Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mac's Regional Intelligence Bulletin 26/11/2005

SCENES FROM "YASMIN"

There is a lot happening in Bangladesh today with Bobby Hajjaj’s Op-Ed where he starts by taking a pot-shot at the ‘think tanks’ and says -

It never ceases to amaze: the level of intellectual capacity, the political acumen, and the perspicacity of the people who are leading us into this new millennium. We couldn't find a more laudable and gifted group of individuals if we combed the whole nation; we'd have to comb with a specially designed contraption of course. Who'd have thought just four years ago, when we voted in this glorious assemblage, that they'd prove themselves of such outstanding worth and accrue so many accomplishments in such a short span of time? And it is all thanks to their mighty think-tank. It is you we hail, and show our gratitude for our ever diminishing rights and our palsied democratic institution.

Meanwhile it would appear a near revolt is in the offing within the ruling BNP echelons when the expelled Abu Hena said that about 100 lawmakers and leaders of the ruling party are with him, who will go public against the militants in time.

"Wait, you will see what is going to happen," Abu Hena told journalists at Sonargaon Hotel. He said his expulsion from the BNP is an injustice to him. He said sections of the BNP and of Jamaat created the dreaded killer Bangla Bhai and that there is no difference between Motiur Rahman Nijami and Bangla Bhai

Now there we go again – this Bangla Bhai dude – beats even OBL in how deceptive he could be whilst the media comes up with delayed Intelligence reports of Government complicity when its says:

the militant kingpin and his followers used a government vehicle during their operations against outlaws in the northern region in April last year, a JMB source said. Bangla Bhai, operations commander of Jagrata Muslim Janata, Bangladesh (JMJB), and his followers used a pickup van of a department under the agriculture ministry. The operatives of the outlawed JMJB and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) kept the vehicle for about two months, a JMB commander who led the operations in Rajshahi, told The Daily Star over cellphone yesterday. Sources in the intelligence agencies have also confirmed the use of the government vehicle by Bangla Bhai and other militants.

Having said that, its seems Abu Hena has more than quiet support from vocal retorts of fellow BNP colleague Oli Ahmed, who says that he was not aware about the condition of Hena's constituency.

"But through the media I had learnt that he informed, more than once, the senior leaders about the existence of JMB and other undesirable elements who want to establish the rule of Allah with honest people and honest administrators." "If his information are correct and if there is proof that he had informed senior leaders then why we have not taken any action?" he questioned. On whether any political party's leaders or any ranking official of the government are patronising the militants, the senior BNP leader said every body knows it more or less as the newspapers are continuing to write about it. "During the last few days many militants were caught. And now the prime minister has clear view about the militants as the intelligence agencies informed her about it," he said.

Meanwhile the Jamaat-e-Islami chief launched a scathing attack on the media saying excessive media coverage helps rise of militancy. In an interview with private TV channel ATN Bangla, Nizami, also industries minister, accused The Daily Star of blowing the Bangla Bhai issue up out of proportion and said such undue coverage would rather help breed hundreds of militants like Bangla Bhai.

"The Daily Star had run a Bangla Bhai story with an eight-column heading," said the amir of ruling coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami. "If one can easily hit the headlines by committing wrongful acts, then hundreds of Bangla Bhai will be created in the country," Nizami observed.

He well might have a point there – because if we analyse a Daily Star report today citing intelligence sources on source of terror funding – gaps way too large seems to appear than is really desirable: It reads

From confessions and statements of arrested militants, and accounts of expenditures and diaries of militants seized by the law enforcers, investigators learned that the banned Islamist outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is implementing plans originally hatched by Ahab and another outlawed group Harkat-ul Jihad (HuJi). The JMB spends roughly Tk 60 lakh a year for maintaining its full-time leaders and cadres, and Tk 1 to 5 crore for buying explosives and firearms and executing attacks, they learned-
--which quite doesn’t add up with this New Age report that says
Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh has a little more than 1,500 members working to establish Islamic laws, said Abdul Awal, one of the top five leaders of the outfit, to the members of the task force for interrogation, sources close to the investigation said.The inspector general of police, Abdul Quyyum, recently told the press that about 10,000 militants had been on the prowl. All the members of the banned Islamist outfit contribute a monthly fee to run the organisation; the sources quoted Awal as saying.

To sum up the 2 reports i.e. Taka 60, 00,000 x 1,500 JMB members by 12 months – it works up to a paltry Taka 3,333.00 – way too cheap for a ‘Jihad’ operation of this size to be financed per-member, per-month – unless of course it is the cash strapped Indian External Intelligence Service the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) that’s running these operations inside Bangladesh --- “Allah knows best”!!

