delhi, who was released in exchange for freeing the plane with passengers on board.

Religion plays a pivotal role in radicalization in the Muslim community that alters the trajectory into extremism that leads to terror acts. As a matter of fact, no religion talks of blood spill. An individual who joins a militant organization is given rigorous training in religious studies that dispels the very fear of death once brainwashed, mentally and psychologically groomed, they with the strength of faith do not get frightened of anything or anyone. This brainwash kills the guilt feeling of committing a brutal massacre of the innocent people. They defy death: an inevitable end, which must come to all. However, afterlife in Islam, death can be given to understand as an investment for a reward of Heaven, Jannat the concept of getting all those desired objects after sacrifice in the name of religion. Moreover, Kashmir worships tombs and shrines. The militant’s family is respected and revered after his death, termed martyr by them.  Moreover, they have no regret of losing a son from the family; they celebrate his death as a holy service for the cause of religion instead.

Stone-pelting is the basic of serving God as  stoning a Satan is believed  to be a holy practice, which hit the headlines during the recent unrest in the valley.  As a source reveals,  Hurriyat leader Masarrat Alam distributed in schools CDs showing the Palestines throwing stones at the Israeli forces, that teach Intifida (an Arabic word means tremor: the word came from the Palestine uprising against the Israeli occupying Gaza, the first lasted from 1987 to 1993, the second began in 2000) through stone-pelting, a pious practice satisfying religious whims.

The Kashmir valley rose to the worst of militancy after Burhan Wani was killed in a police encounter. Young men joined militancy groups or terror tanzeems to retaliate. More recruitments were made capitalizing on funerals like those of Wani and others’.

COMBATING TERROR

Counter terrorism can be devised through de-radicalization of those either arrested  or detained over a period of time. Make sure that once released they do not get lured back to the same track of  jihad. There must be programmes to impart knowledge and dire consequences  of being a terrorist.  As seen, the counter-terrorism efforts eroded Al Queda’s strength in countries like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq and in Indian sub-continent. Muslims Indians reportedly joined ISIS in the Middle East. At home, de-radicalization can be instrumental in holding a dialogue with religious clerics like Imams. Islamic scholars and sufi preachers can disseminate the message by which radicals can be reformed.

Art therapy, sports, religious education, vocational training at madrasa can help de-radicalize. Rehab the detainees with work and employment. Fear and humiliation at times lead to jihad, workshop classes should be held for the radicals to help them restore their self-esteem. Motivational speakers can encourage prisoners to integrate into society after release.

A terror in any shape poses a threat to the world as a whole. It is a syndrome going viral leaving no nation unaffected. There are dozens of sanguinary deeds that have stained and marred the history with their sinister doings; too tyrannical are the ones that hit India with a nasty blow. The wounds born out of terror are still oozing fresh blood, the wounds have refused to heal, and the wounds are utterly carcinogenic.

 

TERROR  ATTACKS

March 12,1993 Mumbai, (the then Bombay) serial blasts that too led to a terror module is an indelible scar;  then 26 November 2008 as we all know 26/11 that claimed 166 lives including 52 at CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji  Terminus) this terror attack was the deadly ever on India. The emotionless and unfeeling Ajmal Kasab with a devilish grin went about spraying bullets with an assault rifle he carried along. He went berserk: he even shot at a dog when he found nobody to kill at the platform. The station had to be evacuated from the rear end of platform number 1 otherwise; the toll would have gone up even higher.

Time and time again, the Capital city of Delhi has been a favourite on the hit-list of the militant outfits as the history behind many such terror strikes indicates.

December 13, 2001 parliament attack, in which 5  heavily armed militants of LeT  and Jaish-e-Mohammad, Pak based organizations, barged into the Parliament and executed the dastardly attack.

Prof Geelani was arrested but later acquitted by Delhi High Court in October 2003; the verdict was upheld by the apex court in 2005.  This attack claimed 14 lives including 5 terrorists, 6 Delhi Police personnel, 2 parliament security service personnel and a gardener.

Afzal guru, a Kashmiri separatist, was convicted and hanged on February 9, 2013 in Tihar prison complex.

Another barbaric act, which bloodied the history, was at Delhi’s Red Fort on December 22, 2000 in which 3 were killed including 2 Army personnel and 18 were injured.

A joint operation by Special Cell and Gujarat ATS arrested an LeT suspect, Bilal Ahmed Kawa, at Delhi airport. He was granted bail, while others were either acquitted or discharged.  A source says that 29.5 lakh was funded for this attack. In this, 6 LeT operatives were convicted by Indian courts.

