VIF News Digest: National Security - Defence Studies & Terrorism, 01-15 August 2021
Anurag Sharma, Research Associate, VIF

DEFENCE

  • Establishment of hotline between Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in North Sikkim.
  • Joint press release of the 12th round of India-China corps commander level meeting.
  • Eastern Fleet Ships on overseas operational deployment.
  • Commencement of Sea trials of indigenous aircraft carrier.
  • BRO constructs highest motorable road in the world in Eastern Ladakh.
  • Indo - Russia joint training Exercise INDRA 2021.
  • Disengagement at PP 17A.
  • Quad Senior Officials Meeting.
  • Naval Exercises with foreign navies.

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

West Asia
  • Hizbu’llah claimed responsibility for rocket attacks towards Israel.
Africa
  • “Threat to global peace and security as the Islamic State is rising”, said the UN Secretary-General.
Somalia
  • US military targeted al-Shabaab in Somalia with airstrikes.
  • Somali army killed 200+ al-Shabaab terrorists in 3-week CT operation.
Afghanistan
  • Afghan forces eliminated 30 Pakistani AQIS terrorists in airstrikes.
  • Taliban seized Kabul; Afghan President Ghani flee country.
Pakistan
  • CTD arrested five terrorists of al-Qa’ida and TTP from Punjab province.

DOMESTIC TERRORISM

Jammu and Kashmir
  • NIA raided several locations in 15 districts of J&K in connection to JeI terror funding case.’

  • Police arrested two ‘newly recruited’ HM terrorists from Kishtwar.
  • NIA filed charge sheet against six LeM terrorists in a terror conspiracy case.
  • “Between May 2018 and June 2021, 630 terrorists eliminated in J&K,” informed Union Minister Nityanand Rai.
  • Police arrested four LeT terrorists from different parts of the Valley.
Left-Wing Extremism
  • Key woman Maoist surrendered in Odisha.

  • Police arrested a Maoist supporter from Odisha.
Islamic Extremism
  • NIA raided two locations in Karnataka and arrested IS suspect in ‘IS-Voice of Hind’ case.

  • NIA searched five locations in J&K and Karnataka and arrested four IS operatives in ‘IS-Kerala module’ case.
Khalistan-inspired Extremism
  • Police recovered hand grenades and IED near India-Pakistan border.

CYBER, INFORMATION WARFARE & AI (SECURITY PERSPECTIVE)

  • Pakistan government approved new cyber security policy and establishment of new cyber security agency.

  • MHA helped 18 states to set-up cyber forensic labs.
  • Black-hat hackers threatened to leak data of Intel and AMD.

Defence

Establishment of hotline between Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in North Sikkim.

A hotline was established between Indian Army in Kongra La, North Sikkim and PLA at Khamba Dzong in Tibetan Autonomous Region. The event coincided with the PLA Day on 01 Aug 2021.

Joint press release of the 12th round of India-China corps commander level meeting.

The 12th round of India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting was held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side. This round of meeting was held following the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India and People’s Republic of China on 14th July in Dushanbe and the 22nd meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) held on 25th June.

The two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on resolution of remaining areas related to disengagement along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector of India-China border areas. The two sides noted that this round of meeting was constructive, which further enhanced mutual understanding. They agreed to resolve these remaining issues in an expeditious manner in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols and maintain the momentum of dialogue and negotiations.

Eastern Fleet Ships on overseas operational deployment.

In pursuit of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and to enhance military cooperation with friendly countries, a Task Force of Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet is scheduled to proceed on an Overseas Deployment to South East Asia, the South China Sea and Western Pacific from early Aug 2021 for over two months. The deployment of the Indian Navy ships seeks to underscore the operational reach, peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain and to strengthen existing bonds between India and countries of the Indo Pacific.

During the deployment in the Indo Pacific, the ships are scheduled to participate in bilateral exercises with Vietnamese Peoples’ Navy, Republic of Philippines Navy, Republic of Singapore Navy (SIMBEX), Indonesian Navy (Samudra Shakti) and Royal Australian Navy (AUS-INDEX). Further, they would also participate in multilateral exercise MALABAR-21 alongside the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force, Royal Australian Navy and the United States Navy in Western Pacific.

