Connect with us

Intelligence

Al Qaeda Makes its Move with a Video Primer by Hamza bin Laden

Published

on

Al Qaeda has stepped out of the shadow of Islamic State, promoting its brand of terror with a new leader and a comprehensive list of attack priorities.

Hamza bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s son and heir, released a ten-minute video labeled “Advice for Martyrdom-Seekers in the West” on May 14[1]. The video comes at an opportune time for al-Qaeda, after months of media coverage of the ever-shrinking ISIS hold in Syria and Iraq. Whether the video catalyzed attacks in Manchester or London is unknown, but it is expected to ratchet up the frequency of so-called lone wolf or inspired attacks in the West in coming weeks. Understanding this video and analyzing Hamza’s messages are key to countering the threats coming from the al-Qaeda (AQ), particularly at a time when AQ has been rebranding itself and widening its network among Salafist jihadi rings.

Hamza, born in 1984, is considered by core AQ cadre as the ‘Crown Prince of Terror,’ based on the letters confiscated from the raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound. Apparently, Osama was preparing Hamza to be his heir following the death of Hamza’s older brother, Saad, in 2009 by a U.S. drone strike[2]. Clearly, step by step, Hamza is being prepared for the job. For Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent and expert on al-Qaeda, Hamza is “a poster kid for the Al-Qaeda … and for members of Al-Qaeda, who were indoctrinated with these propaganda videos, he means a lot to them.[3]”

AQ top leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, formally anointed Hamza as an official member of the terrorist group on August 14, 2015, in an audio message in which Hamza bin Laden also called for attacks in Western capitals including lone-wolf attacks against the U.S., French, and Israeli targets[4]. In another AQ video titled,  “We Are All Osama,” Hamza threatened the U.S. on July 9, 2016 by promising revenge and warned Americans that “we will continue striking you and targeting you in your country and abroad in response to your oppression of the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and the rest of the Muslim lands that did not survive your oppression.[5]” The U.S. Department of State designated Hamza bin Laden as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT)”[6] like his father used to be on January 5, 2017.

Hamza’s new video “Advice for Martyrdom-Seekers in the West” is critically important for several reasons, foremost of which is the way it showcases previous, legendary AQ attacks which are considered extremely successful by the terrorist group. Second, Hamza pointedly gives explicit references to al-Qaeda’s core ideology and its literature by frequently citing the Quran and Hadiths, thus paving a concrete ideological groundwork for future attacks. Furthermore, Hamza encourages al-Qaeda base to carry out attacks for the reasons he lists in an effort to justify violence and terror. He continues by listing the possible targets deemed as having priority by the terrorist organization and finishes the video by emphasizing the importance of conveying the al-Qaeda’s global message.

The video starts by honoring al-Qaeda legends who carried out critical attacks in the past by providing related background videos. They include Sayyid Nosair, an American of Egyptian descent, convicted of links to the New York City landmark bomb plot and who was accused but acquitted of the assassination of Meir Kahane, a Jewish right-wing Israeli politician on November 5, 1990[7]; Sulaiman Khater, an Egyptian terrorist who shot dead seven Israeli tourists in Sinai, Egypt in 1985 whom Zawahiri praised as “an example to follow for the zealous and free in the Egyptian army[8]“;  Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; Arid Uka, an Albanian terrorist who shot and killed two U.S. airmen at Frankfurt Airport in 2011[9];  Ayman Hassan, who killed Israeli soldiers and civilians. Adebolajo and Adebowale, who were murderers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, British Army soldier, on May 22, 2013, in London[10];  and Mohammed Bouyeri, the Moroccan-Dutch terrorist, who killed the Dutch film director Theo van Gogh in 2004[11]. Bin Laden gives special attention to Mevlut Mert Altintas, who shot and killed the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, in front of the cameras in an art exhibit event on December 19, 2016, in Ankara, Turkey. [12] Fully one-third of Bin Laden’s video is dedicated to special effects and edited videos and the verbatim speech of Altintas.

These referenced names are accompanied by an audio track of chanting and related silhouette videos in the background, as the title enters briefly and the video starts with reference to “Sheikh Hamza Osama bin Laden” on the left side of the screen, citing regular spiritual praises while showing a screen grab from FOX NEWS about the attack by U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, MD, MPH, who killed thirteen people and injured thirty-two others in the Fort Hood, TX mass shooting rampage on November 5, 2009[13]. Hamza continues by addressing and greeting the “valiant heroes of Islam… in America, the West, and in occupied Palestine…” and goes on explaining the purpose of the video by stating “this is a legacy (will or advice) for anyone who intends to carry out a martyrdom operation.”

Hamza’s narrative continues with ample reference to scripture by encouraging the attackers in the West to “purify their intentions” and reminding them that “help comes from Allah” as long as the future attackers’ intentions are pure. He provides diverse supporting religious arguments with reference to Salafist literature to increase the morale of the potential suicide attackers. Hamza gives Salafist reasoning for terrorist attacks by asking his followers to “Trust in Allah, and do not fear…, ask your Lord for success, increase your remembrance of Allah; there is no help or power except from Allah.” Hamza justifies violence by referencing scripture and relies on Salafist teachings in an effort to persuade the AQ base that what they are doing is right based on AQ’s version of Salafist ideology.

Hamza then continues referencing the current conflict zones in the Middle East in an effort to explain AQ’s terror by citing worldly reasoning familiar to Arab tribal culture: “take your revenge for the sake of your religion, for your Prophet (peace be upon him), for the children of al-Sham, for the widows of Palestine, for the honorable women of Iraq, for the orphans of Afghanistan and with that get accepted to the highest grade (and gardens) of the paradise.”

After explaining why AQ members need to take their revenge, Hamza then explains to potential AQ supporters in the West how to carry out their attacks, priorities for their attention, how they should choose their targets and what kind of weapons they should use. He asks his followers to “accomplish your goals with utmost secrecy. Attain the highest level of perfection in your actions, exercise utmost care and caution and prepare diligently to inflict crippling losses on those who have disbelieved.” Hamza also requests possible attackers to benefit from the “Inspire Magazine” for their deeds and actions. He goes on asking the future AQ attackers to precisely and impeccably choose their targets to inflict the most damage. “Choose your weapons professionally. You don’t have to use a military weapon. If you can reach a gun, it is the best, if not, there are many other options.”

After providing tactics, he encourages his followers by asking them to “follow the footsteps of the previous martyrdom-seekers before you. Continue from where they left.” Important to note is that he explains how effective, one-person operations in the West have outweighed in impact numerous operations in the East. The implication should be grasped by security planners in Europe: expect more attacks in the EU zone or the United States. Hamza, in order to emphasize the importance of the attacks in the West, states that AQ followers who already live in the West don’t need to migrate, because carrying out attacks on Jews and Crusaders where they live in the West is more worrisome and severe for the enemy.

