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Is the Islamic Caliphate State (Dawlat al-Khilafah al-Islamiyah) Islamic?

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The Islamic Caliphate State is the fourth stage in the development of an Islamic Jihadi terrorist group. Historically, there was the Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (the uniqueness and Jihad group), established by Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, Jordanian citizen with a Palestinian identity.

Al-Zarqawi promised once he achieve these goals, he would establish an “Islamic Emirate.” In June 2006, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi was killed, and Abu Ayub al-Masri (Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir), an Egyptian citizen, took his place and established the Dawlat al-Islam fil-Iraq (the Islamic State in Iraq=ISI). Its military leader was Abu ‘Umar al-Baghdadi. In April 2010, both al-Masri and al-Baghdadi were killed, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took the leadership of the Islamic State in Iraq.

In April 2013 al-Baghdadi decided to withdraw from al-Qaeda and to expand his organization’s name from the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) to the Islamic State in Iraq and greater Syria (al-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fil-Iraq wal-Sham=Da’esh, ISIS). On June 29th 2014, al-Baghdadi has coroneted himself as Caliph Ibrahim, Amir al-Mu’minin, being a descendent of Prophet Muhammad. He also declared the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate State (ICS), with the aim to topple down Arab-Islamic regimes, as the first stage. From that date on, there is no longer ISIS or ISIL or DAESH, but ICS. Those who continue to define it with these names, prove the inability to understand the situation and the complexities posed by this organization.

Who or what is ICS?

It is a Salafi-Takfiri organization characterized by an un-selective Jihad terrorist operations with the aim of bringing back the 7th century Islamic rule of the Fourth Califs (al-Khulafa’ al-Rashidun) as the ideal Islamic rule to humanity. At the end of 2015, it has become the largest and strongest Islamic Organizations with more than fifty Islamic groupings operating under its leadership, a proto-state that has representations in at least thirty states in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It has become the most important and influential non-state player in the entire international relations, and its political influence is perhaps more dangerous than its operational, being an attractive model of imitation for the Muslim believers.

Western political leaders, the media and the cultural-academic elite do not understand the situation. Every time there is a Jihad attack, they respond in the same routine way: Islam is the religion of peace, and Muslims are in fact not extremists. This reality is confusing and embarrassing: how does one determine this when the subject itself says he is Islamic and all his declarations, behavior, ideology and acts are Islamic? Something is really deeply odd, let alone confusing and embarrassing, relating to this issue when it comes to Islam. Western leaders are determined never to connect the dots and never to declare the obvious.

Construct and organization

ICS is an Islamic Salafī-Takfīrī organization that takes its ideology from Islam and acts exactly according to Islamic teachings. It is Islamic in its character, ideology, and objectives. Its political system and its governmental branches are purely Islamic. The flag, the anthem, and the rulings are all in accordance to Islamic teaching. They abide by Islamic commandments and they use a religious Islamic counseling. ICS has state symbols: a flag; passport; maps of political objectives; coin, and all other parameters of states. Most important is the educational system based on the Madrasah Islamic framework. It runs the political economic and social governmental machinery exactly according to the Islamic teachings.

Its uppermost religious-political institute is Majlis al-Shûra lil-Mujāhidīn, the religious Counseling Council that dictates their activity. It confirms, after studying the Islamic Scriptures, the horrific executions and slaughtering of the infidels, confirm by Fatawā, Islamic religious rulings. There is Majlis al-Sharī’ah, the Constitutional Council that deals with the constitutional, security, finance, and general administration aspects. There is also al-Majlis al-‘Askari, the Military Council, the central body of the military activity and operations.

Beheadings and massacres

Two verses from the Qur’an call to behead the Kuffār whenever and wherever they are. Sûrat Muhammad, 47:4, declares: “So when you clash with the infidels smite their necks until you overpower them… until war shall have come to an end.” Sûrat al-Anfāl, 8:12, declares: “I shall fill the hearts of the infidels with terror. So strike off their heads on their necks and every fingertips.” ICS also follows the Qur’anic teachings that terrorizing Islamic enemies brings success to the Muslims, since Allah commands acts of terror against the infidels. Sûrat al-‘Imrān, 3:151, declares: “We shall strike terror into the hearts of the infidels… Hell is their residence…” Sûrat al-Anfāl, 8:12, declares: I shall fill the hearts of the infidels with terror…” Sûrat al-Anfāl, 8:60, declares: “Prepare against them whatever arms and cavalry you can muster, that you may strike terror in the enemies of Allah and your own…” Sûrat al-Hashr, 59:2, declares: “Allah came upon the people of the Book, and filled their hearts with terror.”

