New terror tactics cause worry
23 September 2005
Srinagar: Even as Pakistan has called for withdrawal of Indian troops from some areas in northern Jammu and Kashmir, there are worrying signs that terrorist organisations are upgrading their offensive capabilities. In the past six weeks, soldiers have recovered over 2,700 kg of explosives in the Kashmir Valley, a haul that exceeds the quantity discovered between January and September last year. New bombing tactics and improved capabilities for penetrating the fencing along the Line of Control are also major sources of concern to Indian security officials: all signs that the severely-degraded leadership of terrorist groups is reviving. Most of the recoveries consisted of freely available chemicals such as potassium permanganate and aluminium powder. While they have a wide variety of legitimate applications, skilled bomb-makers can use them to fabricate lethal explosives. Terrorists have also found innovative ways to defeat Indian defensive measures. In two recent bomb-attacks, terrorists drove cars, fitted with explosives, along with regular traffic, thus evading patrols to detect roadside mines and improvised explosive devices. They then overtook the targeted military convoy and parked the vehicle some distance ahead. The explosives-rigged car was detonated as the convoy passed. Jammu and Kashmir's largest terrorist group, the Hizb ul-Mujahideen, seems to be recovering from the decimation of its field leadership in 2003 and 2004. Since the May 2004 elimination of Abdul Rashid Pir, it has not had an overall commander for operations in the State. When the Hizb failed to despatch a successor, it was widely read as a sign of organisational weakness. The alias 'Ghazi Misbahuddin,' which the organisation now uses to refer to its overall commander, is in fact used by several functionaries. Some experts believe, though, that the decision not to appoint a central leader is a tactical innovation. Instead of an easily-targeted supreme commander, leadership tasks have now been dispersed among figures such as Ibrahim Dar who has returned from Pakistan, and Sohail Faisal, a Hizb operative with over a decade of field experience. All of this could mean that trouble lies ahead for the Indian forces.