After underlining and highlighting the importance of the attacks in the West and providing the ideological reasoning for the proposed attacks, Hamza prioritizes the types of targets as follows:

  • Transgressors against our religion and Prophet,
  • Look out for Jewish interests,
  • if not available, target the American interests,
  • if not available, target the NATO countries’ interests,
  • If not available, target Russian interests as they had forgotten what they tasted in Chechnya and Afghanistan.

He then continues by strongly advising his followers to convey a clear message to the media and to explain the reasons behind their attacks also by stating “it is absolutely imperative that people should understand the objective of your operation.”

He again lists the messages that AQ emphasizes and urges the importance of conveying the following messages to the West:

  • Our religion and our Prophet are the red lines. (Remember Charlie Hebdo?)
  • Palestine is a cause of our Islamic Hence, anyone who supports Jewish occupiers shall never dream of peace.
  • Sham is a cause of our Islamic Ummah, where our people are facing genocide. Anyone involved in operations against our people or aid to Bashar [Assad] and his allies shall not escape punishment.
  • Our holy lands (Mecca and Medina) are occupied. We shall continue to target the occupiers until they withdraw their forces from the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Our airspace is violated; our wealth and resources are expropriated. Thus we shall deal with you reciprocally until you stop interfering in our affairs.

After listing the messages that need to be conveyed, Hamza starts to talk about important tactics needed to be considered before and during the attacks. He says, for example, “’Once you select your target, investigate carefully’, ‘gather as much as information you can and adopt appropriate cover to disguise yourself’, ‘know your target inside out, so that you may inflict damage far beyond anything the enemy has ever imagined’, ‘take care of yourself, take time to relax before the operation so that your performance is optimal and your alertness level high.’” As Hamza lists these qualities and tactics, the video screen shows the video recordings of a Turkish police officer murdering the Russian Ambassador to Turkey by citing “the lion, Mevlut Mert Altintas killed the Russian Ambassador to Turkey.” This segment showcases this attack and presents the attacker as a model for the rest of the AQ members. Hamza continues to emphasize the qualities and tactics by stating: “’make appropriate use of the element of surprise, take lead in inflicting losses’; ‘the most important gains are acquired in the first attempt of the attack’; ‘make sure of the best use of your weapons’; ‘having read these instructions, be self-assured, composed, and hope for the best.’”

Finally, at the end of his speech, Hamza asks his followers to “put your trust in Allah, be generous with your life (don’t think of saving yourself)” basically asking future terrorists to commit suicide or consider dying during their attacks, as this life is not worth anything compared to the hereafter. He then prays for the future attackers by invoking scripture: “’May Allah give you victory, assist you, guide you,’ ‘the final meeting is in the Paradise.’”

The video lasts ten minutes and twelve seconds. It is professionally cut and edited. As it was released, it was translated into numerous languages and rereleased with embedded subtitles. AQ members shared this video in different social media platforms, particularly in their telegram-application chat rooms or private channels. The video is still available on the internet, including in the YouTube and other social media platforms. One may assume that all AQ supporters around the world have watched this video since it was narrated by Osama bin Laden’s son and conveys essential messages.

Implications

A reasonable conclusion is that Hamza is being fronted as the next world leader of AQ. Based on the sequence of the events, including Osama bin Laden grooming Hamza as his heir, Ayman al-Zawahiri introducing him in a widely-spread video and finally Hamza by himself addressing AQ’s support base and followers and asking them to carry out attacks in the West, strongly indicates that Hamza bin Laden is being groomed for AQ leadership in the near future, at least after the death or retirement of Ayman al-Zawahiri. However, there is no doubt that he has already an esteemed and respected position in the hierarchy of the terrorist organization. Undeniably, Hamza has the advantage of being the son of the founder of al-Qaeda and through his father, he has unquestionable authority over the terrorist organization.

Hamza in his address openly spoke to the AQ base without distinguishing sub-groups operating under AQ. Al-Qaeda has become the world’s largest Salafist jihadi terrorist group, functioning as an umbrella tied to several regional AQ sub-groups and affiliates such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and in addition to many other indirect affiliates including Fatah al-Islam, Turkistan Islamic Party and Jemaah Islamiyah. Additionally, organizations such as the al-Nusra Front or Jabhat al-Nusra (formerly al-Qaeda in Syria or al-Qaeda in the Levant), or with its new name after July 2016 “the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham,” a critical player in Syria,  will also submit to the orders of Hamza, even if they claim they are distancing themselves from the AQ core, which is more like rebranding the al-Qaeda in Syria and a tactic established for the aftermaths of the fight against ISIS.

Additionally, it is worth noting that AQ has been taking advantage of the attention and heat that ISIS has drawn around the world and broadening its base around the world without getting much attention and getting ready for the near future basically for the aftermaths of ISIS’s defeat. There is no doubt that the AQ affiliates will try to fill the space emptied by ISIS. It should also be expected that AQ most probably will invite and accept defecting ISIS fighters to its cadres. Considering the fact that many ISIS fighters fleeing the battlefields of Syria do not have many options, joining AQ might become one of the viable considerations not only for ideological reasons but also to save their lives. There are rumors that AQ has already ordered its commanders to accept ISIS fighters (not senior level ISIS members or leadership) in an effort to increase their presence in the regions where they shelter and the number of the fighters they hold at bases.

There is no doubt that many al-Qaeda members and sympathizers will take this call seriously by attempting to carry out attacks. There will be two implications.

The first is that the AQ leadership is going to order the cells they control around the West to carry out attacks through an effort to prove that Hamza bin Laden’s orders are being followed. The second is the fact that many individuals who believe in AQ or have ties to its ideology will feel called to carry out attacks based on the Salafist teachings. The first lesson AQ fighters or Salafist jihadi terrorists receive is “to hear and obey” and the second lesson they study is “carrying out the orders of their leaders regardless of the conditions.[14]” After combining these two principles, it is highly likely that there will be several new attacks attributed to Hamza bin Laden.

Additionally, Hamza did not openly ask for suicide attacks but rather asked his followers to consider their options by asking them to carry out attacks with weapons if possible as their first choice, therefore providing endless possibilities for his followers. Also, it is possible that we might see some attacks which will be carried out without the central hierarchy of the AQ. If the attackers cannot successfully convey their messages as Hamza asked, and if the perpetrators successfully hid their ties with any AQ affiliates, the law enforcement and counter-terrorism officers might have hard times to tie some attacks to AQ.

Hamza clearly listed the enemies. Particularly, the law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the West must consider the enemy list very seriously and prioritize the protection of listed targets. It is essential that obvious targets are warned about the true nature of possible threats and local law enforcement establish communication mediums with possible targets in an effort to reduce risks or to reach out to each other as soon as possible when needed. While the target list might be wide, in most cases local law enforcement and intelligence agencies can produce prioritized local threat lists and in this case protection of those targets become more important particularly in the upcoming days as the execution of possible attacks could start anytime based on what Hamza asked and prioritized.