ICS also follows Muhammad’s example who ordered the execution by beheading of seven hundred men of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe in Medina. There are also many other examples of Muhammad’s orders to behead the enemy of Islam, appear in his biography by Ibn Ishāq, The life of Muhammad. Crucifixion is another part of beheadings. ICS members love chopping the heads off while their victims are crucified. By that they follow the Qur’an (Sûrat al Mā’idah, 5:33). Muslims are to fight the infidels, as Allah heals the hearts of the believers (Sûrat al-Taubah, 9:14–6).

Khalid Ibn al-Walid is one of the uppermost heroes and models of ICS. During the first internal war, the Ridda, in 632–3, he beheaded, burned and massacred all those tribes, men, women, children and the elderly, who left Islam after Muhammad’s death. For his utmost cruelty, he received an honorary name: Sayf al-Islām, the sword of Islam. In 633 he massacred and beheaded tens of thousands of Persian prisoners in the battle of the Red River, in Southern Persia. It was him who declared at the battle of Yarmuk, year 636: “we are a people who drink blood, and we know that there is no blood more delicious than the Byzantine blood.” Following that, one of ICS members, named Khalid (!) has eaten the heart of a Syrian soldier.

There are more. The Umayyad dynasty have massacred and beheaded all the clan of Ali’s family, including little babies. The Umayyad themselves where all massacred by Abbas Dynasty in 750. The Ottoman Empire used the most horrific inhuman acts of massacres and beheadings in the occupation of Constantinople and Athens. They operate the first modern genocide of the Armenians and the Greeks. What the Muslims done to the Buddhists in India is one of the darkest chapters in human history.

ICS follows these examples by herding and marching off hundreds and thousands of male hostages each time, where they shoot them in the head and throw them into the river one by one; or when they put them on lines and in trenches the victims dig, and shoot them by machine guns. However, what the Islamic Caliphate State members love extremely most is all kind of beheadings, with small knives, and then cheerfully show the heads, play football with the heads, or pile them in the main streets and roundabouts. They also educate their youth, ordering small kids to learn the profession of beheading or shooting. It is all done while quoting verses from the Qur’an that justify the massacre and shouting “Allāhu Akbar” against the infidels.

The Islamic hostility to the Cross is an unwavering fact of life, one that is very much indicative of Islam’s innate hostility to Christianity. It has started with Muhammad’s repugnance to the Cross who called it piece of idolatry; it has continued with the “Pact of Umar” which forbade the display of the Crosses, and it has culminated to a new peak with the ICS members slaughtering men on the cross. In their “communiques to the West” ICS leaders have declared: “We will conquer Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women… we will cast terror into the hearts of the cross worshippers.” In Libya, one of Islamic Caliphate State leaders has declared: “We will fight you until Jesus descends, breaks the cross, and kills the pig.”

ICS members are excellent narrators. The main idea is to legitimize beheadings, slavery, and gang-rape by reference to Islamic history and theology, being a powerful narrative of Jihād Fī-Sabīlillāh. Moreover, beheadings are done by the use of the most important Islamic weapon, the sword, with the symbolism of blood ritual. On February 3, 2015, ICS has released a video claiming to show horrifying burning of the captured Jordanian pilot, Maaz al-Kassasbeh. The video is entitled, “Healing the Believers Chests,” a slogan taken from the Qur’an (Sûrat al-Taubah, 9:14). The basis for this is Muhammad’s declaration from the Hadith (Sahīh Bukhārī, 1:11:626).

The problem is not with Muslims, as they clearly and utterly declare their objectives and how to obtain them. They don’t hide behind, and they reveal their world mindset openly. The problem is exactly with the West that does not wish even to discuss the situation concerning Islam and Muslims. It is not a sign of tolerance when one deliberately silences himself against reality; is it rational when one artificially differentiates between Islam as a peaceful religion and “extremists” who high-jacked Islam? Doesn’t it show that we have lost our freedoms purposely and consciously and that we are in a deep state of intimidation in front of the villain?

