Bomb Blasts – Intelligence And Counter-Intelligence
By Sarah Saba
03 October, 2006
addressing to a press conference on Saturday, Mumbai Police Commissioner
A.N. Roy accused the ISI of masterminding the Mumbai train bomb explosions
on 11th July this year resulted in killing 200 people. The commissioner
provided the details of the plot with names, locations and whereabouts
of the people involved in the attacks. He also provided information
about the explosives which were kept as RDX packed in the pressure cookers.
The commissioner told the
newsmen about the interrogation procedure ‘narco-analysis’,
through which the suspects are questioned under the influence of drugs
to get the correct answers. He said, ISI agents began planning the attacks
in March, and later provided funding and training for the bombers in
Bahawalpur to plan that professional, precise and well-planned operation.
He added that police had found no evidence of the involvement of Al
Qaeda in the attacks.
On the other hand Pakistan Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam completely
rejected Indian claim by calling it baseless, irresponsible and (done)
out of habit. In his statement Mr. Tariq Azim Khan, the Minister of
State for Information said that India had always chosen the path of
pointing fingers at Pakistan without evidence.
The allegation has appeared at a sensitive time to enhance the stress
of President Musharraf who had already spent the previous days of a
lengthy overseas trip persuading against Afghan and British implications
that the members of his security apparatus were secretly supporting
the Taleban revolt intensifying in the Southern Afghanistan. Moreover,
it was only two weeks before when Musharraf managed to get India resuming
a peace process, which had frozen after the Mumbai blasts.
In the era of a neo-globalisation with multiple actors on the stage
to shaping up the future image of the global village, this becomes very
important for the regional actors like India and Pakistan to immediately
agree on an agenda of regional cooperation for progress, prosperity
and better facilities for the people of the two nations. ISI which had
been a much stronger power in the past is currently engaged in its revitalisation
process with much of its energy being consumed in keeping the fine balance
maintained between its modernist and conventional parts. In these difficult
times it simply can’t afford the sooper adventures like this.
If we compare the capabilities of the Regional Analysis Wing (RAW) and
the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) both are complexly rooted in their
targeted segments of the respective countries. If one agency has the
advantage of entrenching profoundly into the socio-national structure
of the targeted country, the other one has the advantage of being deeply
ingrained into the religio-sectarian segment of the targeted country.
In this complex situation there is always a chance of entry of a third
international player to reshape the geo-political structure of the area
into its own favour.
The story of making and remaking of the regional map starts from the
late seventies when the CIA drafted a map of defeating the USSR in Afghanistan
with the help of ISI. The then Pakistani President Gen Zia knew only
about the half part of the plan while knowing nothing about the second
half of the agenda. Only very few officers within ISI like Brig Irshad
Tirmazi could notify the presence of strange phenomena within the Mujahideen’s
camps in Afghanistan in form of Arab nexus. These were the operative
groups mainly belonging to the Middle East, the European countries and
the countries like Indonesia. The main features of the nexuses were;
having massive ‘foreign currency’, their daily march towards
Russia and the areas bordering China - with their passionate concentration
in training of the religious elements for the sectarian (Shia-Sunni)
During the Zia regime the tension between India and Pakistan remained
alive especially on the issues of Kashmir and the Eastern Punjab. Well
before successfully implementing his type of regional agenda, Gen Zia
passed away in a mysterious plane crash and right after his death there
started the second half of the international agenda for regional reshaping.
It was a time when the unseen hands brought India and Isreal closer
for defense and intelligence cooperation after a no relationship history
of more than 40 years. Although Israel provided India with the devastating
artillery weapon, 160 mm mortars and modern ammunition during 1971 war
against Pakistan yet the deal remained secret as a condition by Mossad.
Even after the 71’s war the defense relations had not been adequately
established between the two countries.
It was in 1992 when the formal diplomatic relations established between
India and Israel with the visit of the Deputy Director of Israel Foreign
Ministry Moshie Yaeger. Following the establishment of formal diplomatic
relations in 1992, India and Israel had signed a number of agreements
on economic, scientific, agricultural and cultural cooperation. In December
96 Israeli President Weizman visited India that became the first ever
visit by any Israeli President to India with a 24-member business delegation.
Although the relations between India and Israel kept on developing after
1992 with strong ties on defense and economics yet 1998 can really be
considered as the revolutionary year in the history of the Indian intelligence.
In this year the Mossad transferred to India the most sophisticated
intelligence techniques to penetrate deep into religious/ separatist
groups. Before that point the ISI clearly superceded the RAW in terms
of making networking within socio-political systems while after acquiring
the newer techniques the RAW not only got the capability of breaking
the networks but also to exert the counter-intelligence through religious
grouping. During this year Indian Home Minister L. K. Advani visited
Israel with his delegation comprising the heads of Indian intelligence
agencies like RAW, IB, and central police organizations for their training
on the latest intelligence techniques. Followed by these developments
the Israeli intelligence agencies opened offices in New Delhi on the
lines of United States FBI.
