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

Nov 1-15, 2017


Goa Maritime Conclave

The Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC) was inaugurated by Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman at the Tarang Auditorium of INS Mandovi, Goa on 01 November 17. The conclave was aimed at “Addressing Regional Maritime Challenges” wherein the deliberations were focused on emerging maritime threats and force structuring, maritime domain awareness, maritime security architecture, and maritime security challenges in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Delivering the key note address, Raksha Mantri said that the Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC) aims to bring together like minded nations to evolve and formulate collective responses to emerging challenges in the maritime domain. It would also provide an opportunity to communicate our viewpoints in a forthright manner and collectively shape a favourable maritime environment for all countries in the region.

RRM Inaugurates Seminar on Construction of Highway Tunnels in Himalayan Region

Raksha Rajya Mantri Dr. Subhash Bhamre inaugurated a two-day seminar on ‘Challenges in Planning, Investigation, Design and Construction of Highway Tunnels in Himalayan Region’ organised by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) on 02 November 17. In his address, Dr. Bhamre said that development of road infrastructure plays a vital role in overall development of the nation, creation of jobs, attract foreign investment and in integration of remote parts of the country with the mainland. He added that in the Himalayan region, road infrastructure is of special significance, as it remains the only means of communication for movement of inhabitants, their logistic support and for their overall development. For the areas having security concerns, necessity of reliable and all-weather connectivity becomes all the more important.

Indo – Kazakhstan Joint Exercise ‘PRABAL DOSTYK-2017’ Begins

A fourteen-day joint training exercise, “PRABAL DOSTYK – 2017”, between the Indian Army and the Kazakhstan Army commenced on 02 November 17 with the Opening Ceremony at Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh. The joint exercise is aimed at enhancing military ties between the two countries as also at achieving interoperability between the two armies.

BRO Builds World's Highest Motorable Road in Ladakh

In a major feat, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed the world's highest motorable road in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, passing through a height of over 19,300 feet. This was achieved under 'Project Himank' of the Organisation. Being close to Hanle, the 86 km long strategic road connects villages around Demchok located close to the India-China border in the eastern sector and 230 km from Leh.

Raksha Mantri Visits Forward Bases in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh

Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman visited the forward Army posts in Arunachal Pradesh and Air Force base in Eastern Assam on 04-05 November 17. The minister was briefed on the situation and defence preparedness along the Line of Actual Control. She also interacted with the troops and appreciated their dedication to the service and efforts in such a remote and inhospitable terrain.

Fourth JWGACTC Meeting

The 4th meeting of the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Co-operation (JWGACTC), constituted under the auspices of the Indo-US Defence Trade and Technology Initiative, was held in India from 29 Oct to 03 Nov 17. During the meeting, both sides acknowledged the significant achievements of the Joint Working Group so far and discussed plans for future co-operation under various aspects of aircraft carrier technology such as design optimisation, construction philosophy, trials procedure and project management. The meeting marked yet another significant landmark in the ongoing cooperation between the two countries in the field of aircraft carrier technology. The next meeting will be held in the US early next year.

Naval Chief Adm. Sunil Lanba Visits France

Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Naval Staff visited France on from 05 to 10 November 2017. The visit aims to consolidate cooperation between the Armed Forces of both countries and also to explore new avenues of defence cooperation.

Successful Flight Test of Guided Bombs

Indigenously developed light weight Glide Bomb, SAAW (Smart Anti Airfield Weapon) was successfully tested from Indian Air Force aircraft in the ranges at ITR, Chandipur, Odisha. The bomb released from the aircraft and guided through precision navigation system, reached the targets at greater than 70 km range, with high accuracies. A total of three tests with different release conditions and ranges were conducted and all were successful.

Successful Flight Trial of 'NIRBHAY' Sub-Sonic Cruise Missile

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) achieved yet another feat with the successful test flight of ‘NIRBHAY’ - India’s first indigenously designed and developed Long Range Sub-Sonic Cruise Missile which can be deployed from multiple platforms. The test fire was carried out from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, Odisha. The flight test achieved all the mission objectives completely from lift-off till the final splash, boosting the confidence of all scientists associated with the trial.