Slavery and rape

The enslavement of infidel women for sexual purposes is central aspect of Islamic civilization, from the Qur’an, the highest scriptural authority, to Muhammad, the ultimate role model for all Muslims. It constitutes a central part in Islamic history as much as to current events in “Islamic Tribal Anarchic Winter,” mistakenly called “Arab Spring.” Islamic sex slavery is religiously sanctioned by the Sharī’ah. The mainstream of Islamic jurisprudence has justified and supported this practice on the basis of Islam’s canonical sources, including Muhammad’s own example and teaching.

The Sharī’ah, permits the enslavement, selling, and rape of infidel women captured during Jihad wars, being legitimately gained booty, “what your right hand possess” (Sûrat al-Nisā’, 4:3). Sex-rape of captive women was very common during Islamic history and it was performed frequently, as these slave-concubines were considered equivalent to animals. The grammar use of the word “Ma” in this context relate to things or animals, not to human beings. Muslim exegetes agree that once a true Islamic State is established, those living in Dār al-Harb have no rights to their life or their wealth. Therefore, Muslims are allowed to go to these nations and take their wealth and to keep their women as slaves.

As it is against Islam to rape Muslim women, it is permitted, even encouraged to rape all others captured. In the battle of Hunain, the Muslims were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were infidels. So Allah sent down the Qur’anic verse (Sûrat al-Nisā’, 4:24). This verse relieved the Muslims of this restraint by giving them permission to have sex with captive women, at all conditions, even if the women were already married. Abd-al-Hamid Siddiqui, the translator of Sahīh Muslim (8:3433), commented on this tradition, saying: When women are taken captive, their previous marriages are automatically annulled. Sexual intercourse with these women is lawful. The women of the Banu Mustaliq were sold into slavery following their rape. They were “excellent Arab women, and we desired them” (Sahīh Muslim, 8:3371). The prophet of Islam, his companions, and the Muslims used war to collect women for personal sexual use and for slave trading.

An article published in Foreign Policy in September 2014, begins with: “Of the many terrifying stories emerging from Islamic State-occupied Iraq and Syria, the violence directed toward women is perhaps the most difficult to contemplate.” This perhaps sums up the entire issue. It is arguable whether it is more horrifying than beheadings and mutilations in public with sadistic pictures of the victims posted online. It is arguable whether it is more intimidating than herding thousands of infidels and cold-bloodedly shooting them just for the fun of it, while shouting “Allāhu Akbar.” It is arguable whether it is more abhorring than forcing religious minorities to convert to Islam, while showing crucified men. Still, the reality of women, tortured, raped, sold to slavery of very short miserable life is humiliating.

Although sexual violence, enslavement, and rape were the most generic atrocity committed during wars in history, common to all cultures and civilizations, ICS wholly based its activities on Islamic law. These women being desired spoils of war are treated not only like animals, but their short living miserable life is worth less than animals, when the slavery marketplace is full of fresh flesh.

Islamic law makes crystal clear that conquered infidel sex slaves are one of the rewards for those waging Jihad. It is in the Sharī’ah, whom Muslims are ordered to totally emulate, and it is a common fixture of Islamic history. Majid Khadduri explained the idea of “spoils:”

The term spoil (Ghanīma) is applied specifically to property acquired by force from non-Muslims. It includes, however, not only property (movable and immovable) but also persons, whether in the capacity of asra (prisoners of war) or sabi (women and children), If the slave were a woman, the master was permitted to have sexual connection with her as a concubine.

In the fourth edition of the magazine Dabiq, ICS promotes sex slavery as an Islamic practice that conforms to the teaching and example of Muhammad and his companions, and in fact Islamic history. Slavery and young girls’ sex-trade is common now in its occupied territories. It is recorded that the price of each Captured Yazidi girl is $12. An investigation done by Clarion Project reveals that forty-two Yazidi girls were sold by the ICS in Syria for 2000 dollars. At the end of 2014 the slave market in Iraq was by age: A woman aged thirty to forty cost $63; girls aged ten to twenty were priced at $126; girls from one to nine were sold for $168. As ICS members take new towns also in Syria, the market of sex-slavery girls is routine and commonplace.

The horrific thing is that ICS has openly established, organized, and institutionalized a state-sanctioned system of sexual slavery. It is not intended to be a temporary war-time tactics, but a peace-time Islamic institution. It is to recall that contrary to historical evidence, this is not the “usual” women-rape and abuse perpetrated during wars all along history. This is exactly the Islamic tradition to take booty from the vanquished, and it is a deliberate tactic to demolish and degrade the enemy, the infidels, through organized slavery and women rape.