Commencement of Sea trials of indigenous aircraft carrier.

The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier is 262 m long, 62 m at the widest part and height of 59 m including the superstructure. There are 14 decks in all, including five in the superstructure. The ship has over 2,300 compartments, designed for a crew of around 1700 people, including specialised cabins to accommodate women officers. The ship has been designed with a very high degree of automation for machinery operation, ship navigation and survivability, ‘Vikrant’ has a top speed of around 28 knots and cruising speed of 18 knots with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles. The ship can accommodate an assortment of fixed wing and rotary aircraft. Most of the ship construction activities have been completed and the ship has entered the trials phase.
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BRO constructs highest motorable road in the world in Eastern Ladakh.

Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed and black-topped the highest motorable road in the world at 19,300 ft at Umlingla Pass in Eastern Ladakh, creating a record in high-altitude road construction. It has constructed a 52-km long tarmac road through Umlingla Pass, bettering the previous record of a road in Bolivia connecting to its volcano Uturuncu at 18,953 ft. The road now connects the important towns in Chumar sector of Eastern Ladakh. It will prove to be a boon to the local population as it offers an alternate direct route connecting Chisumle and Demchok from Leh. It will enhance the socio-economic condition and promote tourism in Ladakh. The road has been constructed at an altitude higher than the Mt Everest Base Camps as the South Base Camp in Nepal is at an altitude of 17,598 ft, while North Base Camp in Tibet is at 16,900 ft. The road has been constructed much above the altitude of Siachen Glacier which is at 17,700 ft. The Khardung La Pass in Leh is at an altitude of 17,582 ft.

Indo - Russia joint training Exercise INDRA 2021.

The Indo - Russia joint training Exercise INDRA 2021 commenced at Prudboy Ranges, Volgograd on 04 Aug 2021 with an impressive opening ceremony that saw the unfurling of the National Flags of both countries. Exercise INDRA 2021 will enhance interoperability between the Indian and Russian Armies. The closing ceremony was held on 12 Aug 2021. The aim of the exercise was to acquaint each other with operational planning, procedures, combat drills and conducting of joint operations against international terrorist groups. Both the contingents, comprising of 250 soldiers from each side displayed great enthusiasm and professionalism while practicing joint drills during the conduct of the exercise.

Disengagement at PP 17A.

The twelfth round of talks between the Corps Commanders of India and China were held on 31 July 2021 at Chushul Moldo Meeting Point in Eastern Ladakh. As an outcome of the meeting, both sides agreed on disengagement in the area of Gogra. The troops in this area have been in a face-off situation since May last year. As per the agreement, both sides have ceased forward deployments in this area in a phased, coordinated and verified manner. The disengagement process was carried out over two days i.e. 04 and 05 August 2021. The troops of both sides are now in their respective permanent bases. All temporary structures and other allied infrastructure created in the area by both sides have been dismantled and mutually verified. The landform in the area has been restored by both sides to pre-stand off period. This agreement ensures that the LAC in this area will be strictly observed and respected by both sides, and that there is no unilateral change in status quo.
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Quad Senior Officials Meeting.

Senior Officials from the Ministry of External Affairs of India, Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade of Australia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Department of State of the United States of America met by video conference on 12 August to continue their consultations. The Quad Foreign Ministers meeting in February was followed by the historic first Leaders’ Summit held in March 2021. The consultations provided an opportunity to exchange views on the wide-ranging impact of COVID-19 in the Indo-Pacific region, and the importance of collaborative efforts to contain the pandemic, ensure health security and a quick economic recovery. In this context they reviewed the progress of the Quad Vaccine initiative which was announced by the Leaders, with the objective of enhancing vaccine production and equitable access.
The Officials discussed issues of common interest and explored possibilities of collaboration in resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security, cyber security, counter-terrorism, infrastructure and connectivity, higher education, climate change and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Recalling their shared values and principles, the Officials reaffirmed commitment towards a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region based on respect for international law. They reiterated their firm support for ASEAN centrality, ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and ASEAN-led mechanisms in the regional architecture.
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Naval Exercises with foreign navies.

