Monday, November 28, 2005

Mac's Regional Intelligence Bulletin 28/11/2005


(Bangladeshi police officers stand guard near the diplomatic zone in Dhaka November 28, 2005. Bangladesh tightened security in Dhaka's diplomatic area after the British embassy said it had received a bomb threat against its mission and those of the United States and other European states, police said on Monday. The threat, made in a fax sent to the British High Commission in Dhaka on Sunday, was signed by a man who said he was a member of al Qaeda. Photo: Reuters)

Today in Bangladesh we were as would seem pretty close to a ‘faxed-bomb’ that would have blown us to bits – and the New Age treated this as its front page lead Al-Qaeda threat to blow up western missions in Dhaka, with the Daily Star calling it UK mission reports threat, but at best what it really is as I can figure out: this one is perhaps among millions of pranksters worldwide who do similar things, yet security agencies do no handle them in the infantile manner we in Bangladesh have got into the habit of doing. While our security paranoia is understandable the bottom line is police have tightened security measures in the diplomatic areas in capital Dhaka after a self-claimed al-Qaeda man(!) threatened to blow up the US and the European embassies here. First Secretary of British High Commission in Dhaka WM Stevemson informed the police that the mission received a faxed message of the threat on Sunday from a man identified as Manik Hossain, who claimed himself as a man of the al-Qaeda South Asia network, Noor-e-Alam, officer in charge of Gulshan police station in Dhaka said Monday when contacted by telephone. The British High Commission has filed a general diary with Gulshan police on Sunday, the police officer said. "It might be a hoax," the police officer said, adding that they have tightened security measures in the diplomatic areas of Gulshan and Banani in the capital --- lets call a spade a spade IT IS A HOAX and we all know it.

The perplexing news again in our LOVE/HATE relationship with our Mullahs is the United States Administration does not believe that the alliance government is supporting the militants in Bangladesh because it is not in their long term interest to do so. Talking to two visiting editors from Bangladesh in his State Department office in Washington recently, John A. Gastright, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South Asian Affairs said the alliance partners were in the secular system, they are part of a secular and democratic process.

"I do not understand why it will be in their interest to disturb the system." Mr Gastright’s emphatic remarks about the alliance partner of the government came at a time when it is being "indicted" in public for its alleged or perceived connection with the militants. But in the same breath he said, "I do not like Shibir- the student front of Jamaat- beating up people."
Mr Gastright had also words of praise for the ministers representing the party in the government. Without naming anyone he said they are running their ministries effectively.

India’s South Asian Intelligence Review meanwhile spilt very little beans in making it clear that it has NO LOVE FOR THE JAMAAT or whatever the heck the US thinks,
“without naming anyone (that) are running their ministries effectively”

In its Counterfeit War on Terror today it says:

The Jamaat is umbilically linked with the Islamist extremists in Bangladesh, and this nexus is very well documented. It not a matter of coincidence that many JMB cadres, including the arrested death squad cadre, Mamun, share a Jamaat or a Shibir past. Intelligence officials, in the last week of October 2005, spoke of the existence of a decade-long Islamist militant strategy, adopted in 1998, to prepare an atmosphere compatible with an Islamic revolution in Bangladesh. Jamaat’s ‘long-term programme’, by all indications, bears an uncanny resemblance with this ‘decade-long plan’. The irony is that the extremists are able to piggy-back on one of the mainstream political parties, the BNP, whose long term-existence they directly threaten.

SIGNED, SEALED = DELIVERED?

Meanwhile India’s External Intelligence the RAW today cautioned

Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Malaysia are on the threshold of becoming a fertile base for fundamentalist terror outfits. A recent assessment by the agencies suggest that links of the ISI, al Qaida and the Taliban to the growing fundamentalist outfits and non-government madrasas in Bangladesh will soon spill into Southeast Asia. The assessment also warns of dangers to democracy in Bangladesh if steps are not taken against the fundamentalist forces. It says madrasas without government affiliation or recognition and controlled by management committees, which have been known to produce terrorists in Pakistan, have grown at the pace of 22.2 per cent every year in the past five years compared with 9.74 per cent for educational institutions in general.

