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The Surreptitious Reincarnation of COINTELPRO with the COPS Gang-Stalking Program

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In 1975 Senator Frank Church convened a joint senatorial/congressional inquiry into the egregious human rights and civil liberties violations of the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”), National Security Agency (“NSA”), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) against people both foreign and domestic. Such blatant transgressions included the “neutralization” and “elimination” of political dissidents, “enemies of the state,” real or imagined threats to National Security, and anyone else on the proverbial shit list of the Military Industrial Complex (“MIC”).

The Church Committee was the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D ID) in 1975. A precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee investigated intelligence gathering for illegality by the aforementioned agencies after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair.

Some famous examples which have since emerged include: (1) the FBI sending letters to Martin Luther King Jr encouraging him to kill himself or else they would tell the world about his sexual proclivities; (2) the planned or successful assassinations of foreign leaders such as Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, and countless other South American, Middle Eastern or Asian leaders; (3) the wholesale undermining of entire foreign economies if they democratically elected someone at odds with the elite power structure deep state of the United States such as what occurred against Salvatore Allende of Guatemala; (4) the possible assassination of John F Kennedy; (5) revelations of Christopher Pyle in January 1970 of the U.S. Army’s spying on the civilian population; (6) the December 22, 1974 New York Times article by Seymour Hersh detailing operations engaged in by the CIA over the years that had been dubbed the “family jewels,” involving covert action programs involving assassination attempts against foreign leaders and covert attempts to subvert foreign governments were reported for the first time; (7) efforts by intelligence agencies to collect information on the political activities of US citizens; and (8) countless other examples, both overseas and domestically.

The end result of the Church Committee Hearings was the outright banning on CIA assassinations as well as the FBI/DOJ COINTELPRO gang-stalking programs. In 1975 and 1976, the Church Committee published fourteen reports on various U.S. intelligence agencies’ formation, operations, and the alleged abuses of law and of power that they had committed, with recommendations for reform, some of which were later put in place.

Among the other matters investigated were attempts to assassinate other foreign leaders such as Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, the Diem brothers of Vietnam, Gen. René Schneider of Chile, and Director of CIA Allen Dulles’s plan (approved by President Dwight Eisenhower) to use the Sicilian Mafia to kill Fidel Castro of Cuba.

Under recommendations and pressure by this committee, President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905 (ultimately replaced in 1981 by President Reagan’s Executive Order 12333) to ban U.S. sanctioned assassinations of foreign leaders.

Together, the Church Committee’s reports have been said to constitute the most extensive review of intelligence activities ever made available to the public. Much of the contents were classified, but over 50,000 pages were declassified under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.

The Church Committee learned that beginning in the 1950s, the CIA and FBI intercepted, opened, and photographed more than 215,000 pieces of mail by the time the program was shut down. The Church report found that the CIA was zealous about keeping the US Postal Service from learning that mail was being opened by government agents. CIA agents moved mail to a private room to open the mail or in some cases opened envelopes at night after stuffing them in briefcases or coat pockets to deceive postal officials.

On May 9, 1975, the Church Committee called CIA director William Colby. That same day Ford’s top advisers (Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Philip W. Buchen, and John Marsh) drafted a recommendation that Colby be authorized to brief only rather than testify, and that he would be told to discuss only the general subject, with details of specific covert actions to be avoided except for realistic hypotheticals. But the Church Committee had full authority to call a hearing and require Colby’s testimony. Ford and his top advisers met with Colby to prepare him for the hearing.

The Ford administration, particularly Rumsfeld, was “concerned” about the effort by members of the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in the House to curtail the power of U.S. intelligence agencies. It seemed that Rumsfeld et al was comfortable giving the power to arbitrarily destroy anyone as “enemies of the state” by anyone working in the IC and MIC.

COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert and illegal projects conducted by the FBI aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic “political dissidents.”

FBI records show that COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed subversive, including anti Vietnam War organizers, activists of the Civil Rights Movement or Black Power movement (e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panther Party), feminist organizations, anti colonial movements (such as Puerto Rican independence groups like the Young Lords), and a variety of organizations that were part of the broader New Left.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued directives on COINTELPRO, ordering FBI agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, neutralize or otherwise eliminate” the activities of these movements and especially their leaders. Under Hoover, the agent in charge of COINTELPRO was William C. Sullivan.

Tactics included anonymous phone calls, IRS audits, and the creation of documents that would divide their targets internally.

After the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Hoover singled out King as a major target for COINTELPRO. Under pressure from Hoover to focus on King, Sullivan wrote: “In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech, we must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.”

The Final Report of the Select Frank Church Committee blasted the behavior of the intelligence community in its domestic operations (including COINTELPRO) in no uncertain terms:

“The Committee finds that the domestic activities of the intelligence community at times violated specific statutory prohibitions and infringed the constitutional rights of American citizens. The legal questions involved in intelligence programs were often not considered. On other occasions, they were intentionally disregarded in the belief that because the programs served the “national security” the law did not apply. While intelligence officers on occasion failed to disclose to their superiors programs which were illegal or of questionable legality, the Committee finds that the most serious breaches of duty were those of senior officials, who were responsible for controlling intelligence activities and generally failed to assure compliance with the law. Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that – the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.”

