Counter-Terrorism: The Many Terrorists Of India

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December 1,2008: The recent terrorist carnage in India reminds everyone that India has been one the major victims of terrorism of late. Last year, Indian suffered over a thousand dead from terrorist attacks. Over 2,000 died in 2006. This carnage is exceeded only by Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. While Islamic terrorism, as in Mumbai, was a major source of deaths, it was not the only one.

The major source of Islamic terrorism in India is the Pakistani backed campaign to drive Indians, particularly non-Moslem Indians, out of the disputed, by India and Pakistan, province of Kashmir (actually Jammu-Kashmir, as the lower portion of the state, Jammu, is largely Hindu.) Kashmir, on the other side of a mountain range from Jammu, is largely Moslem, and Pakistan believes all of Kashmir (Pakistan invaded and seized northern Kashmir in the late 1940s) should be theirs. Twenty years ago, Pakistan decided that terrorism was the only practical way to get Kashmir back. India was more powerful militarily, and had beaten Pakistan in every war between them. The terrorist groups, that have bases and training camps in Pakistani Kashmir, not only send terrorists across the border into Indian Kashmir, but have also been responsible for about two-thirds of the deaths, from Islamic terrorism, in the rest of India. It was apparently Kashmir based terrorists who carried out the recent Mumbai atrocities. There are several separate terrorist groups operating in Kashmir. These include; Lashkar-e-Taiba (apparently the organizers of the recent Mumbai murders), Jaish-e-Muhammad, Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami and Harakat ul-Mujahedeen (the last two formerly operated in Afghanistan against the Russians during the 1980s). There have been several thousand Islamic terrorists active in Kashmir (on both sides of the border) since the late 1980s. The numbers are kept down by the deaths of most terrorists who get into Indian Kashmir. The Pakistani based terrorists has also caused the growth of similar, but much smaller, groups inside India (which has 150 million Moslems). The Kashmir terrorism campaign has largely failed, and the number of active terrorists there has been dwindling over the past few years. This has apparently played a part it carrying out attacks elsewhere in India. Only some parts of the Pakistani government back these terrorists, as most Pakistanis realize that too much Pakistani based Islamic terrorism inside India could trigger a major war with India. Since both nations now have nuclear weapons, this could get very ugly. The Islamic terrorists don't care, as they are on a Mission From God, and whatever happens is God's Will.

Tribal separatists in northeast India are another major source of terrorist deaths. The northeastern tribal territories only became part of India when the British colonial government departed in 1947. The tribes resented this, as well as the growing flood of migrants from other parts of India. The terrorism was directed largely at these immigrants. There used to be over 5,000 active and armed separatists, but counter-terror operations, and an amnesty program, have reduced the number to less than a thousand. Many of the separatists have devolved into criminal gangs and bandits.

The third source of terrorism is in eastern India, where communist (Maoist) rebels seek to establish a communist dictatorship, in order to resolve the social and economic inequities in the region. There are 5-10,000 armed Maoists out in the countryside, where they battle counter-terrorism forces and locals who violently disagree with the Maoists goals and methods.

India uses local police, a special force (165,000 members of the Central Reserve Police Force), the army, and several intelligence agencies to battle their terrorism problems. The Foreign Ministry has also been useful because of its efforts to get other nations to recognize these terrorist organizations as "international terrorists", and thus subject to sanctions and prosecution overseas. This has caused Pakistan increasing problems. The "Kashmir belongs to Pakistan" cause is very popular inside Pakistan, making it difficult for Pakistan to crack down on Pakistani terrorists that carry out operations inside India, and sometimes elsewhere in the world as well.

The backlash from the Mumbai atrocities, and Islamic terrorist attacks on the Pakistani government is putting more pressure on Pakistan to crush its domestic Islamic radical groups. This is particularly true with the Taliban in Pakistan. This group is just the most recent manifestation of violent Islamic conservatism in Pakistan's tribal areas. Pakistan has always tried to compromise with domestic terrorist groups, but the recent Islamic violence in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India is forcing Pakistan to confront Islamic terrorists, and deal with the problem once and for all. That won't be easy, as a large minority of Pakistanis support the Islamic militants.

 

 


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