13 Jan :Terrorism is not new to India – but what is unique now is the evolved characteristics and the enhanced operational capabilities of the terrorist outfits and their operatives. Surprisingly, India is ranked second, right behind Iraq in the number of terrorist activities (excluding Jammu and Kashmir) despite the fact it is not a country in conflict. In the study titled “The changing patterns of terrorism in India”, Orkash has identified the bellwether currents that define the new breed of terrorism which is sending ‘wake up’ waves across the security machinery of the country.
About 2-3 years ago – more precisely before the ‘defining’ year of 2008 – terror attacks mostly included only sporadic blasts in the target cities. The frequency of major terror attacks was also comparatively moderate – 4 terror attacks in 2007, 3 in 2006, and 1 attack in 2005. But 2008 was different – there were at least 12 highly synchronized large terror attacks since the beginning of the year.
The ‘new breed’ of terrorism in India is confident, bold in actions and increasingly sophisticated. In the study leveraging upon the expert domain knowledge and proprietary research work, Orkash identified the prominent undercurrents of the changing patterns of terrorism in India:
a) For the first time ever, the (Islamic) terrorism has a pan-India network of operatives and logistics support. Our calculations designed to quantify the size and scale of organizational resources needed to carry out terror attacks that happened in Indian cities between May and November 2008 indicate the requirement for at least 80 to 120 well trained terrorist operatives not including sleeper cells and those involved in logistic support. This is a very large number.
b) The trend towards larger and sophisticated attacks – i.e. terrorists are exploiting the increasingly abundant communication infrastructure and information flow for their collaboration, creation of covert support networks, financing, intelligence gathering, logistics and operational execution. The high degree of planning and existence of large all-India terror network is exuded by the fact that the terror outfits did not feel the need to even give a day’s break between the serial blasts in two Indian cities (Bangalore and Ahmedabad).
c) The ideological underpinning of the movement is undergoing a change, as reflected by the operatives increasingly having a local urban face, contrary to what used to happen a few years back. Increasingly, indigenous organizations such as SIMI have been created on the lines of the Deobandi ideology of extreme fundamentalism. Another Domino effect is the surfacing of Indian-origin tech savvy terrorists working in prominent IT companies (indicative of the diluting definition of ‘infiltrators’).
d) There has been a major shift in the targeting patterns of the terror outfits as is evident in the recent attacks wherein posh business and commercial institutions have been attacked. Terrorists are increasingly likely to target westerners and businesses, and employ new tactics such as hostage-taking and random shootings at peak hours in crowded places. The excessive nature of the terror attacks is in itself a big concern. This can further trigger a wave of copycat terror incidents with a change in the tactics and targets of terrorists. The terror groups have realized that large-scale attacks in critical business hubs of India helps them realize their objectives much faster than sustaining insurgency in the border states of the country.
In its study, Orkash recommends that as an immediate priority, terrorism in India needs to be handled more as a matter of internal security and not be dominated by its trans-national context alone, particularly given the existing geo-political scenario in south Asia. The need of the hour is the development and implementation of an evolved incident response, clear definition of responsibilities of the numerous security forces/agencies, easy mobilization of emergency security teams, better investigative capabilities and coordinated and expedited response to intelligence inputs. Although, India’s security infrastructure is suitably large to support the emerging demands, the shortcomings has been primarily due to the uncoordinated tactical response and the absence of the necessary skills to undertake an effective operational management.