VIF News Digest: National Security - Defence Studies & Terrorism, 16-30 June 2021
Anurag Sharma, Research Associate, VIF

DEFENCE

  • RakshaMantri calls for open & inclusive order in Indo-Pacific at the 8th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus.
  • Indian Navy - European Union Naval Force Exercise in Gulf of Aden.
  • IAF and USN Exercise in Indian Ocean Region.
  • Defence Secretary calls for active collaborations to fight COVID-19 at 9th Moscow Conference on International Security.
  • 22nd Meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs.
  • RakshaMantri reviews progress of construction of first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier at Kochi.
  • Low intensity explosion at Jammu Air Force Station.
  • DRDO successfully flight tests New Generation Agni P Ballistic Missile.
  • Chief of the Air Staff to Bangladesh.

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

Africa
Nigeria
  • In a video released, Boko Haram terrorists pledged allegiance to ISWAP.
Somalia
  • At least 30 killed in al-Shabaab attack in Galmudug.
Afghanistan
  • ‘Serious threat of Kidnapping’ in Afghanistan, warned security advisory from Indian embassy.
  • “Al-Qa’ida active in a third of Afghanistan,” said MFA Atmar.

DOMESTIC TERRORISM

Jammu and Kashmir
  • Security forces killed a HM terrorist in Shopian.
  • NIA filed charge-sheet against seven TuM terrorists in “PoonchTuM conspiracy” case.
  • Security forces eliminated three LeT terrorists in Baramulla.
  • Security situation has improved in J&K but need to vigil along LoC.
Left-Wing Extremism
  • Security forces eliminated a Maoist in Chhattisgarh.
  • 19 Maoists surrendered to Police in Telangana.
Islamic Extremism
  • NIA arrested two LeT terrorists in Darbhanga Railway Station blast, from Telangana.
  • India’s NSA proposed an Action Plan against LeT and JeM as part of SCO framework.
Khalistan-inspired Extremism
  • NIA arrested two KLF terrorists in Comrade Balwinder Singh Sandhu murder case.

CYBER, INFORMATION WARFARE & AI (SECURITY PERSPECTIVE)

  • India and Australia to expand cyber security cooperation.
  • Pakistan to join China to carry out an IW campaign globally.
  • “Ransomware is a biggest threat,” said GCHQ Cyber Security Chief.
Defence
RakshaMantri calls for open & inclusive order in Indo-Pacific at the 8th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus.

The ADMM Plus is an annual meeting of Defence Ministers of 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and eight dialogue partner countries - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States. Brunei is the Chair of the ADMM Plus forum this year. He brought out the need for peaceful resolutions of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws. The RM said that “India has strengthened its cooperative engagements in the Indo-Pacific based on converging visions and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Premised upon the centrality of ASEAN, India supports utilisation of ASEAN-led mechanisms as important platforms for implementation of our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific”.
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Indian Navy - European Union Naval Force Exercise in Gulf of Aden.

A total of five warships from four navies participated in the exercise in the Gulf of Adenon 18th and 19th June 2021. Besides India other warships were from the Italian Navy, Spanish Navy Ship and two were from the French Navy.
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IAF and USN Exercise in Indian Ocean Region.

As a strategic outreach exercise with the defence forces of friendly foreign countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Indian Air Force participated in an operational engagement with the US Navy in an exercise carried out with Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) on 23 and 24 Jun 21. The CSG was deployed in the IOR. The Exercise in the AoR of Southern Air Command will see the IAF forces operate from bases under four operational commands and will include Jaguars & Su-30 MKI fighters, AWACS, AEW&C and Air to Air Refueller aircraft. The Indian Navy also participated. The US CSG fielded F-18 fighters and E-2C Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft. The exercise was carried out south of Thiruvananthapuram, on the western seaboard, over two days. This engagement with the US CSG offers one more opportunity to undertake joint operations in the maritime domain with a friendly foreign power.

The exercise with the US CSG was focused on multiple areas including enhancing aspects of interoperability, nuances of international integrated maritime SAR operations and exchange of best practices in the maritime airpower domain.

