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Preventive Measures Against Lone Wolf Attacks During Ramadan

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Chechen lone wolf’s hunting in Paris

Four days before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, Khamzat Azimov, 21, of Chechen origin, committed a terrorist attack in Paris, killing one and wounding four people.The terrorist, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” and attacked passers with a knife, was then shot and killed by the police.

The Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the operation, saying in a statement that the “attacker who stabbed multiple people in the city of Paris was a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the operation in response to the call to target coalition nations.” ISIS’ Information Agency Amaq News has released a short video presumably recorded by the attacker himself.

In his video message Azimov, whose face is covered with a black handkerchief, in a mixture of French and Arabic swears allegiance to the Islamic stateand its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.Then he addresses the supporters of the Caliphate around the world. Especially it refers to France, Germany and England, never mentioning Russia. He urged like-minded people in these and other countries of Europe to perform Hijrah (the Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Medina). He goes on to say that those Muslims who cannot perform Hijrah should start the jihad against the infidels in the territory,in which they now live.

Azimov justifies his actions by revenge for the death of like-minded people in Iraq and Syria.He stresses that the cause of his attack was the bombardment of the territories of the Islamic State by France.The Chechen terrorist repeated the thesis of the ISIS propaganda 2015 when the group tried to convey to the western audience the idea that the bombing of the territories of the Caliphate would result in attacks on the territories of the countries of the West.It should be noted that this is the standard call of the Islamic state.

In particular, the Chechen terrorist Azimov was guided by the ISIS strategic doctrine urging assassins to burrow into their adopted nations in the West and to plan complex attacks in place. This indicates that the strategic doctrine of the Islamic State Intelligence director Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who called before his death to all ISIS agents in the West to carry out attacks in the countries where they live, still continues to function effectively. “If the tyrants have closed in your faces the door of Hijrah, then open in their face the door of jihad,” said Abu Muhammad al-Adnani in his message. He recommended his supporters to attack the infidels by all means: with trucks, weapons, axes, knives, and if nothing is found, and then kill them with their bare hands.As this incident showed, a lone Wolf of Chechen descent, Azimov, was inspired by the ideology of jihadism and fulfilled the call of Al Adnani to attack unbelievers with knives on the enemy’s territory.

“Putin’s foot soldier” accuses the West of supporting ISIS

In connection with this terrorist act of many experts on counterterrorism and Islamic radicalism were surprised by the statement of the Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.In particular, in his blog in the social network “VKontakte” he accused the French authorities of radicalizing Khamzat Azimov.”In Chechnya he was only born, and growing up, the formation of his personality, his views and beliefs took place in French society. I am convinced that if he had spent his childhood and youth in Chechnya, Khamzat Azimov’s fate would have been different! “- concluded Kadyrov.

Kadyrov

If we follow Kadyrov’s logic, then everyone who lived and was brought up in Chechnya will never embrace the path of Islamist extremism.Then how can we understand the thousands and thousands of Chechen militants of the terrorist group Caucasus Emirate, who today are fighting in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan?After all, they were born and raised in Chechnya? Despite this, they became ardent supporters of the Islamic state, Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In the second part of his statement, Kadyrov accused the West of training ISIS militants and their support.He wrote: “Western countries have created greenhouse conditions for all those who are hostile in attitude to Russia and to Chechnya.Special services of the West prepare them for actions in the zone of armed conflicts in the Middle East, supplement them with the ranks of the Iblis state (as he calls ISIS).Khamzat Azimov had contacts with French law enforcement agencies and special services, but apparently, he came out of their control.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian answered that his country “has nothing to learn from a dictator who does not respect the rule of law, and who also knows very well that there are thousands of Chechens fighting on the side of ISIS.”

I do not want to be an arbitrator in the controversy between France’s top diplomat and “Putin’s foot soldier”.But such a populist accusation by a faithful soldier of the Kremlin of the Western countries testifies to his inferiority complex, ideological bias and the deficit of moral values. Ramzan Kadyrov, who is known for his willingness to die for Putin, for massively violating human rights in Chechnya and for physically destroying his political opponents, by his statement, brings grist to Salafi-jihadis’ mill.

The tie between Paris knife attacker and Boston bombers

Paris knife attacker Khamzat Azimov was not the first Chechen jihadist who committed a terrorist attack in the West.The world community is well aware of the other Chechen brothers Tsarnaev who organized the bombing of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.Then, as a result of the terrorist attack, three people were killed and more than 280 people were injured.After analyzing both terrorist acts in Paris and Boston, the following similar moments in the actions of Chechen lone wolves can be noted.