Members of ICS regularly declare that according to Islam they are allowed to rape the Kuffār. This is ‘Ibādah, a way of worshipping Allah. The systematic rape of women and girls has become deeply enmeshed in the organization and the radical theology of the Islamic State. Yazidi women and girls who escaped the Islamic State, and the examination of the group’s official communications, illuminate how the practice has been enshrined in the group’s core tenets. It has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery and trade slavery. This is a “theology of rape,” an integral part of the doctrine and practice of all along the Islamic history and reproduced in the ICS. One has also to recall, there is no male rapist in Islam but seducing woman, whose penalty is death by stoning.

Sheikh Yasir al-‘Ajlawni states that Muslims fighting to topple the regime of the infidel, Bashar Assad in Syria are permitted to capture and have sex with all non-Sunni women, including Shia Muslims, Alawites, Christians, Druze, and Yazidis. The same approach comes from Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamic organization that performs horrific atrocities like the ICS. Its leader also believes that Allah permits the Mujāhidīn to enjoy free sex slavery, after abducting three hundred “infidel” schoolgirls to be sold in the sex slave market.

One can also relates to the issues of crime and punishment to examine the similarities between ICS and the law of Islam, according to the Sharī’ah. The punishment for blasphemy (insulting Allah, Muhammad, and the religion of Islam) is death. The punishment of adultery (if marries) is death by stoning, and if not married 100 lashes. The punishment of slender and drinking alcohol is 80 lashes. The Punishment of stealing is amputation of hand. The punishment of banditry (theft) is amputation of hand and foot. The punishment of murder in banditry is death by crucifixion.  

Summary

One can conclude the issue in one sentence: ICS is the top model of Islam and Islamic teachings. So ingrained in violence in the religion that Islam has never really stopped being at war either with other religions or with itself. Muhammad inspired the Muslims to battle the infidels promising all desires in this world and the Hereafter, and threatened them with Hell if they did not. Muslims were laying siege to towns; massacring its men, raping and enslaving their women; enslaving and converting their children; and taking the property of others. Fighting, violence booty, women enslavement, and rape is the main of Arab-Islamic political culture through history. This is exactly how ICS acts and behaves.

The refusal of Western political leaders, the media, and the cultural elite to open their eyes to reality and protect Western nations from ICS is one of the biggest betrayal. Boko Haram leader also believes that Allah permits the Mujāhidin to slaughter and behead all the infidels, and to enjoy free sex slavery.

Indeed, the Islamic Caliphate State is Islamic. It follows Islam and acts according to Islam. To say it is not Islam is exactly to say the Nazi ideology was not Germany, or the Shinto was not Japanese, or that Islam does not exist as a political religion. ICS is the great winner in contemporary international relations, and the free world contributes the lion’s share to this success by denying its connection to Islam and by not willing to fight it seriously.

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Boko Haram: Religious Based Violence and Portrayal of Radical Islam

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Modern-day global and domestic politics have set forth the trend that has legitimized and rationalized the use of religion as a tool to attain political gravity and interests. Similarly, many religion-oriented groups use religion to shape their political agenda and objectives, often using religion as a justification for their violent activities. Most of these mobilized groups are aligned with Islam. These groups have promoted religion-based violence and have also introduced new waves and patterns in global terrorism. Some prominent organized groups that attain world attention include Boko Haram, ISIS, Al- Qaeda, and the Taliban. These groups have potentially disrupted the political establishment of their regions. Although, a comparative insight delivers that these various organizations have antithetical political objectives but these groups use Islam to justify their violent actions and strategies based on violence and unrest.

The manifesto of Boko Haram rests on Islamic principles i.e. establishing Shariah or Islamic law in the region. A system that operates to preserve the rights of poor factions of the society and tends to promote or implement Islamic values. Hence, in this context, it negates westernization and its prospects. However, the rise of Boko Haram was based on anti-western agenda which portrayed that the existing government is un-Islamic and that western education is forbidden. Hence, the name Boko Haram itself delivered the notion that western culture or civilization is forbidden. Boko Haram has a unique political and religiously secular manifesto. Boko Haram was formed by Mohammad Yusuf, who preached his agenda of setting up a theocratic political system through his teachings derived from Islam. And countered the existing governmental setup of the Christians. The violent dynamics surged in 2009 when an uprising against the Nigerian government took the momentum that killed almost 800 people. Following the uprising, Mohammad Yusuf was killed and one of his lieutenants Abu Bakar Shekau took the lead.

