Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Mac's Regional Intelligence Bulletin 29/11/2005

Security personnel inspect the courthouse after a bomb exploded in Ghazipur, about 32 kilometres north of the capital of Dhaka, Bangladesh. (AP Photo/Pavel Rahman)

Bangladesh: The Real Bad News first – 2 bombs went off in Courts precinct in the southern port city of Chittagong and near Gazipur in Dhaka. The first attack was in Chittagong's main court, where three people died -- including a suicide bomber and two police officers, police said. The second attack was on the bar association in Gazipur. One suicide bomber wearing lawyer's robes and four others died in that attack, police said. "We believe the [dead] bomber was an activist of Jamayetul Mujahideen," Chittagong police Sub-Inspector Rahul Amin said.

There are yet conflicting account on casualty figures and India maintains at least 13 were killed in the two bomb attacks.

What is nonetheless confirmed at this stage is both were suicide bombers making it only the first time that we had witnessed such ferocity in terrorist attacks, as Deepikaglobal reports:

A man strapped with bombs around his body entered the lawyer's room of Gazipur court and set off the devices, witnesses said, adding that among the dead were two lawyers and the attacker, whose body was found wrapped in wire. The injured, many of them with critical wounds, were rushed to local hospitals and also ferried to capital Dhaka. The private NTV reported that at least 10 people were killed and 40 others injured in the suicide attack in Gazipur, suspected to be carried out by the banned Jamatul Mujaheedin Bangladesh (JMB). In the other incident in southeastern Chittagong port city, a suicide attacker set off the device as police checked those arriving at the local court, killing three people, including two policmen, witnesses said. The third was believes to be the suspected Islamic militant. And with police comment on the incidents was not yet available.

The day started ominously with an American Embassy official in Dhaka saying that in the experience of the United States and many other countries targeted by terrorists, recognising and acknowledging the true nature of the problem -- who the terrorists are and what they hope to accomplish is

"an essential first step to create a durable social and political framework for fighting terrorism"."There are many causes of terrorism, including ignorance and extremism, and a long-term solution must incorporate strategies, like providing good education to traditionally neglected constituencies, for surmounting them,"

the spokesman said.In the short-term, however,

"there is no substitute for effective law-enforcement action. In Bangladesh or elsewhere, there is no better antidote to terrorism than brining to justice terrorists and those who sponsor and assist them".
And there were yet desperate pleas from this New Nation Commentator who wanted to know:
How powerful is the outlawed JMB? It has reportedly, threatened to kill Supreme Court Justices. It also has threatened to blow up British and American missions in Dhaka. JMB, allegedly, threatened to blow up Mymensingh Press Club and kill the judicial officers of the district. In the face of its threat, Law Minister Moudud Ahmed left his own constituency without attending a function for which he had earlier gone. What do all these phenomena and incidents mean? If they are taken to be true and thought to really take place, Dhaka should be like Baghdad and Bangladesh be like Iraq. But is the matter really of that importance or weight?

Eerie also was the timing of the article that came in from the Online Journal to me titled How our governments use terrorism to control us which I had just added to the Blog when news of the bomb attacks came on Cell Text. The story on Ali Mohamed if TRUE needs to be a reference point in Bangladesh’s war on terror – and I believe the Intelligence and Security Services community could serve the nation well if they were to read these lines:

Ali Mohamed, an Egyptian intelligence officer, was fired in 1984 because of his religious extremism. In spite of this and in spite of the fact that his name was on the State Department's terrorist watch list, he was granted a visa to enter the US and became a US citizen. By 1986 he was a sergeant in the US Army and an instructor at the elite Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg. While in this position Mohamed travelled to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden, and he assisted with the training of al-Qaeda operatives both in Afghanistan and in the US. His immediate supervisors at Fort Bragg were duly alarmed by these illegal activities, and reported them up the chain of command. When their reports failed to produce any action, not even an official debriefing of Mohamed upon his return from Afghanistan, at least one of his supervisors, Lt. Col. Robert Anderson, concluded that Mohamed had been acting as part of an operation sanctioned by an American intelligence agency, "probably the CIA."

Mohamed's activities in support of al-Qaeda throughout the 1990s were of the highest significance to that organisation. In 1991, he handled security for bin Laden's move from Saudi Arabia to the Sudan. In 1993, Mohamed accompanied bin Laden's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, on a fund raising tour of the United States, again handling security arrangements. The funds raised helped support Zawahiri in a Pentagon supported mission in the Balkans, which will be discussed in the next section.

The al-Qaeda members trained by Mohamed in the United States included several who were later convicted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Top secret US Army training manuals supplied by Mohamed to the defendants were produced as evidence at their trial.

Mohamed himself did the initial surveillance for the al-Qaeda bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. At the time Mohamed was on active reserve with the Special Forces and was a paid FBI informant. Mohamed was at long last charged with crimes in connection with the 1998 embassy bombings. In October 2000, he was convicted of five counts of conspiracy to murder nationals of the United States. However, the nature of Mohamed's plea agreement, the sentence handed down, if any, and Mohamed's present whereabouts remain secret.

Meanwhile Thailand has warned about “MISSED CALLS” from Cell Phones ---a very common phenomenon in Bangladesh could well activate a bomb without our knowing:

Information and Communication Technology Minister Sora-art Klinpratum on Tuesday warned mobile phone users not to phone back to missed calls of an unknown number, saying southern insurgents might trick the users into detonating bombs in the trouble-plagued three southernmost provinces through the calls. His warning came after there was mounting concern that the insurgents in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat might call any mobile phone users and leave a missed call message so that they could detonate bombs when phone receivers called back.

Cell phone users in Bangladesh -- take note.

