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Unintended Intelligence Consequences: How Yesterday’s Proxy Insurgents turned into Today’s Terrorists

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During the Cold War, nations were increasingly sponsoring and/or supporting insurgencies. For instance, the United States of America supported Afghan-Mujahedin, Nicaraguan Contras, and Tibetan Buddhist fighters. The Soviet Union supported communist guerrillas in Angola, Greece, and South Africa. China supported insurgents in Vietnam. India supported Sri Lankan Tamil rebels. In fact, Trends in Outside Support for Insurgent Movements by Daniel, Chalk, Hoffman, Rosenau and Brannan discusses how 74 operational guerrilla movements and/or insurgencies were supported. This is why the term proxy, the authority to represent someone else, became very common in discussions of the Cold War.

A proxy war is one that is instigated by a major power, but, that power does not itself become involved. Proxies, and the consequence of proxy wars, have presented serious dangers in our modern world. Intelligence agencies must learn to understand the implications of post-Cold War support for insurgents. Proxies and their support for insurgencies have transformed into a process of sponsorship for terrorism. Although it is understood that great powers were seeking spheres of influence in the global arena during the Cold War, and used proxies to advance their influence, it is less understood that this practice slowly transformed into state-sponsored terrorism.

For instance, it is understood that Iran sponsored Hezbollah in Lebanon, and in response Pakistan supported al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan to destabilize regional powers politically, economically, and militarily. It is understood that the United States of America sponsored anti-Baathist groups in Iraq and Syria, while Russia, on the other hand, provided support to opposition groups in the wider Middle Eastern region. It is less understood that these situations worsened when state-sponsored insurgencies around the world became monsters against their own masters. To illustrate, during the Cold War, the world’s strongest democracy, the United States of America, armed, trained and funded Osama bin Laden, who led the Afghan-Mujahedin to fight against the Soviet Union. Eventually bin Laden turned against the United States and transformed into the enemy. A similar analogy appears when the world’s largest democracy, India, armed, trained and funded Veluppillai Pirabhakaran, who led the Tamil Tigers to fight against the Sri Lankan government. Eventually, Pirabhakaran made a “U-turn” and ordered his cadres to fight against the Indian troops. India lost over 1000 troops as a result. Moreover, this culminated in the assassination of the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. All in all, insurgencies transform into terrorist organizations as a result of the support and sponsorship of their proxy masters.

Proxies are particularly concerning because interference is often motivated by a nation’s self-interest, absent a regard for future implications. For example, the Tamil Tigers were armed, trained, and funded by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s foreign intelligence agency in the early 1980s. India’s proxy-rationale was governed by the hope that, in controlling the insurgency, they would be able to pressure the Sri Lankan government into making concessions for the Tamils and be able to pressure the Tamil militants into accepting the concessions (Richards, 2014:15). Later, the Tamil Tigers were trained by the Israeli secret service Mossad. Mossad’s nexus to the Tamil Tigers was further corroborated by ex-Mossad intelligence officer Victor Ostrovsky and his book, “By Way of Deception.” Richards, in her paper, “An Institutional History of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)”, provides a detailed account for the historical institutionalization of the Tamil Tigers as one of the most sophisticated groups ever assembled.

The present day Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is an offspring of al Qaeda; and al Qaeda is an offspring of the Afghan Mujahedin and Taliban. As noted earlier, the United States of America, as a proxy sponsor, created the Afghan Mujahedin to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Therefore, what happened on 9/11 and the subsequent wars on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq are interconnected and ultimately a devastating byproduct and extension of the post-Cold War proxy wars.

According to various defectors and seized al Qaeda documents, all terrorist organizations have learned their tactics and techniques from their masters. Waldman (2010), from Harvard University, explains that the relationship between nations’ security agencies and insurgents moves far beyond contact and co-existence. In fact, nations’ support and sponsorship sustains and strongly influences the movement. (Waldman 2010: 1)

The following is a more recent example of how nation-state support for insurgencies produces terrorist organizations. The International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism at George Mason University reported that the “Emni”, the intelligence apparatus of the present day Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), learned its modus operandi and inner workings from the former Iraqi Security forces of Saddam Hussein. The report explains that “one of the many things that multiple defectors described were the many Iraqi Baathists leading the organization, even in Syria, who had brought with them the tradecraft and totalitarian intelligence operations they had practiced in Saddam Hussein’s government.” (2016: 3) This illustrates the degree of threat and danger involved in training insurgents.