Not completely out of character neither unpredictable in rewinding an old cassette tape is BSF's Inspector General of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland (AMM&N) Frontier A K Ghosh told reporters that 192 camps of various militant outfits of the north east existed in Bangladesh.

"Some of the old camps were removed and some new camps have come up. Earlier, the number (of camps) was 205, now it is 192," "These camps existed in Mymensingh, Sherpur, Rangamati, Molavi Bazar districts and Chittagong Hill Tracts,"
he said. Asked if the reduction in number of camps would show some indication of action taken by authorities in Dhaka as demanded by India, the IG said some old ones were removed indeed but some new ones have came up.

Well it does seem the Northeastern boys have a way of quickly setting up camps – 192 in a couple of days – a world record, maybe?

Good news that passed all of us by in the mainstream press today but caught right-on by the Iranian News Agency is:

Bangladesh has connected with global information superhighway on November 22 through linking Middle East with submarine cable line, media reports said here on Saturday. Initially the country was connected with Middle East by 120 out of 220 channels on November 22 and the remaining channels will also be activated by the December 13, high officials of Bangladesh Telephone and Telegraph Board (BTTB) said in Chittagong. Installation of submarine cable line, construction of landing station at Cox's Bazar and domestic underground line in Bangladesh chapter and other technical preparations like on-trial tests and cross examination have already been completed to start formally the submarine cable line in full swing on December 13 next, the source said. Islamic Development Bank (IDB) financed the 41.42 million US dlrs project for Bangladesh section. 16 organizations of 14 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe earlier formed a consortium to install the 22 thousand kilometer long sub marine cable line titled "SEAMEWE4" (South East Asia Middle East and West Europe-4).

Days of the dial up and cable ‘fraud-band’ seems to be on the verge of packing up – but then I am not sure what this ‘next’ in this sentence means “start formally the submarine cable line in full swing on December 13 next” – lets hope its NEXT DECEMBER 13th – 2005?

In India it is a hot and cold day – a lot about a US Magazine confirming what Indian Intelligence always knew, or thought the world knew,

that of Dawood Ibrahim, India's most wanted criminal, is working closely with the Al-Qaeda (before a “US Magazine” picked it up that is) and other Islamic terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, in a report on the synchronization of organised crime and terrorism. Dawood, now based in Karachi, runs a mafia stretching into 14 countries and is now the target of two US investigations, the Washington-based US News and World Report says in its latest issue on how the world's biggest scourges of organised crime and terrorism were coming together. The exclusive cover story, The New Business of Terror, reveals how terrorist groups, pressured by a worldwide crackdown on funding, are transforming their cells into crime syndicates -- and how counter-terrorism officials are unprepared for the shift in tactics.

While up in the Northeast, in Assam for the first time in 15 years, people are enjoying November 28 as just another day. The usual barricades are not there. Nor are the soldiers, heavy patrolling, empty restaurants and markets. For one and a half decade, Assam used to shut down fearing terror and violence for 48 hours before and after November 28.

''We hope to do good business today as usual,'' said the business manager of the Accoland, the biggest theme park of the region. He said, in fact, he forgot that today is the ULFA protest day. ''I have totally forgotten,'' said Khalil Rahman, manager of one of the biggest shopping plazas of the state. Everyone seems to be enjoying the sun and roaring business in the relaxed atmosphere of fun and frolic have swept Assam,
Delhi meanwhile kept its policemen on its toes with roads blocked and traffic thrown in disarray when the capital Sunday witnessed the heaviest rush of the marriage season with around 25,000 wedding ceremonies causing traffic snarls across the city. Explains India’s population BOOM, BLAST, Explosions?

On the daily ritualized punch-up with Pakistan – IT IS NOW OFFICIAL –

India’s National Security Adviser M K Narayanan has alleged that Pakistan had a 'hand' in the killing of Border Roads Organisation driver R Maniappan by the Taleban in Afghanistan. Islamabad "does not like" the growing friendship and cooperation between India and Afghanistan. But the killing would not deter the country from taking up peace-time construction work in Afghanistan and cementing its friendship with that country, Narayanan told reporters in his hometown of Ottapalam, near here, on Saturday.