First, the organizers of both terrorist attacks are Chechens by nationality, who emigrated to the West along with their parents.The reason for their emigration was a complex political situation including violations of their human rights in their homeland.Compelled emigration and difficulties of adaptation in the West were the main factors of the Chechen youth’s conversion to the path of Islamic radicalism.

Chechen Terrorist Azimov

Secondly, the authors of both terrorist acts were in the field of view of the special services for alleged involvement in radical Islamic ideology.The French special services brought Azimov to the list of FSPRT – persons close to radical Islamist circles.FBI agents investigated the religious views of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was a danger to society but did not detain him.

Thirdly, Chechen lone wolves were infected with the ideology of jihadism via the Internet, where they studied the literature of the Salafism.The cause of the attack, they said was“revenge against infidels for air strikes of innocent Muslims by the western coalition in the Middle East and Afghanistan”.

Fourth, the world’s terrorist organizations ISIS and al-Qaeda interceded in the defense of the Chechen lone wolves.After the Paris knife attack, ISIS announced that Azimov was a soldier of the Caliphate, and the attack was organized by order of the Emir of the group.Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri warned the US of the “gravest consequences” if Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were to be executed.

Fifth, the authors of the Paris and Boston terrorist acts clearly followed the instructions of the world terrorist groups to prepare and carry out attacks on the territory of the infidels. Al-Qaeda and ISIS regularly issue practical recommendations, compilations and e-books for their supporters and lone wolves, which details the methods and ways of carrying out terrorist attacks.In July 2017 ISIS’ magazine Rumiyah published “Lone Wolf’s Handbook”, where he described in detail how to plough into a large crowd of people with a truck.

How to defend against the lone wolves attacks in the Ramadan

Recently ISIS propaganda Nashir News Telegram channels called for more lone wolf attacks during Ramadan.As know, last year during the holy month of Ramadan, jihadists attacked London, Manchester and Paris.

According to the ideologues of the Caliphate, the gate of the paradise opens for Shahids in Ramadan.Ramadan is a holy month of fasting in the Islamic calendar, in which good deeds are rewarded manifold, and bad deeds especially punished. In ISIS’s twisted interpretation of Islam, this means attacks on non-believers and apostates – which it considers ‘good’ – will be honored many times over in the afterlife.

After the loss of its territories in Syria and Iraq and defeats on the battlefield, it is important for the Islamic State to demonstrate its ability to continue the attacks.ISIS leaders try to improve their image in view of their recent losses with the help of terrorist attacks of lone wolves in the West. It is in this vein that one can analyze the knife attack of the Chechen terrorist Khamzat Azimov in Paris, who opened the hunting season during the holy month of Ramadan.Therefore, it can be expected that other “sleeping” lone wolves in Western Europe and the US will also respond to the recent calls of ISIS.

In order to better protect the people and their country from new terrorist attacks during Ramadan, counter-terrorism officers should pay attention to the following points.

First, strengthen the external and electronic surveillance of the movements of alleged Islamist radicals, who are given in the list of the special services.Daily nightly collective prayers during Ramadan are able to spiritually inspire single wolves to practice.Therefore, it is especially important to conduct daily monitoring and analysis of the internal atmosphere in mosques where emigrants from the Middle East, Central Asia and the African Maghreb perform prayers.

Second, counterterrorism officers should pay attention to the work of popular halal restaurants in the daytime.According to radical Salafi ideology, all those Muslims who do not hold fast during Ramadan commit Shirk (sin of practicing idolatry or polytheism) against Allah Almighty.Therefore, those who committed Shirk must be subjected to Takfir (excommunication, as one Muslim declaring another Muslim as a non-believer) leading up to the death penalty, ideologists of Wahhabism believe.After the terrorist attack Omar Mateen on the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, noted the victims were all in “a nightclub for homosexuals.”Another terrorist from Central Asia, Abdulkadir Masharipov, attacked the Reina nightclub in Istanbul on December 31, 2016, because Muslims celebrated there the Christian New Year. It is possible that among the lone wolves would decide to punish those Muslims with Takfir who do not fast, and who would eat at famous restaurants in the daytime during Ramadan.

