Showing posts with label South Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Asia. Show all posts

27 June 2019

Fighting Venom With Venom: Is There A Case For Using Al Qaeda Against ISIS?

by Uddipan Mukherjee

A major difference of ideology between Al Qaeda and ISIS is with regard to attacks on places of worship of non-believers (minorities) as well as non-conformist Muslim groups.

To contain an ultra-radical ISIS, an Al Qaeda can be a tactical option.

However, a solution to end Islamic terrorism can explored with a combination of military, political, propaganda and sociological tools.

ISIS, through its recently posted video on 29 April 2019 commended the suicide bombers of the Lankan attacks of April which took away the lives of around 250 individuals.

Your brothers in Sri Lanka have healed the hearts of monotheists with their suicide bombings, which shook the beds of the crusaders during Easter to avenge your brothers in Baghouz.Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, 29 April 2019, Al Furquan Media Of Islamic State Of Iraq And Syria (ISIS)

Why have we forgotten one of WWII’s most important battles?

By Lydia Walker

The Battle of Kohima has much to teach us about how we remember the past.

Earlier this month, international leaders congregated in Normandy to celebrate its wartime anniversary, which included a commemorative parachute jump. D-Day was one of the many smaller wars that made up World War II, yet the battles, images and people of that invasion have become central to our memory of the war. By contrast, little such fanfare will mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Kohima today, even though its landscape, too, is saturated in history.

The bloody three-month long siege of Kohima took place in the Himalayan foothills of Nagaland, in northeast India, the region which hangs over what is now Bangladesh and borders what is now Myanmar. Though the allied victory against the Japanese was a major turning point on par with the Battle of Stalingrad, we won’t see world leaders travel to Kohima for its remembrance. This battle has been comparatively forgotten because of where it occurred and who fought and lived there.

22 June 2019

Orban and Aung San Suu Kyi Gave in to Hate the Same Way

By Azeem Ibrahim

Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her pro-democracy activism and her resilience in advocating for the cause of democracy in the face of terrible repression by the socialist military junta of Myanmar.

Around the same time, a young Viktor Orban was feted as one of Europe’s future democratic leaders after playing an instrumental role in Hungary’s post-communist transition to democracy. Had the field been less crowded in Europe, Orban could well have been nominated for the same honor as Aung San Suu Kyi, and for the same reasons.

Back then, you would have expected the fellow University of Oxford graduates to have a lot in common. Alas, the two also have much in common today—just all the wrong things. A summit between the two on June 5 epitomized the painful truth: On opposite sides of the earth, the two leaders have converged toward the same rejection of everything they once stood for.

Orban is reviled by many at the moment as the spiritual father of European right-wing populist illiberal democracy. He is a highly successful domestic politician who casts a long shadow over European politics and the West’s long-standing efforts for a peaceful and cohesive Europe under a liberal political and economic consensus.

19 June 2019

Nepal: “ A Summer of Protests”- Does PM Oli care?

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan

This summer, Nepal is seen to be witnessing protests on various issues all of the Government’s own making.

The first was the Media Council Bill which is still attracting a large number of protests. There has been no attempt by the government to explain the Government’s stand! (We have a paper on this)

Then came the advertisement in the Public Service Commission calling for filling up of vacancies of over 9161 local government posts- a responsibility over which the centre has no moral jurisdiction when the States are mandated to do so under the Constitution. This is being done without even ensuring proper quota under the reservation scheme. No doubt the States and particularly the Madhesi groups are up in arms.

Then there is the Guthi Samsthan bill by which the Government ,wants to nationalize the Guthi properties and bring them all under a National Commission- a project the Government had been planning since last November. There was no hurry to take over the Guthi functions done by private institutions under proper checks and there have been no complaints of misappropriation or misuse. Guthis are socio-economic Institutions to fulfill religious, public and cultural functions. Yet the the Government was in a hurry to upset the powerful Newar Community of the valley who allege that it is a direct assault on their cultural heritage!,

11 Years on, Has Nepal’s Republic Succeeded?

By Peter Gill

Pessimism about Nepal’s politics is common, despite significant changes since the declaration of the republic in 2008.