Boko Haram used another violent strategy to gain world attention by bombing the UN Compound in Abuja that killed twenty-three people. The incident led to the declaration of Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organizationby the United States Department. Thus, the group continued the process of violence and also started to seize several territories like Bama, Dam boa, and Abadan. They also extended their regional sphere in terms of occupation using violent strategies. The violence intensified when in the year 2014, 276 girls were abducted from Girl’s school in Chibok. This immediately triggered global outrage and developed an image of religious extremism and violence. This process continued over the years; one reported case articulated that a Christian girl ‘Lean Shairbu’ was kept in captivity for a prolonged period upon refusal to give up her religion. Ever since, the violence has attained an upward trajectory, as traced in the case of mass Chibok abduction and widespread attack in Cameroon in the years 2020 and 2021.

After establishing a regional foothold Boko Haram improvised new alliances especially in 2015 after the government recaptured some of its territories that pushed the militant group near Lake Chad and to the hilly areas. Consequently, Abu Bakar Shekau turned towards international alliance and pledged its allegiance to IS. This created two branches of Boko Haram called Jamat u Ahlis Liddawatiwal Jihad (JAS) headed by Abu Bakar Shekau and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) lead by Musab Al Barnarwai. The ISWAP developed strong social, political, and strategic roots in the region. It has embedded itself socially in the hearts and minds of people by establishing their caliphate and judicial system.

The pattern of religion-based conflicts has transformed the global religious conflicts. That is often referred to as extremist terrorism based on religion. Hence the rise of Boko Haram also involved demographics that complimented their political objectives. As the state of Nigeria is an amalgamation of Christians and Muslims; and has been constructed as a distinct ethno-lingual society, historically. The Christians resided in the South of Nigeria while the Muslims were located in Northern Nigeria. The northern side suffered from poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and public health issues under the government of Goodluck Jonathan. His government was centrally weak and marginalized the Northern side. This also contributed as one of the major factors that granted an edge for the influence and legitimacy of Boko Haram. Therefore, the main reason that triggered the organization and its move was based on Islamic principles of Jihad and Tajdid. This presents new notions of religion to recruit and incorporate more people into their community. The concept of Jihad has been historically driven which reflects and justifies acts against the unjust state and its authority. It also expands the capacity for social hostilities against the non-religious entities promoting hatred and non-acceptance. This also breeds religious extremism and rigidity that further validates the use of violence on their behalf.  Hence Jihad acts as a driving force to strive against the un-Islamic state structure for Islamic religious social fabric. Moreover, this religiously derived conception of violent confrontation has always been legitimized in terms of the historic concept of war and terms of self-defense. 

As a radical and contemporary religious belief; Jihad is regarded as the manifestation of religious violence and extremist terrorism. The establishment of the caliphate and state-like institutions represents a radical Salafist view regarding the establishment of the Islamic state structure. The ISWAP acts as a pseudo-state or state with in state that has established its authority and control. The reflection of another religious proclamation ofTajdid refers to the renewal of religious norms that aims at reconstruction or reset of social structure in accordance with Islamic values. Jihad and Tajdid collaboratively serve to generate notions about the reset of the political framework as an Islamic state system. The socio-religious reconstruction is particularly divergent from the western one. As western societies are often pluralistic, while Boko Haram’s vision aims as establishing Islamic social composition. Moreover, the western setup provided constitutional provisions to women in terms of rights, freedom, education, and liberty. This completely contradicted their conceptualization of women. Hence, this also generated gender-based violence as means to protect Islamic values. This was closely witnessed during the abduction of girls from their school. Furthermore, Islamic radicalization has been pursued through different channels that have extensively contributed to narrative building amongst the population, propaganda, and the development of a religious mindset in the African region. One of the most prominent tactics used for the purpose has been achieved through the propagation of literature. The scholars started to preach about Jihad and its implications since the 15th Century. The channel continues to date where the teachers preach about these scholarly findings that further encourages the youth to turn towards radical Islamization. The degree of radicalization elevates as Boko Haram propagates the concept of exclusivism that tends to oppose other value systems and beliefs. This creates a rift the society and deteriorates the sense of co-existence. As a result, Boko Haram represents a destructive paradox that promotes religious extremism and violence through misinterpretation of Islamic principles. Pursuing the political agenda of Boko Haram under the banner of Islamic law; which is power-oriented and would help them maintain dominance politically, economically, and territorially in the African region.

