VIF News Digest: National Security, Defence Studies and Terrorism (September 01 – 15, 2018)



International Terrorism:

Domestic Terrorism:

Left Wing Extremism:


Opening Ceremony: Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)

The inaugural military field training exercise for the BIMSTEC nations, named MILEX-18, scheduled from 10 September 18 to 16 September 18, started with a grand opening ceremony on 10 September 18 at Aundh Military Station, Pune. Contingents of the member nations came together for the opening ceremony. Major General Sanjeev Sharma, General Officer Commanding, Golden Katar Division, Chief Guest for the Opening Ceremony, reviewed the Parade in presence of a number of officers and officials of participating nations.

The aim of the forthcoming exercise is to practice the BIMSTEC Nations in the planning and conduct of counter-terrorist operations. The exercise schedule is focused upon learning of best practices, team building and special tactical level operations in a counter-terrorist environment in a semi-urban setting.

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Successful Air-to-Air Refuelling of LCA Tejas

In a significant achievement and a major step towards Final Operational Clearance (FOC) of the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas MK-1, a mid-air refuelling of ‘wet contact’ trial was successfully carried out recently from an Indian Air Force base. The trial was a part of the air-to-air refuelling flight tests conducted by IAF.

Before this ‘wet contact’ trial, ‘dry contact trials’ were successfully conducted on September 04 & 06, 2018, where the Drogue (basket) extended by a fuel hose from the IAF tanker aircraft was tracked and plugged into using the aircraft refuelling probe, without taking fuel. IAF provided all required support to the DRDO for the successful test flight including the tanker aircraft.

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Indo-Mongolia joint exercise NOMADIC ELEPHANT-2018

Indo-Mongolia joint exercise NOMADIC ELEPHANT-2018, commenced today at Mongolian Armed Forces (MAF) Five Hills Training Area, Ullanbaatar, Mongolia, with a brief but impressive opening ceremony. The 12 days long joint exercise will be conducted from 10 Sep to 21 Sep 2018. Exercise NOMADIC ELEPHANT is an annual bilateral exercise since 2006 which is designed to strengthen the partnership between the Indian Army and Mongolian Armed Forces. The exercise will see them improve their tactical and technical skills in joint counter insurgency and counter-terrorist operations in the rural and urban scenario under United Nations mandate.

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Opening Ceremony: Indo-Kazakhstan Joint Exercise KAZIND-2018

Exercise KAZIND-2018, a joint military exercise between Indian and Kazakhstan Armies, commenced in Otar Military Area, Kazakhstan. In the opening ceremony, Kazak and Indian soldiers gave a ceremonial salute to Gen. Dzhumakeev Almaz, Deputy Commander for Battle Training, Kazakhstan Army reviewing the ceremony. This is the third edition of joint military training exercise between Indian Army and Kazakhstan Army. The 14-day long joint exercise is being conducted from 10 Sep to 23 Sep 2018.

The joint training aims to build and promote army-to-army relations and exchange skills and experiences between Indian Army and the Kazakhstan Army. Due emphasis will be laid on increasing interoperability between forces from both countries which is crucial for the success of any joint operation.

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Curtain raiser: Indo-US joint military Exercise YUDH ABHYAS -2018

As part of the ongoing Indo-US defence cooperation, a joint military training Exercise YUDH ABHYAS-2018 was scheduled in the foothills of Himalayas in Uttarakhand from 16 September to 29 September 2018. This is the 14th edition of the joint military exercise hosted alternately by both countries.

The joint exercise will simulate a scenario where both nations will work together in counter-insurgency and counter terrorism environment in mountainous terrain under United Nation charter. The two-week exercise will witness participation of about 350 personnel of the US Army and similar strength of the Indian Army. The exercise curriculum is progressively planned where the participants are initially made to get familiar with each other’s organisational structure, weapons, equipment, confidence training and tactical drills. Subsequently, the training advances to joint tactical exercises wherein the battle drills of both the armies are coherently unleashed. The training will culminate with a final validation exercise in which troops of both countries will jointly carry out an operation against terrorists in a fictitious but realistic setting.

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International Terrorism

Iraq – from Ashes to Governance

After some political tussle, parties constituting the governing alliance of Iraq elected Mohamed al-Halbusi as the new speaker of Parliament on September 15, 2018. Halbusi is former governor of Anbar Province. Iraq had held its first parliamentary elections in May 2018 after winning the war over the Islamic State (IS). However, after results were announced, a judicial challenge led to recounting of all 11 million votes. As per the political agreement adopted after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, Kurds assumed Presidency of Iraq, Sunnis were to chair parliament speaker and the Shias were to get the prime minister’s post.

Welcoming the election results, in a statement published on its website, the UN Special Representative of the Assistance Mission for Iraq congratulated the elected officials of the Iraqi Parliament.

