Fortnightly Review & Analysis – Defense, National Security and Terrorism (Vol 1 Issue IV)

(August 1-15, 2016)

International Terrorism- ISIS Related Developments

United States (US) Air Campaign against ISIS in Libya

Following a request from the United Nations (UN)-backed government in Libya, the US carried out airstrikes against ISIS militias in the country. The air campaigns, authorised by President Barack Obama, began on 1 August and reportedly caused heavy damages to the terror outfit. The Pentagon, in one of its reports, mentioned that “these actions and those we have taken previously will help deny ISIL a safe haven in Libya from which it could attack the United States and our allies”.

The US action came at a time when ISIS was facing resistance from local forces. Libya has become an important target for this West-Asia origin terror organisation, particularly considering the loss of strategic territories in Syria/Iraq. Due to instability and lawlessness, Libya has become a fertile ground for breeding extremist elements. It is not only the parallel governments which are competing for influence, even different local terror outfits are equally vying for their share of power. Amidst this chaotic situation, ISIS has also penetrated the country since late 2014. In the recent past, the presence of ISIS fighters, supporters and sympathisers in Libya became a worrying concern for the Europeans countries, particularly Italy, as there were discussions of possibilities of militants reaching the latter’s shores in the form of illegal migrants. As it is, Europe is very much under the radar of ISIS. In what could be considered as a partial victory, on 10 August, Libya’s pro-government militias, with US backing, claimed to have seized ISIS’ stronghold in Sirte. There are still ISIS fighters in other neighbourhoods. The coalition should keep the momentum going so as to give a severe blow to the outfit.

Terrorism in Belgium

Terrorists and radicalised elements seemed to have a free ride in Belgium which is undergoing one of its most traumatic phases. In continuation to the attacks that happened recently, one person once again attacked two policemen outside one of the police stations in the city of Charleroi on 6 August. In its usual style, the outfit’s media wing, Amaq, wrote in Arabic and posted on its Telegram channel that the attacker was an ISIS “soldier”. Amaq further added that the attack came in retaliation to the air strikes conducted by the US and its allies against the ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. This assailant, however, was short dead by the police and his identity has not been revealed by the concerned authorities. Incidents of this nature are on the rise in Europe and have become increasingly difficult to detect and pre-empt.

Meanwhile, on 12 August, Belgian authorities arrested three terror suspects including a Belgian citizen, from Brussels. This individual is reportedly a suicide bomber in Iraq. Although his main intention or plan is yet to be ascertained, this has exposed the dreaded phenomenon of foreign fighters returning home to carry out operation in their home countries.

15th Edition of Dabiq, ISIS Propaganda Magazine

The Islamic State or ISIS has just published the 15th edition of its propaganda magazine, popularly known as Dabiq. Since the time the outfit launched this English-language publication, the main objective still remains to spread its terror ideology and radicalise people, particularly in those countries where English language is popular or widely used. The magazine has already covered several activities and operations carried out by the outfit’s operatives in different parts of the world. It continues to challenge the concept of democracy mainly practiced by the Western society. In the current issue, the magazine devotes a particular section explaining why ISIS hates the “West” and particularly the “Christians”. In accordance to this, the issue is titled “Break the Cross”. In a chapter titled “Why We Hate you & Why We Fight You”, six points have been indentified as to why the ISIS fighters will continue to hate and fight against the “infidels” or “disbelievers”. The author also mentions that “those on the social fringe who identify Islam with ISIS are correct”. The contents of this edition is also timely as there has been rising instances of violence against the Western countries—the US and Europe—by ISIS operatives or inspired/influenced individuals. The hacking to death of the priest in France last month could be well corroborated to this growing incitement of hatred for other religions and, Christianity in this context. Such usage of religion (Islam) as a tool for terror-related activities should be countered by the community in its entirety. Apart from these contentious issues, the magazine also mentions briefly about ISIS’ activities in a few countries, including Bangladesh. Given the efforts of the international community in fighting against it in different capacities, the magazine calls on its fighters/supporters/sympathisers to keep their activities “simple and effective”, carry out “spontaneous attacks” and not to make any “intricate plans”. This sermon sort of a call should not be taken lightly as the attacks are coming in different forms.