In pursuance of India's ‘Act East' Policy, Indian Naval Ships arrived at Muara, Brunei as part of their deployment to South East Asia on 09 Aug 21. During the stay at Muara, Brunei, the crew of both the ships will participate in various bilateral professional interactions with Royal Brunei Navy. The bilateral exercise would conclude with a Passage Exercise with Royal Brunei Navy at sea on 12 Aug 21.

INS Tabar as part of the ongoing Overseas Deployment, entered Port Stockholm on 30 Jul 21. This is the first visit of an Indian Navy Ship to Stockholm in nearly two decades. It proceeded and a paid a visit to Bergen, Norway from 05-08 Aug and commenced Exercise Konkan 2021 on 12-16 Aug 21 with HMS Westminster off Portsmouth.

The second edition of exercise Zair-Al-Bahr between the Indian Navy and Qatar Emiri Naval Force (QENF) was conducted from 09-14 Aug 21 in the Persian Gulf. The present edition of the exercise included a three day harbour phase followed by a two day sea phase.

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

West Asia
Hizbu’llah claimed responsibility for rocket attacks towards Israel.

Hizbu’llah, on 06 August 2021, claimed responsibility for rockets fired targeting the Israeli posts in Shebaa farms at the Golan Heights, northern Israel. Around 20 rockets were fired from Lebanon. The Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted 10 rockets, with six falling in open areas near Har Dov on the Lebanese border and remaining fell inside Lebanon. No civilian/military injuries or casualties were reported.
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Africa
“Threat to global peace and security as the Islamic State is rising”, said the UN Secretary-General.

In a report released on 03 August 2021, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General—Antonio Guterres said that the rising of Islamic State (IS), with its expansion in Africa and its focus on comeback to Iraq and Syria, is a threat to international peace and security.
“As pandemic-related restrictions gradually ease, there is an elevated near-term threat of IS-inspired attacks outside conflict zones by lone actors or small groups that have been radicalised, incited and possibly directly remotely online,” said S-G Guterres.
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Somalia
US military targeted al-Shabaab in Somalia with airstrikes.

On 01 August 2021, third time in less than two weeks, the United States (US) military carried out airstrikes against al-Shabaab terrorists in Qeycad in Galmudug state. “The airstrikes destroyed a large al-Shabaab firing position engaging Danab and SNA (Somali National Army) forces as they approached,” read the statement released by the Information Ministry of Somalia.
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Somali army killed 200+ al-Shabaab terrorists in 3-week CT operation.

During a 3-week long Counter-Terrorism (CT) operation, Somali National Army (SNA) killed more than 200 al-Shabaab terrorists in Mudug region. “The forces backed by Galmudug’s regional paramilitary forces (Darwish) also destroyed 16 al-Shabaab bases which the terrorists have been using to launch attacks on civilians and government officials,” said SNA Infantry Commander—Mohamed Tahaliil.
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Afghanistan
Afghan forces eliminated 30 Pakistani AQIS terrorists in airstrikes.

On 07 August 2021, the Afghan Air Force (AAF) conducted airstrikes and killed 112 Taliban terrorists, including 30 Pakistani terrorists affiliated to al-Qa’ida in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), at the outskirts of Lashkargah city in Helmand province. The AQIS operates under Taliban protection from Kandahar, Helmand, and Nimroz provinces.
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Taliban seized Kabul; Afghan President Ghani flee country.

On 15 August 2021, Taliban terrorists entered Kabul—the capital city of Afghanistan, after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reportedly resigned as President and fled the country. “The former President of Afghanistan left Afghanistan, leaving the country in this difficult situation. God should hold him accountable”, said the Head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council (ANRC)—Abdullah Abdullah. On Taliban’s advances towards Kabul, the Taliban’s spokesperson—Zabihullah Mujahid said that Taliban will enter some parts of the city and occupy outposts that have been evacuated by security forces. Zabihullah further added that the security situation in the city will remain under control.
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Pakistan
CTD arrested five terrorists of al-Qa’ida and TTP from Punjab province.