Third, law enforcement should increase observation of people who are carrying any flammable liquids or LPG/propane tanks on the streets, where high numbers of people are present. Pedestrian crowded streets and central parts of cities can become possible targets for Islamist lone wolves.

Finally, to successfully confront the threat of lone wolves’ attacks during Ramadan law enforcement and homeland security officers must be able to think like lone wolf jihadists and they should be fed information by intelligence agencies, that would help them do so.

Doctor of Political Science (PhD), expert on Political Islam. Modern Diplomacy Advisory Board, Member. SpecialEurasia, Team Member.

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New ISIS Strategy and the Resurgence of Islamic State Khorasan

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ISKP Uzbek Jihadist

Unlike Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the second late leader of ISIS, who was derided as a “secluded paper caliph” and “an unknown nobody” for his relative anonymity and non-publicity, the new caliph of the Islamic State, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, has apparently launched a new strategy to strengthen linkages to regional wilayahs (provinces) and boost the group’s global presence.

Indeed, during his short time leading the group (31 October 2019 – 3 February 2022), Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi never publicly addressed his followers, which negatively affected the coordination of the activities of Islamic State-Central (ISC) and its regional branch of the Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISKP). Although his killing during a US counterterrorism raid in northwest Syria in early February was a major blow to the global jihadi organization, the change in leadership nevertheless provided it with new opportunities to update its command-and-control, recruitment and propaganda campaign.

Predictably, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, the new ISIS overall leader, sees his historical role not only in ensuring the Caliphate’s continuity and avoiding its potential fragmentation but also in establishing a more direct and consistent command line between its core in Iraq and Sham and its Central and South Asian affiliates.

ISIS collage dedicated to rocket attack on Uzbek Termez

The new strategy of the Islamic Caliphate not only gave a new impetus to its Khorasan offshoot waging a holy jihad in post-American Afghanistan against the Taliban but also opened a new front line against the post-Soviet Central Asian regimes. Indeed, the analysis of ISKP activities revealed that the proclamation of Abu al-Hassan al-Quraishi as the new Caliph and the launch of a new campaign “Revenge Incursion for the Two Sheikhs” increased the combat capability of IS Uzbek and Tajik fighters, as well as strengthened the coordination of local language and IS-Central propaganda machines.

Notoriously, on April 17, ISIS launched the new campaign “Revenge Incursion for the Two Sheikhs” to avenge the deaths of the former ISIS leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi, and his official spokesperson, Abu Hamza al-Qurashi, who were killed in a US raid in February in the northwest Syrian town of Atmeh. In his recent audio address, Islamic State’s new spokesman Abu-Omar al-Muhajir called on the Caliphate warriors to avenge the deaths of the former ISIS leaders by “painfully striking” the enemies of “al-mujahideen” and saying that if they kill, they should “kill by many.” This call was made to the group’s followers worldwide and asked them to remain patient, but also be ready when the “war” begins. Al-Muhajir called to expand the campaign “Revenge Incursion for the Two Sheikhs” to the territory of US, Europe and Central Asia, urging Muslims living there to follow the lead of past “lone wolves” who conducted operations that “filled with horror.” He asked them to repeat “lone wolf” operations by stabbing, attacking, and ramming, and drawing inspiration from recent attacks in Israel.

ISKP Threat to Central Asia

Among the first to support the Islamic State’s new ‘global offensive’ campaign were ISKP Uzbek and Tajik jihadists challenging the new Taliban government and dreaming of overthrowing the ‘Taghut (idolaters) regimes’ in Central Asia. Thus, inspired by the new Caliph’s new strategy, for the first time in the history of the Islamic State, they managed to conduct a transnational jihadi operation from Afghanistan to the territory of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Initially, on April 18, 2022, the ISKP fired ten rocket salvos into the territory of Uzbekistan, which was successfully exploited by the Uzbek-speaking regional jihadi media and IS-Central’s propaganda resources as evidence of the opening of a “second front” in the Central Asian direction. Expert assessments clearly observed the good coordination between the IS-Central’s media and ISKP’s local jihadi mouthpieces, both in terms of Islamic ideological content and hierarchical sequences.

ISKP Uzbek nasheed performer Asadulloh Urganchiy

The Islamic State-Central’s Amaq News Agency reported that “Mujahedeen of the Caliphate have fired 10 Katyusha rockets at a murtad (apostasy) Uzbekistan’s military base in the border town of Termez.” The ISIS central media wing also released a photo and video of the projectiles to back its claims. Another IS-Central’s weekly al-Naba newsletter also widely covered the topic of rocket attacks by detailing how the projectiles were fired from Afghan territory on the Central Asian nation.