Intelligence-gathering is, by its very nature, a difficult task, but of utmost importance. Terrorist organizations are extremely cautious when recruiting their agents and informants. Most of the time they tend to cultivate personnel from the same religious or ethno-nationalist groups who show potential for accessing enemy targets. For every member hired, each must undergo an extensive background check. The organization focuses on the individual’s profile, including his/her character, vulnerabilities, and motivation to assess if he/she is the right person for the job.

Recruits must go through a special training period to acquire the skills necessary to perform assigned tasks. These include specific techniques in espionage, called “tradecraft,” and could include such specialties as agent-handling, covert communication, counter-interrogation, reconnaissance, coding and decoding, drawing maps, photography, martial arts, and linguistic skills. Once a recruit completes the tradecraft and skill-training period, the handlers assess each recruit, keeping the individual’s potential and background in mind, to confirm whether he/she is fit to become an agent or informant. This recruitment process greatly resembles that of professional military and intelligence agencies, thereby illustrating how terrorist organizations adopt and apply the training and intelligence they have received from nation-states’ formal intelligence cadres.

Before spies and informants are assigned to a mission, they are instructed on every single detail of the target. Informants must learn about the specific physical environment beforehand so that they can easily provide updates on selected targets. To make this task easier, many organizations prefer to hire refugees, students, and government employees working in the area, selecting them carefully after identifying and confirming their potential usefulness, because they have already spent years within that environment and have become an integral part. Their social and human capital is recognized as a valuable human resource. Thus, in conclusion, global powers, including but not limited to America, Russia, China, India and their intelligence agencies, have always supported insurgencies around the world as a method of proxy war to achieve their own supposed national and international interests. Unfortunately, not enough attention has shown how the sloppiness of how those proxy wars tend to end often leads to insurgencies transforming into terrorist organizations. Even more disturbing, these newly born terrorist organizations are focused not on old enemies but on their former proxy masters. Therefore, global powers should be held accountable and learn from their mistakes by not engaging in state-sponsored insurgencies in the future. The cost far outweighs the benefits.

Kagusthan Ariaratnam is multi-skilled security, defense, intelligence, and counterterrorism analyst with over 25 years of experience. He currently works as a research analyst at Project O Five. Kagusthan can be reached by email at Kagusthan[at]gmail.com

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Indian Chronicle: Exposing the Indian Hybrid warfare against Pakistan

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In recent years Indian hybrid warfare against Pakistan has intensified manifold to malign Pakistan Internationally through disinformation and propaganda tactics. Hybrid warfare has mainly been described as achieving war-like objectives with the help of fake news, disinformation, and propaganda. The Objectives of Hybrid warfare are mostly to secure long term victory against the opponent. Similarly, India has launched massive hybrid warfare against Pakistan, which was uncovered by EU DisinfoLab in its report called “Indian Chronicle”.

EU DisinfoLab is an independent organization working to expose and tackle disinformation campaigns targeting the European Union and its member states. The organization has claimed that the disinformation campaign against Pakistan has been active since 2005, “a massive online and offline 15-year ongoing influence operation supporting Indian interests and discrediting Pakistan internationally”.

In a recent investigation EU DisinfoLab has exposed a malicious Indian campaign against Pakistan. In the report, “Indian Chronicle” EU DisinfoLab has exposed the dubious use of media outlets, NGOs, and fake personnel by India to malign Pakistan. The disinformation campaign mainly targeted the United Nations and the European Union through more than 750 fake media outlets and 10 fake NGOs. According to the report, “uncovered an entire network of coordinated UN-accredited NGOs promoting Indian interests and criticizing Pakistan repeatedly. We could tie at least 10 of them directly to the Srivastava family, with several other dubious NGOs pushing the same messages.”