In Nepal, May 28 marks Republic Day, commemorating the date in 2008 when an elected Constituent Assembly brought an end to the country’s centuries-old monarchy and declared it a federal, democratic republic. This year, the president and a minister marked the holiday by inaugurating a new Republic Memorial at a park that was symbolically carved out of the old royal palace grounds, known as Narayanhiti, in central Kathmandu. But after the VIPs left, the monument did not open to the public as planned. Like many state construction projects, it has faced repeated delays since it began in 2012, and workers are now completing finishing touches and removing scaffolding.

Across the street from the Memorial’s closed gate is a small teashop where office workers and local youth gather in the mornings. Hari Ballav Pant, the shop’s gregarious, grey-mustachioed owner, grew up in the neighborhood and has seen it change dramatically over the years. During the monarchy, he ran a business shampooing carpets inside Narayanhiti Palace. When asked what the new Republic Memorial means to him, Pant replies tersely.

18 June 2019

Is Bangladesh Winning in the US-China Trade War?

By Anu Anwar

The implications for Bangladesh of the trade war are significant, if Dhaka can seize opportunities and avoid the pitfalls ahead.

As the U.S.-China trade war intensified, pundits on both sides of the Pacific and elsewhere are calculating: Who is the real winner? Indeed, it is not China or the United States, but countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Chile that could benefit from the widening trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies. The impending effect of the trade war on supply chain dynamics and investment patterns could help these countries emerge as potential winners of the conflict.

For Bangladesh, China and the United States have been long-time, stable trade partners. The volume and values of trade are very significant with both countries. However, the nature of trade with both countries is different. Bangladesh’s top import partner is China, with Bangladesh importing over $15 billion in Chinese goods, as of 2017. Meanwhile, the United States is the second largest destination for Bangladesh’s exports, taking in more than $5.8 billion in 2017 (Germany was the largest destination at just over $6 billion).

17 June 2019

One South Asia

Home to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, South Asia is one of the most dynamic regions in the world, with a population of 1.67 billion people and economic growth of 7.1 percent over the last decade. But despite recent shifts, historical political tensions, trust deficit, cross-border conflicts and security concerns contribute to a low-level equilibrium.

At present, South Asia is one of the least integrated regions. Intra-regional trade accounts for only 5 percent of South Asia’s total trade, compared to 25 percent in ASEAN. Intra-regional investment is smaller than 1 percent of overall investment. 

16 June 2019

The Rohingya Crisis

Eleanor Albert and Andrew Chatzky

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority group, are fleeing persecution in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State, fueling a historic migration crisis.


Discriminatory policies of Myanmar’s government since the late 1970s have compelled hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya to flee their homes in the predominantly Buddhist country. Most have crossed by land into Bangladesh, while others have taken to the sea to reach Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Beginning in 2017, renewed violence, including reported rape, murder, and arson, triggered an exodus of Rohingya amid charges of ethnic cleansing against Myanmar’s security forces. Those forces claim they are carrying out a campaign to reinstate stability in the western region of Myanmar, but international pressure on the country’s elected leaders to rein in violence continues to rise.

Who are the Rohingya?

The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority who practice a Sufi-inflected variation of Sunni Islam. There are an estimated 3.5 million Rohingya dispersed worldwide. Before August 2017, the majority of the estimated one million Rohingya in Myanmar resided in Rakhine State, where they accounted for nearly a third of the population. They differ from Myanmar’s dominant Buddhist groups ethnically, linguistically, and religiously.