Meanwhile in an unobtrusive manner the Bangladesh Army demolished several abandoned rebel camps, seizing arms and ammunition, in Bandarban district on the Burma-Bangladesh border yesterday. A security official said the camps, located near the Sangu Reserve Forest, were destroyed and the arms recovered 18 days into a 20-day military offensive. While the army has not revealed the names of the groups who had built the camps local sources confirmed Burmese rebel organisations including the Democratic Party of Arakan, the Arakan Army and the Arakan Liberation Party were active in the area. According to sources, several special army units carried out raids in the deep forests on the border with Burma seizing large quantities of military hardware.

There is however a different Battle of Brains going on between Bangladesh and India, this one pitting schoolchildren from Bangladesh and the steel city of Jamshedpur all set to clash at the National Creativity Olympiad 2005, organised by the Jamshedpur chapter of Institution of Engineers (India) in the city on November 29. The objective behind organising this Olympiad is to motivate children towards engineering. The contest, divided into two categories: Directed Domain and Open Domain. Both will see the participation of teams from European Standing School, a renowned school in Bangladesh, along with other teams from across the country. While the Open Domain is mainly for children from schools in Jamshedpur, Directed Domain is open to children from Bangladesh and other places----- best of luck ‘yo’ Bangladesh kids!

Talking about schools – well an Indian state has plans to set up a guerilla warfare school to counter insurgency and curb the growing Naxalite menace in the border districts. The proposed school would be set up on the lines of Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School of Mizoram to train police personnel in unconventional combat methods, especially guerilla warfare. Established in 1970, the Mizoram school has the reputation of being one of the premier counter insurgency military training institutions in the world. The motto ‘fight a guerilla like a guerilla’ has been its forte right from its inception. Anybody interested to join in – apply with resume to the Principal!

India’s losing battle with Maoist guerrillas in perspective; it seems that the Maoists are planning to create a corridor through Orissa to connect Jharkhand with their stronghold in Andhra Pradesh. Making a statement to this effect on behalf of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the state Assembly, parliamentary affairs minister Padmanav Behera said the state has deployed Orissa Armed Police, state security forces and diverted a company of the CRPF to Sambalpur district. Behera made the statement in response to a special mention on the activities of the Maoists in the district. There has been a concerted bid by the extremists to extend their influence in the contiguous hilly and jungle stretches, straddling across Sambalpur and Deogarh districts, he added.Of the 3 battalions of CRPF deployed in Orissa for anti-Naxalite activities, two battalions were deployed in southern districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada and Gajapati. The third battalion has two of its companies deployed in Sundargarh, one each in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar while one company has been temporarily diverted to Sambalpur in view of the increasing incidents of violence by the extremists. With lessons from Jehanbad in Bihar of the 13th November and rebels set to observe PLGA (People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army) Week from tomorrow and the audacious Jehanabad jailbreak fresh in public memory, the Arjun Munda government does not want to take any chances. “While observing the PLGA formation week, the rebels organise meetings and pay tribute to those who have died in anti-police operations. The inputs that we have received point at possible attacks on government installations, especially jails, some of which are highly vulnerable,” said a senior police officer. The authorities of the rebel-affected districts have been asked to keep a close eye on the prisons, he added.

“Age of extremes” is how Eric Hobsbawm described the 20th century. For India, history did not end in the Nineties. It is only in the last decade-and-a-half that the Naxalites (Maoist guerrillas) and the RSS have really expanded their reach. Whatever may be the case in Europe, in India history did not end in the Nineties; perhaps it had only just begun. There, perhaps liberal democracy was indeed triumphant in philosophy and practice, but here it was corroded and besieged, attacked from the right and just as viciously from the left. In the states of north and west India, the divisive Ayodhya campaign led to a wave of religious violence and to the political ascendancy of the Hindu right. In many districts of central and eastern India, the Naxalites dug deep roots among tribal and low caste communities, establishing liberated zones and taking thousands of square miles of Indian Territory out of effective control of the Indian state.

In Assam, the ULFA is back with a new statement against the BJP and its cronies in the LJM:

The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and one its local frontal organisations of trying to foment communal tension in the state ahead of next year's assembly elections. "The BJP and the Loka Jagaran Manch (LJM) have meticulously planned and created a communal situation," ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa said in a statement. The LJM is a front of the BJP spearheading a campaign in Assam against illegal migrants from Bangladesh. "We appeal to the people of Assam to thwart any move by the BJP and the LJM to create a divide on communal lines," the statement said. The LJM in a recent meeting accused the ULFA of patronising illegal Bangladeshi infiltration into Assam at the behest of Pakistan's ISI.