Following IS-Central official news agencies reports, IS-Khurasan Willayah’s local media outlets, such as Al-Azaim Foundation and Khurasan Radio, the Uzbek-language Xuroson Ovozi (Voice of Khurasan), Tavhid Habar (Tawhid News), Tajik-language Telegram channels Mujahideen of the Caliphate and The Army of the Victorious Nation published a series of audio, video and text messages in Uzbek and Tajik detailing the goals, causes, and consequences of the rocket attack. In particular, Al-Azaim Foundation glorified the rocket attack as “the heroism of the brave lions of Allah Almighty punishing the corrupt army of the murtad Uzbek government.”

The ISKP media outlets were extremely outraged by the Uzbek government’s denial of the rocket attack, claiming that nothing had landed on their territory. In response, pro-ISKP Uzbek, Tajik and Russian Language Telegram channels re-posted IS-Central’s statement, photos, videos of the attacker and a map marked with the possible rocket impact location in Termez.

Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi experts’ attention was drawn to a 24-minute audio address of Khuroson Mujahid, the leader of ISKP Uzbek group, whose speech style and ideological views strongly resembled the late ISIS chief strategist Abu Mohammed al-Adnani. His speech revealed that the ideological vision of ISKP Central Asian jihadists, staunch followers of Takfiri Salafism, is in line with the Islamic State’s global agenda. He considers democracy to be the religion of “murtad states” of Central Asia, the Taliban government and Pakistan. He believes that due to committing shirk (idolatry), deviating Allah and doubting Tawheed (God’s Oneness), the leaders of taghut countries should be killed.

Considering Khuroson’s oratorical skills, Takfiri persuasion and ideological savvy, it is quite possible that the ISKP recruitment and incitement campaign will intensify in Central Asia in the near future. Obviously, the engagement between IS-Central and ISKP in the military, media and ideological directions reached a new level in the more permissive operating environment of post-American Afghanistan.

On May 7, the ISKP carried out a second rocket attack, this time into Tajikistan. According to the Central Media Office (Diwan al-I’lam al-Markazi) of ISIS, “Caliphate’s fighters fired seven rockets from the Khawaja Ghar district of Afghanistan’s Takhar Province towards the Tajik military base near the city of Kulob.” The rocket attacks on the territories of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan for three weeks nevertheless mark a clear escalation by ISKP Central Asian foreign fighters from just hostile anti-five post-Soviet “murtad governments” rhetoric to direct militant action.

Notably, the methods of media coverage of both attacks and the engagement between IS-Central and ISKP’s local media resources were clearly similar. The algorithm of their actions was in line with the new ISIS strategy. Thus, IS-Central posted a brief information about the rocket attacks with video and photos, then the Tajik, Uzbek and Pashto-language local media resources of ISKP glorified the “warriors of Allah”. The Uzbek-language pro-Islamic State Telegram channels Islomiy Maruza Davat Guruh, Khuroson Ovozi, Tawheed news, the Tajik-language Telegram channel of Ulamoi Rabboni (إنَّ اللّٰهَ مَعَنَا) actively propagated ISKR rocket attacks, undermining the image and credibility of the military potential of Tajikistan and the Taliban.

These Central Asian pro-IS media resources, supported by IS-Central propaganda bodies and comprised of a constellation of official branch outlets, regional pro-ISKP groups, and grassroots supporters have become a prominent voice aggressively impugning the Taliban’s reputation in the global jihadi world. Such method makes it possible to preserve the hierarchical structure and maintain a uniform media strategy of the global jihadi group. This reflects that after the fall of the Caliphate and a series of dramatic losses of its leaders, ISIS has learned a bitter lesson and is now moving from centralizing power to strengthening its wilayahs.

Apparently, the ISKP seeks to broaden its appeal in Central Asia both through increasing cross-border attacks against Afghanistan’s neighbors and ramping up the production, translation, and dissemination of propaganda directed at Uzbek, Tajik, and Kyrgyz communities in the region. These rocket attacks and ISKP’s propaganda campaigns targeting Central Asians for recruitment are any indicators, the group has become a serious jihadi power challenging not only the Taliban government, but also the post-Soviet authoritarian regimes. Through its Uzbek, Tajik and Pashto-language Telegram channels, the ISKP is conducted an unprecedented activity to recruit Central Asian jihadi groups affiliated with al Qaeda and the Taliban, as well as new radical Islamists from the Fergana Valley.

