VIF News Digest: Defence, National Security and Terrorism (Vol 1 Issue VI)

December 16 – 31, 2017


Daesh related developments;

US Counterterrorism strikes in Yemen;

Afghanistan-Militants attack intelligence establishments;

French origins Daesh fighters in Afghanistan;

Pakistan-Five militants killed in Sindh;

US air strikes on al-Shabab locations in Somalia;

Boko Haram attack on Nigerian capital on Christmas;

British agencies arrest four for conspiring terror plot in the UK;

Kashmir Security Review 2017;

Jaish Commander Tantray killed in encounter;

JeM Fedayeen Attack on CRPF camp;

India US Counterterrorism Designation Dialogue.

International Terrorism: Daesh Related Developments

West Asia

Iraq and Syria after Daesh (Islamic State, IS)

Despite the complete victory of US and Russia led coalitions over Daesh, it is feared that about 1000 Daesh militants still remained in Iraq and Syria and likely to continue to pose security threat to the respective governments. The defeat of Daesh is looked upon as the end of intense military campaign which began with the US military campaign in Iraq in 2003. The focus now shifts to the reconstruction phase, expected to bring in stability in the region. [ Back to Contents ]

US Counter-terrorism Strikes in Yemen

US Central Command officials confirmed having conducted multiple ground-operations and more than 120 strikes in 2017 to remove key leaders and disrupt the ability of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and IS-Yemen to use ungoverned spaces in Yemen as a hub for terrorist recruiting, training, and base of operations to export terror worldwide. After the liberation of Iraq and Syria, the US has intensified its military campaigning in Yemen through air strikes in Bayda region in October, November and December 2017, killing hundreds of Daesh militants and disrupting recruit and training of new fighters. According to the US National Security Strategy 2017 released in December 2017, these operations have helped elliminate terrorist networks, making intelligence gathering, subsequent targeting and follow-on operations increasingly productive and effective. [ Back to Contents ]

Afghanistan-Militants Attack Intelligence Establishments

The training centre of National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Kabul was stormed by two militants on December 18, 2017. Both the attackers were neutralised by the Afghan Security forces after a fierce gun battle lasting for over four hours. The responsibility of attack was claimed by Daesh through its media organ, the Amaq news agency, on the same day. No casualty was recorded on Afghan security forces during this attack.

A week later, on December 25, a suicide bomber attacked the NDS unit in Kabul, killing six civilians. This too was claimed by Daesh. It may be mentioned that in the year 2017, Daesh claimed responsibility for a number of high profile terror attacks in the country, signifying their expanding footprints in the Af-Pak region. Targeting primarily military, police and Shia populations, both Daesh and Taliban carried out several attacks in the country this year, and they also fought each other over territorial dominance, particularly in the east of the country. In Af-Pak region the Islamic State has to share the available space dominated by other terrorist groups like Taliban, Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba. [ Back to Contents ]

French Origin Daesh Fighters in Afghanistan

For the first time, Afghanistan has confirmed the presence of French origin Daesh militants in the country. Darzab district governor Baaz Mohammad Dawar has confirmed presence of a number of Algerian and French nationals in the Daesh controlled district of Darzab since Mid-November 2017. These militants have joined the ranks of the Daesh terrorists in northern Afghanistan where they have established new bases. Multiple international and Afghan sources told AFP that most of these French nationals are of North Africa descent. Member of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, Caitlin Forrest warned that IS was turning Jowzjan into a “logistical hub to receive and train foreign fighters as the group lost ground in Iraq and Syria” and thinks of Afghanistan as a “haven” to plan attacks on the US. Afghanistan has long attracted foreign fighters, from the mujahedeen during the 1980’s war against Soviet invaders to Al-Qaeda's later use of the country as a haven. [ Back to Contents ]

Pakistan - Five Militants Killed in Sindh

Five suspected Daesh militants were killed by the Police in Gharibabad area near Karachi of Sindh Province on December 30, 2017. The militants were involved in the targeted killing of Policemen, Army personnel and members of Shia and Christian communities. An 8 mm rifle, a 9 mm pistol and two 30-bore pistols were recovered from the possession of the slain militants. [ Back to Contents ]