Finally, security officials should note that the video highlighted the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey by Mevlut Mert Altintas, a Turkish police officer. The video segments dedicated to this assassination accounted for three minutes, one-third of the whole video. Evidently, AQ gave great importance to this attack. We can also understand this by the fact that only Mevlut was referred to as the “lion” of al-Qaeda in the video whereas all other attackers in the past were referred to with their names. Undoubtedly, the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Ankara and the assassin have risen as stars of al-Qaeda’s legend.

Interestingly, the Turkish Government furiously denied the involvement of AQ in this attack. This video certainly refutes the regime’s denials and efforts to link Mevlut to other groups[15]. It is also essential to acknowledge that, particularly after the July 2016 coup attempt, AQ and some other Salafist-jihadi radical groups have found refuge in the Turkish bureaucracy. For example, Nurettin Yildiz, a preacher known for his close ties with the Erdogan regime, who also had an association with the assassin has a large base of supporters, most of whom are government officers[16]. Similarly, Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) a Turkish NGO with close ties to Erdogan, has been linked to several Salafist jihadi groups. In fact, the IHH was investigated by the Turkish National Police because of its ties to the AQ and because it was providing logistical support to al-Qaeda members in Syria. The police raided IHH warehouses in Kilis Turkey during an operation in 2014[17]. Consequently, the current thick presence of al-Qaeda in Turkey and Turkey’s somewhat favorable approach[18] to this terrorist organization increases the risks, particularly towards the European countries.

First published in MD’s partner International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism

References

[1] “Hamza Usame bin Ladin: “Batıdaki Fedailere Nasihat” Tr Altyazılı,” YouTube, May 15, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLriGlNCh68&feature=youtu.be & “Advice for Martyrdom-Seekers in the West-Hamza Bin Laden,” Tangentcode, May 15, 2017, https://tangentcode.org/2017/05/15/advice-for-martyrdom-seekers-in-the-west/

[2] Burleigh, Michael, “What next for Brand bin Laden?” The Telegraph, May 14, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/8512008/What-next-for-Brand-Bin-Laden.html

[3] Editorial, “Bin Laden’s son wants to avenge his father, ex-FBI agent says,” CBS News, May 12, 2017, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/preview-the-bin-laden-documents/

[4] “State Department Terrorist Designation of Hamza bin Laden,” U.S. Department of State, January 5, 2017, https://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/266536.htm

[5] Alabed, Asma, “Bin Laden’s son threatens revenge for father’s assassination: monitor,” Reuters, July 11, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-security-qaeda-idUSKCN0ZQ0AA

[6] “State Department Terrorist Designation of Hamza bin Laden,” U.S. Department of State, January 5, 2017, https://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/266536.htm

[7] Weiser, Benjamin, “Man Convicted in Terrorism Conspiracy Is Denied New Trial,” the New York Times, January 13, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/14/nyregion/el-sayyid-a-nosair-killer-of-rabbi-kahane-is-denied-new-trial.html

[8] Editorial, “Zawahri urges attacks on Israeli, Western targets,” Reuters, January 6, 2009, http://www.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-37313620090107

[9] Editorial, “Kosovan Albanian admits killing two US airmen in Frankfurt terror attack,” the Guardian, August 31, 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/aug/31/kosovan-albanian-admits-killing-airmen

[10] Editorial, “Manchester Day Parade tribute to Lee Rigby,” BBC, June 2, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-manchester-22745387

[11] Editorial, “Van Gogh killer jailed for life,” BBC, July 26, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4716909.stm

[12] Speckhard, A., & Yayla, A. S. “What It Means That the Russian Ambassador To Turkey Was Assassinated By A Radicalized Militant Jihadi Off‐Duty Turkish Police Officer,” the Huffington Post, January 1, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-it-means-that-the-russian-ambassador-to-turkey_us_586fd7e9e4b08052400ee1f4

[13] Kenber, Billy, “Nidal Hasan sentenced to death for Fort Hood shooting rampage,” the Washington Post, August 28, 2013, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nidal-hasan-sentenced-to-death-for-fort-hood-shooting-rampage/2013/08/28/aad28de2-0ffa-11e3-bdf6-e4fc677d94a1_story.html?utm_term=.09b818c5cdb6

[14] Speckhard, A., & Yayla, A. S. (2016). ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate: Advances Press, LLC.

[15] Yayla, Ahmet, S., “Anxiety in Ankara: Assassination, Geopolitics, and Democracy in Turkey,” Modern Diplomacy, January 5, 2017, https://moderndiplomacy.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=2086:anxiety-in-ankara-assassination-geopolitics-and-democracy-in-turkey&Itemid=154

[16] Yayla, A.S., “Turkey’s Crippled Counterterrorist Capacity: How Domestic Purges Represent an International Threat to Europe’s Security” Modern Diplomacy, March 2, 2017, https://moderndiplomacy.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=2306:turkey-s-crippled-counterterrorist-capacity-how-domestic-purges-represent-an-international-threat-to-europe-s-security&Itemid=154

[17] Editorial, “Turkish police raid charity aiding Syria,” al-Jazeera, January 14, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/01/turkish-police-raid-charity-aiding-syria-201411411543616402.html

[18] Yayla, Ahmet, S., “The Reina Nightclub Attack and the Islamic State Threat to Turkey” CTC Sentinel, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, Vol 10, Issue 3, pp. 9-16, March 2017

Ahmet S. Yayla is an assistant professor at the DeSales University Homeland Security Department and faculty member at Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies. He is also a research fellow at the Program on Extremism at the George Washington University. Dr. Yayla previously served as a full professor and the chair of the Department of Sociology at Harran University in Turkey. Dr. Yayla is a 20-year veteran of the counterterrorism and operations department in the Turkish National Police and served as the chief of counterterrorism in Sanliurfa, Turkey between 2010 and 2013.

Continue Reading
Comments

Intelligence

Estonia’s national security concept

Published

on

image source: Estonian Defence Forces

The development of regional and global military cooperation is seen as one of the most important pillars of Estonia’s security strategy, while a concerted effort to domestic security focused on resilience and deterrence is seen as another. Considering Estonia’s defence plan mandates that country’s defence could no longer be restricted to military protection only, armed forces will then be merged with non-military competencies to provide a comprehensive collective defence. National security and the accompanying preparedness are believed to be the responsibility of a multitude of sectors and individuals from both the governmental and corporate sectors, as well as from civil society organisations.

Comparison of the previous two National Security Policies shows that the convergence of security domains alongside ministerial distribution of duties is being substituted by a broad task-based strategy, which is likely the most apparent manifestation of Estonia’s emerging comprehensive strategy. [1][2]The 2017 National Security Policy also presents the idea of resilience, which appears significantly throughout the paper and is further explored in a distinct sub-chapter for perhaps the first instance.