Future of ISKP Central Asian Jihadists

Obviously, the ISKP is exploiting the US military withdrawal from the region and the Afghan Taliban’s deviation from the hardline jihadi concept by successfully portraying their government as a Pashtun ethno-nationalist organization rather than a bona fide Islamic movement.

In conclusion, it is to be expected that the ISKP will actively capitalize external operations to undermine the legitimacy of the Taliban government, which assured the US and Central Asian neighbors not to allow Afghan soil to be used to attack Afghanistan’s neighbors. Strengthening cross-border rocket attacks has already raised the morale of ISKP fighters and consolidated its support base.

Thus, the new Islamic State’s strategy to strengthen its offshoots in its provinces is quite capable to reestablish its positioning in the broader global jihadi movement, which we see in the example of IS-Khorasan Province.

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How Memes Can Spread Dangerous Ideas

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Internet memes are an excellent way to send powerful messages to millions of people. But what happens when they are used for malicious purposes?

Memes have been a means of transmitting messages for centuries, proliferating immensely in recent decades due to their mass proliferation through the internet and their ability to broadcast messages to a massive audience. They have quite a bit of cultural significance and can be based on almost anything, provided they achieve viral status. However, memes have been subject to abuse by malicious groups and actors.

From the Blue Whale Challenge, an internet challenge that resulted in multiple suicides worldwide, to terrorist organizations like ISIS, which use internet memes to recruit young people, memes can be used for malicious purposes. Even toxic subcultures like MGTOW serve as a pipeline towards the incel movement. Indeed, such male supremacist organizations are not strangers to using memes and viral media to propagate their ideas and recruit young men and boys to their cause. In fact, one influencer, who goes by Sandman MGTOW, often posts such misogynistic memes and videos on his Twitter and YouTube channel.

These kinds of memes are easily identifiable by their bias towards a specific issue and their often-political message. One great example of a meme that has been subject to abuse by malicious actors is Pepe the frog. Based on a character by Matt Furie, this meme was abused by the alt right, being depicted as controversial figures such as Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump. The meme was so badly abused by these far-right actors that it was listed as a hate symbol by the ADL.

Memes have also influenced major world events like the 2016 election in the United States and the Arab Spring revolutions in the early 2010’s, which garnered immense media attention through the use of internet memes and viral media. This shows that memes can have the power to influence elections (albeit slightly) and topple oppressive regimes. Being a powerful tool for spreading information, there is also the use of memes for spreading misinformation.

The COVID-19 pandemic mediated a sizeable but modest anti-vaccine movement in countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany. These anti-vaxx groups used social media like Facebook and Reddit to spread memes full of misinformation and pseudo-science It can also be argued that memes were effective tools in spreading misinformation around the elections of 2016 and 2020 in the United States. Memes, while powerful, can be used by malicious actors such as far-right groups and anti-vaxx groups to peddle false information. This has contributed to the US having a COVID death toll of over one million, higher than most other countries worldwide.

The world has progressed quite a bit in the information age. People are able to communicate ideas with millions of people worldwide in seconds. The proliferation if information has never been more efficient in history. That is why the threats that arise from the mass proliferation of memes and viral media are so dire. As was seen during the 2016 and 2020 US elections, COVID, and Arab Spring, memes can be spread to convey messages that can change nations, affect millions (perhaps even billions) of people, and topple dictators. It has become possible for people to change the course of history with a single tweet or a single meme on Reddit or Instagram going viral.

What can we do to stem the massive proliferation of memes that serve to recruit people into dangerous organizations and fill their minds with misinformation? The answer lies in how we confront our biases and how we detect misinformation. People need to be informed about how they can detect bias and propaganda, in addition to using independent fact-checking services. By identifying propaganda from malicious actors and misinformation from online groups, we can stop the spread of dangerous memes before they proliferate.

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The myth of Lashkar-e-Khalsa

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During his recent visit to India, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, alluding to Khalistan supporters, said that the United Kingdom would not welcome people who planned to use the UK’s legal systems to evade the law in India. Added that his country had set up “an anti-extremist task force” to help India.