Military Honours to Two WW-I Indian Soldiers of 39th Royal Garhwal Rifles

On 20th Sep 2016, during an excavation work on southern side of the village of Richebourg near Laventie Military Cemetery approximately 230 Kms away from Paris, two human remains were found. On examination of their belongings, they were identified as causalities of 39th Royal Garhwal Rifles. The office of Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWWGC), which is curator of the graves of these unsung heroes, in consultation with the French Government and the Indian Embassy in France, decided to hold a burial ceremony at Laventie Military Cemetery, with full military honours, alongside the Annual Memorial Service to commemorate the Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives in France and Belgium. On behalf of the Indian Army, a delegation comprising the Commandant and the Subedar Major of the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Centre, two bagpipers from the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Pipe band and Colonel Nitin Negi, grandson of late Naik Darwan Singh Negi, Victoria Cross, the gallant hero in the battle of Festubert, attended the Ceremony.

‘Joint Training Doctrine Indian Armed Forces – 2017’ Released
Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee & Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba released ‘Joint Training Doctrine Indian Armed Forces – 2017’ on 14 November 2017. The aim of the Doctrine is to promote ‘Synergy’ and ‘Integration’ amongst the three Services and other stake-holders leading to enhanced efficiency and optimum utilisation of resources. Besides the Doctrines, this document will also go a long way in ‘fostering initiative’ and ‘stimulating creativity’ for promoting ‘Integration’ between the three Services in times to come. Chief of the Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa and Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Lt Gen Satish Dua were also present on the occasion.

International Terrorism

India Appeals to ASEAN to Unite on Terror Cooperation

Addressing the 15th ASEAN-India Summit at Manila (November 14, 2017), Prime Minister Modi identified terrorism and extremism as the major challenges facing the region, and appealed to the ASEAN leaders, “We have individually strived very hard to fight terrorism and violent extremism; it is time that we jointly address this challenge by intensifying cooperation in this crucial area”. He assured them of India’s continued support for achieving a rule-based regional security architecture in the best interest of the region. While complimenting the ASEAN-India Plan of Action which has progressed well covering the three crucial pillars of politico-security, economic and cultural partnership, PM Modi invited all the ASEAN leaders as the Chief Guests at India’s 69th Republic Day Celebrations scheduled in January 2018.

West Asia

Reports of Daesh Militants Getting Safe Passage in Raqqa

According to allegations carried in several recent media reports, nearly 4000 Daesh militants and their families have been ‘allowed’ to leave after their defeat in Raqqa in last month. The allegations also raised concerns about the escaping Daesh militants having carried with them ‘tonnes of weapons and ammunition’. A British analyst suggests that British jihadis were also amongst the foreign militants allowed to escape from Raqqa, raising fears that the foreign militants might have spread across Syria and into Turkey, potentially en-route to Europe and UK. It is further alleged that the escape of militants from Raqqa was facilitated by local officials. It is however, surprising that neither the US and British led coalition nor the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have yet commented on this.

In this context, Europol and Interpol in their situation analysis report published in September 2017 have strongly highlighted the issue of illegal entry of foreign militants in Europe posing serious security threats.

Syria - Daesh Recaptures Albukamal

The eastern city of Albukamal in Syria, which was liberated on November 09, 2017 by the Syrian Democratic Forces, was however recaptured the next day by Daesh militants after a fierce battle. Albukamal is located on the borders with Iraq, and was considered the last prominent stronghold of the Islamic State in the Syrian territory.

Iraq - Anbar Province

After liberating al-Rummana on November 11, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), along with tribal forces from Anbar province, launched operations to liberate Rawa, located 230 km west of Ramadi. Rawa is the last Daesh controlled area. Earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi on November 10, 2017, had announced the liberation of Qaim in record time and complimented the troops for swift action in the liberation of Ebeidi and Krabla regions in western Anbar where the town of Rawa had remained in control with Daesh, hosting many Fedayeens. Thousands of civilians are feared hostage in Rawa. The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq quoted nearly 144 civilians deaths and 244 injured in terror acts and armed conflict in October 2017.


