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The public trial and provision of legal defence for Qassab enhanced the reputation and credibility of the Indian judicial system and further disclosed to our eternal pride that there were victims and bereaved who were prepared to forgive him. But the overwhelming popular indignation and feeling of revenge is quite understandable, and is to be expected. It is also an unacknow-ledged tribute to the Indian system that Pakistanis want Indian judicial officials to give evidence in the in-camera Pakistani trial of the LeT handlers for the Mumbai attack. The contrast between the mature Indian democracy and the incipient Pakistani system could not have been better brought out, with the open trial in India and the closed trial in Pakistan…..

The image of Qassab with his AK-47 at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus will haunt for a long time to come. 26/11 in the longer run may have a more significant impact on our security thinking than the 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars with Pakistan. -- K. Subrahmanyam

Back in 2008 Boyle made an astute joke on BBC’s Radio 4 programme Political Animal. "I've been studying Israeli army martial arts. I now know 16 ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back. People think that the Middle East is very complex but I have an analogy that sums it up quite well. If you imagine that Palestine is a big cake, well … that cake is being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew."

In fact, no one can describe the barbarism and collective sadism performed by the Jewish State more accurately. –- Gilad Atzmon

 

The victims' relatives' feelings are understandable, but Hemant Karkare's wife Kavita also said that Qassab should be hanged in public. How can you condemn the savagery of Kasab and his nine associates by recommending medieval practice of hanging of Qassab in public? By giving fair trial to Kasab, India is arguing that it is not a banana republic. Slain police officer Tukaram Omble's relative said on television that Qassab's limbs should be cut into pieces in public and then salt should be applied on. This view is just not Indian….

"Pakistan should get the message clear unlike the 1993 serial Mumbai blasts that divided the Indian society; the 2008 terror attack has united India. Hopefully, the times are changing.  Hindus and Muslims -- urban and rural India, rich and poor and middle class -- all felt strongly for those 166 families whose relatives were killed by the attack by 10 Pakistani terrorists. Irrespective of the legal weaknesses or strengths of Judge Madan Tahilyani's verdict, generally, Indians would be happy that the trial took place with a speed that is not common in India and he has delivered a sound judgment. -- Sheela Bhatt

 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, terrorism and guerrilla warfare started occupying global centre stage. And while this was a game changer, the Western world relegated it to a Third World or West Asia problem.

The 9/11 attacks changed that dramatically. The much vaunted two-ocean defence assurance (the idea of being guarded by the existence of two oceans on its two sides) that the US had historically banked upon evaporated overnight. Al Qaeda showed that it was possible to strike the world’s sole remaining superpower, just like 10 years earlier the Taliban had shown that they could take on the mighty Soviet Union. And while the US responded with its own and allied military might, it was hobbled by a doctrine that was woefully out of date. Several hundred thousand troops and kilotonnes of bombs later, its enemy was very much alive and kicking. Around seven years after George W. Bush pronounced “Mission Accomplished” in 2003, the world has discovered that when it comes to terrorism, the mission itself has to be redefined. Killing insurgents does not equate to killing insurgency. -- Raghu Raman

 

The scholars of today seem to have realised, though belatedly, that Ibn Taimiya’s fatwa had been a source of inspiration for the extremist, radical and sectarian schools of thought in the Muslim world and had given birth to Al Qaeda,Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al Shahab and other terrorist organisations all over the world causing death, destruction and slaughter of  innocent people in the name of Jihad. The acts of violence have not only killed non-combatants among the Muslims and non-Muslims but have also damaged the  image of Islam as a religion of peace because even during a war, Islam is against  assaulting or harming non-combatants, women, children, the elderly and unarmed  persons. The so-called jihad had its political consequences as well. It did the Islamic world more harm than good.-- Sohail Arshad

Photo: Islamic scholar Habib Ali of Egypt

One important political development in the subcontinent went largely unnoticed by the political analysts in January. Just two days before Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India, an important minister in her cabinet Syed Ashraful Islam shocked India by disclosing the fact that the former BNP-Jamaat Regime had arranged a clandestine meeting between the former Pakistan president Perwez Musharrarf and the top leader and founder of ULFA, Anup Chetia while he was languishing in a Dhaka jail. Bangladesh’s external intelligence agency, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) had played an active role in arranging the meeting as a section of the DGFI officials was hand in glove with the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI. -- Sohail Arshad

Photo: PM of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina

 

The call for a balanced approach to life in our highly terror-prone world came at a seminar on Terrorism and the response of composite culture organised by urdutahzeen.net on Sunday at Mumbai’s Taj Palace Hotel, the site of 26/11 massacre just over a year ago.