According to attorney Brian Glick in his book War at Home, the FBI used four main methods during COINTELPRO:

(1) Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents;

(2) Psychological warfare: The FBI and police used myriad “dirty tricks” to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists. They used bad jacketing to create suspicion about targeted activists, sometimes with lethal consequences;

(3) Harassment via the legal system: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters;

(4) Illegal force: The FBI conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents; to conduct illegal break ins in order to search dissident homes; and to commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations. The object was to frighten or eliminate dissidents and disrupt their movements.

The FBI specifically developed tactics intended to heighten tension and hostility between various factions in their targeted groups and individuals, and this resulted in numerous deaths, among which were San Diego Black Panther Party members John Huggins, Bunchy Carter and Sylvester Bell.

While COINTELPRO was officially terminated in April 1971, critics allege that continuing FBI actions indicate that post COINTELPRO reforms did not succeed in ending COINTELPRO tactics.

ENTER THE “COPS” FEDERAL AND STATE SANCTIONED GANG-STALKING PROGRAM

“Community Oriented Policing,” (“COPS”) is a strategy of policing that focuses on police “building ties and working closely with members of the communities,” and originated in 1994 when then Senator Joseph Biden wrote and then President Bill Clinton enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (“VCCLEA”) establishing the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (“COPS”) within the US Department of Justice.

Community policing is supposedly a policy that requires police to engage in a “proactive approach” to address public safety concerns, and is a cornerstone of the Clinton Administration, gaining its funding from the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.

Common implementations of community policing include: (1) relying on community based crime prevention by utilizing “civilian education,” neighborhood watch, and a variety of other techniques, as opposed to relying solely on police patrols; (2) restructuring the patrol from an emergency response based system to emphasizing proactive techniques such as foot patrol; (3) increased officer accountability to civilians they are “supposed to serve;” and (4) decentralizing police authority, allowing more discretion amongst lower ranking officers, and more initiative expected from them.

In other words, federal and state sanctioned and approved GANG-STALKING.

Gang Stalking has been described as fascism, using East Germany style “Stasi Tactics,” a systemic form of control, which seeks to control every aspect of a “Targeted Individual’s” life. Gang Stalking has many similarities to workplace mobbing, but takes place outside in the community, where the target is followed around and placed under surveillance by groups of organized civilian spies/snitches 24/7, 365 days a year. Targeted Individuals are harassed in this way for months or years before they realize that they are being targeted by an organized program of gang-stalking harassment. This is very similar to what happened to many innocent individuals in the former East Germany or activists and dissidents in the former Soviet Union. Many innocent people in the former East Germany would be targeted for these harassment programs, and then their friends, family, and the community at large would be used to monitor, prosecute, and harass them. In the former USSR it was used by the state to target activists, political dissidents, or anyone that the Secret Police thought was an “enemy of the state,” or as “mentally unfit,” and many were institutionalized or murdered using this form of systematic control.

In Bill Clinton’s COPS Gang-Stalking Program, civilian spies are recruited from every segment of society, and everyone in the “targets” life is made a part of this ongoing, continuous, and systematic form of control and harassment, with such actions that are specifically designed to control the target and to “keep them in line,” like a Pavlovian Dog. These actions are also designed to mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, socially, and psychologically destroy the target over years, to make them appear to be crazy, and leave them with no form of support, whatsoever.

For the targets of this harassment, COPS Gang Stalking is experienced as a covert psychological, emotional and physical attack that is capable of immobilizing and destroying a target over time. For the state, it is a way to keep their targets in line, control them, or ultimately destroy them.

This modern day systematic form of control is funded at the highest levels of government, just like it has in other societies where these similar types of harassment programs have been implemented.

Targets can be chosen for many reasons: (1) political views; (2) whistle blowing; (3) political dissidence; (4) asserting rights at work; (5) making the wrong enemy; (6) too outspoken; (7) investigating something that the state does not want investigated; (8) signing a petition; (9) writing a letter; (10) being “suspicious” by a civilian spy/snitch; or (11) being a religious/ethnic/racial minority.

The goal of the COPS state sanctioned organized gang-stalking program is to isolate the target from all forms of support, so that the target can be set up in the future for arrest, institutionalized, or forced suicide. Other goals of this harassment are to destroy the targets reputation and credibility, and to make the target look “crazy” or unstable.

The process often involves sensitizing the target to every day stimuli’s as a form of control, which is used to control targets when they “get out of line.” Targets of this harassment become vulnerable and destitute, and often become homeless, jobless, have a breakdown, are driven to suicide, similar to targets of the banned COINTELPRO. The government eliminates perceived “enemies of the state” in this manner.

When a target moves or changes jobs, the harassment continues.

Every time the target moves, the same defamation, lies, libel, and slander will be spread, and the systematic harassment will continue. Online defamation, libel, and slander on the internet has made this continuation of COPS gang-stalking a great deal easier.

People from all segments of society can be recruited to be the “eyes and ears” of the state, such as laborers, drug dealers, drug users, street people, prostitutes, punks, church groups, youth groups, your best friend, your lawyer, local policeman, doctor, emergency services, a neighbor, family, social workers, politicians, judges, dentists, vet, supermarket cashier, postman, religious leader, care worker, landlord, anyone.

Most of these recruited civilian spies/snitches do not understand or even care that the end consequence of this harassment protocol is to eventually destroy the targeted person, and function as “useful idiots” of the state sanctioned COPS gang-stalking program.