One of the most important ideas on which Estonia’s national defence policy plans rely is “whole of government” plus “whole of society,” which combine together the two most important parts of the comprehensive strategy framework and the notion of “resilience.” [3]Therefore, it is vital to recognise that such revamped conceptual ideas have garnered a reasonably positive reception from the general public. In addition, the notion that national security should be a shared responsibility of the whole population is widely accepted in Estonia. Consequently, Estonians have high expectations for a complete security and defense architecture, indicating both the intentional robustness of the majority of the people and its ability to adapt to changing circumstances. It is possible to interpret such huge backing for national defence as a byproduct of securitization. In this way, the notion that perhaps a comprehensive strategy towards defence can ensure a country’s security is supported by a large number of people who believe it.

Key Elements

With regard to Estonia, the comprehensive strategy was first embraced as aspect of a progressive European security thought that was gaining popularity at the same time that Estonia was actively integrating into the NATO and European Union. During that time period, it was considered a viable alternative to the classic territorial defence concept. Beginning in 2008, during the course of the August War, incidents in Georgia’s national defence concepts began to take enormous importance. But it was in 2014, following the invasion and occupation of Crimea and the outbreak of violence in eastern Ukraine, until it became clear that these two notions are not in competition with one another[4]. As an alternative, a comprehensive strategy might be seen as an essential supplement towards the territorial defence paradigm in order to achieve greater advantages in terms of resilience as well as deterrence capabilities.

Accordingly, Estonia has adopted a comprehensive strategy to national defence that emphasises the necessity for coordination and cooperation across multiple government agencies in order to develop cohesive response in the event of a crisis. When the breadth of cooperation across nearby but diverse domains is taken into account, the relevance of defence strategy may be appreciated in detail. There are also five other areas being evolved in contrast with military defence, like civilian assistance for national defense, international operations, internal stability, preservation of successive society and the political processes by providing essential services, if not at least, proactive sharing of information and psychological operations. [5]According to the Estonian government, the following ministries are responsible for different tasks: the Defense ministry is instrumental in the advancement of military protection and civil assistance for military defence, the foreign ministry is central to global pursuits, the Interior ministry is responsible for general and internal security as well as the upkeep of the country’s and society’s sustained functions, and the Government is concerned with strategy and psy-ops. These responsibilities are maintained in the revised defence plan as well. It is worth highlighting that, rather than three different laws governing the defence industry in peacetime and conflict, as well as international collaboration, the revised national defence policy, in accordance with the comprehensive strategy rationale, consolidates various regulatory sectors into a single body.

Security Environment & Threats

The Estonian security environment is influenced by the country ‘s global developments and cross-border risks. Estonia’s NSC for 2017 recognises asymmetric risks which do not respect national boundaries and whose origins are impossible to discern. Simultaneously, they have an impact that is comparable to that of conventional security risks. Islamist terrorism has been a persistent concern in the West since the 9/11 bombings on the World Trade center. Middle Eastern and North African countries with unstable governments offer a continual terrorist danger to the West, harming Estonian security. Terrorism is among the greatest security dangers confronting average citizens throughout Europe. Estonia pays attention to European events. Numerous incidents have occurred in Europe during the previous two decades, including bombs in London and Madrid, shooting incident at Frankfurt airport, and Paris terror attacks. As a result of this, Estonia has included global crises and unequal socioeconomic progress as security risks in its policy paper. When Hosni Mubarak was ousted in Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi was executed in Libya, while civil war erupted in Syria and Yemen as a result of the Arab Spring movement, Europe might have been the most adversely affected region. There was an international flood of refugees that will continue for the next decade as a result of the said incidents.[6]

It’s been Russia that has posed the greatest external danger for Estonia during the previous decade. The Russians have employed a variety of strategies to attain their objectives. Additionally, Russia has boosted its troop involvement in the Baltic Region and along the Baltic Countries’ borders.  Confrontational and aggressive Russian acts may be seen for instance in military drills and air boundary breaches as well as threats to use nuclear weapons. As a result, Russia poses a danger to the whole Euro-Atlantic area, as it has the potential and inclination to utilise a wide range of non-military armaments: armed, economic, energy, or informational. War, crises, and conflict have occurred in Russia and the surrounding area on a regular basis. There were two direct transgressions: the 2008 conflict in Georgia and the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which continues to this day. The rioting in April 2007 (including the assault on the Estonian Embassy in Russia) and the kidnapping of an Estonian security law enforcement officer in 2014[7] are examples of indirect confrontations that have taken place since. Russia has also demonstrated its digital prowess in a global setting. According to this paper, cyberattacks have indeed been taken into account of factors that affect security because Russia launched a cyberattack against Estonia in April 2007.[8]

While the challenges to Estonia’s security environment have evolved over time, the purpose of protecting the country has remained constant. Keeping Estonia’s national sovereignty, territorial integrity, constitutional order, and national security in tact is essential to the state’s mission. Human rights, basic freedoms, and also the achievement of core human ideals are all intertwined in a country’s security measures. By building civil society and enhancing the country’s worldwide standing, democratic ideals assure the long-term viability and sustainability of society.

Aiming to create solutions that might benefit other nations in the face of global crisis is becoming increasingly important as their impact on Estonia grows. Rule-based world order must be maintained through adhering to international law and the United Nations Charter. As a result, humanitarian assistance and human rights protection are deemed essential. These initiatives have broad worldwide backing. While other Baltic states are more concerned with protecting human rights within virtual environment, Estonia stands out for its emphasis on unfettered Internet access.

Collective Security

Euro-Atlantic collaboration has always been the most important factor in ensuring Estonia’s security, especially prior and afterward entering the EU but also NATO. There is no doubt that NATO is Estonia’s best defence against a potential attack, and thus active participation is a national issue. As a member of NATO, Estonia regards the United States as a vital ally in the country’s security because of its foothold in Europe. [9]Additional collaboration with security-related organisations is crucial to Estonia in order to maintain global and regional equilibrium. There will be a lot of focus on conflict avoidance and the United Nations’ ability to handle global concerns. The Estonian government also endorses the OSCE, which strengthens Estonia’s ability to engage in EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. [10]Estonia, on the other hand, has not particularly emphasised enhancing collaboration and actively participating in crafting the security policy of the relevant organisations.

Estonia believes it is critical to limit conventional firearms in Europe, therefore it wishes to join international arms reduction treaties. It highlights the critical role of the country in preventing the trafficking or unlawful movement of weapons of mass destruction including their parts through their borders. Estonia has cordial ties with the Nordic states, the NSC affirms. Close collaboration with these nations has benefited Estonia’s economy and bolstered the country’s defence capabilities. Estonia seems to be eager to develop Nordic-Baltic military cooperation on a regional and global scale and also desires an open discussion with Russia as well as practical collaboration.