Dr Ajai Sahni, the last speaker of the first session, gave his strategic view of the India’s place not just vis-à-vis its neighbours like Pakistan but in the global context. If India fails against terrorism, the whole world will fail.” He called for a credible and effective response to the barbarians who are threatening our society and civilization and plainly questioned the wisdom of continuing the dialogue with Pakistan, the “enabler of terrorism.”

 “We are living in glass houses and there is no need to demolish any mosque or temple because God belongs to all whether we call him Ram or Rahim. The Gita and Quran have the same message,” said the opening speaker, Dr. P.S. Pasricha, former DGP, Mumbai, and Maharastra.

Organized by Urdutahzeeb.net of London based NRI Ajit Singh, the event was marked by highly emotional, thought provoking and divergent opinions both from the invited panel of speakers and the floor.

Islamic commentator and editor of New Age Islam website Sultlan Shahin called for soul searching and introspection by the Muslim community both in India and abroad to counter terrorism and notions of narrow Islamic superiority and separatism.

Photo: Shabana Azmi, film actor and victim of media distortions, gave a forceful answer to those who questioned her identity as a Muslim and an Indian

This once again underlines the fact that mindless cruelty to animals is an early indication of future criminality. In their paper ‘From Animal Cruelty to Serial Murder: Applying the Graduation Hypothesis’, in The International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology (47.1), Jeremy Wright and Christopher Hensley write, “Since the late-1970s, the FBI has considered animal cruelty to be a possible indicator of future serial murder. The FBI documented the connection between cruelty to animals and serial murder following a study of 35 imprisoned serial murderers. The convicted murderers were asked questions regarding their childhood cruelty to animals. More than half of the serial murderers admitted to hurting or torturing animals as children or adolescents.” -- Hiranmay Karlekar

The contours of this nefarious joint venture were fairly simple, as an intelligence official puts it, "Use disaffected Indian youth to carry out terror strikes using locally available bomb material. The objectives of the project were twofold: strike terror in the Indian heartland without raising suspicions of Pakistan's involvement."

In intelligence jargon, this is called a plausibly deniable operation. Unlike the 26/11 Mumbai attacks which left behind damning evidence of Pakistani involvement--Pakistani national Ajmal Amir Kasab--this operation would use only Indian nationals. They were recruited by Lashkar spotters either in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh and indoctrinated using propaganda videos showing the Babri Masjid demolition and Gujarat riots. -- Sandeep Unnithan

When video footage of a girl from Swat valley flogged by Taliban shocked entire Pakistan and drew wide-spread condemnation, Ansar Abbasi appeared on Geo TV and defended Taliban's flogging of the girl on the plea that Taliban did what Allah had ordained in Quran. Hence, in his view, condemning Taliban was tantamount to disrespecting Quran. His story on Marriott, lacking all the ingredients of journalistic objectivity, was an attempt to justify the attack on the hotel claiming lives of many innocent civilians. Since hatred for US is justifiably universal in Pakistan, hence, banking on this hatred Ansar Abbasi attempted to justify the deaths at Marriott as collateral damage. The PPP MNA (member parliament from Bhutto's Pakistan People’s Party, or PPP) mentioned in this news report contradicted the story. However, in a hurriedly written piece for Counterpunch, Ansar Abbasi's story was cited to convince the readers that U.S. presence was destabilising the region. The U.S. presence, no doubt, is destabilising the region. But we do not have to base our anti-imperialism on half-truths spun either by Media Mujahideen or Western reporters building their exclusive stories on fake encounters with fake Taliban commanders. -- Farooq Sulehria

Photo: Farooq Sulehria, Afghan journalist based in Sweden

 

Saudi Arabia's diplomatic mission in Afghanistan is an essential step in its efforts to "whiten its face" and restore its reputation in the West,particularly the United States,which has not forgotten that the majority of the September 11,2001,hijackers were Saudi citizens,and that the government failed to manage the Taliban during the years leading up to those attacks.