Defence Secretary calls for active collaborations to fight COVID-19 at 9th Moscow Conference on International Security.

The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation held the 9th Moscow Conference on International Security between June 22-24, 2021. The conference, held annually since 2012, is an important security dialogue.The theme of the conference was the ‘Role of Military Agencies in fighting against COVID-19’, and was held in Moscow, Russia. In the plenary session Defence Ministers of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Sudan and UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping among others participated in the session.On the India-Russia defence relations, Dr Ajay Kumar termed the ties as an integral pillar of the Special & Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries. He welcomed Russia’s willingness to actively engage in India’s ‘Make in India’ program for co-development and production of high technology defence items. He looked forward to the visit of Russian Defence Minister General Sergei Shoigu to India later this year for the next meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military & Military-Technical Cooperation.
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22nd Meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination (WMCC) on India-China Border Affairs.

The 22nd meeting of the WMCC on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) as held on 25 June 2021. The two sides had a frank exchange of views on the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of the India-China Border areas. Both sides agreed on the need to find an early resolution to the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh keeping in view the agreement reached between the two Foreign Ministers in September 2020. The two sides agreed to hold the next (12th) round of the Senior Commanders meeting at an early date to achieve the objective of complete disengagement from all the friction points along the LAC in the Western Sector in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols.

RakshaMantri reviews progress of construction of first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier(IAC) at Kochi.

The RakshaMantri visited the IAC construction site and was briefed about the successful Basin Trials completed during November 2020. He was also appraised of the progress achieved on integration of a number of other navigational, communication and operational systems since then. The IAC would be commissioned as INS Vikrant in the first half of 2022. The ship shall operate MiG-29K fighter aircraft, Kamov-31 Air Early Warning Helicopters, the soon to be inducted MH-60R multi-role helicopter and the indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters.

Low intensity explosion at Jammu Air Force Station.

Two low intensity explosions were reported early Sunday morning in the technical area of Jammu Air Force Station. One caused minor damage to the roof of a building while the other exploded in an open area. It is suspected to be a drone attack.
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DRDO successfully flight tests New Generation Agni P Ballistic Missile.

Agni P is a new generation advanced variant of Agni class of missiles. It is a canisterised missile with range capability between 1,000 and 2,000 kms.
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Chief of the Air Staff to Bangladesh.

Chief of the Air Staff was invited by his counterpart Air Marshal Shaikh Abdul Hannan BUP, Chief of Air Staff, Bangladesh Air Force to review the Passing Out Parade and Commissioning Ceremony at Bangladesh Air Force Academy (BAFA) in Jashore on 28 June 2021, on the occasion of ‘President Parade 2021’. The two day visit was highly significant in view of the Golden Jubilee of the historic victory in 1971 War for Liberation of Bangladesh. This occasion also marks the first instance when any foreign Chief was invited to review the Parade as the Chief Guest – a re-affirmation of the strong bonds of friendship and trust between India and Bangladesh and their Armed Forces.

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

Africa
Nigeria
In a video released, Boko Haram terrorists pledged allegiance to ISWAP.

In a video, produced by Islamic State’s (IS) official media wing, several Boko Haram terrorists pledged allegiance to the Islamic State West Asia Province (ISWAP) weeks after the death of the group’s leader—AbubakarShekau, on 19 May 2021. “We will unite together to fight the unbelievers. What will happen now will by far exceed what transpired in the past now that we’re united,” said a Boko Haram terrorist in the video.
For more information: Click here to read...

Somalia
At least 30 killed in al-Shabaab attack in Galmudug.

On 27 June, al-Shabaab terrorists attacked a military base in Galmudug’sWisil town, followed by an exchange of fire between terrorists and troops. In attack, 17 soldiers were martyred, and 13 civilians were killed, said Major Mohamed Awale, a Somali military officer based in Galmudug.
The al-Qa’ida-allied al-Shabaab has been fighting in Somalia for more than a decade to try to topple the country's central government and establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.
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Afghanistan
‘Serious threat of Kidnapping’ in Afghanistan, warned security advisory from Indian embassy.