1. ISIS-connected Developments in India

During the first week of August, concerned security authorities in India arrested a couple of people for their alleged links with ISIS. This began with the arrest of a woman, Yasmeen Mohammad (28-year-old), on 1 August by the Kerala police. This lady, an origin of Bihar, is reportedly the second wife of Abdul Rasheed, a computer engineer who has gone missing from Kerala. Yasmeen was suspected to have involved in the recruitment of young men and women into this terror outfit from the mentioned southern state. Related reports have mentioned about her plan to travel to Kabul, and the police suspected that a few out of the 21 persons gone missing from Kerala reached Afghanistan. Her arrest has been considered as an “important breakthrough” as “She has close links with Islamic State network operating in India”. On a similar note, on 6 August, a Kuwaiti national indentified as Abdullah Hadi Abdul Rehman Al-Enezi (32-year-old) was arrested by the country’s authorities on the basis of intelligence information shared by Indian agencies. He was allegedly involved in recruiting youths from Kalyan in Maharashtra and he helped in arranging funds for “the travel of first batch of Islamic State recruits from India - Areeb Majeed, Fahad Sheikh, Saheem Tanki and Amand Tandel” in May 2014. Owing to the rising ISIS-related cases in India, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued guidelines to all the security agencies to monitor closely on the activities of people coming to India from ISIS-hit countries for medical purposes. The aforementioned developments clearly indicated not only the presence of ISIS-connected elements in India but also the existence of network between the people within the country and those residing abroad. Simultaneously, there is a thriving cooperation between security agencies in Indian and abroad, particularly Gulf countries. This should be further enhanced to crackdown on the movement of terrorists, prevent money laundering and terror financing, radicalisation and recruitment.


There have been two reported cases of radicalization in India.

I. Mumbai

Ashfaque Abdul Qader, a resident of Mumbai left for Sri Lanka alongwith his wife and daughter in February, 2016. Instead he reached Afghanistan solely for the purpose of fighting the holy war.

His case came into light recently when Qader’s father Abdul Majid recently launched a formal complaint of radicalization of his son against four men including Arshi Qureshi of Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and Rizwan Khan, a volunteer with Al-Birr Foundation in Kerala. In the complaint, the father has accused his son to have been radicalized and persuaded to follow Salafi Wahhabi Islam. The Mumbai police firmed up their links with Kerala’s ongoing process of radicalization, once it was confirmed that Ashfaque Abdul Qader often visited Peace International School where he met Abdul Rashid. Qureshi and Khan facilitated in Ashfaque’s meeting with Abdul Rashid Abdullah. It may be recalled that Abdul Rashid is the fugitive IS recruiter from Kerala who is currently operating from Afghanistan. Rashid is also accused to have indoctrinated the 21 youths who recently fled from Kerala to fight alongside ISIS.

II. Thiruvananthapuram

Yasmin Ahmed, the recently arrested school teacher from Kerala has disclosed to the authorities about Rashid, the same IS recruiter from Kerala of having indoctrinated approximately 40 people.

The Kerala Police’s (SIT) have identified the suspects who attended the radicalization sessions conducted by Rashid at Thrikkaripur in north Kerala’s Kasargode district.

Yasmin Ahmed was arrested last week in Delhi while she was erouted to Kabul, where she was to join Rashid.

The police suspect that some of the radicalized members from Rashid’s terror class might have decided to lie low for obvious reasons.

Meanwhile the intelligence agencies are also probing the funding network of the terror groups as Rs. 2 lakhs were reportedly deposited in Yasmin Ahmed’s account two weeks prior to her arrest.

An alleged link with a Kuwaiti businessmen Abdullah Hadi, who financed the trip of several IS bound Indians last year is also being investigated.

Kuwaiti Police have arrested Hadi. National Investigation Agency team will soon be interrogating the arrested Kuwaiti businessman.


Aurangabad arms haul case: Abu Jundal, 6 others sentenced to life imprisonment

The MCOCA Court convicted key Laskhar-e-Toieba operative and 26/11 Plotter Zabiuddin Ansari Alias Abu Jundal and sentenced to life imprisonment along with other seven convicts in the trial of Aurangabad arms haul case of 2006. Two convicts have been sentenced 14 year of Jail and other convicts will serve the eight year imprisonment. The court had also accepted the prosecution’s case that the convicts were planning to execute a terror act to eliminate public leaders like then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. On May 08, 2006 the Maharashtra ATS arrested three terror suspects after chasing a suspected car near Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. The ATS Maharashtra conducted several raids in the state and seized 6 AK rifles and 3200 live cartridges, 43 KG of RDX and 50 hand grenades from Khultabad, Yeola and Malegaon area. Abu Jundal managed to slip and drove to Malegaon and after few days he escaped to Bangladesh from where he fled to Pakistan. Jundal’s name was again traced during an intercepted voice from the Karachi based control room which was instructing terrorist during the 26/11 terror attack. In 2012, Indian agencies narrowed his location details and traced him from Saudi Arabia and confirmed through his DNA samples collected from his family based in Beed. He was further deported to India in June 2012 and was prosecuted under the charges framed in August 2013. The convicts were prosecuted under several sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Arms Act, Explosives Act and conspiracy under the IPC.