It was the time when the international plan was simply ready to be implemented
to shape up the new world diagram.
Maulvi Masood Azhar a 30- year old Sunni cleric from Bahawalpur was
in BSF custody at 'Papa II' interrogation center in India. Here he meets
Omar Sheikh with a history of being infiltrated into India and participated
in some acts of terrorism. He was arrested and jailed by the Indian
authorities to meet Maulvi Maood Azhar and to plan the drama of hijacking
the Indian plane. Omar Sheikh belonged to the Arab-European Nexus of
200 UK Muslim citizens with natively linking to Pakistan, hired by some
agency in the UK and sent to Pakistan to get training in the camps of
Harkat Ul Ansaar (HUA) and joined the HUA's contingent in Bosnia with
full complicity of the British and American intelligence agencies. These
intelligence agencies had masterminded the Arab Nexus, a large corps
of jihadi personal of Arab origin to mix up with Afghan Mujahideen in
their war against the Soviet troops.
Maulvi Masood Azhar met there a number of ‘jehadi’ persons
some belonging to Jamiat Ulma E Hind (JUH) and some to Arab Nexus where
they planned the Hijack of Indian plane and made their future agenda
to be implemented in Pakistan. On 24th December 1999, an Indian aircraft
flight IC 814 carrying 174 passengers and 18 crew (Kathmandu-Delhi)
was hijacked on its way to New Delhi at about 1730 Hours IST. It landed
at Amritsar and was refused fuel and ultimately landed at the Kabul
airport. Three arrested jehadi persons Masood Azhar, Omar Sheikh and
Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar had been handed over to the Taliban militia at
Kandahar. The five hijackers had left the aircraft and had been taken
to an undisclosed location by the Taliban.
On 11th September 2001, the tragic incidence of the World Trade Center
took place followed by the announcement of President Bush to start a
long-term global war against terror to bring the perpetrators to justice.
It was the time for India to inform the US about the involvement of
Pakistan in the attack. It is said that Prime Minister Vajpai personally
presented a copy of the cheque to President Bush which was given by
the then ISI chief Gen Mehmud to one of the terrorists of the 9/11 attack.
In this way, India played a key role in providing the US authorities
the HOT information about Pakistan as the funding source for the September
11 attacks. The Times of India first reported on October 10, 2001 that
India told the US that some $100,000 had been wired to the leader of
the hijackers, Mahmud Atta, by British-born terrorist Omar Sheikh.
John S Pistole, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s counter-terrorism
division confirmed about the information, however, did not specify how
those accounts in Pakistan were funded, how those found their way to
Omar Sheikh and how the copy of the cheque reached to the Indian Prime
Minister. Nobody knows about the secrets behind that deal but everybody
knows about the immediate acceptance by the Pakistani government of
the 7 point US agenda to role back Islamism, Talibanism and terrorism
from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Indian authorities also told the US that the trail led back from Omar
Sheikh to the then Chief of ISI, Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmad who was subsequently
forced to retire by Pakistan resident Pervez Musharraf. The Indian authorities
provided the FBI with the details, including Omar Sheikh’s mobile
Later the same Omer Sheikh
was found guilty in the murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel
Pearl. The case was highlighted around the globe and once again became
the cause of embarrassment for Pakistan around the globe. Maulvi Masood
Azhar established Jaish E Mohammad (JEM) and remained involved in the
activities of sectarian and religious terrorism. Another example of
‘international intelligence cooperation’ is the information
of the suicidal attack against Gen Pervez Musharraf. Very recently,
the former Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes has said that India
was aware of an assassination attempt on Pakistani President three years
ago. He said that he had warned Islamabad two days before the attack
in December 2003. The above-mentioned examples simply highlight the
capabilities of the Indian intelligence agencies in masterminding intelligence
and counter intelligence operations.
We are living in the post cold war era when the super power has nothing
to do with the Pakistani abilities of running or winning a war. Knowingly
or unknowingly, Pakistan can be pushed back to the post 9/11position
by the ‘international cooperation of intelligence’. It is
for the broader interests of the 2 countries in specific and the South
Asian Region in general to establish the long-term socio-economical
relations and peace treaties between the regional players to ensure
better living conditions, better education and medical facilities for
the inhabitants of the region. Otherwise the intelligence and the counter
intelligence adventures between the two countries will give the international
players the opportunities to implement their global agenda which is
nothing but the ‘Bandar Bant’.
But to achieve this development objective, the military establishment
in Pakistan would have to accept its role in the barracks and the major
cut downs in the heaviest defense budget to make the civilians’
lives easier. Magar billi ke gale mein ghanti kon bandhe ga?
Sarah Saba lives in Karachi - Pakistan and can be contacted at:
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