It has been reported that people participate in this COPS gang stalking because it: (1) gives them a sense of power; (2) is a way to make friends; (3) is something social and fun; (4) breaks down race/gender/age/social barriers; (5) is forced or blackmailed upon them by the State or police to take part; (6) is told to them that they are part of “homeland or national security” to help keep an eye on “dangerous” or “emotionally disturbed” individuals where they are “heroic spies for the state;” (7) is used on local thugs or informants who are already being used for other activities where their energies are diverted into these COPS gangstalking community spy programs; (8) is either a choice of spying for the State or police, or else go to jail; (9) involves outright lies and slander about the target to get them to go along with ruining the targets life; (10) includes average citizens recruited by the state the same way citizens were recruited in the former East Germany and other countries.

Some techniques used against targets in this organized COPS Gang-stalking program include: (1) classic conditioning where a target is sensitized to everyday stimuli over a period of months and years to harass them in public to let them know they are constantly being harassed and monitored; (2) 24/7 Surveillance following the target everywhere they go, learning about the target and where they shop, work, play, who their friends and family are, getting close to the target, moving into the community or apartment where they live, across the street, monitoring the targets phone, house, and computer activity; (3) isolating the target via defamation, libel, and slander campaigns, (eg, people in the target’s community are told that the target is a thief, into drugs, a prostitute, pedophile, crazy, in trouble for something, needs to be watched, false files will even be produced on the target, shown to neighbors, family, store keepers); (4) constant or intermittent noise and mimicking campaigns disrupting the targets life and sleep with loud power tools, construction, stereos, doors slamming, etc; (5) talking in public about private things in the target’s life; (6) mimicking actions of the target and basically letting the target know that they are in the target’s life; (7) daily interferences, not too overt to the untrained eye, but psychologically degrading and damaging to the target over time; (8) everyday life breaks and street theater such as flat tires, sleep deprivation, drugging food, putting dirt on targets property; (9) mass strangers doing things in public to annoy targets such as getting called/text messages to be at a specific time and place to perform a specific action; (10) blocking targets path, getting ahead of them in line, cutting or boxing them in on the road, saying or doing things to elicit a response from the target; (11) “baiting” tactics where a surveillance operation can selectively capture evidence of a targeted person responding to harassment, and then that evidence could then be used to justify the initiation of more formal scrutiny by a government agency.

The COPS Gang-Stalking Program, as all other state sanctioned/approved gang-stalking programs, have always been funded by the Government. They are the only ones with enough money, coordination, and power to keep such a system in place. These coordinated efforts then join hands with others for this systemic form of control and harassment.

Such operations have nothing to do with the target’s criminality – they are led and perpetrated by federal agents and intelligence/security contractors, often with the support of state and local law enforcement personnel. Unofficial operations of this type are often private investigators and vigilantes – including many former agents and police officers, sometimes on behalf of corporate clients and others with connections to the public and private elements of America’s security industry.

The goal of such operations is “disruption” of the life of an individual deemed to be an enemy (or potential enemy) of clients or members of the security state. Arguably, the most accurate term for this form of harassment would be “counterintelligence stalking.”

Agents of communist East Germany’s Stasi (state police) referred to this process as Zersetzung (German for “decomposition” or “corrosion” – a reference to the severe psychological, social, and financial effects upon the victim). Victims have described the process as “no touch torture” – a phrase which also captures the nature of the crime: cowardly, unethical (and often illegal), but difficult to prove legally, because it generates minimal forensic evidence.

Tactics include online and personal slander, libel, defamation, blacklisting, “mobbing” (intense, organized harassment in public), “black bag jobs” (residential break ins), abusive phone calls, computer hacking, framing, threats, blackmail, vandalism, “street theater” (staged physical and verbal interactions with the minions of the people who orchestrate the stalking), harassment by noises, and other forms of bullying.

Such stalking is sanctioned (and in some cases, orchestrated) by federal agencies; however such stalking is also sometimes used unofficially for personal and corporate vendettas by current and former corrupt employees of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, private investigators, and their clients.

Since counterintelligence stalking goes far beyond surveillance – into the realm of psychological terrorism, as it is essentially a form of extrajudicial punishment. As such, the harassment is illegal – even when done by the government. It clearly violates the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unwarranted searches, and the Sixth Amendment which guarantees the right to a trial. Such operations also violate similar fundamental rights defined by state constitutions. Stalking is also specifically prohibited by the criminal codes of every state in America.

As was stated above, organized stalking methods were used extensively by communist East Germany’s Stasi (state police) as a means of maintaining political control over its citizens. Although this is supposedly illegal in the US, the same covert tactics are quietly used by America’s local and federal law enforcement, and intelligence agencies, to suppress political and domestic dissent, silence whistle blowers, and get revenge against persons who have angered someone with connections to the public and private agencies involved.

Although Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency (“NSA”) in 2013 and 2014 generated a great deal of public discussion about mass surveillance, US domestic counterintelligence activities such as the COPS Program receive relatively little attention.

The FBI’s COINTELPRO operation is still happening, involving even more advanced surveillance technology – and this program is none other than Joseph Biden and Bill Clinton’s COPS Program.