The terror struck Delhi High court on the morning of September 7, 2011. In which 11 were killed and 80 injured.

Harkat- ul-Jihad executed this attack intending  to revenge on the death penalty awarded to Afzal Guru. A briefcase filled with explosives was kept in the reception area, outside gate number 5.

Besides, the 13 September 2008 Delhi bombings were a series of five synchronized bomb explosions that went off in quick succession within a span of few minutes on Saturday, 13 September 2008 across the city. The first bomb exploded around 6 in the evening and the rest other four blasts followed thereafter resulted in killing 20 people and injuring close to 100.

Delhi High court, Parliament and Red Fort attacks have tarred the secular fabric of the country. Jaipur was also stormed in the same year, May 13, 2008 when bomb attacks rocked the pink city. The series of nine blasts (tenth was diffused) over a span of 15 minutes claimed 63 lives, and injured 216, IM masterminded the blast. Even the cyber city of Bangalore was not spared; a series of nine bomb blasts went off on July 25, 2008 in which 2 were reported dead with 20 wounded. On July 26, 2008 in Ahmadabad, a spurt of 21 blasts within a span of 70 minutes killed 58 people and injured over 200. The IM claimed the responsibility for the bombings through an email sent to Indian media and declared “open war” against India in retaliation for what it said were 60 years of Muslim persecution and the country’s support for United States’ policies, most notably the war in Afghanistan.  One national daily reported that either the banned organization SIMI or the militant organization LeT could be behind the blasts in Bangalore, similar to  what happened in the Jaipur case, after the Ahmadabad blasts, several TV channels reported that they received e-mails from the Indian Mujahideen claiming the responsibility for the terror attacks.

Police say that the Indian Mujahideen is an offshoot of the banned  SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), but allege that local Muslims are given training and backing from militant groups in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh and above all sleeper cells are active in different parts of the Indian territory. A sleeper cell refers to a cell:  a group of agents that remains silent or inconspicuously  stays dormant until it receives orders to act. An operative who infiltrates society or even the government of a targeted country stays dormant till it gets activated by a prearranged signal by their  akaas (masters) for an act of espionage, terrorism or sabotage.

Delhi Blasts: Five blasts were executed within a span of half an hour in busy markets of the city whereas four bombs were defused.

The first blast took place at 6 in the evening at Ghaffar market (a municipal market along a stretch of Ajmal Khan Road) in which at least 20 people were injured. They were rushed to the nearby Ram Manohar Lohia hospital. The explosive was kept near a car, which resulted in a cylinder blast in a TSR which was subsequently thrown up several feet into the air.

Immediately after this, two explosions took place in the heart of the city Connaught Place in which at least 10 people were injured. The police and witnesses said that the bombs went off in dustbins in and around Connaught Place, a shopping and dining area popular with tourists and locals in the centre of the city. The first of these blasts occurred on Barakhamba Road, near Nirmal Tower and Gopal Das Bhavan at 6:34 pm. A minute later, the second bomb exploded in the newly constructed Central Park in the centre of the Connaught Place roundabout, built above one of the main stations of the Delhi Metro. Someone spotted two men place the bomb in a dustbin at Central Park. Subsequently, two explosions rocked M-Block market in GK 1, the first near the popular Prince Paan Corner, and the other near a Levi’s showroom.

Preliminary examination of the blast site said that low intensity ammonium nitrate tied to integrated circuits with timer devices had been used in almost all the serial blasts.

Four bombs were also defused – the first one at  India Gate, the second outside Regal Cinema in Connaught Place, the third in Connaught Place, and the fourth on Parliament Street.

On the evening of 13 September 2008, IBN  TV 18 Network reported at least 30 deaths and over 100 injured.

The Bangalore, Ahmadabad and Delhi Bombings, Intelligence officials had intercepted a call made “from across the border” claiming “Operation BAD is successful”.

Two persons were detained from the CP (Connaught Place) area in Delhi soon after the blasts. Delhi Police said an 11-year-old boy had claimed to have seen the perpetrators; he informed the police that the suspects, clad in black kurta-pyjamas, were seen placing bags in a dustbin. The Delhi Police soon, within three hours of the blast, arrested another person who the police suspected to be the mastermind of the blast.