Protecting Living Environment

The state of the natural environment and general wellbeing in Estonia, as well as the socio-economic scenario, contingency planning, uninterrupted access to essential services, food, and potable water, and the potential of societal cohesion to effectively deal independently in the situation of a prolonged disruption of essential services are the primary factors influencing the security of the Estonia’s environment. Storms and floods are the most common natural disasters that create crises in Estonia, with storms accounting for the majority of incidents. Active civil assistance is being established in order to cope with crises, which strengthens society’s preparedness to manage with emergency situations that may be fairly expected and planned for. To do this, it is necessary to improve public knowledge of possible threats as well as available mitigation methods. Improved environmental conditions are encouraged in Estonia by promoting environmentally sustainable principles and behavioural habits among the population. This is accomplished through the management and execution of pollution countermeasures, the efficient utilisation of natural resources, and waste minimization. Estonia is putting in place measures to avoid the spread of ecologically dangerous chemicals as well as to detoxify polluted land and water areas. Social and economic concerns have an impact on the living environment as well. As early as 2004, the NSC stressed the need of addressing labour market issues, implementing a viable social security structure that incorporates at-risk populations, and training a qualified workforce in significant numbers to assure sustained economic growth.[11]

Tracking, controlling risk, and coping with the repercussions of climate change are all examples of strategies for reducing the hazards associated with climate change. Cooperative efforts are created with the worldwide community, local governments, the corporate and nonprofit sectors, as well as the scientific community, in order to achieve this goal International collaboration also involves marine traffic management and maritime pollution monitoring, among other things.

Estonia, like its surrounding countries, is cognizant of the potential dangers posed by radiation. Nuclear power stations with in Baltic Sea region that are more than a decade old are regarded to be potentially risky. Estonia engages in worldwide efforts to improve radiation protection in the Baltic Region, being part of a global effort. [12]Early warning systems are in place to identify radioactive mishaps in adjacent nations at an early stage, allowing for faster response times.

International Conflicts and Crises Response

Engagement in crisis response and peacekeeping operations is a significant component of Estonia’s national security strategy. The goal was to design a crisis management framework that would take into account military, regulatory, and financial concerns, among other things. Involvement in international combat operations and civilian initiatives provides the country with an excellent chance to gather valuable expertise. Meanwhile, they represent vows to make a positive contribution to the improvement of regional stability within the immediate area and throughout the globe. When there is an internal emergency, the first responsibility is to secure the survival of the populace. Specifically, the state believes that emergencies may be avoided and their repercussions minimised by collaboration with the general public, local municipalities, government entities, corporate and non-profit organisations, and other organisations and individuals. The duty of the state is to strengthen the information management system of the people and to offer instructions for appropriate conduct in emergency circumstances to the public through various communication channels, including radio and television. All types of exercises have already been extensively researched and designed with the goal of incorporating the greatest number of people feasible. Aside from this, assistance has been granted for voluntary initiatives that try to avoid dangers and deal with the early indications of calamities.

The functioning of critical services is tied to the occurrence of emergencies. The state conducts a rigorous investigation into the interruptions of critical services and the dangers that might result in the suspension of services. To mitigate this, public awareness campaigns are created, and trainings incorporating as many participants as feasible are carried out as a preventative strategy. In order to assure the effective service delivery, effective collaboration between the government with the private sector is essential. Examples include electronic network infrastructure, services supplied, and vital information platforms that are mostly owned and operated by private companies.

The government must be prepared to manage the humanitarian catastrophe while also providing development assistance. In order to do so, it is critical for Estonia to engage in NATO and EU emergency management operations, as well as the activities of the NATO Response Force and its EU Battlegroups, among other activities. Through development assistance, Estonia enables nations that create a social structure that is tolerant of democracy and human rights, in compliance with its skills and resources. According to the National Security Council’s 2017 report, activity in the fields of development assistance and human rights protection contributes to the creation of an atmosphere that minimises the possibility of conflict and promotes security. So the emphasis is placed on the avoidance of global wars and crises, with the goal of reducing the negative effects on Estonia with its allies as a result of these events. As a matter of fact, Estonia endorses the expansion of the EU and NATO, that will contribute to the strengthening of the Western value sphere both in Eastern and central Europe. Because of the same rationale, Estonia is committed to maintaining positive ties with all of its neighbours.

Energy Security

A tiny yet open economy, Estonia’s economy is strongly reliant on global economic growth. National security, according to the 2004 NSC, relies on effective development and accountability of economic connections as well as a stable influx of foreign investments. As a result of its deep ties to the global economy, the state is very vulnerable to downturns and volatility in other economies. The high reliance on non-Estonian (Russian) monopolised energy systems and sources poses a significant risk to the country as a whole.[13]

Estonia’s energy security depends on the safety of its supply chain and its infrastructure. To break free of energy monopolies, countries in the EU must link their energy grids and increase the variety of energy sources they use. Improving domestic energy efficiency is critical to reducing reliance on foreign energy imports. According to NSC 2017, Europe’s energy policy, which seeks to make the most of available resources inside the EU, will be heavily relied upon in the next years. Estonia intends to increase its use of renewable energy sources for power and heating in the far future.[14]

With the ongoing Ukraine-Russian crisis which has resulted in an altered security scenario for Estonia, ceasing to finance Russia’s military complex will require the state to develop a replacement to Russian gas. The construction of a floating LNG import facility, which has been in the works for more than a decade, might help Estonia lessen its reliance on Russian gas imports. A pier plus an additional LNG ship is part of Alexela’s (energy firm) proposal for the Paldiski harbour on the Baltic Shoreline. The Estonian proposal would ultimately need a state assurance and financial support.[15]

Conclusion

Estonian security policy is rife with ambiguity, both conceptually and practically. Two parallel conceptions of comprehensive security and unified defence have emerged in Estonia, a departure from the typical comprehensive approach. Estonia is able to maintain its well-trodden course of complete defence because to the split among these two terms. Even the decision makers of defence policy generally define Integrated Defense in this manner.

As a result of this misunderstanding, Estonia’s strategic decisions prioritise complete defence and asymmetric warfare. This has repercussions for Estonian perceptions of and definitions of threats. Aside from that, the greatest danger to Estonian security is conventional, which is one that Russia has been more likely to influence in its actions in the post-Soviet realm, for example. A parallel idea of resilience exists in Estonia as a result of this misperception. It appears to mean various things for the Estonian defense community’s uniformed and civilian members. This contrasts with how resilience is understood by the military, which views the concept of resilience primarily through the lens of total defence. Using the Estonian method of resilience in conjunction with a comprehensive approach demonstrates how the military versus civilian sides of the security debate focus on distinct areas of security. As a result of Estonia’s current dual strategy, it is difficult to establish broad societal agreement on the most probable levels of uncertainty, operational methods in such conditions, and long-term investments for the country.