US air strikes on Al-Shabab Locations in Somalia

The US Africa Command in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia carried out airstrikes against Al-Shabab militants on December 27, 2017. This was at a location nearly 25 km West of the capital, a region considered to be the epicentre of terrorists executing an attack in an around the Mogadishu. [ Back to Contents ]

Boko Haram Attack on Nigerian Capital on Christmas

The St. Theresa Church located in Madalla, a suburb of Abuja was shattered by a bomb blast during the Christmas Morning Prayer on December 25, 2017, killing 39 people and severely injuring over 100 others. This attack was part of a wave of attacks across Nigeria. Boko Haram members allegedly detonated Nigeria's first ever suicide bombing in August 2017 at the U.N. compound, killing 24. The group, which draws inspiration from Afghanistan's Taliban movement, is fighting for a strict interpretation of Shari'a across Nigeria's Muslim population. President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has previously claimed that Boko Haram was almost defeated but the latest attack shows the group’s continued ability to stage hit-and-run raids, prompting a renewed government push against the militants. [ Back to Contents ]

The UK

British Agencies Arrest four for Conspiring Terror Plot in the UK

The counter-terrorism officials of the UK have launched investigation into a possible terror plot in Northern UK after the arrest of four suspects in Chesterfield, Derbyshire on December 18, 2017. All four were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and will be prosecuted accordingly. MI5 Director General, Andrew Parker, and police chiefs had warned of terrorist threat being at an unprecedented level, with 10 plots believed to have been disrupted since March, 2017, including one allegedly targeting Downing Street. Since September 2017 the threat level in the UK for terrorism remains at severe, meaning an attack is deemed highly likely. [ Back to Contents ]

Domestic Terrorism

Jammu and Kashmir

Kashmir Security Review 2017– Comparative Normalcy, but Peace still Eludes J&K

An initial analysis of data released by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs reveals that the year 2017 was a comparatively peaceful year for the J&K with the security forces registering major successes, having neutralised 213 militants in 2017. Majority of the counter-terrorism operations were intelligence driven and conducted in South Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam where the security forces continue to maintain their dominance. In 2017, some militants surrendered at Srinagar and joined the mainstream.

The special drive launched by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate terror funding cases in J&K, led to the arrest of several separatist leaders for their involvement in terror funding to stoke unrest in the Kashmir Valley. The number of stone pelting incidences came down significantly in 2017. However, normalcy and credible peace still elude in J&K with continuous operations of terrorist groups in the valley with local support.
In October 2017 The Government appointed Dineshwar Sharma as a special representative to initiate a dialogue process with various stakeholders. Besides, various developmental initiatives in the field of communication, connectivity and youth empowerment were introduced by the Government of India. [ Back to Contents ]

Jaish Commander Tantray Killed in Encounter

In an intelligence-driven operation, the security forces neutralised one of the most wanted terrorist, Noor Mohammad Tantray on December 26, 2017, at Samboora village in Pulwama district. Tantray was divisional commander of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and had become a cause of concern for the security forces after he jumped parole and rejoined militancy in 2011. He was credited with reviving the JeM’s operations in the Valley and was reportedly responsible for several militant attacks, including one on the Border Security Force (BSF) camp outside the Srinagar airport in October 2017. [ Back to Contents ]

JeM Fedayeen Attack on CRPF camp

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp at Letpora in Pampore in Pulwama district was stormed by JeM militants on the midnight of 31 December 2017. In the operation that followed, three terrorists were neutralised and five CRPF jawans lost their lives. In a statement to local media JeM claimed the responsibility for the attack. Three AK 47, two grenade launchers, eight magazines, five grenades, a flag, and some eatables were recovered from their possession. The ballistic forensic inspection of the weapons and the post-mortem report of the slain CRPF personnel suggests use of steel-core bullets for the first time in India. [ Back to Contents ]

India-US Counter-terrorism Designation Dialogue

The inaugural meeting of India-US Counterterrorism Designation Dialogue was held in New Delhi on December 18-19, 2017. The objective of the meeting was to enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries on terrorism-related designations. The two delegations exchanged information on procedures for pursuing designations against terrorist groups and individuals, through domestic and international mechanisms. Joint Secretary in-charge of Americas division in the MEA and senior officials from other ministries, including the home ministry, represented India in the meet. From the US side, officials from Homeland Security were present. They also discussed best practices for effective implementation of the designations. The US will host the second India-US Designations Dialogue in 2018. [ Back to Contents ]

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