Johnson apparently tried to appease India for not having forestalled Khalistan referendum. Johnson’s remarks reflect how hard it was for him to put up with India’s ennui about activities of the British Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) led by t Gurpatwant Singh Pannu . Khalistanis felt short of voting for an independent Khalistan in England on October 31 last year.

A few Sikhs “smeared” the Himachal Pradesh state assembly (winter).This event amounted to showing a red rag to India’s RAW/IB disinformation sleuths. India media first published reports that agonies have intercepted documents that reflected that Pakistan was planning to set up a new organisation Lashkar-e-Khalistan with recruits, inter alia, from Kashmir and Afghanistan to create unrest in India.* They even suggested that social media would be flooded by such separatist elements. Then came a warning from India’s Intelligence Bureau that “Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI has formed a new terrorist group, named Lashkar-e-Khalsa that is trying to carry out terrorist attacks in India. Quickly they attributed subsequent “terrorist attacks” and arrests to the ISI/ (Pakistan). “On May 6, four Khalistani terrorists were arrested by the Haryana Police at a toll post  in Karnal. The police recovered improvised explosive devices (IEDs), arms and ammunition from the vehicle at a toll plaza in Karnal” and an explosion at the Punjab Police Intelligence Headquarters”.

Analysis and corollaries

The ISI is nowadays itself in the throes of a smear campaign at the hands of some myopic politicos. How could it afford bad relations with India? Even the Pakistan’s army chief and prime minister Shahbaz have vehemently desired to improve relations with India.

The allegations had tell-tale signs that they were false. The “document” about creation of Lashkar-e-Khalsa was never published or shared with Pakistan. It baffles one’s imagination that “terrorists” moved so freely with an explosives laden vehicle to be checked at long last at a toll post. Details of damage to the police headquarters were not published or investigated.   

It is significant to recall that the Research and Analysis Wing chief Samant Kumar Goel (Balakote “strike” architect, and Kashmir and disinformation expert) and Intelligence Bureau head Arvind Kumar , reputed to be a counter-insurgency and disinformation specialist, were given a one-year extension in their services.

Goel, a 1984-batch IPS officer from Punjab cadre, would continue to be the Secretary of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for a one-year period beyond the presence tenure which ends on June 30. Similarly, Kumar, an IPS officer of Assam and Meghalaya cadre continued to head the Intelligence Bureau for a period of one year after June 30.*

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.

Shishir writes, `With Pakistan Army expected to take the back seat, Imran Khan may go to occupied Kashmir [Azad Kashmir] to rake up anti-India sentiment in his assembly address to mark one year of India nullifying Article 370’ (How did he know the contents of the address when it was yet to be delivered).` Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who counts the campaign against India over Jammu and Kashmir as his government’s key achievement has roped in the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, in its 18-point plan to commemorate the Aug 5 anniversary of India scrapping Article 370 that extended special status to the valley, people familiar with the development said. The ISI is Pakistan’s notorious spy agency accused of nurturing terror groups, mostly directed at India and Afghanistan’ (How did he know of the ISI’s connexion?).` Before he reaches Muzaffarabad, Khan’s government intends a field trip for foreign journalists to the occupied territory. Like in the past, the terror training camps funded by the ISI would be off-limits for the journalists’ (Looks like he is well aware of the location of the training camps being there himself?). So on.

Gupta’s credibility: Be it noted that Gupta is `Winner of the 2011 Ben-Gurion Award for journalism’.  His affinity for Israel and abhorrence of Pakistan is conspicuous. He was also a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, London. The ISS. London published the Pakistan-bashing paper `Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks (A Net Assessment) (An IISS Strategic Dossier) Paperback – January 1, 2007′.

IB/RAW’s strategy

: Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, RAW has concluded that the only way it could weaken Pakistan is to sour Pakistan-USA amity.  To achieve this objective, IB/RAW is burning midnight oils to exploit USA’s sensitivity about CPEC and certain ticklish subjects like Hawala transactions for funneling funds to “terrorists’, nuclear proliferation, use of missiles to hit aircraft, nuclear weapons and delivery systems and development of chemical biological weapons. India even conducted mock exercises against the CBW attack .A Press Trust of India report stated `Meanwhile, the police has seized a rare pencil pistol and 25 “chemical” cartridges from a militant hideout in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district, leading to suspicion that militants might be switching over to chemical or biological weapons from conventional arms. The pistol and cartridges, marked “neroxin” were seized from the house of Bashir Khan at Krishipora-Nagrimalpora village, the Sub-District Police Officer, Handwara, Altaf Khan, said today. Khan said during the inspection of the ammunition, one of the police officers suffered giddiness and had to be referred to Army hospital for treatment, leading to the suspicion that the cartridges might be carrying chemical or biological agents’.