Preliminary investigation by the police revealed that Indian Mujahideen-SIMI cell led by Abdul Subhan Qureshi aka Tauqeer with an information technology background from Mumbai, to have been involved in the attack. Another person named Qayamuddin was also under investigation. Four more people were detained and questioned then.

Friday, on the morning of 19 September, Delhi’s Batla House, Jamia, the most media hyped encounter, probed by the NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) shook the city, in which Delhi Police shot dead two persons, thought to be suspects of IM, hiding camouflaged  in L-18 block of Jamia Nagar, Delhi, a hangout of students at JMI (Jamia Milia Islamia). Two others suspects were arrested while one managed to escape. Bashir alias Atif, believed to be the mastermind was one of the two killed. Delhi Police’s sharp shooter attached with Special Cell Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma got injured in the encounter, succumbed to his injuries soon after he was rushed to the nearby Holy Family hospital. He was credited with helping to have killed 35 terror suspects, 85 arrests and also the winner of 75-odd encounters, 150 medals and seven gallantry awards. The intelligence team said that the arrested accused allegedly had links with Dubai or any other link with the underworld don Dawood Kaskar Ibrahim.

On 23 September, the police arrested five more people of IM from Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh believed to be the brains behind execution of terror modules.  Sadiq Sheikh, 31, a software engineer from Mumbai, Afzal Usmani, 32, a hotelier in western suburbs of Mumbai, Arif Sheikh, 38, an electrician from Mumbra, Mumbai, Mohammed Zakir Sheikh, 38, a scrap dealer from Mumbra, Mumbai and Mohammed Ansar Sheikh, 31, a software Engineer from Mumbai.

The Crime Branch has claimed that these are the operatives who had introduced themselves as Pakistanis perpetrators of 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombing. After the 2006 bombings, the police had claimed that a group of SIMI activists along with five Pakistan nationals had planted bombs on seven trains.

On 11 November, the Madhya Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) arrested Qayamuddin Kapadia, a top-ranking member of SIMI and a key conspirator and executor of the Ahmadabad attack. The police claimed that Kapadia admitted his involvement in the Ahmadabad blasts, and that he, along with Abdul Subhan Qureshi alias Tauqeer of Mumbai and Riaz Bhatkal of Karnataka, collaborated with the SIMI cell led by Mohammad Atif to carry out the Delhi blasts. Atif was later killed in hours long encounter with Delhi Police.

In January 2018, Delhi police arrested Qureshi after a brief gun battle.

A bomb blast occurred in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar market on May 21, 1996 that killed 13 people and injured 39. The blast was followed a day later by the 1996 Dausa blast, six members of the militant organization JKIF (Jammu Kashmir  Islamic Front) were convicted of the blasts. A police investigation discovered that the bombers were in close contact with the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).

On April 2012, the court awarded a death sentence to Mohammed Naushad, Mohammed Ali Bhatt and Mirza Nissar Hussain. Javed Ahmed Khan was awarded life while Farooq Ahmed Khan and Farida Dar were released by the court, adding that their imprisonment served during the trial was their punishment. In November 2012, Delhi High Court acquitted Mohammed Ali Bhatt and Mirza Nissar Hussain, and commuted the death penalty of Mirza Nissar Hussain to life imprisonment.

Around 9 on the evening of December 22, 2000,  two LeT militants began firing indiscriminately and gunned down two army personnel belonging to the 7th Rajputana Rifles and a civilian security guard. The troops were placed at the Fort due to its extreme importance within Indian history. The Red Fort used to house British army barracks; it was taken over by the Indian Army post Indian independence from the British rule. The intruders received returning fire from the QRT (Quick Reaction Team) of the battalion. All the intruders escaped the Red Fort by scaling over the boundary wall on the rear side of the complex. Three persons- Abdullah Thakur, a civilian sentry, Rifleman Uma Shankar, and Naik Ashok Kumar- lost their lives in the shootout.

The attack on the Red Fort is believed to have been orchestrated in the wake of the Indian courts convicted six others in October 2005, with varied lengthy sentences. In September 2007, due to a lack of evidence, the six other assailants were released.

On December 13, 2001, Indian Parliament attack was an attack by LeT and JeM outfits claiming 14 lives. The militants armed with assault rifles AK 47, grenades, pistols came into the Parliament in a car with MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) and Parliament sticker (labels) Five terrorists were slain and six Delhi Police personnel died in the line of duty. Besides, two Parliament Security Service personnel also lost their lives. In the attack, a gardener was also killed. Both the Houses, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha,  had been adjourned, many members of  Parliament (MPs) and government officials including the then Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani and Minister of State for Defence, Haren Pathak were believed to have  been in the premises at that point with other 100 . The gunmen used a fake identity sticker on the car they drove in and thus breached the security deployed around the parliamentary complex.