9 May 2019

South Asia Is Islamic State’s New Target

by Sadanand Dhume 

Islamic State has lost its caliphate in the Middle East, but it retains the capability to cause mayhem thousands of miles away. This is the grim lesson of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, in which suicide bombers killed more than 250 people at three churches and three luxury hotels. No region is entirely safe from such attacks, but South Asian democracies such as India and Sri Lanka appear particularly vulnerable.

In March, Islamic State lost its last sliver of Syrian territory to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, but the scale and sophistication of the Sri Lanka attacks show that the jihadist group remains dangerous. That eight of the nine suicide bombers detonated their explosives with no hitches points to expert bomb making. Most terrorist groups also cannot marshal the resources or manage the logistical complexity of plotting nearly simultaneous attacks across three cities.

3 May 2019

What explains rich-kid terrorists

By Peter Bergen

Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is the author of "United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists." The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles at CNN.

(CNN)Sri Lankan Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said Wednesday that most of the terrorists who killed at least 253 people at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Sunday were "well-educated and come from maybe middle- or upper-middle-class. So, they are financially quite independent, and their families are quite stable financially."

Two of the suicide bombers were the sons of a wealthy Sri Lankan spice trader, Mohamed Ibrahim, sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

28 April 2019

What’s Different About the Attacks in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka has a bloody history marked by a brutal, nearly 30-year civil war. In recent years, it’s been mostly spared from violence, until Easter Sunday, when large-scale, apparently coordinated terrorist attacks on churches and hotels killed nearly 300 people.

The government blamed the attack on a little-known Islamist militant group, National Thowheed Jamath, which had gained notoriety in Sri Lanka for defacing four statues of the Buddha outside temples in Mawanella, a town in the country’s center, in December 2018. What investigators will now have to piece together is how the group’s capability skyrocketed from vandalism to a sophisticated, multipronged attack and, perhaps more important, why now.

Places of worship are soft targets, but the attacks Sunday suggested a level of complexity not seen since the civil war between the government and the separatist Tamil rebels that ended in 2009. The Tamil rebels pioneered modern suicide bombings, assassinated political leaders, and targeted civilians. But that conflict was also ethnic in nature: the majority Sinhala community versus the Tamil rebels. Since then, religious violence has been rare—and when it does erupt, it is typically restricted to Buddhist-Muslim tensions. That’s partly why the Easter assault by an obscure group on Christian places of worship is so surprising.

Lessons Learned from South Asia's Terrorism Troubles

by Abdul Basit

India and Pakistan must make concerted efforts to curb the financing of extremist groups and put an end to cross-border terrorism.

South Asia has one of the highest regional concentration of militant groups in the world, including some of most-wanted jihadist groups by the United States such as Al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Ahead of the expected U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) claimed attack on India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Kashmir’s Pulwama district has revived the concerns of a more lethal and dangerous militant landscape in South Asia.

The Pulwama attack has once again exposed the vulnerability of the two South Asian nuclear rivals, India and Pakistan, to terrorist blackmail, by pushing them to the brink of war. The aftermath of the attack underscores a new phase of militancy in violence-infested Kashmir and renewed hostilities between India and Pakistan. In the absence of joint counterterrorism and extremism frameworks at the regional level, South Asian militant groups will continue to exploit inter-state mistrust rivalries and mistrust to expand and entrench themselves in the region.

27 April 2019

The Attacks in Sri Lanka and the Threat of Foreign Fighters

By Daniel Byman

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the horrific terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday on churches in Sri Lanka, which killed over 300 people. It appears that the group may have worked with a local radical Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, mixing the resources and capabilities of both. Initial reporting—still to be verified—indicates that many of those arrested in the follow-up sweep had fought in Syria. Early reports are often wrong or exaggerated, but if Sri Lankan foreign fighters played a significant role in the terrorist attacks, this would be the largest killing by foreign fighters linked to the Islamic State ever, and the largest foreign fighter-linked attack since 9/11. The attacks suggest both the danger posed by foreign fighters and the importance of government efforts in stopping them.