According to the report the disinformation campaign is supported by the Srivastava group. The Srivastava group has helped in “resurrected dead NGOs” to spread fake news. The report says that “Our investigation led to the finding of 10 UN-accredited NGOs directly controlled by the Srivastava Group, which our full report introduces at length. Their common trait? The fact that they all rose from the ashes of real NGOs. Indian Chronicles effectively benefited from the track record of these organizations while pursuing their agenda: discrediting Pakistan and promoting Indian interests at UN conferences and hearings,”.

Moreover, Asian News International (ANI), a major news agency in India has provided a platform for suck fake news campaigns. The aim of the Srivastava group and ANI media outlet is “to reinforce pro-Indian and anti-Pakistan (and anti-Chinese) feelings” in India, and “internationally, to consolidate the power and improve the perception of India, to damage the reputation of other countries and ultimately benefit from more support from international institutions such as the EU and the UN”.

The report claim that the organizations funded by the Srivastava group-sponsored trips for European Parliament members to Kashmir. “The organizations created by the Srivastava Group in Brussels organized trips for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to Kashmir, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. Some of these trips led to much institutional controversy, as the delegations of MEPs were often presented as official EU delegations when they were in fact not traveling on behalf of the Parliament,”. Such sponsored trips aimed to build a positive image of India, while spreading disinformation about the alleged claims of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir.

Moreover, India has been actively involved in portraying Pakistan as a terrorist-sponsored state through its disinformation and fake news technique. For instance, India is lobbying strongly at FATF to put Pakistan on the blacklist.

India has also supported and sponsored Baloch separatist leaders and spread disinformation through their fake media outlets as mentioned in the EU DisinfoLab report.“These UN-accredited NGOs work in coordination with non-accredited think-tanks and minority-rights NGOs in Brussels and Geneva. Several of them – like the European Organization for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), Baluchistan House, and the South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) – were directly but opaquely created by the Srivastava group,”one of the examples is Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian spy who was captured in Pakistan.

The Indian Chronicle report has exposed the dubious face of India and the administrative structure of the United Nations and the European Union. Indian involvement in the spread of disinformation and resurrection of dead people and NGOs has exposed its long-standing for Human rights and democracy. Meanwhile, the reports have also exposed the administrative structure of the UN and EU, as they failed to notice the activities of fake UN-accredited NGOs and spread of disinformation through their affiliated NGOs.

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Hybrid Warfare: Threats to Pakistani Security

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‘Victory smiles upon those who anticipate the changes in the character of war’-Giulio Douhet

Hybrid threats are becoming a norm in Pakistan and if we want to move forward in this age of technological advancements, cybercrimes, and the use of social media, we must have a wholesome response mechanism.

Hybrid warfare is a military strategy that employs not only conventional forms of warfare but irregular with it as well. It involves propaganda, cyber-attacks, state-sponsored terrorism, electoral intervention, and many more means of multi-dimensional approaches towards war which are used by militarized non-state actors. The term ‘Hybrid’ came into use around 2005-2006 due to the Israel-Hezbollah war (“Lessons from Lebanon: Hezbollah and Hybrid Wars – Foreign Policy Research Institute” 2016) and became a hot-topic in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea. Using non-confrontational means can lead to internal struggles and crumbling of the target. What direct force won’t get you can be easily achieved by infiltration and multi-faceted resources. It’s neither character of war nor its outcome that defines it as a hybrid war, but the changing tactics (“State and Non-State Hybrid Warfare” 2018). In a world where everyone, from wealthy states to those caught in throes of hunger, is armed to the teeth, there are ways to achieve socio-political objectives through the use of violent and non-violent non-state actors.

Pakistan – A Target

Pakistan has risen to incredible heights despite it being a relatively young nation and this is only proved further by the interest international players have in its internal workings. Several factors contribute to the important stature Pakistan holds in the international community such as the Pak-China alliance, its geostrategic location, military aptitude, Russian interests in the Indian Ocean, Deep Sea Gwadar Port (One Belt One Road Project), neighbor to Afghanistan (a country existing as a battleground for proxies), etc. All these reasons make sure to keep Pakistan on the radar.

