VIF Fortnightly News Digest: National Security- Defence Studies & Terrorism (June 16 – 30, 2018)


Defense News:

International Terrorism:

Domestic Terrorism:

AI Task Force hands over Final Report to RM

Ministry of Defence has initiated the process of creating an Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled force with indigenous capabilities. To study the strategic implications of AI in national security, a multi-stakeholder Task Force represented by members from the Government, Services, Academia, Industry Professionals and Start-ups was constituted in February 2018, under the Chairmanship of Shri N Chandrasekharan, Chairman, Tata Sons. The Task Force has handed over its Final Report with recommendations on June 30, 2018. The Task Force had deliberations with all stakeholder including officers from Army, Navy, Airforce, Coast Guard and representatives of all Defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSU), namely BEL, HAL, BEML, BDL, MIDHANI, MDL, GRSE, GSL and HSL and OFB.

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MoD Enhances Financial Powers of DRDO

To enhance efficiency and effectiveness of Defence Research establishments, Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has decided to delegate greater financial powers to various authorities. This will facilitate greater de-centralisation and enable decision making. Consequently, the powers of Secretary, Defence R&D has been enhanced from Rs. 75 Crore to Rs. 150 Crore and that of the Directors General (DG) has been enhanced from Rs. 50 Crore to Rs. 75 Crore. These delegations will also provide flexibility in the functioning of Universities and indigenous defence industries.

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Air-bridge for Mansarovar Yatra

Starting June 18, 2018, the Indian Air Force has created an air-bridge between Pithoragarh and Gunji. The air-bridge would be operational for three months and would airlift 1080 registered passengers to Gunji for the onward annual journey to Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Three Medium Light Helicopters have been deployed at Pithoragarh to ferry 60-80 passengers per day.

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International Terrorism
Iraq - Over 200 Iraqis killed in June 2018 – UNAMI

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), in its monthly report on June 30, 2018, confirmed that nearly 200 Iraqis were killed in the month of June 2018 in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflicts. Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi had, it may be recalled, declared complete victory over Daesh in December 2017. However, Daesh still poses credible threat to the security of Iraq and around states. Sleeper cells and hidden IEDs are some of the causes of fatal casualties in Iraq.

On June 20, Iraqi Security Forces foiled an attempt by Daesh militants to blow up Al Sadeeq Mosque in a town located west of Anbar region. The 29th Brigade of the Seventh Division confirmed this incident in an official statement. [Back to Contents ]

No third Party intervention will be tolerated – Al Sadr

Iraqi Shia Cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr said on June 30, 2018, that he will not allow any foreign party to intervene in the formation of the new government. It will be the first government formed after a great success by Iraqi security Forces (ISF) against Daesh in 2017. He expressed these views during his meeting with Head of European Union mission in Iraq Ramon Blecua. He further affirmed his keenness to form a national government that could meet aspirations of Iraqi citizens and provide stability and security to Iraq.

As per the result declared by the election commission of Iraq, Al-Sadr’s Sairoon coalition won 54 parliamentary seats in the May 12 parliamentary polls, followed by an al-Hashd al-Shaabi linked coalition (47 seats) and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s Victory bloc (42 seats). Though Al-Sadr did not achieve the majority mark needed to form a government, it is set to play the primary role in selecting the next prime minister of Iraq. Al-Sadr is known for his hostile approach towards the US but is one few Shia leaders who don’t have close ties with Iran.

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Syria - Emerging complexities in Syria

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recaptured al-Theeba village located at Iraqi-Syrian borders on June 22, 2018, after a confrontation with Daesh militants. Daesh still holds certain territory in Syria, mainly a small region located east of Deir az-Zour at the South of Hasaka located near Iraqi borders. It is the same region where US supported SDF is operating to flush out Daesh militants from this region.

In May 2018, the US resumed its anti-Daesh operation in Syria after it suspended it when Turkey attacked against Efrin in January 2018. The Iraqi-Syrian border region has intense Daesh presence and is under control of joint troops of military and border guards. Iraqi fighter aircrafts are conducting frequent air raids against the outposts of the Daesh militants in Syria.

On June 24, 2018 in a televised interview to the Russian television network, Syrian President Assad reaffirmed his stand that the only remaining problem in Syria is SDF and he will deal with them through two options; one, he is ready to talk with SDF, and two, if they are not ready then he will use intense force to recapture northern Syria back from SDF. He criticised the western forces for not assisting in reconstruction work in Syria. In May 2018, Assad had expressed his readiness to negotiate with SDF, or else he would use force against SDF to get out of the region they control.