For the Saudis,a bid to rehabilitate the Taliban,despite the damage they have caused to the Kingdom's diplomatic standing in the West,serves a strategic purpose.The Kingdom has suffered from the rise of the Shi'a in neighboring Iraq and is keen to maintain Sunni supremacy in the Islamic lands further to the east.Yet they see that,under Karzai,Saudi influence has declined in Afghanistan since 2001,while that of the Iranians has strengthened. -- Mai Yamani

 

In recent weeks a Pakistan-based jihadi online discussion forum has come to light that is actively frequented by members of Ilyas Kashmiri’s 313 Brigade. This discussion forum set up allegedly by members of a madarsa that was the target of Pakistan military action in Lahore back in 2007 is notable for attracting mostly anti-establishment jihadi sympathisers in Pakistan. A curious refrain in this forum is the deep distrust harboured by participants towards Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa’h and the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba both of which are viewed as proxies of the Pakistan state and the ISI. Of particular interest is one participant in this forum who describes himself as a soldier of Ilyas Kashmiri’s 313 Brigade who was one of the first to affirm news of Ilyas Kashmiri being alive after speculation of Kashmiri’s death in a drone attack back in September 2009.  -- Shashi Shekhar

 

What they had proved once again is that the Taliban could strike at will anywhere in the heart of Kabul, the citadel of Afghanistan protected by the US military. The Taliban have managed to strike at a number of key targets within the city in recent times, including, among others, the ministry of justice, a United Nation’s guesthouse and the Indian embassy. All these have been suicide attacks meant to send a message.

This time too, as the New York Times pointed out, the "effect of the attack seemed primarily psychological, designed to strike fear into the usually quiet precincts of downtown Kabul — and to drive home the ease with which insurgents could strike the American-backed government there". A Washington Post reporter quoted locals who shared this view: "This is to show the Afghan government and the internationals that they can carry out an attack one kilometre from the presidential palace". -- Indranil Banerjie

Many believe that Abhinav Bharat carried out many attacks earlier attributed to jihadist groups — notable among them, the bombing of the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad in May 2007, and a subsequent attack on the famous shrine at Ajmer. Despite persistent questioning of Abhinav Bharat cadre, though, the investigators have not been able to link the group to the attacks.

Judging by recent Hindutva terror attacks, like last year’s bombings in Goa, it is unclear if they still have the capabilities to mount a sophisticated attack of the kind seen in Pune. Few investigators believe that the organisations — or other Hindutva cells — mounted the operation. “Still”, says one Maharashtra police official involved in investigating both Hindutva and jihadist attacks, “you can’t help wondering — what if?” -- Praveen Swami

One is again hearing whispered preliminaries of the cowardly chorus of this being “not our war, after all”, despite the undeniable fact that Pakistani citizens and members of our armed forces are being blown up, shot and killed in a variety of dramatic ways. ....

No less a personage than the prime minister has been heard asserting that force is not the answer to terrorism (sic) and that ‘dialogue’ is necessary. Dialogue? With unrepentant and exceptionally cruel and violent terrorists? For heaven’s sake, prime minister, what kind of company have you been keeping? Consider the previous others who have endorsed or demanded ‘dialogue’ with these treasonous savages. They have included General Pervez Musharraf (who signed away whole swathes of the sovereign territory of Pakistan that he had usurped when he illegitimately seized power), the likes of Generals Hamid Gul and Aslam Beg, the religio-political parties and their beardless fellow traveller Imran Khan, and such jelly-kneed politicians as NWFP’s Mian Iftikhar Husain who trembled at the suicide bombers standing allegedly behind them as they consigned the hapless people of Swat to a living hell. ....