US Department of Justice crime statistics from a 2006 survey indicated that an estimated 445,220 COPS gangstalking victims reported three or more perpetrators (the only ones reported), and this number is growing exponentially on a daily basis.

In addition to being morally reprehensible, the COPS gang stalking program, just like the original version of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations, is very, very illegal. It violates criminal laws in all fifty states against stalking, as well as grossly violates the US Constitution’s prohibitions against warrantless searches and extra judicial punishment.

While the vast majority of Americans are never personally targeted by the Joseph Biden/Bill Clinton COPS gangstalking program, they should still be concerned about the existence of such operations.

Even if such activities were constitutionally legitimate (which they are not), they still have an enormous potential for abuse as a personal or political weapon by enemies currently employed or friendly with these governmental institutions.

Ending this cowardly and illegal practice by law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, and their parasitic corporate and individual recruits will first require exposing what is happening, to the public.

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Intelligence

An Underdeveloped Discipline: Open-Source Intelligence and How It Can Better Assist the U.S. Intelligence Community

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Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) is defined by noted intelligence specialists Mark Lowenthal and Robert M. Clark as being, “information that is publicly available to anyone through legal means, including request, observation, or purchase, that is subsequently acquired, vetted, and analyzed in order to fulfill an intelligence requirement”. The U.S. Naval War College further defines OSINT as coming from, “print or electronic form including radio, television, newspapers, journals, the internet, and videos, graphics, and drawings”. Basically, OSINT is the collection of information from a variety of public sources, including social media profiles and accounts, television broadcasts, and internet searches.

Historically, OSINT has been utilized by the U.S. since the 1940s, when the United States created the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) which had the sole goal (until the 1990s) of, “primarily monitoring and translating foreign-press sources,” and contributing significantly during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It was also during this time that the FBIS transformed itself from a purely interpretation agency into one that could adequately utilize the advances made by, “personal computing, large-capacity digital storage, capable search engines, and broadband communication networks”. In 2005, the FBIS was placed under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and renamed the Open Source Center, with control being given to the CIA.

OSINT compliments the other intelligence disciplines very well. Due to OSINT’s ability to be more in touch with public data (as opposed to information that is more gleaned from interrogations, interviews with defectors or captured enemies or from clandestine wiretaps and electronic intrusions), it allows policymakers and intelligence analysts the ability to see the wider picture of the information gleaned. In Lowenthal’s own book, he mentions how policymakers (including the Assistant Secretary of Defense and one of the former Directors of National Intelligence (DNI)) enjoyed looking at OSINT first and using it as a “starting point… [to fill] the outer edges of the jigsaw puzzle”.

Given the 21stcentury and the public’s increased reliance upon technology, there are also times when information can only be gleaned from open source intelligence methods. Because “Terrorist movements rely essentially on the use of open sources… to recruit and provide virtual training and conduct their operations using encryption techniques… OSINT can be valuable [in] providing fast coordination among officials at all levels without clearances”. Intelligence agencies could be able to outright avoid or, at a minimum, be able to prepare a defense or place forces and units on high alert for an imminent attack.

In a King’s College-London research paper discussing OSINT’s potential for the 21stcentury, the author notes, “OSINT sharing among intelligence services, non-government organizations and international organizations could shape timely and comprehensive responses [to international crises or regime changes in rogue states like Darfur or Burma],” as well as providing further information on a country’s new government or personnel in power. This has been exemplified best during the rise of Kim Jong-Un in North Korea and during the 2011 Arab Spring and 2010 earthquake that rocked Haiti. However, this does not mean that OSINT is a superior discipline than other forms such as SIGINT and HUMINT, as they are subject to limitations as well. According to the Federation of American Scientists, “Open source intelligence does have limitations. Often articles in military or scientific journals represent a theoretical or desired capability rather than an actual capability. Censorship may also limit the publication of key data needed to arrive at a full understanding of an adversary’s actions, or the press may be used as part of a conscious deception effort”.

There is also a limit to the effectiveness of OSINT within the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), not because it is technically limited, but limited by the desire of the IC to see OSINT as a full-fledged discipline. Robert Ashley and Neil Wiley, the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and a former Principal Executive within the ODNI respectively, covered this in a July article for DefenseOne, stating “…the production of OSINT is not regarded as a unique intelligence discipline but as research incident to all-source analysis or as a media production service… OSINT, on the other hand, remains a distributed activity that functions more like a collection of cottage industries. While OSINT has pockets of excellence, intelligence community OSINT production is largely initiative based, minimally integrated, and has little in the way of common guidance, standards, and tradecraft… The intelligence community must make OSINT a true intelligence discipline on par with the traditional functional disciplines, replete with leadership and authority that enables the OSINT enterprise to govern itself and establish a brand that instills faith and trust in open source information”. This apprehensiveness by the IC to OSINT capabilities has been well documented by other journalists.

Some contributors, including one writing for The Hill, has commented that “the use of artificial intelligence and rapid data analytics can mitigate these risks by tipping expert analysts on changes in key information, enabling the rapid identification of apparent “outliers” and pattern anomalies. Such human-machine teaming exploits the strengths of both and offers a path to understanding and even protocols for how trusted open-source intelligence can be created by employing traditional tradecraft of verifying and validating sourcing prior to making the intelligence insights available for broad consumption”. Many knowledgeable and experienced persons within the Intelligence Community, either coming from the uniformed intelligence services or civilian foreign intelligence agencies, recognize the need for better OSINT capabilities as a whole and have also suggested ways in which potential security risks or flaws can be avoided in making this discipline an even more effective piece of the intelligence gathering framework.