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Afghanistan - Nangarhar Anti-Daesh operation

In a Drone strike by Afghan Selab Military Corps on June 30, 2018, six Daesh militants were killed in Haska Mena district of eastern Nangarhar province. Amongst them, one Pakistani commander was also killed. In this attack weapons and ammunition were also destroyed. This strike was in response to a major terror strike where 130 Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists attacked a security post in Nangarhar on June 27, 2018. During this attack, 10 TTP militants were killed in fierce gun battle. Nangarhar province has emerged as a hotbed of Daesh militants who have organised and executed deadly attacks ever since fall of Raqqa and Mosul in 2017. [Back to Contents ]

Africa - Damboa Suicide Attack in northeastern Nigeria

In a twin suicide bombing attack, 31 people were killed in the town of Damboa in Northeastern Nigeria, located 90 kilometres from Maiduguri on June 16, 2018. The attack occurred when people were returning from Eid prayers. Before detonating himself, the Fedayeen terrorists launched volleys of rocket-propelled grenades. Till now no group has claimed the responsibility of the attack however, Nigerian officials confirmed that the attack bore all the hallmarks of Boko Haram.

This attack once again highlights the fact that Boko Haram still maintains both intent as well as the operational capability to launch mass casualty attacks in parts of northeastern Nigeria at will. Though Nigerian President Buhari has often said that Nigerian troops have achieved victory over Boko Haram, yet militants continue to strike and intensify their attacks in recent past. Boko Haram militants frequently dispatched suicide bombers including young girls targeting mosques, markets and displacement camps located in various parts of northeast Nigeria. With the elections due in February 2019, President Buhari is under rising pressure to rein in Boko Haram militants.

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Domestic Terrorism
J&K - Tral Counter-Terror Operation

Two days after calling off the operational restraint by the security forces, three Jaish-e Mohammed (JeM) terrorists were killed in an intelligence-based operation at Hyuna Village of Tral in Pulwama district on June 19, 2018. One of the slain terrorist is identified as a Qasim, a Pakistani national, who took charge as operational chief of JeM in the valley after Mufti Waqas was killed in an encounter in March 2018. Weapons and planning material were recovered which indicated a major plan of attacking Srinagar in recent future. [Back to Contents ]

IS Footprint acknowledged by J&K Police

In an intelligence-driven operation, four terrorists were killed at Khiram Srigufwara area of Anantnag district on June 22, 2018. J&K Police, who often denied the presence of Islamic State in the state, has for the first time confirmed that the four terrorist included the J&K ‘Operational commander of ISIS’. The four slain terrorists have been identified as Dawood Ahmad Sofi also known as Salafi and Burhan, Majid Manzoor Dar, Aadil Rehman Bhat and Mohammad Ashraf Itoo. Sofi was initially associated with Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen and later became operational commander of J&K of IS. He was involved in several attacks on policemen, snatching of weapons, stone-pelting cases, etc. [Back to Contents ]

4 JeM OGWs arrested in Sopore

In a joint operation between CRPF and J&K Police, four over ground workers (OGWs) of Jaish-e Mohammed were arrested from Sopore on June 27, 2018. The arrested JeM OGWs have been identified as Mohammad Ayoub Malla, Fayaz Ahmad War, Javid Ahmad War and Maqsood Ahmad War. During the arrest two Under Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGL), two grenades and matrix sheets of JeM were recovered. [Back to Contents ]

LeT ‘divisional commander’ killed in Kulgam

In a well-carved intelligence-driven operation the ‘divisional commander’ of Lashkar-e Toiba along with another terrorist were killed on June 24, 2018, at Chedar Ban Area of Qaimoh in Kulgam district. The third local terrorist surrendered with his arms and ammunition to the police and is under investigation. The second slain terrorist was identified as Haider and is of Pakistani descent. After the operation, incriminating material and a huge quantity of ammunition were seized from the operation site. This counter-terror Operation was conducted proactively in view of ongoing Amarnath Yatra. [Back to Contents ]

Left Wing Extremism
10 CPIM armed cadres surrendered in Chattisgarh

Ten armed cadres of Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) surrendered in Narayanpur district of Chattisgarh on June 30, 2018. The group included deputy commander of Dandakaranya Communication team Santu Ram Vadde (21) who is skilled in operating and repairing wireless sets and preparing switches of IEDs. He was carrying a reward of ₹ 5, 00, 000/- on his head. Rest of the surrendered cadres included two women and other Maoist militant members. All of them have informed the police that they were frustrated with exploitation, atrocities and violence at the hands of Naxal leaders, and wanted to see development reach the area. All the surrendered CPI-Maoist cadres will receive assistance as per the Surrender and Rehabilitation Policy of Chattisgarh Government which has attracted good response in the 10 LWE affected states. [Back to Contents ]

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