IED Blast at District Court premise of Mysuru

A low intensity explosion smashed the court premises of District Court of Mysuru leaving two persons injured. The NIA and Forensic Science Lab (FSL) have collected the samples. The preliminary investigations have revealed that it was Improvised explosive device, which was packed in a three-litre Murugan brand pressure cooker and contained a mixture of potassium chlorate and gunpowder as explosives. The IED was triggered by a battery-powered timer attached to a bulb filament which transmitted heat to the explosives at the designated time to trigger the blast. Copper wires and steel splinters were recovered from the blast site. The Karanataka Police have considered it as an act of terrorism and initiated investigations.

The Karnataka Police scanning the similarities of the modus operandi in two other recent blasts in court premises in Southern India – occurred on court campus at Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh on April 7th 2016 and another in Kollam, Kerala on June 15, 2016, where no deaths were recorded and some people were injured. In Chittoor court blast the outfit called the Base Movement had claimed responsibility for the blast in a letter received by the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, Chittoor on April 20th. The letter was written in Urdu and was posted from Chennai and contained a picture of the slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The investigating agencies believe that the letter was sent by a former cadre of the Al-Ummah which has renamed its outfit as Base Movement and allied itself with the al-Qaeda by referring to it with Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).The Karnataka Police have contacted the Andhra Pradesh Police and Kerala Police SIT to seek details of the Chittoor and Kollam blast probe. The NIA along with Police officers from Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have inspected the Mysuru Court blast site on August 02. The Kerala SIT has strongly suspected the intense movement of Al-Ummah under the name of Base Movement. In similar incidence, in January, the French embassy in Bengaluru had received a letter from “Base Movement” prior to the visit of French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India demanding the cancellation of Visit. The letter was posted from Velachery area of Chennai South and was posted in the name of Al-Qaeda. The investigation team found that it was posted from fake address.

Assam Terror attacks – two attacks in a fortnight.

The state of Assam witnessed a terrorism of great intensity in two major attacks. During intense gunbattle between terrorists and law enforcing agencies nearly 14 people reportedly killed. The attack took place in a crowded locality of Balajan Tiniali Market of district Kokrajhar. An AK-47 riffle has been recovered from the terrorist who was killed during gunbattle. Terrorists also lobbed a grenade damaging nearly three shops from the market region. This sudden incident of firing has shaken the people of state by surprise, especially when the state was in a state of high alert in view of the Independence Day celebration.

In a second incidence, on the Independence Day, four low intensity blasts shaken the Tinsukia and Sivasagar in Assam. A blast was reported at an abandoned place beside an interior road at 7.40 AM at a place under Tengapukhari outpost in Charaideo district. The investigating agencies confirmed that militants had apparently placed the bomb under the ground. On the same day an IED exploded near Indira Gandhi School at Laipuli on the outskirts of district headquarters of Tinsukia, followed by another explosion at line no 6 of badlabhata tea estate in doomdooma area where the third IED wasa also set off. The fourth explosion exploded in Gamatumati in Philobari. It is the same location from where ULFA-I militants shot dead two persons and injured six in an indiscriminate firing on August 12. All the blasts have taken place in isolated places like, fields, drain and such but have not caused any causalties. On August 14th, a Powerful IED with 4 KG blast material was recovered at Mukum. The action was based on interception of an ULFA-I message.

One Suspected IS Recruit is arrested by Maharashtra ATS

As a part of Maharashtra ATS crackdown on alleged IS recruits Maharashtra ATS has arrested a IS recruit Mohmmad Raisuddin Mohammad Siddique. The accused is a school teacher at a local zilla parishad school at Hingoli. Siddique is the fourth person arrested by Maharashtra ATS in one month. In July Maharashtra ATS arrested Iqbal Ahmed Kabir Ahmed a resident of Parbhani district of Maharashtra who was arrested after Nasir Chaus and Shaheed Khan both are from Parbhani who has allegedly named him during investigation. Siddique and Ahmed are allegedly were crucial part of the Parbhani module which was planning to carry out attack at Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Ahmed runs a mobile repairing shop was inducted into a micromodule of Parbhani by Shaheed Khan to seek his expertise in procuring material used to prepare IEDs and conduct recce.

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