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Daesh sets oil pipeline on fire in Kirkuk and execute 4 people in Diyala

On September 8, 2018, Daesh militants blewn up a pipeline used for transferring crude oil in the west of Kirkuk by using two bombs. After the attack, Iraqi troops were blamed for not being able to secure the region which was under the control of Kurdish Peshmerga troops. Security reports emanating from Iraq indicate that Daesh militants still pose prominent threat to the stability of Iraq.

The next day on Sep 9, Daesh militants executed four people in Khanaqin town in Diyala. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), a total of 90 Iraqi civilians were killed and 117 were injured in acts of violence and terrorism in August 2018. Bagdad was classified as the worst affected province with 77 civilian casualties (24 killed and 53 injured) followed by Nineveh with 39 Casualties (29 killed and 10 injured) and Anabar as third where 32 casualties (6 killed and 26 injured) recorded.

On September 11, Iraqi security forces thwarted a suicide attack planned to hit Shia ritual facilities in Al-Dujail of Salahuddin. The Dujail Police supported by Counter Terrorism Service arrested all the three suicide bombers and seized five suicide vests laden with heavy explosives. US condemned the aerial attacks by the Iranian forces on the Iraqi Kurdistan on September 11, 2018. In a statement, the US Vice President termed Iranian rocket attack as an effort to threaten and destabilise its closest neighbour i.e. Iraq. Iranian Revolutionary Guards claimed responsibility for these air strikes.

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Arab League instructed Turkey to withdrew forces from Iraq

The Council of Arab League called on the Turkish Government on September 12, 2018, to immediately withdraw its troops from Iraq and end the violation of the Arab country’s sovereignty. In its 150th Ordinary Session held at Cairo, the League issued a statement in which it urged Turkish authorities to withdraw its troops from Iraqi territories in the implementation of the Resolution 7987 issued on December 24, 2015. It further requested Turkey ‘not to interfere in the domestic affairs of Iraq and stop its provocative actions that would undermine the confidence-building and threaten regional security and stability.’ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had announced in March that it will make all its effort to gain control of the Kurdish majority Syrian city of Afrin.

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Syria - SDF launched its last mission in the east of Euphrates

The Syrian Democratic Forces which entered into agreement with the Syrian regime on July 28 to end the war, launched its last mission in the Hegeen town of Deir Az-Zour Province located east of Euphrates. According to media reports, the SDF faced heavy challenge from the last bastion of Daesh in the Province. The SDF gained control of the western and northern parts of the region along with the al-Bagouz axis which is adjacent to the borders of Iraq. Their forces arrested 29 Daesh militants and their families in Deir Az-Zour. Simultaneously, the Syrian Army continued fighting against the remaining Daesh militants in Telul al-Safa and liberated Hateel Dam located in the eastern desert of As-Suwayda. Hateel dam was a major source of water for Daesh militants in the eastern deserts.

On the other side, Turkish authorities have announced on September 15, 2018, that Turkish Intelligence has conducted operation inside Syrian Territory and managed to capture nine wanted persons in the city of Afrin located in the countryside of Aleppo.

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Afghanistan - Kabul rocked by twin blast

The city of Kabul once again suffered twin suicide attacks near the wrestling club and emergency services area of Kabul on September 5, 2018. In this attack, at least 20 people were killed and nearly 70 people were severely wounded. The wrestling club area with significant Shi’ite Muslim population, was also attacked by the Daesh militants in August 2018 killing dozens of students. These attacks underscore the threat for upcoming elections scheduled in October 2018 in Kabul. [Back to Contents ]

Afghan and Coalition Air Forces carry out air strikes in Ghazni Province; 47 terrorists killed

In a joint military operation by Afghan and Coalition Air Forces, 47 militants including five Pakistani militants were killed. These air strikes were conducted targeting terrorist’s hideouts in the Paktika and Ghazni Province of Afghanistan on September 15, 2018. After the operation Afghan National Forces recovered 25 defused IEDs and some AK-47 rifles from the site. NATO’s mission is deployed in Afghanistan since 2015 which includes over 13,000 troops who are providing training and advice to Afghan security personnel. In the end of August 2018, the City of Ghazni was attacked by Taliban terrorists which lasted for several days.

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Suicide attack in Eastern Afghanistan /scroll-down>

The District of Achin witnessed the deadliest suicide attack on September 11, 2018, in which 68 people died and 165 are severely injured. The bombing happened when a group of protestors from the district came to Mohamandara District to block the main highway between Jalalabad and the Torkham Border with Pakistan. A similar attack had taken place in the election campaign in October 2017. In January 2018 in a suicide attack executed by ISIS, 108 people died in Kabul. Taliban denied involvement in this attack. Afghan authorities suspect ISIS footprint in this attack. In the past, ISIS had claimed several such attacks in Kabul and eastern Afghanistan. Afghan president Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the attack against the demonstrators. In a statement, he said, “attacks on civilian facilities, mosques, women, children, are all crimes against humanity.”
In a separate incident, a Police officer was wounded in the night attack of September 11, 2018, in Pashtun Zargun District. In the gunfight, 10 insurgents were killed and six others wounded.