RAW’s disinformation campaign is well reflected by innocuous-looking news like”Kashmiri Mujahideen are in possession of stinger missiles”.

EU’s expose

Not long ago, EU-based non-governmental organisation EU DisinfoLab revealed an India-sponsored dis-informational network of 265 fake media outlets in 65 countries, including the US, Canada, Brussels, and Geneva.  The network was being run by the Srivastava Group of India. It listed New Delhi Times as one of its assets, and also ran a think tank called International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies.

The Institute paid for the travel and accommodation of an unofficial far-right delegation of 23 European Union parliamentarians to Srinagar on October 30, 2013. The trip was arranged by Indian –intelligence surrogate Madi Sharma who posed as a self-styled “international business broker”. The delegation’s shikara (boat) ride in Kashmir Lake (dal) pictured Kashmir as heaven in serene peace. Some members however smelt a rat and abandoned the free joy ride.

Confessions by Indian diplomats

Some Indian diplomats have confessed in their memoirs that they have indulged in nefarious activities against Pakistan. Voracious readers my go through Amar Bhushan’s book Terror in 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 quarter of a century. His book mentions another RAW officer, Amit Munshi (real name Veer Singh) posted as “Cultural Attache”.

India’s ambassador Bharath Raj Muthu Kumar played a role in the Afghan insurgency. With the consent of then foreign minister Jaswant Singh, he

`coordinated military and medical assistance that India was secretly giving to Massoud and his forces’… `helicopters, uniforms, ordnance, mortars, small armaments,  refurbished Kalashnikovs seized in Kashmir, combat and winter clothes, packaged food, medicines, and funds through his brother in London, Wali Massoud’, delivered circuitously with the help of other countries who helped this outreach’. When New Delhi queried about the benefit of costly support to Northern Alliance chief Massoud, Kumar explained, “He is battling someone we should be battling. When Massoud fights the Taliban, he fights Pakistan.

India’s national-security czar Ajit Doval publicly claims that he acted as a spy under a pseudonym in Pakistan for 11 years, seven years in Lahore.  Doval is a retired director of Indian Intelligence Bureau. He boastfully dons the title of “Indian James Bond”. He lived in Pakistan’s Lahore, disguised as a Muslim for seven years. During his years in the country, he befriended the locals visiting mosques and lived among the predominantly Muslim population. “Acknowledged as a master of psychological welfare” in India, Doval, as a part of his job also spied on Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter Services Intelligence. Doval credits himself with brainwashing a group of freedom fighters led by Kukkay Parey who detected freedom fighters and killed them.

Sharing an incident from his time in Pakistan, he said that he was once identified as a Hindu by a local from his pierced ears. Doval then underwent plastic surgery to prevent his cover from blowing. Narrating his account, Doval shared, “I was coming back from a Masjid. A man sitting in the corner, who had an intriguing personality and a white beard, called me. He asked, are you a Hindu? I replied saying no. He asked me to come with him, and took me to a small room and shut the door. He told me, ‘See you are a Hindu. Your ears are pierced.’ The place I come from, as a child there is a tradition to pierce the ear. I told him it was pierced when I was born. He told me, get plastic surgery for this, it’s not safe to walk like that. Then I got it (plastic surgery) done.”

In the late 1980s. Doval snuck inside the Golden Temple posing as a Pakistani agent to the Khalistani militants and passed significant information during Operation Black Thunder in 1988. After his stint as an undercover agent, Doval worked in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. A close-associate of PM Modi, Doval is also responsible for master-minding the surgical strike in 2016.

Concluding remarks

To harm Pakistan India is engaged in a virulent anti-Pakistan disinformation campaign. India’s role in precipitating Fatf restrictions on Pakistan is obvious. It appears India has meticulously implemented Hitler’s propaganda theorems: `The bigger the lie, the better the results. The success of any propaganda campaign ultimately depends on the propagandist’s down-to-earth understanding of the “primitive sentiments of the popular masses”. Mein Kampf (pp. 179-180).

India’s Strategic Policy Group, idle since Manmohan Singh’s second term, has been revived (to create troubles in Sindh, Balochistan, and KPK).Indian diplomats routinely flouted diplomatic norms.

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