The gunmen rammed their vehicle into the car of the Indian Vice-President Krishan Kant, got out, and began shooting. The Vice-President’s guards and security personnel shot back at the terrorists and then started closing the gates of the compound.

Constable Kamlesh Kumari  Jatav of CRPF who raised the alarm sensing danger was shot by the perpetrators, she died on the spot. One gunman’s suicide jacket exploded when he was  shot dead; the other four gunmen were also killed.

Delhi Police in their report mentioned the names : Hamza, Haider alias Tufail, Rana, Ranvijay and Mohammed, who were the members of Lashkar-e-Toiba were killed. On the other hand, an Indian court observed that three more people from Pakistan, namely  Masood Azhar, Ghazi Baba alias Abu Jehadi and Tariq Ahmed, were also involved in planning the attack.

The involvement of four accused after the probe figured were Mohammad Afzal Guru, Shaukat Hussain Guru (cousin of Afzal Guru) and S.A.R. Gilani (Syed Abdul Rahman Gilani) and Shaukat’s wife Afshan Guru (Navjot Sandhu before marriage).

The designated Special Court was presided over by Shiv Narain Dhingra. The accused were tried and the trial concluded within a record period of about six months. In this, 80 witnesses were examined for the prosecution and 10 witnesses were examined on behalf of the accused S.A.R. Gilani. About 300 documents were produced. Afzal Guru, Shaukat Hussain and S.A.R. Gilani were convicted of the offences.

On appeal, the High Court, Delhi subsequently acquitted S.A.R. Geelani and Afshan, but upheld Shaukat’s and Afzal’s death sentence. Geelani’s acquittal blew a gaping hole in the prosecution’s version of the parliament attack. He was portrayed as the mastermind of the entire attack. Geelani, a young lecturer at Delhi University’s Zakir Hussain College where he taught Arabic, received support from his outraged colleagues and friends, who were certain that he had been framed. They contacted the well-known lawyer Nandita Haksar and asked her to take on his case. Shaukat Hussain was released nine months prior to his official date of release, because of his “good conduct”.

The sentence was scheduled to be carried out on 20 October 2006, but Afzal was given a stay of execution and remained on death row. On February 3,2013, his mercy petition was rejected by the then President  Pranab Mukherjee subsequently, he was hanged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail at 8 in the morning  on February 9, 2013, and buried in Tihar jail with full religious rites.

The Delhi bombings occurred on 29 October 2005 in the capital city of Delhi killing 62 people and injuring at least 210 others in three blasts. The explosion was executed two days before Diwali. The bombs were triggered in two markets in central and south Delhi and on a bus south of the city. Indian investigators believe the  Kashmir separatist or Islamic terrorist group  LeT was behind the attacks. The three explosions went off in quick succession, the first occurred at 5:38 pm in the main bazaar of Paharganj near the New Delhi Railway Station. The second blast happened near a bus in Govindpuri (south Delhi) area at 6:00 pm and the third went off at 6:05 pm in south Delhi’s Sarojni Nagar market.

The Pakistan-based  Islamist terrorist organisation, the  IRF (Islamist Revolutionary Front) or IIM (Islamic Inquilab Mahaz), claimed the responsibility for the Delhi terrorist attacks. The Mahaz has previous history of terrorism – It was one of the organisations involved in terrorist attacks in the south Pakistan city of Karachi against French, American and other citizens.

Tariq Ahmad Dar, was arrested in Kashmir, as the alleged suspect of the attacks on 10 November 2005. The police also arrested the suspected Govindpuri bomber, Mohammed Rafiq Shah. They were freed in February 2017 for a lack of evidence.  Thirty eight people were declared dead in Safdarjang hospital, ten in Lady Hardinge Hospital, five in Ram Manohar Lohia hospital and two in AIIMS. The number of fatalities later on rose to 62, with about 210 injured. They vented their ire by  targeting government establishments. The terror strike in the days to come may be executed by a suicide bomber, fidayeen as a source revealed.  NIA (National Investigative Agency) also received a threat letter saying that  prominent personalities including the star cricketer Virat Kohli could be targeted. Prime Minister and Home Minister top the list.

By Syed Wajid

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