There is hope on India’s horizon on the energy security nightmarish scenarios with the Russians showing interest on the piece-of-the-pie in the quixotic Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project and notwithstanding US reservations on doing business eline prwith Iran, its is keen to participate in the over seven-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan India gas pipoject and share the risks involved in this "peace project." The Russian firm Gazprom wants to be a partner in the construction, operation and maintenance of the 2,500-km pipeline that will transport natural gas from the gigantic South Pars field in the Persian Gulf to India via Pakistan.

The United States meanwhile on Friday said it had not given India any plan on how to go about separating its civilian and military nuclear facilities to help implement the landmark bilateral nuclear deal.

"We haven't given a plan on how India should separate its civilian and military [nuclear] facilities," a State Department official told PTI in response to reports that Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns in September presented Indian officials a blueprint on how the Americans might go about in the exercise. New Delhi is said to have given back the blueprint saying it was capable of going about on its own--- which doesn’t really explain why

the Indian Airforce (IAF) has plans to acquire at least 126 state-of-the-art multi-role combat aircraft at the earliest and wants to open an exclusive aerospace command with net centric warfare features to meet future military challenges. Disclosing this to media persons after addressing the colourful 71st passing out parade of the Naval Academy at INS Mandovi in Goa today, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi said the authorities had been in touch with different countries that supply combat aircraft and examining various aspects of defence purchases suited to our requirements.

To the Indian murdered by the Talibs in Afghanistantoday authorities appear to have discovered a note pinned on to the corpse that reads:

The note found on Maniyappan’s body asks India not to intervene in Taliban’s fight against the US and demands stoppage of all work. The note reads: ‘‘this is not America, not India. This is Afghanistan....who comes here to work...we will do this, kill him. You should stop work at once; otherwise we will attack you with full force. We have a fight with Americans...and Indians, you do not interfere. TALIBAN!”,
and of course India will not bait a breathe to see a sordid Pakistani connection to it all as this somewhat of a ‘dead analysis’ suggests :
The war-torn impoverished landscape of Afghanistan seems to have become the new playground for India and Pakistan to score strategic points over each other. Having expanded its presence and influence in post-Taliban Kabul, India has made substantial progress in its efforts to make the international community believe that Islamabad has been using terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy to pressurize New Delhi on the lingering dispute of Jammu and Kashmir.

Bad news for Pakistan with the Crisis Group accusing government manipulation of the local polls involved gerrymandering of districts to break up support for political opponents of the military; reshuffling of officials to ensure those favorable to the military controlled elections in key areas; rejecting the nominations of opposition candidates; giving direct support to certain candidates in what was supposed to be a non-party election; and direct rigging at the polls, including ballot stuffing, intimidation and seizure of voting stations.

On the Pakistani Diaspora front in UK, check out this movie review “Yasmin” about getting caught in the middle in post 9-11 England:

Hers is a double-life that has become typical of so many Asian and African immigrants to Europe and America. At home, she abides by the cultural mores set down by her widowed father Khalid (Renu Setna) who, though stern, spends most of his off hours pondering the completion of a house he and his wife began in Pakistan years earlier. For him Yasmin wears hijab and consents to an arranged marriage with Faysal (Shahid Ahmed), an addled Pakistani bumpkin who speaks virtually no English and seemingly divides his time between sleeping and (un-Islamic) boozing. Yasmin's no victim, though. She makes Khalid sleep in a separate room until his immigration papers are finalized and plans to divorce him. When she leaves her South Asian neighborhood for work every morning, she replaces her Punjabi dress and hijab with jeans and tee-shirt, and plots a relationship with John (Steve Jackson), a friend from work who knows nothing about her predicament. Sharing Yasmin's cross-cultural ambivalence is her younger brother, Nasir (Syed Ahmed), who recites the call to prayer at his local mosque in the morning and sells pot and diddles with neighborhood girls at night. A couple of weeks later, Yasmin's tightrope walk becomes more uncertain. Her decision to choose her secular life over her family corresponds to a pair of airliners crashing into New York's World Trade Center.

FOOTNOTES: In Nepal, the King and his Merry Men have new goodies coming in from China to beat the ‘children of a lesser Mao-Tse-Tung’ in the Kingdom!

China has dispatched truckloads of arms and ammunition to Nepal to help its ill-equipped army crush a deadly Maoist insurgency, a newspaper report said on Friday. “China has sent at least 18 truckloads of arms and ammunition to Nepal via the Kodari highway (northeast of Kathmandu) between Tuesday and Wednesday,” the independent Nepalese-language Kantipur daily said. Nepal’s army said it had no comment on the report. Nepal has looked to China for arms to combat the Maoist revolt after India, the nation’s biggest arms supplier, the US and Britain suspended military aid following King Gyanendra’s seizure of power nine months ago. “China had been providing Nepal with non-lethal equipment like telecommunication sets in the past but this is the first time it has provided guns and ammunition to Nepal,” the newspaper said.


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