OSINT is incredibly beneficial for gathering information that cannot always be gathered through more commonly thought of espionage methods (e.g., HUMINT, SIGINT). The discipline allows for information on previously unknown players or new and developing events to become known and allows policymakers to be briefed more competently on a topic as well as providing analysts and operators a preliminary understanding of the region, the culture, the politics, and current nature of a developing or changing state. However, the greatest hurdle in making use of OSINT is in changing the culture and the way in which the discipline is currently seen by the U.S. Intelligence Community. This remains the biggest struggle in effectively coordinating and utilizing the intelligence discipline within various national security organizations.

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Online Radicalization in India

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Radicalization, is a gradual process of developing extremist beliefs, emotions, and behaviours at individual, group or mass public levels. Besides varied groups, it enjoys patronization, covertly and even overtly from some states. To elicit change in behavior, beliefs, ideology, and willingness, from the target-group, even employment of violent means is justified. Despite recording a declination in terror casualties, the 2019 edition of the Global Terrorism Index claims an increase in the number of terrorism-affected countries. With internet assuming a pivotal role in simplifying and revolutionizing the communication network and process, the change in peoples’ lives is evident. Notably, out of EU’s 84 %, daily internet using population, 81%, access it from home (Eurostat, 2012, RAND Paper pg xi). It signifies important changes in society and extremists elements, being its integral part, internet’ role, as a tool of radicalization, cannot be gainsaid. Following disruption of physical and geographical barriers, the radicalized groups are using the advancement in digital technology:  to propagate their ideologies; solicit funding; collecting informations; planning/coordinating terror attacks; establishing inter/intra-group communication-networks; recruitment, training and media propaganda to attain global attention.  

               Indian Context

In recent times, India has witnessed an exponential growth in radicalization-linked Incidents, which apparently belies the official figures of approximate 80-100 cases. The radicalization threat to India is not only from homegrown groups but from cross-border groups of Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as global groups like IS. Significantly, Indian radicalized groups are exploiting domestic grievances and their success to an extent, can mainly be attributed to support from Pakistani state, Jihadist groups from Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Gulf-employment boom for Indian Muslims has also facilitated radicalization, including online, of Indian Muslims. A close look at the modus operandi of these attacks reveals the involvement of local or ‘homegrown’ terrorists. AQIS formed (2016) ‘Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind’ in Kashmir with a media wing ‘al-Hurr’.

IS announced its foray into Kashmir in 2016 as part of its Khorasan branch. In December 2017 IS in its Telegram channel used hashtag ‘Wilayat Kashmir’ wherein Kashmiri militants stated their allegiance with IS. IS’ online English Magazine ‘Dabiq’ (Jan. 2016) claimed training of fighters in Bangladesh and Pakistan for attacks from western and Eastern borders into India.Though there are isolated cases of ISIS influence in India, the trend is on the rise. Presently, ISIS and its offshoots through online process are engaged in spreading bases in 12 Indian states. Apart from southern states like Telangana, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu — where the Iran and Syria-based terrorist outfit penetrated years ago — investigating agencies have found their links in states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir as well. The Sunni jihadists’ group is now “most active” in these states across the country.

               Undermining Indian Threat

Significantly, undermining the radicalization issue, a section of intelligentsia citing lesser number of Indian Muslims joining al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan and Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, Syria and Middle East, argue that Indian Muslim community does not support radicalism-linked violence unlike regional/Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Maldives. They underscore the negligible number of Indian Muslims, outside J&K, who supports separatist movements. Additionally, al- Qaeda and IS who follows the ‘Salafi-Wahabi’ ideological movement, vehemently oppose ‘Hanafi school’ of Sunni Islam, followed by Indian Muslims. Moreover, Indian Muslims follows a moderate version even being followers of the Sunni Ahle-Hadeeth (the broader ideology from which Salafi-Wahhabi movement emanates). This doctrinal difference led to the failure of Wahhabi groups online propaganda.  

               Radicalisation Strategies/methods: Indian vs global players

India is already confronting the online jihadist radicalization of global jihadist organisations, including al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), formed in September 2014 and Islamic State (IS). However, several indigenous and regional groups such as Indian Mujahideen (IM), JeM, LeT, the Taliban and other online vernacular publications, including Pakistan’s Urdu newspaper ‘Al-Qalam’, also play their role in online radicalisation.

Indian jihadist groups use a variety of social media apps, best suited for their goals. Separatists and extremists in Kashmir, for coordination and communication, simply create WhatsApp groups and communicate the date, time and place for carrying out mass protests or stone pelting. Pakistan-based terror groups instead of online learning of Islam consider it mandatory that a Muslim radical follows a revered religious cleric. They select people manually to verify their background instead of online correspondence. Only after their induction, they communicate online with him. However, the IS, in the backdrop of recent defeats, unlike Kashmiri separatist groups and Pak-based jihadist mercenaries, runs its global movement entirely online through magazines and pamphlets. The al-Qaeda’s you tube channels ‘Ansar AQIS’ and ‘Al Firdaws’, once having over 25,000 subscriptions, are now banned. Its online magazines are Nawai Afghan and Statements are in Urdu, English, Arabic, Bangla and Tamil. Its blocked Twitter accounts, ‘Ansarul Islam’ and ‘Abna_ul_Islam_media’, had a following of over 1,300 while its Telegram accounts are believed to have over 500 members.