Counter-terror measures are not military in nature. They are a police matter — an issue of effective law enforcement. In his book, The Idea of Pakistan, Stephen Cohen remarked that while Pakistan was not, in his view, a failed or failing state, the corruption and incompetence of its police apparatus could well drag the country toward that direction. We have seen for example that, again and again, massive quantities of high explosives have been procured, processed, mobilised and utilised in one terrorist act after another; but no intelligence or investigation has been able to penetrate the elaborate financial, logistical and human trails involved. -- Salman Tarik Kureshi, Karachi

 

The name Yemen means "country on the right." (If one looks toward Mecca from the West, Yemen is on the right side and Syria on the left.) The right side also connotes happiness, and the name of Yemen is connected to al-Yamana, an Arabic word for being happy. The Romans called it Arabia Felix ("Happy Arabia"), because it was rich through trading in spices. (By the way, Obama may be interested to hear that another leader of a superpower, Caesar Augustus, once tried to invade Yemen and was trounced.) If the quiet American, in his usual mixture of idealism and ignorance, decides to bring democracy and all the other goodies there, that will be the end of this happiness. The Americans will sink into another quagmire, tens of thousands of people will be killed, and it will all end in disaster. -- Uri Avnery

 

But a fissure right down the middle of the online watchdog discourse is whether to take down jihadi sites — as Internet Haganah does — or mine them for intelligence. Anyway, along with assaulting online jihadists, cyberspace will have to be protected — and entire populations and economies dependent on it — from terrorist assaults. Encryption and information safety will call for new defences. Let alone military personnel, very soon we’ll all be paranoid about our PCs and cellphones. In cyberspace, terrorists operate inside the ring we all are in, with technology no longer restricted to superpowers. And there’s no time for online jokes like the Nigerian “b***-bomber” taking Freudian psychosexual growth to a new dimension. -- Sudeep Paul

“Future historians,” wrote Walter Lacquer, “will be intrigued and puzzled by the staggering disproportion between the enormous amount of talk about terrorism and the tiny effort made to combat it.”

Ever since the savage Lashkar-e-Taiba attack on Mumbai in November 2008, Indians have been demanding that the government add muscle to the country’s counter-terrorism defenses...

The key problem is not the lack of institutional arrangement for the management of India’s counter-terrorism response but system-wide deficiencies in skills and capabilities. Vision and hard work will be needed to address them. -- Praveen Swami

 

Far from being "silent co-conspirators" -- as some are wont to call the Muslim community -- Muslims are an instrumental part of the fight against the terrorists and extremists who act in the name of their faith. It would have been an horrific act of mass murder. A Nigerian man allegedly attempted to ignite an explosive device aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to Detroit, but the device failed, and he was quickly subdued by other passengers. I thank God the plot failed, and I commend the bravery and heroism of those passengers who risked their own safety to help avert a potentially terrible terrorist attack. An investigation into the alleged plot is currently underway. -- Hesham A. Hassaballa

 

How has occupying two nations at a cost of 5,000 dead, 35,000 wounded and a trillion dollars made us safer from an enemy that more resembles the Apache of Geronimo than the panzers of Rommel? If protection of the homeland against another Sept. 11 is the goal of this war, how relevant to that goal is the building of clinics and schools in Kabul and keeping the Taliban at bay in Helmand?

Are we fighting other people's wars, rather than our own war?

We Americans are today widely hated in the Arab and Islamic world by scores of millions, out of whom al-Qaida need but recruit a few hundred suicide bombers to wreak havoc on our country. Does having 200,000 U.S. troops in their part of the world, fighting and killing Muslims, make our country more secure than defending our borders, keeping radicals out, running al-Qaida down, and tracking and killing them where they are? To win the war we are in, we have to fight the war we are in, not the war we prefer to fight because no one else is so good at it. -- Pat Buchanan

 

Observers of the Middle East conflict insist that the continuation of the plight of the Palestinians and the injustice that they are suffering on the hands of the Israeli occupiers is a source of anger and frustration for millions around the world. Candidate Obama as well as President Obama in his first 100 days would not have taken his eyes off the ball. Preventing further attacks against American targets will not take place with hard power. Soft power and support of justice and neutrality in the Middle East will provide much better protection than body scanners and efficient intelligence work.

If 2009 is to be evaluated fairly in respect to the issue of Palestine, it would be safe to say that Obama took his eyes of an issue which is of national interest to the US. -- Daoud Kuttab

 

Like the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, Yemen, with its mountainous terrain dotted with caves and other natural hide-outs, provides an ideal shelter and launching pad for Al Qaeda. The widespread poverty and the lack of facilities for modern education drive a large number of youth into the arms of Al Qaeda. It has nearly 4,000 madarsas, which are the breeding ground of fundamentalist ideological beliefs.