On 05 August 2021, Punjab police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) arrested five terrorists of al-Qa’ida and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) during raids in Punjab province. Among five, three terrorists of al-Qa’ida—Muhammad Farhan, Muhammad Arshad, and Mazhar Abbas, were arrested from Lahore in Punjab province.
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DOMESTIC TERRORISM

Jammu and Kashmir
NIA raided several locations in 15 districts of J&K in connection to JeI terror funding case.

On 09 August 2021, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), along with Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) carried out searches at five locations in Bandipora district in connection to Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) terror funding case. The searches were conducted at the premises of members of JeI. Various incriminating documents and electronic devices were seized during the searches.

Earlier, on 08 August 2021, the joint team of the NIA, J&K police, and CRPF, raided 56 locations in 14 districts (Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar, and Rajouri) of J&K in the same case.

The JeI members have been collecting funds domestically and internationally through donations particularly in the form of Zakat, Mowda and Bait-ul-Mal purportedly to further charity and other welfare activities but these funds are instead being used for violent activities. The funds raised by JeI are also being channelised to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and other terrorist groups through well organised networks of JeI operatives.
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Police arrested two ‘newly recruited’ HM terrorists from Kishtwar.

On 09 August 2021, police arrested two ‘newly recruited’ Hizb ul-Mujahideen (HM) terrorists—Yasir Hussain and Usman Qadir, from Kalaingassu area of Tander Dachhan in Kishtwar district of Jammu, in the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Reportedly, both terrorists went missing on 05 August 2021. On 08 August, reliable inputs were received regarding their presence in the area of Tander Dacchan. Subsequently, police team conducted search operation and apprehended both terrorists. Arms and ammunition were recovered upon their possession.
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NIA filed charge sheet against six LeM terrorists in a terror conspiracy case.

On 04 August 2021, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed charge sheet against six Lashkar-e-Mustafa (LeM) terrorists—Hidayat-ullah Malik, Baseerat ul-Ain, Jaan Mohammad Teeli, Mudabir Manzoor, Mustaq Alam, and Jawed Alam, in connection to a terror conspiracy case by LeM at behest of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) to carry out terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
Investigation has revealed that Hidayat-ullah Malik was the commander-in-chief of LeM—a newly floated off-shoot of JeM, and along with his associates, Malik was planning terrorist activities in various parts of India. The LeM was tactically formed to evade security forces and ease the international pressure on JeM after 2019 Pulwama terrorist attack.
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“Between May 2018 and June 2021, 630 terrorists eliminated in J&K,” informed Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai.

On 04 August 2021, the Minister of State for Home Affairs (MoSHA)—Nityanand Rai informed the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of the Indian Parliament), that between May 2018 and June 2021, security forces eliminated at least 630 terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). In same period, around 400 incidents of gun-battle between terrorists and security forces happened, and 85 security personnel attained Veergati. “The government adopted a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism, and measures are in place to strengthen the security apparatus, enforce strict laws against anti-national elements, and intensified Cordon and Search Operations (CaSO) to contain the challenges posed by terrorist organisations,” said Minister Rai.
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Police arrested four LeT terrorists from different parts of the Valley.

On 02 August 2021, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police cracked another module and arrested four Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists—Aamir Reyaz Lone from Baramulla district, Owais Ahmad Shaksaz from Anantnag district, Suhaib Muzaffar Qazi aka Tamil from Kulgam district, and Tariq Ahmad Dar from Pulwama district. The arrested terrorists were conspiring to carryout blasts in Southern Anantnag district and were actively engaged in training the youth of the area via online platforms to join LeT and Hizb ul-Mujahideen (HM).
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Left-Wing Extremism
Key woman Maoist surrendered in Odisha.

On 08 August 2021, a top woman Maoist—Kanti Mallick aka Anita of the KKBN division of the CPI (Maoist), surrendered before the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Kandhamal—Vinit Agarwal. Kanti joined the KKBN division in 2018 and had been involved in several Maoist activities. She was disillusioned by the anti-people activities of the Maoists and decided to surrender the arms, said SP Agarwal.
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Police arrested a Maoist supporter from Odisha.

