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  • Sunny Tomar asked: What is the difference between cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism? What is India’s position on both the issues?

    Cherian Samuel replies: From the technical angle, the difference between cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism is only nominal in that the means are the same, but the goals may be different. The same vulnerabilities in networks and systems can be used to attain a variety of goals, from crime to terrorism. As a hypothetical example, the systems of a high-value target such as a nuclear plant may be taken over by criminals and held to ransom or by terrorists for destructive purposes.

    Terrorism Finance: Sources and Trends in India

    Terrorism finance (TF) has been termed as the life blood of terrorism, one of the most important factors sustaining its continuing threat, both from within and without. In the West, a large body of work on the subject appeared after 9/11; in the Indian context, however, there is little contribution towards existing literature. This article contextualizes the reality of terrorism finance in India and provides an alternative framework for a better understanding of this threat.

    July 2014

    Indian Mujahideen Arrests: Lessons Learnt and Future Directions

    The arrests of the key Indian Mujahideen operatives has come as a major breakthrough in the fight against terrorism; however, there are a few causes of concern - such as lack of inter-agency coordination, growing radicalization in the society and the potential resurgence of the IM - that the government needs to urgently address.

    June 06, 2014

    CPI (Maoist) and Urban Movement

    The Urban Movement has a defined role in the political strategy and military strategy of the CPI (Maoist). In the Maoist schemes, Urban Movement is to broadly to mobilise and organise the basic masses and build the party on that basis ; build the United Front ; and military tasks .

    May 12, 2014

    Nuclear Terrorism: Assessing the Danger

    This article attempts to make a realistic assessment of the danger of nuclear terrorism. While acknowledging the catastrophic consequences of an act of terrorism employing either an improvised nuclear device or a violent attack against a nuclear installation causing spread of lethal radioactivity, it also highlights the complexity of the challenges likely to be confronted by any would-be nuclear terrorist.

    March 2014

    Talks with Taliban: war by other means

    The situation in Pakistan today is very fragile. Despite the progress on the democratic front, there is a sense of helplessness on how to tackle the menace of terrorism. Unlike in the past, Islamabad appears quite weak vis-à-vis Taliban while it keeps chanting its commitment to talks with TTP, despite the provocation and retaliation from the army.

    March 03, 2014

    Kirti Singh asked: Despite India being an age-old victim of terrorism, why does India lack a coherent counter-terrorism policy?

    S. Kalyanaraman replies: Until recently, the terrorism challenge that India confronted was largely limited to those states that shared a border with Pakistan (in particular Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab). Given Pakistan's role in supporting and sponsoring terrorist groups that operated in these states, India's counter-terrorism efforts were largely focused on three aspects: 1) the diplomatic effort to highlight and bring international pressure to bear upon Pakistan to stop its support for and sponsorship of cross-border terrorism; 2) the employment of security forces (armed forces, paramilitary and police) and intelligence agencies to tackle this challenge in a particular state; and 3) forging an understanding and accommodation with moderate elements within the state concerned. Although the activities of terrorist groups in these states did spill over into other states of the Union, there was no all-Indian dimension to this challenge. Further, even where there was no cross-border dimension, as for instance in the case of the Naxalites in West Bengal, the challenge was largely confined to a particular state. As a result, counter-terrorism was largely focused on dealing with the particular challenge in an individual state.

    Compounding this lack of a national perspective on terrorism is the distribution of powers between the Centre and the State under the Indian Constitution. Powers over the police are vested in the state governments and the Centre's efforts to establish national-level institutions to deal with the challenge of terrorism do face opposition as seen in recent years in the case of the National Investigation Agency and National Counter Terrorism Centre.

    The need for a comprehensive national-level institutional mechanism and approach to counter terrorism emerged only over the last decade because of three trends: 1) the decision of Pakistani terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed to expand their jehad to all parts of India (attacks on Red Fort, Parliament, Mumbai); 2) the emergence of the Indian Mujahideen as a pan-Indian Islamist group and its terrorist campaign spread across several parts of India; and 3) the terrorist campaign unleashed across several states by radical elements among the Hindu Right. The final straw that forced a reassessment of mechanisms and approach was of course the Mumbai attacks in November 2008.