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Security of nuclear materials in India

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Terrorism

The author is of the view that nuclear security is lax in India. More so, because of the 123 Agreement and sprawling  nuclear installations in several states. The thieves and scrap dealers even dare to advertise online sale of radioactive uranium. India itself has reported several incidents of nuclear thefts to the international bodies. The author wonders why India’s security lapses remain out of international focus. Views expressed are personal.  

Amid raging pandemic in the southern Indian state of Maharashtra, the anti-terrorism squad arrested  (May 6, 20210) two persons (Jagar Jayesh Pandya and Abu Tahir Afzal hussain Choudhry) for attempting to sell seven kilograms  of highly-radioactive muranium for offered price of  about Rs. 21 crore. The “gentlemen” had uncannily advertised  the proposed sale online.. As such, the authorities initially dismissed the advertisement as just another hoax. They routinely detained the “sellers-to-be” and forwarded a sample of their ware to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.  They were shocked when the centre reported that “the material was natural uranium”.  As such the squad was compelled to book the duo under India’s Atomic Energy Act, 1962 at Nagpur police station (Explained: ATS seizes 7 kg uranium worth  Rs. 21 crore from a scrap dealer…Indian Express May 7, 2021).

Not a unique incident

The event, though shocking, is  is not  one of its kind. Earlier, in 2016 also, two persons were arrested by Thane (Maharashtra) police while they were trying to sell eight to nine kilograms of depleted uranium for Rs. 24 crore.  It is surmised that sale of uranium by scrap dealers in India is common. But, such events rarely come in limelight. According to Anil Kakodar, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, `Factories using uranium as a counterweight in their machines are mandated to contact the Atomic Energy agencies and return uranium to them. They however resort to short cuts and sell the entire machine with uranium in scrap’.

India media scarcely report such incidents. However, Indian government sometimes reports such incidents to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to meet disclosure requirements. According to international media reports (February 25, 2004), India reported 25 cases of “missing” or “stolen” radio-active material from its labs to the IAEA.  Fifty-two per cent of the cases were attributed to “theft” and 48% to the “missing mystery”.  India claimed to have recovered lost material in twelve of total 25 cases.  It however admitted that 13 remaining cases remained mysterious.

India’s reports such incidents to the IAEA to portray itself as a “responsible state”.  It is hard to believe that radio-active material could be stolen from nuclear labs without operators’ connivance.

Nine computers, belonging to India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation establishment at Metcalfe House, New Delhi, were stolen. India communicated 25 cases of ‘stolen or missing’ uranium to the IAEA. In different incidents, uranium in varying forms and quantities continue to be recovered from scrap dealers and others by Indian authorities. The recoveries include fifty-seven pounds of uranium in rod form, eight kilograms in granular form, two hundred grams in semi-processed form, besides twenty-five kilograms in radioactive form, stolen from the Bibi Cancer Hospital.

Too, the ‘thieves’ stole three cobalt switches, worth Rs. 1.5 million, from Tata Steel Company laboratory at Jamshedpur (Jharkhand). A shipment of beryllium (worth $24 million), was caught in Vilnius, on its way to North Korea. Taiwanese authorities had intercepted a ship carrying dual-use aluminum oxide from India to North Korea. A New Jersey-based Indian engineer Sitaram Ravi Mahidevan was indicted for having bypassed US export procedures to send blue-prints of solenoid-operated valves to North Korea.

We know that the Taiwanese authorities had intercepted a ship, carrying dual-use aluminum oxide from India to North Korea.  The oxide is an essential ingredient of rocket casings and is, as such, prohibited for export to “rogue” countries.

Pakistan bashing

Despite recurrent incidents of theft of uranium or other sensitive material from indiandian nuclear labs, the IAEA never initiated a thorough probe into lax security environment in government and private nuclear labs in india. However, the international media has a penchant for creating furore over uncorroborated nuclear lapses in Pakistan. The Time magazine article ‘Merchant of Menace’, had reported that some uranium hexafluoride cylinders were missing from the Kahuta Research Laboratories.  Pakistan’ then information minister and foreign-office spokesman had both refuted the allegation.  Masood Khan (foreign office) told reporters, `The story is a rehash of several past stories’.