               Adoption of online platforms and technology

Initially, Kashmir based ‘Jaish-E-Mohammad’ (JeM) distributed audio cassettes of Masood Azhar’s speeches across India but it joined Internet platform during the year 2003–04 and started circulating downloadable materials through anonymous links and emails. Subsequently, it started its weekly e-newspaper, Al-Qalam, followed by a chat group on Yahoo. Importantly, following enhanced international pressure on Pak government after 26/11, to act against terrorist groups, JeM gradually shifted from mainstream online platform to social media sites, blogs and forums.   

 Indian Mujahideen’s splinter group ‘Ansar-ul-Tawhid’ the first officially affiliated terror group to the ISIS tried to maintain its presence on ‘Skype’, ‘WeChat’ and ‘JustPaste’. IS and its affiliates emerged as the most tech-savvy jihadist group. They took several measures to generate new accounts after repeated suspension of their accounts by governments.  An account called as ‘Baqiya Shoutout’ was one such measure. It stressed upon efforts to re-establish their network of followers through ‘reverse shout-out’ instead of opening a new account easily.

Pakistan-backed terrorist groups in India are increasingly becoming  technology savvy. For instance, LeT before carrying out terrorist attacks in 2008 in Mumbai, used Google Earth to understand the targeted locations.

IS members have been following strict security measures like keeping off their Global Positioning System (GPS) locations and use virtual private network (VPN),  to maintain anonymity. Earlier they were downloading Hola VPN or a similar programme from a mobile device or Web browser to select an Internet Protocol (IP) address for a country outside the US, and bypass email or phone verification.

Rise of radicalization in southern India

Southern states of India have witnessed a rise in  radicalization activities during the past 1-2 years. A substantial number of Diaspora in the Gulf countries belongs to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Several Indian Muslims in Gulf countries have fallen prey to radicalization due to the ultra-conservative forms of Islam or their remittances have been misused to spread radical thoughts. One Shafi Armar@ Yusuf-al-Hindi from Karnataka emerged as the main online IS recruiter for India.  It is evident in the number of raids and arrests made in the region particularly after the Easter bomb attacks (April, 21, 2019) in Sri Lanka. The perpetrators were suspected to have been indoctrinated, radicalised and trained in the Tamil Nadu. Further probe revealed that the mastermind of the attacks, Zahran Hashim had travelled to India and maintained virtual links with radicalised youth in South India. Importantly, IS, while claiming responsibility for the attacks, issued statements not only in English and Arabic but also in South Indian languages viz. Malayalam and Tamil. It proved the existence of individuals fluent in South Indian languages in IS linked groups in the region. Similarly, AQIS’ affiliate in South India ‘Base Movement’ issued several threatening letters to media publications for insulting Islam.

IS is trying to recruit people from rural India by circulating the online material in vernacular languages. It is distributing material in numerous languages, including Malayalam and Tamil, which Al Qaeda were previously ignoring in favour of Urdu. IS-linked Keralite followers in their propaganda, cited radical pro-Hindutva, organisations such as the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS) and other right-wing Hindu organisations to motivate youth for joining the IS.  Similarly, Anti-Muslim incidents such as the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 are still being used to fuel their propaganda. IS sympathisers also support the need to oppose Hindu Deities to gather support.

               Radicalization: Similarities/Distinctions in North and South

Despite few similarities, the radicalisation process in J&K is somewhat different from the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Gujarat. Both the regions have witnessed a planned radicalization process through Internet/social media for propagating extremist ideologies and subverting the vulnerable youth. Both the areas faced the hard-line Salafi/Wahhabi ideology, propagated by the extremist Islamic clerics and madrasas indulged in manipulating the religion of Islam. Hence, in this context it can be aptly claimed that terror activities in India have cooperation of elements from both the regions, despite their distinct means and objectives. Elements from both regions to an extent sympathise to the cause of bringing India under the Sharia Law. Hence, the possibility of cooperation in such elements cannot be ruled out particularly in facilitation of logistics, ammunitions and other requisite equipment.

It is pertinent to note that while radicalisation in Jammu and Kashmir is directly linked to the proxy-war, sponsored by the Pakistan state, the growth of radicalisation in West and South India owes its roots to the spread of IS ideology, promotion of Sharia rule and establishment of Caliphate. Precisely for this reason, while radicalised local Kashmiris unite to join Pakistan-backed terror groups to fight for ‘Azadi’ or other fabricated local issues, the locals in south rather remain isolated cases.

               Impact of Radicalisation

The impact of global jihad on radicalization is quite visible in West and South India. Majority of the radicalised people, arrested in West and South India, were in fact proceeding to to join IS in Syria and Iraq. It included the group of 22 people from a Kerala’s family, who travelled (June 2016) to Afghanistan via Iran. There obvious motivation was to migrate from Dar-ul-Harb (house of war) to Dar-ul-Islam (house of peace/Islam/Deen).