In India, soul searching on the man murdered by the Talibs in Afghanistan continues in earnest in what is being called “Feckless Service” for very good reasons:

New Delhi’s salute to an ordinary worker who died in harness far away from home, however, can hardly mask the growing pusillanimity of India’s babudom. As more Maniyappans come under fire in Afghanistan, one simple fact stands out. There are no volunteers from the Indian Foreign Service to join the rough and tumble in Afghanistan. Only promotees on the verge of retirement can be dragged in, kicking and screaming. The IFS, however, is not an exception. The situation is not very different in the Indian Police Service that dominates the intelligence agencies. Few from the agencies are willing to risk engaging these regions let alone being posted there. It is much worse in the Indian Administrative Service, with many of its officers having refused to take charge of their posts in states like Manipur where the writ of the Indian state is under threat.

On a more BIZZARE note reports say Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hand out the first dual citizenship to a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) at a function at Hyderabad in January. The light-blue four-page booklet carrying personal details will be supplemented by a permanent visa on the passport. The booklet will have all the advanced security features of Indian passports to prevent fraud. The facility would be available to all those whose parents or grandparents migrated from India before 1950 –

The RARE EXCEPTION OFCOURSE:

excluding those who went to either Pakistan or Bangladesh. The Home Ministry expects a couple of lakh applicants.

There was a threat to blow up Ayodhya temple today basically an unsigned letter threatening to blow up the Ram temple built on the ruins of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya has led to security being tightened further in the Uttar Pradesh town. The letter, which came in a sealed packet, was found in a local branch of the Allahabad Bank. Though Faizabad Senior Superintendent of Police Avinash Chandra termed it a "mischievous act" by a prankster, the administration was not taking the threat lightly.

I am however impressed in the manner the Indian’s handle these pranksters – as opposed to what we are good at – and as explained in my Bulletin Yesterday when I wrote

“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.”

People sending Bomb threats on phone, fax, email or Cell Text are PRANKSTER – Bangladesh ought to take lessons forthwith.

On Population and the senseless Hindu Demography phobia – this one beats them all : A leading Hindu hard-liner has angered women and Muslims by pressing Hindus to have as many children as they can to avoid being swamped by Muslims. K.S. Sudarshan, who heads the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party that led India until last year, said a higher Hindu birth rate was vital to check a

''population imbalance." ''Whenever new people come to me for blessings, I tell them: 'Not less than three [children].' The more you can, the better,"
he said at a function broadcast on television recently. Women's groups in Asia's third-largest economy, with more than a billion people, said they were insulted, and one group labeled Sudarshan's stand an ''agenda of hatred."
''It is implied in his statement that a woman's reproductive faculties are to be employed solely to fulfill the agenda of a Hindu nationalist state -- like a reproductive machine."

Meanwhile India’s External Intelligence Service RAW has recommended that its agent Rabinder Singh (who took of to the US to join the CIA, with the Bangladesh and Nepal files under his arms!) be charged under Section 8 of the OSA so that he is declared a proclaimed offender and his properties in India could be seized. The relevant section invites imprisonment up to three years and fine or both in case the accused does not appear before the court. Rabinder Singh escaped to Nepal en route to US via Vienna on May 7, 2004. The UPA government, after assuming power on May 23, ordered an inquiry and asked then RAW chief C.D. Sahay to fix responsibility. The work was taken up by P K Hormese Tharakkan, after being appointed Secretary.

Things tend to get more than a little foggy when you are monitoring news and it gives you 2 diametrically opposing perspective. Take for instance this one where Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath said that India had got the potential to transform the world economy in the next two decades in the same way that America had done in the last century, or that China had been doing for the past two decades.

“I believe that India has the potential to transform the world economy in the next two decades. We are determined that India exploits this potential to the fullest,”
said Nath, addressing the Plenary Session of the India Economic Summit 2005 entitled “India: The New Paradigm”, jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the World Economic Forum. He said that the most striking feature of the Indian economic reform that had been undertaken about one and a half decade ago was that the economic reforms in the country had been transformed from the crisis-driven, to success-driven.

If you were then to read what India's Oil Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar says he has a duty to think about energy security and raised concerns about the country's future energy supplies, amid falling oil output at its main energy company.

The minister warned that output from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation's (ONGC) current fields may fall sharply, creating significant future problems. India's largest energy company sought to ease government worries and pledged to double its reserves by 2020.ONGC said new discoveries and better technology would boost reserves
….one cannot overlook that India’s ambition foir regional dominanace and superpower status is certainly not FUELD by reality!

Yet there is good news from oil-rich Assam where a hunt is on to trace descendants of two Scottish brothers to commemorate their discovery of wild tea bushes more than 180 years ago in the northeastern state have turned futile. Assam, the heart of India's tea industry, was planning to honour family members of Robert Bruce and his brother Charles at a three-day "Tea Tourism Festival" starting here Dec 4. "

We tried our best through diplomatic and personal channels to identify family members of the Bruce brothers and invite them to the festival. But we simply could not trace anybody,"
Assam's Tourism Commissioner S.C. Panda told IANS Monday.
"We had planned to felicitate family members of the Bruce brothers at the fest in recognition of their contribution to the discovery of tea."


Any Scotsman or women reading this Blog and know where the Bruce’s live, please spread the word.

Sandhya Jain has a short but sure analysis on India’s loss in Nepal and she says:

By choosing to isolate King Gyanendra of Nepal and support discredited, thoroughly corrupt politicians and the Maoists after last February's palace coup, the UPA Government adopted a disastrous policy whose impact is now beginning to take shape. Faced with total non-cooperation from India, especially after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his team decided to suspend arms supplies to the Royal Nepal.

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