Similarly,  Professor Shaun Gregory in his report ‘The Security of Nuclear Weapons’ contends that those guarding about 120 nuclear-weapon sites, mostly in northern and western parts of Pakistan, have fragmented loyalties. As such, they are an easy prey to religious extremists.

Frederick W. Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon, also draw a gloomy portrait of the situation in Pakistan. In their article, published in The New York Times, dated November 18, 2007, they predicted that extremists would take over, if rule of law collapses in Pakistan. Those sympathetic with the Taliban and al-Qaeda may convert Pakistan into a state sponsor of terrorism. They pointed to Osama bin Laden’s meeting with Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, former engineers of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission (having no bomb-making acumen).

They claimed that U.S. military experts and intelligence officials had explored strategies for securing Pakistan’s nuclear assets. One option was to isolate the country’s nuclear bunkers. Doing so would require saturating the area, surrounding the bunkers, with tens of thousands of high-powered mines, dropped from air, packed with anti-tank and anti-personnel munitions. The panacea, suggested by them, was that Pakistan’s nuclear material should be seized and stashed in some “safe” place like New Mexico.

Rebuttal

The fact is that the pilloried Pakistani engineers had no knowledge of weaponisation (“When the safest is not safe enough,” The Defence Journal -Pakistan), pages 61-63). The critics mysteriously failed to mention that Pakistan is a party to the UN Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials. The steps taken by Pakistan to protect its nuclear materials and installations conform to international standards. The National Command Authority, created on February 2, 2000, has made fail-safe arrangements to control development and deployment of strategic nuclear forces. Pakistan’s nuclear regulatory authority had taken necessary steps for safety, security, and accountability of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, facilities, and materials even before 9/11 incident. These controls include functional equivalent of the two-man rule and permissive action links (PALs). The indigenously-developed PALs are bulwarks against inadvertent loss of control, or accidental use of weapons. So far, there has been no security lapse in any of Pakistan’s nuclear establishments.

Abdul Mannan, in his paper titled “Preventing Nuclear Terrorism in Pakistan: Sabotage of a Spent Fuel Cask or a Commercial Irradiation Source in Transport”, has analysed various ways in which acts of nuclear terrorism could occur in Pakistan (quoted in “Pakistan’s Nuclear Future: Worries beyond War”). He has fairly reviewed Pakistan’s vulnerability to nuclear terrorism through hypothetical case studies. He concludes that the threat of nuclear terrorism in Pakistan is a figment of imagination, rather than a real possibility.

There are millions of radioactive sources used worldwide in various applications. Only a few thousand sources, including Co-60, Cs-137, Ir-192, Sr-90, Am-241, Cf-252, Pu-238, and RA-226 are considered a security risk. The Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has enforced a mechanism of strict measures for administrative and engineering control over radioactive sources from cradle to grave. It conducts periodic inspections and physical verifications to ensure security of the sources. The Authority has initiated a Five-Year National Nuclear-Safety-and-Security-Action Plan to establish a more robust nuclear-security regime. It has established a training centre and an emergency-coordination centre, besides deploying radiation-detection-equipment at each point of nuclear-material entry in Pakistan, supplemented by vehicle/pedestrian portal monitoring equipment where needed.

Fixed detectors have been installed at airports, besides carrying out random inspection of personnel luggage. All nuclear materials are under strict regulatory control right from import until their disposal.

Concluding remarks

Nuclear controls in India and the USA are not more stringent than Pakistan’s. It is not understood why the media does not deflect their attention to the fragile nuclear-security environment in India. It is unfortunate that the purblind critics fail to see the gnawing voids in India’s nuclear security.

The ‘research work’ by well-known scholars reflects visceral hatred against Pakistan. The findings in fresh ‘magnum opuses’ are a re-hash or amalgam of the presumptions and pretensions in earlier-published ‘studies’. It is time that the West deflected its attention to India where movements of nuclear materials, under the 123 expansion plan, are taking place between nuclear-power plants sprawling across different states.

Above all, will the international media and the IAEA look into open market uranium sales in India.