While comparing the ground impact of radicalization in terms of number of cases of local militants in J&K as well as IS sympathisers in West and South India, it becomes clear that radicalisation was spread more in J&K, owing to Pak-sponsored logistical and financial support. Significantly, despite hosting the third largest Muslim population, the number of Indian sympathisers to terror outfits, particularly in West and South India is very small as compared to the western countries. Main reasons attributed to this, include – religious and cultural pluralism; traditionally practice of moderate Islamic belief-systems; progressive educational and economic standards; and equal socio-economic and political safeguards for the Indian Muslims in the Indian Constitution.

               Challenges Ahead

Apart from varied challenges, including Pak-sponsored anti-India activities, regional, local and political challenges, media wings of global jihadi outfits continue to pose further challenges to Indian security agencies. While IS through its media wing, ‘Al Isabah’ has been circulating (through social media sites) Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s speeches and videos after translating them into Urdu, Hindi, and Tamil for Indian youth (Rajkumar 2015), AQIS too have been using its media wing for the very purpose through its offshoots in India.  Some of the challenges, inter alia include –

Islam/Cleric Factor Clerics continue to play a crucial role in influencing the minds of Muslim youth by exploiting the religion of Islam. A majority of 127 arrested IS sympathizers from across India recently revealed that they were following speeches of controversial Indian preacher Zakir Naik of Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). Zakir has taken refuge in Malaysia because of warrants against him by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches. A Perpetrator of Dhaka bomb blasts in July 2016 that killed several people confessed that he was influenced by Naik’s messages. Earlier, IRF had organised ‘peace conferences’ in Mumbai between 2007 and 2011 in which Zakir attempted to convert people and incite terrorist acts. Thus, clerics and preachers who sbverts the Muslim minds towards extremism, remain a challenge for India.

Propaganda Machinery – The online uploading of young militant photographs, flaunting Kalashnikov rifles became the popular means of declaration of youth intent against government forces. Their narrative of “us versus them” narrative is clearly communicated, creating groundswell of support for terrorism.In its second edition (March 2020) of its propaganda magazine ‘Sawt al-Hind’ (Voice of Hind/India) IS, citing an old propaganda message from a deceased (2018) Kashmiri IS terrorist, Abu Hamza al-Kashmiri @ Abdul Rehman, called upon Taliban apostates and fighters to defect to IS.  In the first edition (Feb. 2020) the magazine, eulogized Huzaifa al-Bakistani (killed in 2019), asking Indian Muslims to rally to IS in the name of Islam in the aftermath of the 2020 Delhi riots. Meanwhile, a Muslim couple arrested by Delhi Police for inciting anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment) Bill protests, were found very active on social media. They would call Indian Muslims to unite against the Indian government against the CAA legislation. During 2017 Kashmir unrest, National Investigation Agency (NIA) identified 79 WhatsApp groups (with administrators based in Pakistan), having 6,386 phone numbers, to crowd source boys for stone pelting. Of these, around 1,000 numbers were found active in Pakistan and Gulf nations and the remaining 5,386 numbers were found active in Kashmir Valley.

Deep fakes/Fake news – Another challenge for India is spread of misinformation and disinformation through deep fakes by Pakistan. Usage of deepfakes, in manipulating the speeches of local political leaders to spread hate among the youth and society was done to large extent.

India’s Counter Measures

To prevent youth straying towards extremism, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has established a Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Radicalisation Division (CT-CR) to help states, security agencies and communities.

Various states, including Kerala, Maharashtra and Telangana have set up their own de-radicalisation programmes.  While in Maharashtra family and community plays an important role, in Kerala clerics cleanse the poisoned  minds of youth with a new narrative. A holistic programme for community outreach including healthcare, clergies and financial stability is being employed by the Indian armed forces. An operation in Kerala named Kerala state police’ ‘Operation Pigeon’ succeeded in thwarting radicalization of 350 youths to the propaganda of organizations such as Islamic State, Indian Mujahideen (IM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) via social media monitoring. In Telangana, outreach programs have been developed by local officers like Rema Rajeshwari to fight the menace of fake news in around 400 villages of the state.

In Kashmir the government resorts to internet curfews to control the e-jihad. While state-owned BNSL network, used by the administration and security forces, remains operational 3G and 4G networks and social media apps remain suspended during internet curfews.

Prognosis

India certainly needs a strong national counter- Radicalisation policy which would factor in a range of factors than jobs, poverty or education because radicalization in fact has affected even well educated, rich and prosperous families. Instead of focusing on IS returnees from abroad, the policy must take care of those who never travelled abroad but still remain a potential threat due to their vulnerability to radicalization.

Of course, India would be better served if deep fakes/fake news and online propaganda is effectively countered digitally as well as through social awakening measures and on ground action by the government agencies. It is imperative that the major stakeholders i.e. government, educational institutions, civil society organisations, media and intellectuals play a pro-active role in pushing their narrative amongst youth and society. The focus should apparently be on prevention rather than controlling the radicalisation narrative of the vested interests.

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Intelligence

Is Deterrence in Cyberspace Possible?