That leaves me to end India with

Current intelligence that it has decided on a synergised land- and air-based missile defence system, and the US, Russia, France and Israel would be invited as technology partners, should they agree, and on the Indian side, DRDO, ISRO and BARC will participate. Following a US presentation weeks ago, the government mulled the offer of outright purchase of a missile defence system, and rejected it, given the peculiar nature of the threat to India, with in-flight missile time from Pakistan being merely 3.50 minutes and from China seven minutes. After considerable brainstorming, the government has decided to split the missile defence system with a land- and air-based component, while the naval element has been left out because of its obviously offensive characteristic. Under the new thinking, India will not export whole systems from the US or another country, but would invite them for technological participation, and informally, the US, France, Israel and Russia have been intimated, although officials expressed doubts if the US would participate, whose export offer expires at the month-end.

Bad news for Pakistan – as Musharraf Sahib isn’t giving up the Presidency or his uniform! Premier Shawkat Aziz did us the entire honor by saying

"It was necessary that President be allowed to keep his uniform because we were facing many challenges like war against terrorism and other security issues and the law of the land has allowed him to do so", he said and added that he thinks the commonwealth has fully understood that and appreciated that they have expressed their view that we hope that when this period ends, the president would take off his uniform.

Meanwhile good-old Benzie a few million-dollar-richer from that entire fund hubby Zardari siphoned off to a Swiss Bank is thinking

has vowed to return home soon rather without further delay. Benazir expressed these remarks while speaking at the meeting of party Central Executive Committee in London on Sunday saying she would never desert the masses. She said that she had believed the concept to "live and die" for people of the country, and cannot tolerate the cruelties and hardships being faced by her countrymen.

Out in the Sea Pakistani and Saudi Arabian navies will hold joint exercises in the Arabian Sea off Karachi from today, Pakistani ambassador said yesterday. “The two navies will engage in war games and other exercises aimed at enhancing technical know-how, communications, understanding and war techniques, Ambassador Rear Adm. (retd.) Abdul Aziz Mirza said. The Saudi naval ships, around half a dozen in number, will be mainly missile crafts, officials told INP. They will be welcomed in Karachi with a 21-gun salute.

The Guardian, London gives us this chilling insider eyewitness account during a Mullah attack on a church in Sangla Hill, Punjab:

Nuns, teachers and 23 terrified schoolgirls crammed into a small upstairs room of the besieged convent as more than 1,500 men, incensed by rumours of Qur'an desecration, swarmed outside. Fr Dilawar watched from the roof as they smashed the altar of the parish church, tore up copies of the Bible and shattered the stained-glass windows. They sprayed fuel over his house and a girls' school next door. Minutes later flames were licking the walls and black smoke filled the sky. Finally they crashed through the heavy convent door, sending the priest running for safety into the room where nine nuns were praying. "They tried to break the door down but did not succeed. Otherwise we could have all been killed," he said. The rampage at Sangla Hill earlier this month has shocked Pakistan's Christian community and highlighted the fragile position of religious minorities in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. Two other churches - one Presbyterian, the other Salvation Army - and at least six Christian houses were also destroyed in normally peaceful market town about 140 miles south of Islamabad. Most worrying the violence lasted several hours but local police were unable or unwilling, to stop it……Read More

Which today led to a scathing Editorial against the Mullahs in The Daily Times titled Stop vandalism in the name of sanctity of Quran!

While the Punjab government has shown initiative in preventing the Sangla Hill incident from becoming a wave of province-wide intolerance, Lahore’s clergy has become active too. Unfortunately, it has taken a position that will shock the world. Maulana Dr Sarfraz Naeemi, secretary general of Tanzimat Madaris Diniya, has said that the government had paid scant attention to the desecration of the Quran but “rounded up 88 Muslim citizens of Sangla Hill on the false charges of destroying the Christian churches”. He declared that the “Christian clergy had set the churches on fire after the desecration incident and should be put behind bars and not allowed to leave the country”. He warned that he was taking a procession to Sangla Hill to get the Muslims released from jail. He protested religion minister Ijaz ul Haq’s statement that the Muslims had destroyed the churches. He said that the Quran “library” was burnt by the Christian clergy with the help of a special incendiary powder they first used in Shantinagar in 1997. (Shantinagar was destroyed by Muslim fanatics on the pretext of desecration of the Quran.)