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Biological warfare: A global security threat

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Biological warfare is not a new concept in arena of international politics as it has been used as a tool to sabotage enemy in previous centuries. Biological weapons are a sub-category of Weapons of Mass destruction (WMDs) in which there is a deliberate use of micro-organisms like pathogens and toxins to cause disease or death in humans, livestock and yields.Form its usage in 14th century by Mongols to its usage by imperial Japan during 1930s-40s against Chinese, it has always been a threat to global security. The evolution of bio-weapons can be broadly categorized into four phases; first phase includes the post WWII developments with the evident use of chlorine and phosgene in Ypres.The second phase was marked by the use of nerve agents like tabun, cholinesterase inhibitor and anthrax and plague bombs. The initiation of third phase was marked by the use of biological weapons in Vietnam war during 1970s where deadly agents like Agent orange were used. 4th and last phase include the time of biological and technological revolution where genetic engineering techniques were at their peak. Traditionally they have been used in wartime in order to defeat enemy but with the emergence of violent non-state actors, bioterrorism is another potential threat to the security of states. There are certain goals that are associated with the use of biological weapons. Firstly, it is purposed to hit to economy of the targeted country, breaking down government authority and have a psychological effect on masses of the targeted population. It is also a kind of psychological warfare as it may hit a smaller number of people but leaves impact on wider audience through intimidation and spreading fear. It also creates natural circumstances under which a population is induced with disease without revealing the actual perpetrator.

With the advancement in genetic engineering techniques more lethal biological weapons are being produced everyday around the world. Countries which are economically deprived are more likely to pursue such goals as it is difficult for them to go for heavy military sophistication keeping into consideration their poor economic conditions. Biological weapons serve as inexpensive tool for developing countries to address their issues in prevailing international security environment. During the initial decades of cold war, united states of America (USA) and Soviet Union went for acquiring tons of biological weapons alongside nuclear proliferation.

 The quest for these weapons reduced during 1970s with the formation of Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). This convention was presented in 1972 before countries and finally came into force in 1975 with 150 countries who signed this convention and 140 countries who fully joined this treaty. This convention prohibits any biological weaponization in order to promote peace and stability around the world. But this convention has obvious defects as it is unable to address many issues like it doesn’t prevents itself the use of biological weapons but just reinforces 1925 Geneva Protocol which forbids the use of bio-weapons. Convention allows ‘defensive research’ to which there are many objections that what is incorporated into this defensive research. It is non-binding to the signatory states and in case if countries are proliferating it lacks the effective oversight techniques to look after them either they are pursuing these biological weapons capabilities or not. Since the inception of this convention till now it has clearly failed in stopping the countries from acquisition as well as usage of these weapons. This is evident as there were many cases after 1975 where these weapons were used as in 1980s when Iraq used mustard gas, sarin and tabun against Iran and many other ethnic groups inside Iran. Another incident which was highlighted was Sarine nerve gas attack in Tokyo subway system leaving thousands injured and many got killed. In post-cold war era, however, the number of these attacks reduced as much attention was shifted to terrorism after 9/11 attacks with the change in global security architecture.

“Anthrax letters” in post 9/11 attacks revealed yet another dimension of bio-weapons which was the threat of bioterrorism from non-state actors. US became a victim of bio-terrorism when in 2001 a powder was transported through letters containing bacterium called anthrax infecting many people. One purpose which terrorists have is to make general masses feel as if they are unsafe in the hands of their government which can be best achieved through the use of these weapons. The fact that biological weapons are cheaper and more devastating than conventional weapons make it more likely for biological weapons to be used by terrorists. Also, the fact that they are easy to hide and transport and a smaller quantity can leave long-lasting impacts on larger population makes these weapons more appealing.  Now that we are facing a global pandemic in the form of COVID-19 which according to some conspiracy theories is a biological weapon pose even more serious challenge to the international security in coming decades. There is no such scientific research which proves Corona Virus as a biological weapon but the realization here is that whether or not it is a biological weapon but world was least prepared for it. Not only the developing countries but also developed states suffered more despite having enormous medical infrastructure. The fact that there has been decline in the incidents related to bioterrorism should never let us think that there is no possibility of such attacks. The fact that world failed to handle Covid-19 puts a question mark on the credibility of measures if we are faced with bio-terrorism. The medical community as well as general population needs to develop an understanding of how to respond if there is such attack. At the international level there is a dire need to develop some strong norms which discourage the development and use of such weapons in any capacity.    

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