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Pakistan - US cancelled its 300 million aid to Pakistan for failing to act against terrorists

The US Department of Defence declared on September 1, 2018, that it has suspended $300 million in funding to Pakistan over Pakistan’s failure to take action against terrorists. This suspension of aid is in accordance with the partial pullback from a broader policy decision announced by the Trump Administration in January 2018. According to the US Departments of Defence and State, Pakistan is not taking strong action to combat Taliban and other groups. The aid was to be disbursed under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) which is used to reimburse US partners for logistical and military support to its military operations. Under the Department of Defence's Appropriations Act of 2018, signed by the US President in March 2018, Pakistan would not be funded for any defence operations unless the Secretary of Defence and Secretary of State certified that it is "cooperating with the United States in 12 counter-terrorism efforts”.

On September 1, 2018, the US imposed sanctions on Pakistani companies by placing them on the export entities list for activities pertaining to nuclear and missile trade. These sanctions are placed under the Entity List by the Export Administration Regulation (EAR). The US Department of Commerce confirmed in its statement that these entities from Pakistan are added to EAR list which has been determined by the US Government to be acting contrary to the national security and foreign policy interests of the US.

During his visit to Pakistan on September 5, 2018, US Secretary of State, Pompeo conveyed the need for Pakistan to take ‘sustained and decisive measures’ against terrorists and militants threatening regional peace and stability to the civil and military leadership of Pakistan. [Back to Contents ]

Nigeria-Boko Haram attack in Nigeria

A Nigerian Army base in East Nigeria was stormed by Boko Haram terrorists on September 1, 2018, at Zari village located 30 km from the town Damasak on the border with Niger. In this attack, 48 Nigerian soldiers were killed and several were severely injured. Boko Haram militants took weapons and military equipment before they were pushed out of the base by troops with aerial support. [Back to Contents ]

Somalia - Mogadishu bombings

The capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, was shattered in a suicide car bomb attack on September 2, 2018, in which seven soldiers died and 15 people were severely injured. The powerful car blast ripped apart the government buildings and a mosque located in the proximity. Though the terrorist group Al-Shabab has been largely driven out of urban areas of Mogadishu, but such attack underscores its ability to launch sporadic terror strikes in the capital as well as elsewhere.

Somalia has been immersed in terror violence since 1991 where the terror group Al-Shabab is consistently launching an armed campaign against the government. Peace keeping forces of African Union are also deployed in various parts of Somalia to fight against terror. The US Africa Command is also regularly conducting airstrikes targeting various terror hideouts in Somalia. Recently on September 11, 2018, it had launched an airstrike in Mubarak village located 37 miles west of Mogadishu. In these airstrikes, three Al-Shabab terrorists were killed. [Back to Contents ]

Domestic Terrorism

Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)

Jaish Commander killed at Sopore

In an intelligence-driven operation security forces killed two terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad at Sopore on September 13, 2018. The terrorists were identified as Ali alias Athar and Zia-ur-Rehman, both of Pakistani descent. Ali had reportedly infiltrated into the valley since 2014 and was involved in killings of civilians and many attacks on security forces. Till date, 37 terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad have been killed in 2018 which includes one top leader Mufti Waqas. Security forces have recovered arms and ammunition cache from the operation site and also recovered fake Aadhar Cards which had been used by these terrorists to conceal their identity. [Back to Contents ]

Reasi Counter-Terror (CT) Operation

Security forces neutralised the well-armed Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists at Reasi on September 13, 2018. The J&K police confirmed that these terrorists infiltrated from Pakistan through Tarnah Nallah and reached Dayalachak area of Kathua district. Due to huge cache of arms and ammunition, the gun battle was fierce and in this 12 security personnel including three officers of the Indian Army were injured. [Back to Contents ]

Kulgam CT Operation

In an intelligence-based operation on September 15, 2018, at Chowgam in Kulgam District of South Kashmir, security forces neutralised five terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen. These terrorists were wanted in many acts of violence in Kashmir including the murder of bank employees, armed bank robberies, weapon looting etc. As usual, villagers obstructed the operation site. As precautionary measure, train service between Baramulla and Qazigund was suspended. [Back to Contents ]

Left Wing Extremism (LWE)

Key Naxal leaders with a heavy bounty on head surrenders
The surrender policy for the LWE militants has been yielding results. Ranks of Naxal forces in Jharkhand and Chattisgarh are now surrendering for a better livelihood. A Maoist leader identified as Kamlesh Ganju alias Birsaiji who was leading Bihar-Chhattisgarh – Jharkhand Special Area Committee of CPI-Maoists, wanted in more than 100 criminal cases and carrying ₹ 25, 00,000 bounties on his head, and another Maoist Leader Vetti Rama carrying a reward of 8 lacs, surrendered at Sukma in Chattisgarh. Vetti Rama was responsible Sukma blast of March 2018. [Back to Contents ]

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