    Although a comprehensive blueprint was indeed drawn up subsequently, this meaningful effort has been successfully crimped and cramped by Centre-State disputes over jurisdiction as well as turf wars among various investigation and intelligence agencies. Nevertheless, India today does have a national level institutional framework to deal with pan-India terrorist campaigns and some significant successes have been scored over the last few years. Be that as it may, there is indeed a case for bringing greater public pressure to bear upon the central and state political leaderships as well as the various government agencies to further strengthen this framework.

    Posted on February 07, 2014

    Internal Security Trends in 2013 and a Prognosis

    The internal security situation in India reflected a marked improvement in 2012-2013 relative to previous years. This Issue Brief offers an assessment of the major trends in 2013 for Jammu and Kashmir, the land borders of India, Naxalism, the Northeast, terrorism and radicalism in India. It also offers a prognosis for the year ahead.

    January 24, 2014

    Akhila Reddy asked: Why India is a victim of frequent terror attacks? Is it due to intelligence failure or lack of adequate capabilities with law enforcement agencies?

    Vivek Chadha replies: In order to better understand the trajectory of terror strikes against India, it is important to co-relate this with the causes for the same as also the contributory factors, which become catalysts in the process.

    India is not a victim of terror attacks because of intelligence failure and poor law enforcement capabilities. These are limitations which preclude successful counter terrorism. In that sense, these become contributory factors or one could also term them as facilitators.

    The causes for terrorism are diverse in relation to India. International studies usually classify terrorism in terms of different generations. One way to classify these could be anarchist terrorism, terrorism fuelled by independence struggles, followed by communist revolutionary movements and finally jihadi terrorism. This progression spreads across a century through its varying stages. However, India’s case is different. Here, historical factors, political opportunism, socio-economic factors and insensitivity to religious feelings have often led to estrangement of groups. Their perception of having been wronged by the state has been the cause of armed struggles. This can be seen in the case of Nagalim movement, Jammu and Kashmir, and in the Naxal affected region. These have in some cases been exploited by foreign powers to further their strategic interests.

    However, evidently, in each case, as the query alludes, weak intelligence and enforcement has allowed the separatist movements or insurgencies to fester and aggravate. This has also been evident in the case of terrorism in the hinterland by the Indian Mujahideen.

    Posted on January 17, 2014

    Ramesh Yadav asked: What could be the solution to the Chechen issue?

    Amit Kumar replies: The acts of terrorism in Chechnya and elsewhere in Russia involving Chechens are indicative of the revival of terrorism as an instrument for promoting the cause of Chechen separatism. These acts of terrorism have also underscored the threat posed by Islamists, for whom Chechnya has become the rallying point to propagate the idea of Caucasus Emirate and which has started to find resonance in other predominantly Muslim republics of North Caucasus, like Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria. Though the Islamist phenomenon is a late addition, the quest for Chechen independence is not new.

    Broadly, there are three choices before Russia: recognise the independence of Chechnya, suppress the secessionist forces, or work towards better federal relations within the ambit of the Russian Constitution to durably resolve the Chechen separatist problem. As far as the first choice is concerned, it can be said that Russia cannot afford to allow Chechnya to secede as the same could be replicated in other adjoining Muslim republics, undermining Russia’s territorial integrity. The second choice involves coercion and is fraught with the danger of inviting retaliation from the Chechens who are not alone in their fight against the Russian central authority. The third choice entails skilful use of democratic politics and appears to be the most desirable one.

    President Putin’s logic that democracy can be delayed in a crisis-ridden state, does not appear to be convincing in the present scenario where Russia seems to have emerged stronger than ever before since 1991. Russia should, therefore, explore the possibility of strengthening the democratic process in Chechnya and elsewhere in the country without much delay. Delaying democracy can be counter productive. In the short-term, though democracy may not appear to be effective against disgruntled elements who might still engage in anti-state protests and even insurgency, but then suppression too may not prove to be a viable conflict resolution method either.

    In the longer run, broad based and consensual democracies are often better at problem solving than autocracies. It is democracy which often leads to a stable polity and has better chances of resolving secessionist conflicts. A case in point is J&K, where the restoration of the democratic processes has led to a more peaceful and stable polity. It is noteworthy that President Putin, of late, has emphasised the importance of democratic polity and has outlined plans to modernise the mechanisms of Russian democracy in order to develop a more effective, accountable and transparent governance.

    Also, please refer to my following IDSA publication:

    Amit Kumar, “The Chechen Imbroglio: An Update”, IDSA Issue Brief, October 05, 2011.

    Posted on January 16, 2014