On 29 June, the Indian embassy issued a security advisory for its nationals in Afghanistan, warning that “they must exercise utmost vigilance as they faced a serious threat of kidnapping”. The advisory was issued amid a massive surge in violence by Taliban, as the United States (US) continues withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan.
“The security situation in Afghanistan remains dangerous in several provinces. Terror groups operating in Afghanistan have escalated violent activities and carried out a series of complex attacks in various parts of Afghanistan, including targeting Afghan defence and security forces and Afghan government institutions and even civilians. Indian nationals are not exceptions, and they additionally face a serious threat of kidnapping,” read the security advisory.
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“Al-Qa’ida active in a third of Afghanistan,” said MFA Atmar.

In an international meeting held in Turkey on 19 June, Afghanistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs—Mohammad HanifAtmar informed that “the roots of the al-Qa’ida network are very much active in 11 provinces (around third of Afghanistan) and the organisation still poses a threat to the country.”
Despite agreement, Taliban maintains close relations with al-Qa’ida, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Islamic State (IS) together, said MFA Atmar.
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DOMESTIC TERRORISM

Jammu and Kashmir
Security forces killed a HM terrorist in Shopian.

On 23 June, security forces carried out a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) in Shirmalarea of Shopian district, followed by a gun-battle in which a Hizbul-Mujahideen (HM) terrorist—Sajad Ahmed Bhat was eliminated. Sajad was an active terrorist since September 2000 and was involved in several terrorist activities, read a statement released by police. Arms and ammunition, including a pistol with magazine, one grenade and other incriminating materials were recovered from the site.
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NIA filed charge-sheet against seven TuM terrorists in “PoonchTuM conspiracy” case.

On 24 June, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed charge-sheet against seven Tehreekul-Mujahideen (TuM) terrorists—Mohd. Mustafa Khan, Mohd. Yaseen, Mohd. Farooq, Mohd. Ibrar, Mohd. Javid Khan, Sher Ali, and Mohd. RafiqNaiaka Sultan, in connection with the arrest of Mohd. Mustafa Khan and recovery of six hand grenades, along with incriminating documents during his arrest.
Investigation has revealed that the seven charge-sheeted terrorists were part of a deep-rooted criminal conspiracy by Pakistan-based handlers of TuM and their terror associates based in Poonch, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Kuwait to execute terrorist activities and wage war against India.
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Security forces eliminated three LeT terrorists in Baramulla.

In counter-terrorism (CT) operation on 20 June, security forces eliminated three Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists, including a top commander—MudasirPandit, in Sopore area of Baramulla district. Among other two terrorists, one was identified as Khurshid Ahmad Mir, while the other was a foreign terrorist. Post-operation, huge cache of arms and ammunition was recovered from the site.
'Two major attacks have happened in last three months. We installed posters in Sopore area of these terrorists and put-up rewards too. We kept getting information from locals. We want to thank locals for supporting us in eliminating these terrorists,” said Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Vijay Kumar.
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Security situation has improved in J&K but need to vigil along LoC.

In a review meeting of the Core Group on Security of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), on 22 June, security officials has said that all security parameters in J&K have improved in 2021, but there is a need to stay alert due to indications of heightened activity in terror launchpads across the Line of Control (LoC) in the last two months. The meeting was co-chaired by the General Officer Commanding (GCO) of the Army's Chinar Corps, Lt Gen D P Pandey, and Director-General of Police (DGP) of J&K Dilbag Singh.
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Left-Wing Extremism
Security forces eliminated a Maoist in Chhattisgarh.

In an anti-Maoist operation on 18 June, security forces killed a woman Maoist (identity undisclosed) near Chadameta village of Bastar district in Chhattisgarh. According to police statement, three weapons, including an AK-47 rifle, two pistols, and huge amount of camping material was recovered from the operation site.
“Acting upon specific inputs regarding the presence of Maoists, a joint team of the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) carried out a search operation in the jungles near Chadameta village of Bastar district. When the forces were cordoning off the area, an exchange of fire took place with the Maoists. Later, the body of a woman Maoist, along with arms and ammunition, was recovered from the operation site,” informed Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Bastar range.
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19 Maoists surrendered to Police in Telangana.