Somalia - Rising Daesh Activities-US Airstrikes

The United Nations, in a report published on November 09, 2017, expressed concern over the sudden rise in Daesh militant’s activities in northern Somalia. The report predicted rise in strength of Daesh militants in the area because security officials fear that Somalia can be a safe haven for Daesh militants fleeing from Syria and Iraq. The UN report estimated that Daesh’s strength has grown up to nearly 200+ in 2017 form just about a dozen or so in 2016. Somalia's main Islamist insurgent group, al Shabaab, is aligned with al Qaeda and is most active in the Horn of Africa country's south.

Meanwhile, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) in a statement issued on November 03, 2017, confirmed airstrikes at two separate locations against Daesh and Al-Sham factions in Somalia. This marks the first use of force by the US against Daesh militants in a country where al-Shabab has been the primary focus of US and allied efforts in recent years. These airstrikes also underscore the shift of operational gravity of Daesh from Syria and Iraq to Somalia. Since December 2016, surviving Daesh militants in Libya were moving into remote locations in North and West Africa, where many ISIS recruits originally came from. These airstrikes on Daesh factions in Puntland is recognition of increasing critical situation in Puntland region Somalia.

US Drone Attacks on Al Shabab Targets

After air strikes on Daesh factions in North Somalia, the US AFRICOM, in coordination with the Somali government, conducted drone strikes on November 09, 2017 hitting Al-Shabaab targets in the Bay Region of Somalia, about 160 km west of the capital, Mogadishu. In a statement, AFRICOM confirmed that US. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats.


China Blocks India’s Move at UN on Jaish Chief

As anticipated, China, on November 03, 2017, used its Veto at the UN to block Jaish-e-Mohammad Chief Masood Azhar being declared an international terrorist that would have frozen Masood Azhar’s assets and banned his international travels. India strongly reacted by stating that "accommodating with terrorism" for narrow objectives was both short-sighted and counterproductive. In a strongly-worded statement, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson said, "India strongly believes that double standards and selective approaches will only undermine the international community's resolve to combat terrorism." Indian resolution was supported by France, UK and the US.

Internal Security

Daesh Planning Lone-wolf Attacks in India

A recent video, a Daesh recruiter from Kerala who had travelled in June this year to Afghanistan has raised several security concerns. The individual identified as Abdul Rashid Alias Abdulla Abdul Rashid from Kasargod, Kerala, is the prime accused in a criminal case being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). In that video, Abdul urged Indian Muslims to initiate lone wolf attacks on the Hindu religious congregations like Kumbh Mela, Thrissur Program etc. Abdul appealed to Indian Muslim to seek inspiration from Daesh fighters and initiate truck rampage attack in India similar to those carried out in the west. The Kumbh Mela is scheduled in 2019 and Thrissur Pooram is scheduled in April 2018.

Six More Kerala Youth have Joined Daesh

Six more youth from Kannur District of Kerala have joined Daesh in Syria. This was confirmed by the Kerala Police on November 02, 2017 in a statement, adding that these six people were active member of the Popular Front of India (PFI). They have been identified as Abdul Khayyoom (25), resident of Chekikulam near Kuttiattoor, Abdul Manaf P P (30), resident of Valapattanam, Shabeer Muhammed Shafi (33), resident of Mooppanpara in Valapattanam, his relative Suhail and his wife Rizwana, and Safwan (18), resident of Pazhanjirapally in Pappinissery. Kannur, Kasargod have turned out to be the hub of Daesh recruits since 2015. Recently the NIA also confirmed to the Supreme Court that nearly 25-35 marriages in Kannur districts were of concern as these included religious conversion inspired by extremist Islamic ideology by Daesh. The statement was submitted to the Supreme Court in the infamously known ‘Love Jihad’ case.

The Kerala Police arrested three suspected Daesh terrorists from Kannur on October 25, 2017. They had left the state in 2016 and were suspected to have visited Syria and received training from the terror outfit. The NIA has been probing cases of disappearance of at least 21 people who had left the state under mysterious circumstances and are suspected to have joined the ISIS. Among them, 17 were from Kasargod and four from Palakkad. They include four women and three children.