I don’t know what to make of this news

of 2 old F-16 fighters from the US will be flown to Pakistan this week as part of a deal between Washington and Islamabad while a P-3C Orion aircraft has already been delivered to the Pakistan Navy, US sources told Dawn. Pakistan was expected to buy 75 F-16s from the US at a cost of $3-4 billion. Of these, 50 were new F-16C/D Falcon while 25 were old but upgraded versions of the aircraft. The deal included upgrading of the 30 F-16s Pakistan received in the 1980s. But earlier this month, Pakistan and the United States reached an understanding, allowing Islamabad to temporarily delay the deal at least until April next year. The Bush Administration also delayed an earlier decision to seek Congressional approval for the proposed deal till at least the next session. The two planes, now being flown to Islamabad, are upgraded versions of the old aircraft that Pakistan had originally received in the 1980s and will be added to the existing fleet of more than 30 F-16s.

On the Diaspora front – checkout this story of A MASSIVE mosque that will hold 40,000 worshippers is being proposed beside the Olympic complex in London to be opened in time for the 2012 Games

“It will be something never seen before in this country. It is a mosque for the future as part of the British landscape,” said Abdul Khalique, a senior member of Tablighi Jamaat, a worldwide Islamic missionary group that is proposing the mosque as its new UK headquarters.
Tablighi Jamaat has come under scrutiny from western security agencies since 9/11. Two years ago, according to The New York Times, a senior FBI anti-terrorism official claimed it was a recruiting ground for Al-Qaeda. British police investigated a report that Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 London bombers, had attended its present headquarters in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. In August, Bavaria expelled three members of the organisation on the grounds that it promoted Islamic extremism.

Meanwhile Australian Intelligence ASIO today warned about a new phenomenon i.e. of the "Child Terrorists"

and fears home-grown terrorists may recruit children as young as 16 for suicide bombings. The security agency has told the Government it is conceivable minors could be involved in suicide attacks on Australian soil based on evidence of similar incidents elsewhere. Concerns about such a possibility led it to request the preventative detention powers for teenagers between 16 and 18, contained in the Government's anti-terror Bill due to go before Parliament before Christmas. Police would be allowed to hold minors aged 16 and over in custody for a maximum two weeks on the basis of evidence they are involved in an imminent terrorist attack.

I wonder what human rights dudes have to say about that – however it appears it was more than 'human rights’ but 'human hygiene' that made the US Military Burn Taliban Bodies:

The U.S. military today admitted its troops have burned the bodies of two dead Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan, but said it had not meant it as a desecration. Major General Jason Kamiya, the operational commander of the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, said an investigation concluded U.S. soldiers had burned the bodies for "hygienic reasons." Kamiya said it would reprimand two non-commissioned officers for calling out taunts about it over a loudspeaker.

On the Taliban’s, analyst expectedly believe that the success of the September vote, which was relatively peaceful despite Taliban threats of sabotage, initially raised hopes that the insurgency was losing strength. But after two of the bloodiest months since U.S. forces entered Kabul in 2001, officials now say the Taliban might have been using that time to marshal foreign support and plot new ways to undermine the Western-backed government.

Curious about the term "Islamism" ?

"It was adapted from the French term Islamiste, replacing the term Islamicist that was previously in use in the English language. Islamism is an umbrella term commonly applied to a variety of Islamic movements that are actually quite diverse. Examples of movements commonly grouped under the 'Islamist' heading are Saudi Wahhabism, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Taliban and less militant Muslim groups. Sometimes the term is used so broadly as to include the revolutionary doctrine of the Iranian regime (a radical form of Shi'ism)."

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