On 15 June, at least 19 Maoists, including three female members of the Communist Party of India [CPI] (Maoist) surrendered to the BhadradriKothagudem police of Telangana and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.
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Islamic Extremism
NIA arrested two LeT terrorists in Darbhanga Railway Station blast, from Telangana.

On 30 June, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested two Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists—Imran Malik aka Imran Khan and Mohd. Nasir Khan aka Nasir Malik, from Nampally in Hyderabad in Telangana. Both terrorists were involved in an explosion in a parcel at Darbhanga Railway Station, Bihar, on 17 June.
According to preliminary investigation, both terrorists has revealed a conspiracy of terrorist activities across India and cause large scale damage to life and property. Acting upon instructions from their LeT handlers based in Pakistan, Imran and Nasir fabricated an incendiary IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and packed it in a parcel of cloth and booked the same in a long-distance train from Secunderabad to Darbhanga. This was aimed at causing explosion and fire in a running passenger train resulting in huge loss of lives and property, read the statement released by the NIA.
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India’s NSA proposed an Action Plan against LeT and JeM as part of SCO framework.

During the meeting of National Security Chiefs in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on 24 June, India’s National Security Advisor (NSA)—AjitDoval proposed an action plan against Pakistan-based terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) framework. The NSA Doval also emphasised that “there is a need to monitor new technologies used by terrorists, including drones—for smuggling weapons, and misuse of Dark Web, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and social media.
Strongly condemning terrorism in all forms and manifestations, the NSA emphasised on the need for full implementation of United Nations (UN) resolutions and targeted sanctions against UN-designated terrorist individuals and entities. The perpetrators of terrorism including cross-border terror attacks should be expeditiously brought to justice, said NSA Doval.
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Khalistan-inspired Extremism
NIA arrested two KLF terrorists in Comrade Balwinder Singh Sandhu murder case.

On 21 June, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested two Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorists—Harbhinder Singh aka Pinderaka Dhillon, and Navpreet Singh aka Nav, in connection with the murder of Comrade Balwinder Singh Sandhu, a Shaurya Chakra awardee, in Taran Tarn, Punjab on 16 October 2020.
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CYBER, INFORMATION WARFARE & AI (SECURITY PERSPECTIVE)

India and Australia to expand cyber security cooperation.

According to the statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India and Australia discussed various issues related to emerging technologies in the cyberspace during the first meeting of the India-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG) on cyber security cooperation. Both nations agreed to strengthen the cooperation in the areas of the digital economy and cyber-enabled critical technologies, further strengthening the Critical Information Infrastructure (CII).
The JWG is a mechanism established under a framework arrangement on the cyber and cyber-enabled critical technology cooperation between the two countries to implement a five-year (2020-25) plan of action.
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Pakistan to join China to carry out an IW campaign globally.

According to a leaked concept paper titled ‘Building capacity to contest inimical narratives through counter on alternative narratives’, Pakistan willing to collaborate with China to carry out an information war (IW) campaign globally, with finances and guidance provided by Beijing. The planned ‘international news media’ platform will be funded by China to establish a favourable narrative as a part of Pakistan’s information warfare.
“There is a need for a media house of the stature of Al-Jazeera and Russia Today (RT) to propel amenable narrative. A media house by Pakistan, funded by China will achieve the stipulated objectives,” read the paper.
Recently, Pakistan wanted to collaborate with Turkey to set up an Islamic channel for portraying ‘correct Islamic values’ to the world. That project has been shelved due to lack of interest and energy from either stakeholder.
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“Ransomware is a biggest threat,” said GCHQ Cyber Security Chief.

During a meeting organised by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), on 14 June, Lindy Cameron—the Head of the United Kingdom (UK)’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has warned that Ransomware problem must be taken seriously as it is a biggest threat to British people and businesses.
“Far more worrying is the cumulative effect of a failure to manage cyber risk and the failure to take the threat of cyber criminality seriously. For the vast majority of UK citizens and businesses, and indeed for the vast majority of critical national infrastructure providers and government service providers, the primary key threat is not State actors but cyber criminals,” said Cameron.
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