When individuals leave their homes and travel to a foreign war zone, they often change profoundly. The travelers usually train and fight, and they often emerge more skilled as a result. In some cases, as with those who went to Afghanistan in the 1990s, individuals may go through multiple training courses and learn highly specialized skills. In others, they often learn only the basics of combat, but that combat experience gives them greater skill and discipline—if they survive. Such experience may explain the jump in lethality for Sri Lankan jihadists, who before the Easter attacks had not carried out mass casualty terrorism. Coordinated attacks are more difficult than one-offs, and National Thowheeth Jama’ath’s track record had consisted of vandalism against Buddhist statues and low-level communal violence. In addition, the suicide vests used in the Sri Lankan attacks all worked—a rarity for many terrorist groups—and in general showed a high degree of sophistication according to Scott Stewart, a terrorism expert. This suggests that the individuals were well-trained and equipped.

Bangladesh: Political Polarization Makes Return of Terrorism Increasingly Likely

Brian M. Perkins

Incidents of terrorism have declined significantly in Bangladesh over the past several years following the devastating attack on the Holey Artisan Baker in Dhaka on July 1, 2016 that claimed the lives of 29 people, including 18 foreign nationals. The decline came as the Bangladeshi government and security forces adopted a brute force counterterrorism strategy spearheaded by the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit. The number of successful terrorist attacks are down, but there are questions as to the long-term efficacy of the government’s strategy as the counterterrorism operations are not taking place inside a vacuum. Instead, they are occurring amid a backdrop of increasing political polarization and Islamist radicalization.

Counterterrorism operations have led to the arrest of more than 1,000 individuals and the death of more than 100 suspects. The operations have managed to disrupt the networks and leadership of the main militant groups—Ansar al-Islam and Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)—but both have remained resilient and appear to have been able to reorganize both within Bangladesh and in India. Recent arrests, including that of a regional JMB commander in March, have indicated that the group is still actively rebuilding and recruiting (Dhaka Tribune, March 30).

Sri Lanka Bombings: What We Know

Bruce Hoffman

A high level of coordination suggests the perpetrators had substantial expertise, possibly drawn from a foreign-based terrorist group.

More than three hundred people were killed in coordinated suicide bombings at Sri Lankan churches and hotels on Easter Sunday. Bruce Hoffman, CFR’s Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis senior fellow for counterterrorism and homeland security, gives his assessment.

Officials are blaming two local groups—National Thowheeth Jama’ath and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim—for the bombings. What do we know about them?

Very little. National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NJT) is a previously little-known extremist Islamist group that appears to have surfaced over the past year or so in Sri Lanka, mainly in response to anti-Muslim rioting and other violence against Muslims inflicted by the island-state’s majority Sinhalese Buddhist population. The group had reportedly vandalized Buddhist statues. Sunday’s half-dozen coordinated suicide attacks would be a leap of an order of magnitude in organizational and logistical capabilities for any extremist group.

26 April 2019

Terrorists in Sri Lanka Swore Allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi

By Thomas Joscelyn

The Islamic State has released three statements and a video claiming responsibility for the bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

The first, a terse statement by Amaq News Agency, offered no details about the operation, saying simply that a security “source” told the group’s media arm that the so-called caliphate’s “fighters” had carried out the attacks.

The Islamic State subsequently released a longer statement, saying that 1,000 people were killed or injured in the orchestrated assault. That statement highlighted the fact that Christians were the intended target, as they are supposedly at war with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s enterprise. The statement also provides the aliases for several of the bombers.

Amaq News then produced a third statement, including a photo of the eight alleged perpetrators standing in front of the flag typically flown by the group. The photo is reproduced above. Only one of the eight is unmasked. That individual, seen in the middle, appears to be Zahran Hashim, a fiery ideologue who spread his hateful message in online videos.

Sri Lankan president vows security shake-up over attacks

Sri Lanka's president has vowed to conduct a major shake-up of the country's security establishment after its failure to prevent the Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 320 people, despite some officials apparently having prior information about the attacks.