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Soon after the Internet was founded, half of the world’s population (16 million) in 1996 had been connected to Internet data traffic. Gradually, the Internet began to grow and with more users, it contributed to the 4 trillion global economies in 2016 (Nye, 2016). Today, high-speed Internet, cutting-edge technologies and gadgets, and increasing cross-border Internet data traffic are considered an element of globalization. Deterrence seems traditional and obsolete strategy, but the developed countries rely on cyberspace domains to remain in the global digitization. No matter how advanced they are, there still exist vulnerabilities. There are modern problems in the modern world. Such reliance on the Internet also threatens to blow up the dynamics of international insecurity. To understand and explore the topic it is a must for one to understand what cyberspace and deterrence are? According to Oxford dictionary;

 “Cyberspace is the internet considered as an imaginary space without a physical location in which communication over computer networks takes place (OXFORD University Press)”

For readers to understand the term ‘deterrence’; Collins dictionary has best explained it as;

“Deterrence is the prevention of something, especially war or crime, by having something such as weapons or punishment to use as a threat e.g. Nuclear Weapons (Deterrence Definition and Meaning | Collins English Dictionary).

The purpose of referring to the definition is to make it easy to discern and distinguish between deterrence in International Relations (IR) and International Cyber Security (ICS). Deterrence in cyberspace is different and difficult than that of during the Cold War. The topic of deterrence was important during Cold Wat for both politicians and academia. The context in both dimensions (IR and ICS) is similar and aims to prevent from happening something. Cyberspace deterrence refers to preventing crime and I completely agree with the fact that deterrence is possible in Cyberspace. Fischer (2019) quotes the study of (Quinlan, 2004) that there is no state that can be undeterrable.

To begin with, cyber threats are looming in different sectors inclusive of espionage, disruption of the democratic process and sabotaging the political arena, and war. Whereas international law is still unclear about these sectors as to which category they fall in. I would validate my affirmation (that deterrence is possible in Cyberspace) with the given network attacks listed by Pentagon (Fung, 2013). Millions of cyber-attacks are reported on a daily basis. The Pentagon reported 10 million cyberspace intrusions, most of which are disruptive, costly, and annoying. The level of severity rises to such a critical level that it is considered a threat to national security, so professional strategic assistance is needed to deal with it[1]. The past events show a perpetual threat that has the ability to interrupt societies, economies, and government functioning.

The cyberspace attacks were administered and portrayal of deterrence had been publicized as follows (Fung, 2013);

  1. The internet service was in a continuous disruption for several weeks after a dispute with Russia in 2007.
  2. Georgian defense communications were interrupted in 2008 after the Russian invasion of Georgia.   
  3. More than 1000 centrifuges in Iran were destroyed via the STUXNET virus in 2010. The attacks were attributed to Israel and the United States of America.
  4. In response to STUXNET virus attacks, Iran also launched a retaliatory attack on U.S financial institutions in 2012 and 2013.
  5. Similarly in 2012, some 30,000 computers had been destroyed with a virus called SHAMOON in Saudi Aramco Corporation. Iran was held responsible for these attacks.
  6. North Korea was accused of penetrating South Korean data and machines in 2014, thus interrupting their networks in 2014.
  7. A hybrid war was reported between Russia and Ukraine in 2015 that left Ukraine without electricity for almost six hours.
  8. Most critical scandal, which is still in the limelight call WikiLeaks released distressing and humiliating emails by Russian Intelligence at the time of the U.S presidential campaigns in 2016.

While such incidents may be considered a failure of deterrence, this does not mean that deterrence is impossible. Every system has some flaws that are exposed at some point. At this point, in some cases a relatively low level of deterrence was used to threaten national security, however, the attacks were quite minor in fulfilling the theme affecting national security. Nye (2016:51) in his study talks about the audience whose attribution could facilitate deterrence. (I). intelligence agencies should make sure highest safeguarding against escalation by third parties, and governments can also be certain and count on intelligence agencies’ sources. (II). the deterring party should not be taken easy, as I stated (above) about the lingering loopholes and flaws in the systems, hence, governments shall not perceive the intelligence forsaken.  (III). lastly, it is a political matter whether international and domestic audiences need to be persuaded or not, and what chunk of information should be disclosed.

The mechanisms which are used and helpful against cyberspace adversary actions are as follows (Fischer, 2019);

  1. Deterrence by denial means, the actions by the adversary are denied that they failed to succeed in their goals and objectives. It is more like retaliating a cyberattack.
  2. Threat of punishment offers severe outcomes in form of penalties and inflicting high costs on the attacker that would outweigh the anticipated benefits if the attack takes place.
  3. Deterrence by Entanglement has the features and works on a principle of shared, interconnected, and dependent vulnerabilities. The purpose of entanglement is to embolden and reassure the behavior as a responsible state with mutual interests.
  4. Normative taboos function with strong values and norms, wherein the reputation of an aggressor is at stake besides having a soft image in the eyes of the international community (this phenomenon includes rational factors because hard power is used against the weaker state). The deterrence of the international system works even without having any credible resilience.

Apparently, the mechanisms of deterrence are also effective in cyber realms. These realms are self-explaining the comprehensive understanding and the possibility of deterrence in cyberspace. The four mechanisms (denial, punishment, entanglement, and normative taboos) are also feasible to apply deterrence in the cyber world. Factually, of many security strategies, cyber deterrence by using four domains could be a versatile possibility. Conclusively, as far as the world is advancing in technological innovations, cyberspace intrusions would not stop alike the topic of deterrence in the digital world.


[1] An updated list of cyberspace intrusions from 2003 till 2021 is available at (Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2021).

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