Though it may be secure militarily, Pakistan is still vulnerable to hybrid threats due to internal dynamics, numerous conflicting interests of nations in state-affairs, and increasing non-state actors. South Asian nuclearization has all but guaranteed that a full-fledged war between Pakistan and India is unlikely therefore the latter uses hybrid warfare to weaken Pakistan from within.

Evolutionary Nature of War

There was truth to Heraclites’s words when he claimed that change is the only constant in our world. The social theory of evolutionary change tells us that individuals, communities, societies, and states are always in a state of motion, continuously evolving according to the era. War is born from man, it is only fair that if a man changes, so shall war. It has become more complex; the stakes have raised from territorial boundaries to the maintenance of world order and preservation of state sovereignty. Wars are no longer fought on the borders, skirmishes aside, the real destruction takes place within. Due to the paradigm shift after the Cold War (Ball 2018), there rose a need for legal, economical, socio-political, and informational means of warfare. It is used as a way to undermine other nation-states in pursuit of national power; the international system is not only a race but also a way to tear others down.

Threats to Pakistani Security

To secure Pakistan from all sides, we must first analyze the threats it faces from all sides. Conventional Warfare used to be seen as one dimensional and it only perceived assault to be done through the land, air, or sea channels. However, now it is fought in various intangible zones.

·         External

India

India is a budding regional hegemon due to its political and economic growth including hidden agendas. Pakistan is perceived to be a direct threat to India especially after the launch of the CPEC project, perceived to be undermining its hold over the region, which is why it is employing stratagems of hybrid warfare to internally weaken Pakistan. Till now India has used State-Sponsored terrorism, funded insurgencies, operated terror cells, and even sent fighter jets into Pakistani Airspace as an attempt to ruin its reputation in the international community.

Afghanistan

There has been growing instability in Afghanistan which has led to mass migrations across the porous border into Pakistan, with around 1.4 million registered Afghans (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2018) and 1 million unregistered (“Amnesty International” 2019). India has its claws in Afghan matters as well and will use it to exploit Pakistan’s weaknesses even after US forces leave the arena. Afghan Government’s poor administrative capability especially after the return of DAESH (Tribune 2020) and Tehrik-e-Taliban Afghanistan are threats to Pakistan as well as regional peace and are a major cause of lawlessness in the country and has a spillover effect for its neighbors.

Iran

Ideologically speaking, Iran is a sectarian threat to Pakistan and its Port Chahbahar stands to lose active traffic once CPEC is fully functional which means it stands as an instigator of hybrid warfare and it would be a risk to overlook it based on past good relations.

USA

Even after the Cold War, strategic rivalry and animosity between the powers including Russia, America, and China still exist. The emergence of China as an economic superpower is perceived as a threat to the US due to which there is a major shift in its defensive posture towards the region.

The US has shown significant interest in Pakistan due to its geo-strategic location but not all interest has yielded positive results. They carried out a surgical strike for the capture and assassination of Osama-Bin-Laden. Such a breach of sovereignty and security is a hybrid threat.

·         Internal

Sectarian

There are several lobbies in Pakistan all vying for their own cause. The Iranian lobby has sectarian undercurrents. Sectarianism has always been one of the leading factors of the divide in the Muslim civilization and is the rising trend of terrorism.Such conflict itself is volatile and is deepening the rift between different sects(Shia-Sunni) of Pakistan, causing unrest.

Economic

Rising prices of commodities such as flour and sugar can lead to social unrest and discord. Such industries and their stocks are under the thumb of a select few, the elites. With the right bribes and conditions, even they would agree to sell out society.

Non-State Actors

Non-state actors are groups or organizations that have influence in the state but work independently and have their socio-political agendas (“Towards a Typology of Non-State Actors in ‘Hybrid Warfare’: Proxy, Auxiliary, Surrogate and Affiliated Forces” 2019). They work on political opportunities and mobilized grievances. Groups like BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army), TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan), and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are some of the major actors. Pakistan needs to focus on curbing Jihadist Terrorism as it is keeping it from leaving the grey list of FATF.

·         Technological

Information

It refers to the spread of miscommunication. Propaganda and circulation of false news through social media are a relatively common way to cause turmoil in a community. Once a rumor is circling, there is no way to erase it. India claims that Pakistan is spreading the false narrative of ‘Islam being in danger’ to justify its actions, although untrue, is something that the Indians fully believe now. That Pakistani Intelligentsia is made solely to create narratives under which to attack India. Such beliefs further antagonize the states against each other.