Jammu and Kashmir

Special Representative Sharma Meets Home Minister

Dineshwar Sharma, Special representative of the Government of India briefed (November 15, 2017), Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh Defence Minister, National Security Advisor, Union Home Secretary, Defence Secretary and intelligence community officials, about his recent 5-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, during which he interacted with more than 70 delegations from the mainstream political parties, civil society, NGOs, Journalists. Hurriyat conference decided not to meet Mr. Sharma. Sharma is expected to visit the Kashmir Valley again by the end of this month and would travel to districts in south Kashmir to get first-hand knowledge of the problems being faced by the people.

Terror Finance

Charges Framed against Shabbir Shah and Aslam Wani in Money Laundering Case

The Patiala House Delhi Court, on November 15, 2017, framed charges against Kashmiri separatist leader Shabbir Ahmed Shah and Aslam Wani in a money laundering case in which Wani was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell in 2005 with ₹ 63, 00, 000/- unaccounted cash. During the investigation, Wani had admitted to have worked as a courier for Shabir Shah. Wani had collected the money at New Delhi, received from Pakistan and delivered on various occasions to Shabbir Shah at Srinagar. On 26.8.2005, Wani was arrested and from his possession hawala money of ₹62,96,000 was recovered, of which ₹52,96,000 were to be delivered to co-accused Shabir Shah, and remaining ₹10,00,000 to activists of Jaish-e-Mohammad. It proved Wani’s knowing involvement in activities connected with proceeds of the crime and projected the tainted property as untainted; thereby Court ruled that Wani has committed the offence of money laundering. The Enforcement Directorate has also filled another petition in which Wani is prosecuted under charges of Arms and Explosive Act.

NIA Seized ₹36.34 Crore Demonetised Currency from Jammu and Kashmir

In Jammu and Kashmir terror funding case the NIA seized demonetised currency notes at New Delhi worth ₹36.34 crore. Nine people were arrested and 4 luxury vehicles were seized by the NIA. The names of arrested persons are Delhi residents Pradeep Chauhan, Bhagwan Singh and Vinod Shreedhar Shetty, Deepak Toprani of Mumbai, Ejajul Hassan of Amroha, Jaswinder Singh of Nagpur, and Jammu and Kashmir-residents Umar Mushtaq Dar (Pulwama), Shahnawaz Mir (Srinagar) and Majid Yousuf Sofi (Anantnag). In an official statement, NIA stated that people and entities linked to separatists and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir were still in possession of a significant amount of demonetized currency notes that could not be converted into new ones.

Terrorist Incidents in the Valley

The throat-slit body of one Gowhar Ahmad Bhat, killed in Shopian district, was recovered on November 2, 2017 from village Kiloora with visible torture marks on his body. Bhat was district president of Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha. No militant group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

In a fierce gunbattle with terrorists, security forces killed one unidentified terrorist in Samboora, in Pulwama district on November 02, 2017. Two army soldiers were killed and a CRPF Jawan suffered injuries in the joint operation.

In another encounter between terrorists and security forces in Pulwama district of south Kashmir, two Army soldiers were killed and a CRPF jawan suffered injuries. According to the police, three militants managed to flee from the operation in the dark. One AK-47 rifle and an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) were recovered.

In a similar intelligence-based operation, Army killed three terrorists in the Kandi belt of Aglar area in Pulwama district in South Kashmir on November 6, 2017. Recovery of advanced arms like UBGL and M60 assault rifle from terrorists is a recent development in the valley. The availability of such weaponry with the terrorists is matter of concern and points towards official involvement of Pak agencies.

In yet another intelligence-driven operation, Rashtriya Rifles and Special Operation Group of CRPF neutralized two Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terrorists after a brief exchange of fire at Handwara and Kupwara on November 13, 2017. The killed militants were identified as Toyib from Sopore and Ashiq of Palhallan in Baramulla. After the operation, an extensive cordon and search operation was launched by the security forces in Ragwar area of Kupwara.

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