Creation of domestic institutions which are adept in participating actively in international security architecture, as well as mobilisation of the regular military force, are required. This includes clearly defining the responsibilities and duties of all organisations in Estonia engaged in comprehensive national security, as well as accurately analysing the nation’s defense capabilities and conveying the findings to Estonia’s military partners.


[1]National Security Concept of Estonia – Kaitseministeerium,” 2004. https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/156841/Estonia-2004.pdf.

[2] “National Security Concept of Estonia – Kaitseministeerium,” 2010 https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/156839/Estonia%20-%20National%20security%20concept%20of%20estonia%202010.pdf

[3] “National Security Concept of Estonia – Kaitseministeerium,” 2017. https://kaitseministeerium.ee/sites/default/files/elfinder/article_files/national_security_concept_2017.pdf

[4] Raik, Kristi, Mika Aaltola, Katri Pynnöniemi, and Charly Salonius-Pasternak. “Pushed Together by External Forces? the Foreign and Security … – FIIA.” The Finnish Institute of International Affairs, 2015. https://www.fiia.fi/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/bp167.pdf.

[5] “National Security Concept of Estonia – Kaitseministeerium,” 2017, p.3 https://kaitseministeerium.ee/sites/default/files/elfinder/article_files/national_security_concept_2017.pdf

[6] Marnot, Diana. “Comparison of Security Policy Documents of the Baltic States,” 2020. https://digiriiul.sisekaitse.ee/bitstream/handle/123456789/2568/2020%2010%20julgeolekupoliitika%20ENG_WEB.PDF?sequence=1.

[7] Fisher, Max. “This Is Bad: Russia ‘Abducts’ Estonian Officer after Obama Says Us Will Defend Estonia.” Vox. Vox, September 5, 2014. https://www.vox.com/2014/9/5/6110037/estonia-russia-officer-kidnapped.

[8] “2007 Cyberattacks on Estonia.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, May 1, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_cyberattacks_on_Estonia.

[9] “National Security Concept of Estonia – Kaitseministeerium,” 2017, p.3 https://kaitseministeerium.ee/sites/default/files/elfinder/article_files/national_security_concept_2017.pdf.

 

[11] National Security Concept of Estonia – Kaitseministeerium,” 2004, p.19 https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/156841/Estonia-2004.pdf.

[12] “National Security Concept of Estonia – Kaitseministeerium,” 2017, p.18 https://kaitseministeerium.ee/sites/default/files/elfinder/article_files/national_security_concept_2017.pdf.

[13] National Security Concept of Estonia – Kaitseministeerium,” 2004, p.19 https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/156841/Estonia-2004.pdf.

[14] “National Security Concept of Estonia – Kaitseministeerium,” 2017, p.16 https://kaitseministeerium.ee/sites/default/files/elfinder/article_files/national_security_concept_2017.pdf.

[15] Tammik, Ott. “Estonia May Build LNG Terminal to Cut Russia Energy Dependence.” BloombergQuint, March 23, 2022. https://www.bloombergquint.com/onweb/estonia-may-build-lng-terminal-to-cut-russia-energy-dependence.

Continue Reading

Intelligence

Taking the India-Singapore Cyber Partnership Forward

Published

on

On the sidelines of the recently concluded Special ASEAN-India Foreign Minister’s meeting, Singapore and India agreed on the need to give their relationship a new impetus. The two countries have a robust political and defence partnership with regular engagements. For India, Singapore has been the top source of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), and India’s FDI in Singapore has observed an uptick in recent years. The relations between India and Singapore are based on shared values, economic interests, and convergence of perspectives on key strategic issues. Since last year, both have sought to consolidate relations through increased collaboration in information technology and cybersecurity. In February 2022, the two signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for deepening cooperation in science, technology, and innovation.

As a global data hub, Singapore has a high stake in the cyber domain. It has paid close attention to efforts for maintaining its reputation in cybersecurity and has worked towards a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy. As a city-state, Singapore has sought to utilize diplomacy as deterrence to ensure its interests in the cyber domain. Today, Singapore is considered a cyber diplomacy pioneer among the ASEAN countries. It plays an active role in discussions on cyber in the United Nations and other platforms.  Singapore has put emphasis on becoming the ‘conversation starter’ for acceptable behaviour in cyberspace and has taken a lead in the war against cybercrime. To this end, the city-state has taken steps to build regional and global alliances for cooperation and experience sharing and has emphasized regular cyber exercises for staying ahead of the emerging cyber threats curve.

  According to International Telecommunications Union’s Global Cyber Security Index report, Singapore has focused heavily on national cyber defence and has not taken recourse to any known disruptive actions. This highlights Singapore’s commitment to peaceful cyberspace and projecting its image as a law-abiding nation. For enabling safe and secure cyberspace, Singapore has focused on building resilient infrastructure. It seeks to utilize research and development in the cyber domain as a source of ‘competitive advantage’, with the possibility of turning Singapore into an international hub for cybersecurity innovation.

In recent years, Singapore’s cyber insurance market has created a space of its own in Asia. The global cyber insurance market is estimated to exceed USD 20 billion, by 2025, with the Asia-Pacific market expected to witness almost 35 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2019 and 2025. It has been argued that the cyber insurance industry stands to witness exponential growth in the emerging climate of record ransomware attacks and cyber incidents.

Singapore updated its cyber security strategy in 2021, which goes beyond critical sectors and seeks a more proactive stance toward cyber threats. While focusing on cyber resilience and capability development for detecting and analysing malicious cyber activities, the plan looks at developing a ‘Made in Singapore’ solution for creating Singapore’s cybersecurity ecosystem. Further, the strategy also underlines the need for addressing ‘dilemmas of digitalization’, such as geopolitical tensions in cyberspace.

Notwithstanding Singapore’s military capabilities, Singapore (like its ASEAN counterparts) believes that escalating cyber incidents might not be beneficial for small states [PDF], as they would want to avoid cyberspace conflicts spilling over beyond the virtual domain. However, while the ASEAN seeks neutrality in the emerging tech rivalry between the US and China, Singapore’s emphasis on ‘ASEAN centrality’ is far from elementary.

Singapore is referred to as the anchor of the US naval presence in Southeast Asia and enjoys long-standing defence ties with the Quad countries. In August 2021, Singapore inked an MoU with the US for expanding information sharing and training to combat cyber threats. However, along with a deep partnership with the US, Singapore balances strong ties with China. While the US remains vital for regional security dynamics, especially in the shadow of increasingly aggressive Chinese maritime manoeuvres, Beijing stands as Singapore’s most important trade partner.