Yemen had contributed a large number of volunteers for jihad against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Many of them returned to Yemen after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops. Some of them were rehabilitated by being recruited to the police and the security forces. Others took to a new jihad -- this time against the US and Israel. Those rehabilitated in the security forces and those, who had joined Al Qaeda, remained in contact with each other having fought shoulder to shoulder against the Soviets in Afghanistan. -- B Raman

 

When the Americans invaded in 2001 most Afghans welcomed the United States with open arms. …The Americans promised jobs. This is in a country where after nearly 25 years of war there’s no economy to speak of. They promised development and reconstruction, an accountable and responsible government and security.

The reason the situation has completely deteriorated is that the Americans have utterly failed in meeting every single one of their promises. Today, more than half the country is unemployed. In many places the actual unemployment rate is much higher. There are villages I’ve gone to where no one has a job. Forty percent of the country earns less than $14 a month and nearly 50 percent is unable to procure enough food to meet their minimum daily requirements. … A lot of these people are crippled from the various wars — the Russian war, the current war — and the women are prevented from working.

Usually they’ll send their children down from the mountains into the city to either beg or work some small job. In these streets near the mountains you’ll see hundreds of children hawking trinkets, selling gum or outright begging. Many of these children are three or four years old, and they’re the main breadwinners of the family. You’ll occasionally see men trying to sell their daughters. -- Arun Gupta

 

... Its (9/11) perpetrators were linked to the Brooklyn-based blind cleric, Omar Abdel Rahman. Rahman, many experts have long suspected, was allowed to enter the United States by the Central Intelligence Agency in an effort to infiltrate Al-Qaeda — a high-stakes intelligence gamble that backfired spectacularly.

Ever since news broke that Lashkar-e-Taiba clandestine operative David Headley had been a Drug Enforcement Administration informant, speculation has grown that the Pakistani-American jihadist may also have worked for the United States Central Intelligence Agency. The evidence for the claim is thin. Headley’s links with the Lashkar, Federal Bureau of Intelligence detectives say, was only detected in July, 2009, when he posted inflammatory messages in an internet chat-room. Even at the time of his arrest, they claim, no evidence was available to suggest he had carried out pre-attack reconnaissance in Mumbai. For its part, the CIA has flatly denied any association with Headley.

But the Headley rumours offer an opportunity to examine the efforts of intelligence services around the world to infiltrate the global jihadist movement — and what sometimes happens when their assets turn out to have been double agents, singing the enemy’s song.

...The United Kingdom has never explained its failure to arrest Sheikh (Khalid Sheikh Mohammad) on his arrival in London. It was only in the wake of the 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States that Sheikh was charged by the United Kingdom with kidnapping its nationals in New Delhi — a delay that his victims described as “a disgrace...London-based Islamist cleric Omar Mahmoud Othman, spiritual mentor to the Al-Qaeda in Europe, is also alleged to have been a double-agent working for the United Kingdom’s domestic covert service, MI5. Known by the alias Abu Qatada, Othman’s followers included the chief suspect in the Madrid train bombings of 2004, and Al-Qaeda operative Richard Reid, who attempted to blow up a Paris-Miami flight with explosives. Nineteen audio cassettes of Othaman’s sermons were found in (Mohamed) Atta’s apartments. For years before the Madrid attacks, MI5 resisted appeals from the European allies for Othman’s arrest. “Abu Qatada”, The Times later reported, “boasted to MI5 that he could prevent terrorist attacks and offered to expose dangerous extremists, while all along he was setting up a haven for his terror organisation in Britain.” -- Praveen Swami

 

The arrest took India by surprise. The way these things work is that if the US knows about a terrorist, it allows him to fly to Pakistan or India (both frequent Headley destinations) and then tips off the local intelligence service. The terrorist is arrested and tortured to extract information. (Americans are now banned from using torture.) When the terrorist has been wrung dry, he is handed over to the US, along with his confession.

In this case, however, the Americans arrested Headley before he could fly out. He was formally charged, allowed to appoint a lawyer and is now entitled to all the protections of the US Constitution: he would be within his rights to tell Indian investigators to take a flying jump.

Why would the US treat a 26/11 suspect with such consideration?

The only explanation that fits is this: he was an American agent all along. The US arrested him only when it seemed that Indian investigators were on his trail. He will be sentenced to jail, will vanish into the US jail system for a while and will then be sprung again — as he was the last time. -- Vir Sanghvi

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