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  • Militant Groups in South Asia

    Militant Groups in South Asia
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    This book is an attempt to profile important militant groups presently active in South Asian countries. The threat perception from each group has been covered in this book in details. The book will be useful for further research on militancy, terrorism, radicalisation and security related issues.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-754-8,
    • Price: ₹. 995/-
    • E-copy available

    Suraj Jagtap asked: What is the approach of armed forces and their response to urban terrorist strikes?

    Vivek Chadha replies: The question seeks clarity on the approach of “armed forces” to urban terrorist strikes. It may be presumptuous on my part to assume that the word “armed forces” has been used by mistake and the question actually relates to police and NSG. However, I will attempt to answer both aspects.

    The armed forces in our context comprise of the army, navy and air force. These forces are never the first responders in case of a terrorist strike in urban areas. The first response will almost always come from the police, anti-terrorism cells and, thereafter, specialised forces like the NSG. However, as was the case during 26/11, support of the armed forces can be requisitioned. Therefore, their role is likely to remain in support at best in most areas in the country. The only exception can be disturbed areas where the armed forces are deployed. A similar attack in Srinagar could witness a greater role of the army in support of the police and central armed police organisations (CAPOs) like the CRPF.

    This brings me to the approach of the police and CAPOs. Their approach can be better understood by first understanding the aim of terrorists when an urban strike is undertaken. They want to spread the fear of unknown, discredit the ruling elite, achieve the greatest possible publicity through the sheer audaciousness of the target and nature of attack. Large scale civilian casualties are one of the means of spreading this very message as seen during 26/11 and 9/11 attacks. Therefore, the approach of the security forces is to minimise collateral damage, civilian casualties and loss of property. This limits the sensationalisation of the assault, thereby defeating terrorist aims. Security forces also aim to neutralise the terrorists in a systematic and clinical manner, displaying the efficiency and capability of the state vis-à-vis the terrorists. Finally, and probably most importantly, it is the ability to bring back life to business as usual, which is the best way of defeating the terrorist aim of spreading fear in the society at large.

    Emily Leiby asked: What is meant by hawala transaction? How does it work, especially in reference to terrorist organisations?

    Vivek Chadha replies: The hawala system has been functioning for centuries. It has been mentioned by the Egyptian scholar Sarakshi referring to its roots in the 11th century. The system even then merely involved "transfer of debt" and not physical movement of money. Since it is based on trust, traditionally it functioned between close associates and relatives. The promissory notes kept for record keeping are called hundi.

    The system is popular even today because in most cases it is cheaper, faster, and more convenient, to transfer funds. It has a larger network and is even considered more reliable by some. However, it needs to be noted that despite its large scale use, the system is illegal in India. Given the fact that transfer of money in the hawala leaves no traces, it is misused by criminals and terrorists to transfer money. However, in most cases, the usage is limited to immigrants working in foreign countries who want to remit their earnings to their villages in the country.

    A hawala transaction involves giving a certain amount to a hawaladar in place A. He calls his counterpart in place B and asks him to deliver the said amount to the recipient. A small charge is taken for facilitating this transaction. This transaction does not involve physical transfer of money. At the end of the month, books at both ends are tallied and adjusted to cater to the mutual business.

    Terrorists use this for transferring money from various destinations and not necessarily obvious locations like Pakistan. In fact, it is more difficult to trace money being sent from Europe and this has been exploited for some time.

    The system of book keeping is also unique and is often only understood by the hawaladars.

    Terrorist Attacks: How Long Should India just Wring its Hand in Despair?

    There is a need to conclusively revisit the issue of India’s response, and other pro-active measures, to deter and forestall terrorist attacks in future.

    July 15, 2011