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Paris terror attack holds out warning to India

  • In World
  • 00:00, 2 Dec
  • By Sudhir Vyas

New York: The Paris carnage has rung warning bells in India. Are these terror strikes going to target India next? Has the ISIS found a foothold in India and as per the recent warning issued by an US based think tank – American Media Institute, is this terrorist outfit preparing to attack India “to provoke an Armageddon like confrontation with the US”? This warning contained in a 32-page document obtained from an operative of Pakistani Taliban further adds that “preparations for an attack” on India are underway.

Such warnings notwithstanding, India has always been on the radar of terrorist groups and the first time the Paris type attack was launched was on Indian soil better known as the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes. This was carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives trained by the Pakistani spy agency ISI. Can this happen again but the question is who would be the perpetuators of this carnage? Any answer to this question requires a detailed analysis of two main aspects of terrorism. Firstly, the current status of terror groups targeting India, second, the modus operandi that these groups use to spread their message.

Currently there are two main groups, both sponsored by Pakistan that mainly target India, one is the Lashkar-e-Taiba or better known as LeT and the other is Hizbul Mujahideen or HM. Both originated in Pakistan in the early nineties and were offshoots of the terrorist campaign sponsored by the Pak ISI in Afghanistan. Hizbul Mujahideen was born formally in June 1990 when a member of Jamaat-e-Islami of Kashmir, Mohammad Yusuf Shah was appointed its patron and adopted a new name, Syed Salahuddin.

But this does not negate the possibility of their striking in India. Yet right now the group that is growing in the country or more specifically in Kashmir is the Hizbul Mujahideen. Since the last one and a half years there has been growing indigenization of militant violence in Kashmir with an increasing number of educated local youth once again taking up the gun.

What set the alarm bells ringing in the security establishment was when recently two policemen Bashir Ahmed and Mohammad Reyaz joined the Hizbul Mujahideen. Some months before this another cop from the Kashmir police Naseer Ahmed disappeared with two AK 47 rifles from the house of J and K PDP minister Altaf Bukhari. Jammu and Kashmir police with a strength of 83,000 personnel is one of the major government institutions in the state that is responsible for providing employment to the educated unemployed Kashmiri youth and any adverse impact on them will have disastrous implications for the state.

But the Paris attacks have a message for India too. The ISIS has been knocking on India's doors for the past few months. The outfit has carved out pockets of influence in many parts of Pakistan, including the lawless Afghanistan-Pakistan (AfPak) border region. Besides, since last month the ISIS has made inroads into Bangladesh also, the country with which India shares its longest border of over 4,100 kilometers.

Obviously, India cannot be unaffected with the spread of the ISIS in its contiguous neighborhood. The threat becomes all the more potent considering that at least 26 Indian youths have already slipped out of the country and are fighting on behalf of the jihadi organization, though the number is extremely small given India's population of 1.25 billion.

Nonetheless, there is a flip side to this which should make India breathe easy, though it cannot afford to lower its guard one bit. Now that the West has experienced its own Mumbai moment, plain logic says that the West will go all out in exterminating the ISIS pests. This should keep the ISIS tied down to the West.

For this reason alone, India may be spared the ISIS horror even though it has reached India's doorsteps. This was the same reason al Qaeda could never strike in India despite many anti-India declarations by Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda having a strong presence in Pakistan, courtesy the Taliban and elements in the Pakistani military establishment.

In the meantime a top Indian Army commander warned that there was a “possibility” that Islamic State (IS) may join hands with Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba to launch attacks in India. “Yes, that (IS joining hands with LeT to launch attacks in India) can be a possibility as the motive of the terrorists is to spread their propaganda.

“They want their name and for that, they can do anything. And if they get successful, they can take advantage of it by using any name. Yes it is a possibility,” General Officer Commanding of the 16 corps of the army Lt Gen RR Nimbhorkar told this correspondent over phone.

The army commander also said there are around 700 active militants in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). On a question about the number of terrorist training camps active across the Line of Control in the POK, he said that from the inputs that the captured terrorist Navid has given there are around 37 active camps in that region. “See, there are a number of launching pads and we are all aware of it as it is in the open domain. So, therefore, I will not exactly say as to how many are there,” he said.

He said that out of the 700 militants present in the PoK, half of them are ready and waiting for a chance to infiltrate into the Indian side.

The most significant thing in the Paris terror attacks, and the most worrying one, is the fact that the Islamic State (ISIS) has successfully launched its first major strike overseas. It constitutes the ISIS' very own 9/11. After all, it takes a lot of expertise, organizational skills, manpower and technical prowess to wreak havoc in a Western capital, and that too of a P5 country.

The message: Move over al-Qaeda, ISIS is now the confirmed deadliest terror outfit on planet Earth. The international concern over the ISIS' meteoric rise from a regional band of baddies to a sophisticated and bloodthirsty global terror outfit dominated the discussions at the recently concluded G20 summit in Turkey.

The Paris attacks have shown for the first time that ISIS terrorists have fanned out overseas and struck brutally in a wave of Mumbai-like attacks in the heart of Western Europe. French authorities have confirmed that the Paris terror operation was carried out by ISIS cadres who had divided themselves into three teams with just one mission: Kill as many people as possible.

The chilling message from the Paris attacks is that more such attacks are highly probable not only in France but also in India and other countries of Europe. The horrific terrorist attack in Paris was likely modeled on the November 26-29, attack in Mumbai. It set a gold standard for how a small group of suicidal fanatics can paralyze a major city, attract global attention, and terrorize a continent.

During both these attacks they used small, well-armed bands of terrorists striking simultaneously and sequentially against multiple soft targets in an urban area. The Paris attackers added suicide vests to increase the carnage. In Mumbai, all but one fought to the death as ordered by the plot's masterminds. The Mumbai attackers used cell phones to communicate with their bosses in Pakistan, who gave them instructions as they carried out their gruesome operation. So far, that level of sophistication and command and control seems missing in Paris.

So far as the United States was concerned the terrorist attacks on Paris has also raised questions about how well prepared American mall operators are for a similar event. To date, no U.S. mall has been a target of terrorism, but they have been the scene of several fatal shooting incidents.

The carnage in France at the hands of members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has Americans worried about the risk of a domestic attack. A recent CBS News poll showed that a large majority of people think an attack is likely in the U.S. in the new few months.

Recently, a video surfaced purportedly from Somalia-based terror group Al Shabaab calling for attacks on shopping centers in western nations, including the Mall of America in Minneapolis. It was Al Shabaab in September of 2013 that attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 67 people and wounding 175.

Lashkar-e Taiba paid no penalty for its attack, nor did its Pakistani patrons. The group's senior leadership operates freely in Pakistan and enjoys the support and protection of the Pakistani Army. LET is more dangerous today than ever. The world needs to do much better countering the Islamic State and its leadership