In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday, President Maithripala Sirisena said he would make "major changes in the leadership of the security forces in the next 24 hours".

He also pledged a "complete restructure" of police and security forces in the "coming weeks", and alleged intelligence officials had failed to inform him of prior information concerning possible attacks.

"The security officials who got the intelligence report from a foreign nation did not share it with me," Sirisena said.

Three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said Sri Lankan intelligence officials were tipped off about an imminent attack hours before Sunday's blasts, Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday.

ISIS Claims Sri Lanka Attacks, and President Vows Shakeup

By Jeffrey Gettleman, Dharisha Bastians and Mujib Mashal

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Tuesday for the coordinated suicide bombings on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, as the president of the traumatized nation promised to dismiss senior officials who had failed to act on warnings about the attacks.

As Sri Lankans buried the dead from the half-dozen Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 350 people, the Islamic State issued a statement boasting of the suicide assaults. It also distributed an online video showing the person Sri Lankan officials suspect of having led the attacks.

In the video, the man believed to be the chief suspect, Mohammed Zaharan, a little-known extremist preacher from Sri Lanka, leads masked, black-clad disciples pledging fealty to the Islamic State.

There is no proof that the extremist group did more than provide encouragement for the suicide bombings, part of its decree calling for attacks on others considered infidels by Islamic State ideologues. But the release of the video via the Islamic State’s news agency, and disseminated through its network of online chat rooms, suggested that the attackers had access to the group’s core operatives.

In The Wake Of The Terrorist Bombing In Sri Lanka; Saudi Arabia Foils ISIS Terror Attack, Kills 4 Terrorists, Arrest 13, Seize Suicide [Homicide] Vests, Bomb-Making ‘Factory’ — And What The West Must Do To ‘Kill’ Jihadist Philosophy

Various media outlets are reporting this evening that Saudi security authorities have foiled a planned terrorist attack by former ISIS members and/or sympathizers. The Saudi Arabian Press Agency this afternoon, stated that “13 people were arrested as a result of [authorities] finding plans to execute criminal acts [terrorism] targeting the Kingdom’s security. Four of the 13 al-Zulfi attackers are ISIS members,” the press agency added. Saudi investigators “revealed a place [safe house] rented by one of the attackers in the al-Rayan neighborhood of the al-Zulfi Province, where the attack was conceived and planned. Inside the location [safe house], investigators found “what looks to be a factory for explosives, and explosive belts. Five explosive belts were found, as well as 64 locally manufactured hand grenades, two Kalashnikov’s [Russian made, gas-operated, assault rifle], four bags of organic fertilizers, a [mobile] telecommunications device, and two laptops.”

Bhvishya Patel, posted an article on this afternoon’s/April 22, 2019 edition of the, noting that “these arrests come after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attempted attack on a Saudi state security building in Zulfi last Sunday, a small city about 155 miles northwest of the capital of Riyadh.

With Easter Bombings, a New Brand of Terrorism Arrives in Sri Lanka

Sudha Ramachandran

As Christians around the world were flocking to churches for Easter services Sunday, Sri Lanka was already in mourning. A string of deadly, coordinated explosions early Sunday, which tore through churches and luxury hotels in Colombo and across the island nation, killed over 321 people, including some 38 foreigners, and injured around 500 others. Seven of the eight attacks were suicide bombings. A ninth explosion was prevented late Sunday when security personnel defused an improvised explosive device on the road to Colombo International Airport.

Among the churches attacked on Sunday morning was the 18th-century St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s Church at Negombo, and the Zion Church in Batticaloa in the island’s Eastern Province. The targeted hotels included the Cinnamon Grand, the Shangri-La and the Kingsbury—all in Colombo, with clientele who are largely Western tourists and businessmen. Later on Sunday, a bomb went off at a hotel near the National Zoo in Colombo and a suspected safe house on the outskirts of the capital.