Thus, for Singapore, any partnership which falls outside the ambit of the great power rivalry will have a central role in its strategic thinking. As an emerging tech powerhouse, India possesses natural viability for strategic partnership with Singapore.

For India, there are several dimensions where Singaporean experiences are valuable. The delay in finalising a National Cyber Security Strategy has regularly highlighted New Delhi’s difficulty in opting for the best available policy options in cyberspace. It is argued that India needs to review its cyber-defence policies and should give equal attention to building cyber-offensive capabilities for deterrence. New Delhi’s narrow focus on cyber threats from Pakistan and China, has also been pointed out by some as a constrained approach.

Like Singapore, India has balanced the Western and the Eastern views on cyber diplomacy tables. India seeks to safeguard its strategic autonomy and cyber sovereignty while adopting a multi-stakeholder approach. However,  the recent laws like the mandate on the Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for storing customer metadata, highlight the increasing significance of keeping unrestricted and undesired cyber activities in check. It has been reported that as the tech sector grows in India, cyber incidents like ransomware attacks, which affected a staggeringly high 68 per cent of India’s organizations in 2021, will necessitate a mature cyber insurance market for organisations and businesses at all levels.

The tech neutrality sought by the ASEAN countries has been visible on the 5G issue. While the US has sought to influence countries across the globe to avoid Chinese firms like Huawei over security and espionage-related concerns, governments in Southeast Asia have voiced their discomfort in choosing between the two sides.

The Singaporean PM had downplayed the security concerns over Huawei, saying that it is not ‘a black and white issue’, and that Singapore will carefully study the impact of 5G technology to decide. Unlike most  Southeast Asian countries, India has decided to go ahead with indigenous alternatives. For India, a successful 5G experience can consolidate its tech leadership credentials further.

As a global tech war accelerates and a digital divide between the two super cyber powers and the rest of the world emerges, middle powers will be compelled to seek convergence for safeguarding their national interests. As leaders in tech and innovation, India and Singapore stand as natural partners in the Indo-Pacific, as well as beyond.   

(Views are personal)

Continue Reading

Intelligence

Unmasking India’s IB and RAW

Published

on

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi granted a year-long extension in service to retiring heads of India’s Intelligence bureau (Arvind Kumar) and the Research and Analysis Wing (Samant Kumar Goel). Both officers are specialists in the art of disinformation and insurgency.  They masterminded the so-called Blakote strikes inside Pakistan. Besides, they mounted a world-wide Pakistan-bashing campaign that resulted in Pakistan’s isolation in comity of nations. Pakistan FATF woes could veritably be attributed to the machinations of the said two officers. They are protégé of India’s national security czar Ajit Doval. Doval himself boasts of having carried out covert activities in Pakistan for about eleven years. He did not care a fig for violating the diplomatic norms while posted in Pakistan.

Difference between the Intelligence Bureau and RAW

The common belief is that the IB and the RAW have separate domains. But, in actual fact, the both organisations coordinate their activities. Like the RAW, the IB also has its offices abroad. In his book, RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations, Yatish Yadav make startling disclosures about activities of India’s intelligence agencies. In a chapter titled “Hunting the RAW traitor”, he reveals the career of the RAW agent Rabinder Singh, an ex-Army man who sold national secrets to the CIA for money. Singh was outwardly a religious person who had a penchant for quoting from Hindu religious book Bhagwad Gita. He led parallel lives and passed on classified information to the foreign power. Although given asylum in the U.S., he was soon forsaken by the CIA and met with an unexplained road accident there. The accident was masterminded by the RAW.

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is the national domestic internal security and counter-intelligence agency that works under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It was formed as the ‘Central Special Branch’ on December 23, 1887, which was later renamed as ‘Intelligence Bureau’ in 1920. The organisation mainly focused on National Security activities. According to an article published in Jagaran Josh, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) is said to be the oldest surviving intelligence organisation in the world.

About Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)

Initially, the IB was only responsible for India’s internal and external intelligence, but in 1968, it was bifurcated and left with internal intelligence only. While it’s external branch was handed over to the newly created Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The bifurcation took place after IB lapse in the intelligence about the Sino-Indian War of 1962, and India-Pakistan War of 1965. So the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was founded in 1968 to counter external security threats. The RAW provides intelligence to policymakers and the army and it keeps a close eye on the activities of the neighbouring countries (China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, etc.) of the nation.

Generally, the IB is the national internal intelligence agency that maintains the internal security of the nation, while RAW is an external intelligence agency that keeps an eye on international threats. The main functions of the IB include counterintelligence, counterterrorism, VIP Security, anti-secession activities and intelligence collection in border areas. RAW on the other hand collects secret information about the activities of neighbouring countries. IB functions under the governance of the Ministry of Home Affairs, while RAW has been placed directly under the Indian Prime Minister’s office. IB gets its employees from the Indian Police Service, law enforcement agencies and the military, while RAW has its own service cadre known as the Research and Analysis Service (RAS). Initially RAW was also dependent on the services of trained intelligence officers from the military, police and other services for its candidates.

Objectives

The RAW’s objectives include:

Monitoring the political, military, economic and scientific developments in countries which have a direct bearing on India’s national security and the formulation of its foreign policy. Mould international public opinion and influence foreign governments. Covert Operations to safeguard India’s National interests. Anti-terror operations and neutralizing elements posing a threat to India.

To control and limit the supply of military hardware to Pakistan, from mostly European countries, America and more importantly from China.

RAWS exploits

The RAW stoked insurgency in East Pakistan that led to dismemberment of Pakistan. The Indian army and other agencies acted in tandem.

Another event shows that Indian diplomats developed deep ingress in Islamabad. On May 29, 1988, a senior official of the Pakistan Intelligence Bureau was abducted in Islamabad. India alleges that his abductors were personnel from the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). According to their own account of the incident, narrated in the news magazine Herald, they beat up the IB official until he revealed the location of a secret telephone exchange that was monitoring calls made by Zia-ul-Haq.

Kalbushan Jhadav’s story speaks volumes on how India penetrates even its serving officers to carry out sabotage and subversion in Pakistan.

Disinformation

‘Disinformation’ (Russian deziinformatzia) is a concept that finds mention in Sun Tzu’s Ping Fa (Principles of War). Even before Sun Tzu, Kautilya in Arthashastra supported disinformation as a civil and military warfare tool within his concept of koota yuddha (unprincipled warfare as distinguished from dharma yuddha, righteous warfare).

Tzu’s and Kautliya’s principles were used not only in World War II but also in the Cold War period (to hoodwink own and foreign people). Richard Deacon says, ‘Truth twisting…unless it is conducted with caution and great attention to detail, it will inevitably fail, if practiced too often… It is not the deliberate lie which we have to fear (something propaganda), but the half-truth, the embellished truth and the truth dressed up to appear a something quite different’ (The Truth Twisters, London, Macdonald & Company (Publishers) Limited, 1986/1987, p. 8).  He gives several examples of disinformation including subliminal disinformation by which the truth can be twisted so that the distortion is unconsciously absorbed, something which both television and radio commentators have subtly perfected’ (Ibid., p. 9).  In the USA, the Creel Committee, through false anti-German propaganda turned pacifist Americans against Germans.