Indian Chronicles are a prime example of information warfare being waged against Pakistan.

Cyber

Channels such as Cyber-Jihad and Dark Web come under the purview of cyber warfare and are a threat to the fabric of society and its security in Pakistan.

Given the above discussed bleak prevailing internal security situation, Pakistan needs to formulate a short to mid and long-term response that curbs all external and internal parties alongside proxies from infiltrating and influencing the working of the state and affecting the masses.

For a full-spectrum approach, all domains should be covered such as diplomacy, defense, internal and external security, economic, informational, cyber, and media security.

There are steps to be followed through for active and effective quelling of hybrid threats. First, a strategy must be put for, then tactical action should be taken and lastly, the implementation process should be supervised and fully followed through.

The main focus of the state should be on deterrence towards, protection from, and prevention of hybrid threats to the state.

One must not forget that Hybrid war is a mix of both unconventional and conventional warfare, therefore a nation-wide response should include the intertwined operational capabilities of armed forces alongside political actors. Pakistan sees its security being threatened both by internal factors and external hostile/proxy elements. This is hampering state development. State-building and nation-building must go hand in hand if counter and deter such threats effectively.

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The Impact of Management in Information Security

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Authors: Sajad Abedi and Mahdi Mohammadi

Due to the increasing role of information security in the management of any society, public and private organizations and institutions are inevitably required to provide the necessary infrastructure to achieve this. In addition to material resources, management techniques also have a great impact on the optimal and successful implementation of information security management systems. The recording of management standards in the field of ICT information security can be designed in a planned way to change the security situation of organizations according to the needs of the organization and ensure security in terms of business continuity and to some extent at other levels (crisis management and soft war). Despite extensive research in this area, unfortunately for various reasons, including the level of security of the issue for governmental and non-governmental institutions or the direct relationship of the field with their interests, clear and useful information on how to implement and prioritize the implementation of a system over the years. The past has not happened until today.

The protection of the organization’s information resources is essential to ensure the successful continuation of business activities. The fact that information and information assets play a key role in the success of organizations has necessitated a new approach to protecting them. Until now, risk analysis and management has been used to identify the information security needs of the organization. After analyzing the risks, security controls were identified and implemented to bring the risks to an acceptable level. But it seems that risk analysis is not enough to identify the information security needs of the organization. Evidence of this claim is that risk analysis does not take into account legal requirements, regulations and other factors that are not considered as risk, but are mandatory for the organization.

Identifying, assessing and managing information security risks is one of the key steps in reducing cyber threats to organizations and also preventing the unfortunate consequences of security incidents that make organizations more prepared to face cyber risks. The risk assessment process, which is the first phase of a set of risk management activities, provides significant assistance to organizations in making the right decision to select security solutions. Risk assessment is actually done to answer the following questions: * If a particular hazard occurs in the organization, how much damage will it cause? * What is the probability of any risk occurring? * Controlling how much each risk costs. Is it affordable or not? The results of risk assessment can help in the correct orientation in choosing solutions (which is to eliminate the main threats) and can also be used in formulating and modifying the security policies of the organization. Risk management is a comprehensive process used to determine, identify, control, and minimize the effects and consequences of potential events. This process allows managers to strike the right balance between operating costs and financial costs, and to achieve relevant benefits by protecting business processes that support the organization’s goals. The risk management process can greatly reduce the number and severity of security incidents that occur in the organization. Risk management has 5 steps, which are: 1. Planning: At this stage, how to manage potential risks in the organization is determined and completed by developing a risk management plan. This plan defines the risk management team, defines the roles and responsibilities of individuals and the criteria for assessing identified risks. Documented. 2. Identification: At this stage, team members gather around each other, identify potential hazards, and record them in the organization’s risk list. Arranging group brainstorming sessions is a good way to identify hazards 3. Assessment: In this step, the assessment of identified risks is performed using the criteria defined in the risk management plan. Risks are assessed based on their probability of occurrence and possible consequences.

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