On 04 August 2021, police arrested a Maoist supporter—Duryodhan Bariha (40 years-old) of the Balangir-Bargarh-Mahasamund Division (BBMD), from Jhalbahal village in Nuapada district in Odisha. Duryodhan used to provide ration, medicines, shelter, and logistics support to the Maoists. He was involved in various acts of violence, including the murder of Trilochan Taria in 2019. Several booklets, and Mao posters were recovered from Duryodhan’s house upon his arrest.
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Islamic Extremism
NIA raided two locations in Karnataka and arrested IS suspect in ‘IS-Voice of Hind’ case.

In a joint operation with Karnataka police, on 06 August 2021, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials raided two locations in Bhatkal in Karnataka, and arrested key Islamic State (IS) suspect—Jufri Jawhar Damudi in connection to ‘Islamic State-Voice of Hind’ case. The case was registered on 29 June 2021, in connection with a conspiracy of IS to radicalise and recruit Muslim youth and wage jihad against India.
Jufri Jawhar Damudi was using pseudonym ‘Abu Hazir al-Badri’ for his active involvement in translation of ‘Voice of Hind’ to South Indian languages and its further dissemination. The ‘Voice of Hind’ is IS’s online magazine to disseminate the propaganda in cyberspace.
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NIA searched five locations in J&K and Karnataka and arrested four IS operatives in ‘IS-Kerala module’ case.

On 04 August 2021, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), along with State police units of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Karnataka, conducted simultaneous searches at five locations (three in J&K, one in Bengaluru, and one in Mangalore) in connection with Islamic State (IS)-Kerala module case.
The joint teams arrested four IS operatives—Obaid Hamid & Muzammil Hassan Bhat from J&K, Ammar Abdul Rahman from Mangalore, and Shankar Venkatesh Perumal from Bengaluru. All four were involved in raising funds and radicalising Muslim youth in India to join the IS. During searches, several digital devices, including laptops, mobile phones, Hard Disk Drives (HDDs), USB drives, SIM cards of different telecom service providers, and incriminating documents were seized.
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Khalistan-inspired Extremism
Police recovered hand grenades, IED and Tiffin bomb near India-Pakistan border.

On 09 August 2021, the Punjab police recovered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), hand grenades, and other ammunition packed in bag from Dalike village, in Tarn Taran Tehsil of Amritsar district, located near the India-Pakistan International Border. According to police officials, the package, suspectedly, delivered via drone, contained five hand grenades, 100 9mm cartridges, along with a tiffin bomb, and three detonators. The IED was made of 2 kgs of RDX.

“A double-decker tiffin box in which full IED was fabricated, was also recovered from the site. The National Security Guard (NSG) team revealed that the tiffin bomb is a sophisticated form of IED. The role of pro-Khalistan group—Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is under scanner,” said Punjab’s Director-General of Police (DGP)—Dinkar Gupta.
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CYBER, INFORMATION WARFARE & AI (SECURITY PERSPECTIVE)

Pakistan government approved new cyber security policy.

As reported on 05 August 2021, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announced a new cyber security policy, accompanying a cyber security agency to deal with Pakistan’s cyber threats. “The IT (Information Technology) ministry and all relevant public and private institutions will be provided all possible assistance and support to ensure that their data, services, ICT products and systems are in line with the requirements of cyber security,” said IT minister Syed Aminul Haq.
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MHA helped 18 states to set-up cyber forensic labs.

Amid rising rate of cyber crimes across India, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) helped 18 states to set-up ‘state of the art’ cyber forensic-cum-training laboratories. These laboratories have helped the law enforcement agencies to crack thousands of cyber crime related incidents, including child pornography.
In 2019, the MHA provided a grant of ₹ 93.12 crore to all states and the Union Territories (UTs) under the Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children (CCPWC) scheme. The funds were utilised to set up such forensic-cum-training labs, recruitment of cyber consultants at junior level, and the capacity building to law enforcement personnel.
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Black-hat hackers threatened to leak data of Intel and AMD.

Taiwan-based hardware company—Gigabyte has suffered a cyber-attack, where the black-hat hackers threatened to release more than 112 GB of confidential data of the Intel and AMD. According to report in The Record, the RansomExx ransomware gang has attacked Intel. The company was investigating the modus operandi of the attack.
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