Disinformation influenced even independent-minded Americans who laid down a constitution, beginning with words `we the people’. Yet Chomsky says the American masses are like a “bewildered herd” who have stopped thinking (Noam Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda, p.16). He asserts that in a “properly functioning democracy”, there is a “small percentage of the people”, a “specialised class of citizens” who … analyse, execute, make decisions and run things in the political, economic, and ideological systems”. Chomsky reminds, ‘Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1916 on the platform “Peace without Victory”, right in the middle of World War I.  The American population was extremely pacifistic and saw no reason to become involved in a European War.  The Wilson administration established a government propaganda commission, called the Creel Commission [Committee], which succeeded, within six months, in Chomsky reminds, ‘Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1916 on the platform “Peace without Victory”, right in the middle of World War I.  The American population was extremely pacifistic and saw no reason to become involved in a European War.  The Wilson administration established government propaganda commission, called the Creel Commission, which [through fake news, films, etc.] succeeded, within six months, in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, war-mongering population which wanted to destroy everything German, tear the Germans limb from limb, go to war and save the world….  After the war, the same techniques were used to whip up a hysterical Red Square…’ (ibid.page 12).

Fifth-generation war is believed to be a vague term. George Orwell (Politics and the English Language) suggested that that trying to find a clear-cut definition of fifth-generation or hybrid war would reveal exactly that kind of vagueness, with the use of important-sounding, pseudo-technological words to impress readers and convince them that this war is being fought at a level the layperson cannot comprehend. However, India has proved that it understands the dimensions of the fifth generation war or fake news. It knows how to apply its techniques to achieve its objectives. It is time for Pakistan to wake up

EU Lab belatedly discovered a world-wide network that spread disinformation against Pakistan. Even prestigious Indian newspapers sometimes publish reports or articles that smack of being pieces of state-sponsored disinformation.  Harvard’s criteria for detecting fake news could be applied to disinformation bloomers. Harvard suggests `everyone should vet a publisher’s credibility first and then check all the sources and citations’. James Carson offers tips in his article `Fake news: What exactly is it – and how can you spot it‘? (Telegraph January 31, 2019)

Disinformation camouflaged in Op-Eds is hard to detect as they do not usually quote their sources of information. A case in point is Shishir Gupta’s article ‘In Imran Khan’s 18-point Kashmir plan for Aug 5, outreach to Turkey, Malaysia and China’, published in Hindustan Times dated July 28, 2020.

RAW officers speak many languages such as Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Sinhalese, German, Polish and Urdu. By the time of Morarji Desai, RAW had a staff of “more than five thousand on its payroll”. Desai turned out to be inhospitable to RAW and Kao, and K. Sankaran Nair left the organisation. N.F. Suntook took charge and “saved the agency”. RAW “recruited trained and deployed informers and covert action teams in the USA, Iran and several European countries as well as in India’s immediate neighbours. It also employed analysts, polygraph examiners, cartographers, linguists, economists and political analysts to defend the country from internal foes and external enemies. While the I.B.’s mandate was essentially within the country, it also opened offices at times on foreign soil. As is to be expected, the two agencies joined hands, and at times fought over turf to the detriment of the common cause.

In Bangladesh, RAW combated the influence of the CIA and Pakistan. The assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a big blow and a much-chastened RAW regrouped to regain its lost influence in Bangladesh. By November 1988, RAW’s station head, code-named Krishna Patwardhan, had set up the necessary network in Bangladesh, to target elements that were hostile to India.

RAW saw spectacular action in other theatres as well. On March 20, 1988, RAW operative Anupam Malik began to carry out Mission Fiji’, “aimed to disrupt and dismantle Fiji’s military regime” that threatened to upset the ethnic balance in Fiji. Attempts were being made by this regime to deny political rights to ethnic Indians, most of whom had been immigrants to the country during the British Raj. Deporting all ethnic Indians to India’ was a distinct possibility. By the 1990s Sitiveni Rabuka, the strongman, was honey-trapped and compromised by RAW agents in Fiji and had to abdicate political power.

Similarly, RAW’s involvement in Afghanistan, we learn, began with the Soviet Union’s invasion of the country. The agency’s operatives carried out missions right through the chequered regimes of Tarki, Amin and Karmal encountering opposition from Pakistan’s Zia ul-Haq and the Taliban at different times.

In Sri Lanka, RAW propped up the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and had to follow the contradictory path of support and opposition following the dictates of the political masters in Delhi.

In the chapter titled “Shadowy War in Washington”, we see the RAW operative code-named ‘Blue Sky’ track down the Khalistani leader Jagjit Singh Chouhan and successfully penetrate the World Sikh Organisation, the International Sikh Federation and the Babbar Khalsa International. While the traditional rivalry between the I.B. and RAW continued, according to RAW operative Krishna’s candid opinion, “the I.B. proved to be far superior in the Canadian theatre than the RAW.”

Concluding reflections

RAW’s cover officers, including RK Yadav and B. Raman, make no bones about India’s involvement in Bangladesh’s insurgency. They admitted that India’s prime minister Indira Gandhi, parliament, RAW and armed forces acted in tandem to dismember Pakistan. Raman reminds us that the Indian parliament passed a resolution on March 31, 1971, to support the insurgency.

Indira Gandhi had then confided with RAW chief R.N.Kao that in case Sheikh Mujib was prevented ruling Pakistan, she would liberate East Pakistan from the clutches of the military junta.

In order to sabotage the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a cell had been established in RAW with the sole objective of disrupting it and the cell worked ‘under the supervision of the Indian Prime Minister’.

Yet another book (Terror in Islamabad) has been published by an officer Amar Bhushan who happened to have served as a diplomat at the Indian High Commission Islamabad. Before being posted to Islamabad, Bhushan had served as an officer of India’s premier intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing, Border Security Force Intelligence, and State Special Branch for a quarter of a century. His book mentions another RAW officer, Amit Munshi (real name Veer Singh) posted as Cultural Attache.

Since times immemorial diplomats have enjoyed immunity in countries where they are posted. International conventions govern their conduct in host countries. If a diplomat is caught red handed violating norms of diplomatic conduct, he is declared a persona non grata. Bhushan’s book reveals that Singh’s assignment was to “identify potential Pakistanis for subversion”. The familiar elements of intelligence craft are espionage, sabotage and subversion. India added one more element “insurgency” to the intelligence craft if we go through another RAW officer’s book The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane. B. Raman makes no bones about India’s involvement up to the level of prime minister in Bangladesh’s insurgency.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Trending