Terrorism—An Area of Cooperation in Indo-US Relations
P.R. Rajeswari, Research Officer, IDSA
India, the US and the rest of the international community have long grappled with a perennial problem of terrorism. Terrorism has been an age-old phenomenon that has acquired new techniques and a degree of sophistication with the advancement in mass media, communication and technology. Terrorism is an issue that is becoming a pervasive, often a dominant influence in our lives. It affects the manner in which foreign policies of countries are formulated, and the manner in which corporations transact their business. This is one phenomenon that is affecting all aspects of life. Terrorism is thus, a political as well as a legal and a military issue in the modern times. Hence, the need for increased co-operation between India and the US.
The end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union brought in an era of conflict and instability all over the world. It brought along serious problems like ethnic conflicts, weapons proliferation, environmental problems, population growth, drug trafficking and terrorism.
Of all the problems that one faces today, terrorism occupies a great deal of attention in the national security framework. The President of the United States, Bill Clinton said, "terrorism is one of the greatest dangers we face in this new global era".1 The issue has been addressed at national, bilateral as well as international levels.
The fall of the Soviet Union eliminated one major threat—nuclear or conventional war against the West. Thus, international attention is turning towards issues of ethnicity, terrorism and other violent threats to foreign policy and national security interests. Hence, the threats of the twenty-first century are no more a singular threat emanating from the Soviet Union or the Communist influence, but a multifold one—terrorism, ethnic and racial conflicts, issues of self-determination etc.
Terrorism is not a modern phenomenon. The admixture of religion and politics fomenting terrorism in many areas today has a counterpart in the Hashashin of the Middle Age. The statement that "one man's terrorist is another man's patriot" illustrates the historical continuum of conflict under which terrorism is operationally defined.
Terrorism has been an age-old phenomenon, but the changing methods and techniques that are employed today make it a more horrifying problem. New trends have surfaced in a variety of international struggles and contradictions coupled with marked alterations in their manifestations since the end of the Cold War. Ideology has always had an ambiguous relationship with terrorism. Theorists as well as practitioners of both the left and right ideologies have resorted to the use of what has been termed as 'terrorist' violence.
Over the past few decades, ethnic and/or religious contradictions have become the breeding centres for terrorist organisations, mostly in West Asia, South Asia and Europe. In the early twentieth century, most of the nation-states came into existence on the principle of self-determination. It means that every one of the thousands of nationalities on Earth should have its own state, but the problem with that is that a pure nation-state does not exist in nature.2 Primarily, this was a concept developed by US President Woodrow Wilson in his famous Fourteen Points, as the basis for the treaty ending World War I. However, his own Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, confided in his diary that self-determination would likely "breed discontent, disorder and rebellion", and that the phrase itself was "simply loaded with dynamite".3 That he was not incorrect is evident from the fact that most of the terrorist organisations that exist today are a product of such discontent and disorder within the society.
In the post-Cold War period, new pockets of ethnic violence have come about elsewhere, mostly in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Reasons for their emergence vary from political dissatisfaction to discriminatory tendencies on the part of a majority to a minority and so on. For example, in Bosnia, after the breakdown of the state, territorial claims, ethnic animosities and religious strife intertwined to fuel overall armed hostilities and other forms of extremism. And in some of the African countries, a scramble for political power between two ethnic groups resulted in terrorism being used as the chief form of struggle. Extremist trends of thought have always been a hotbed for terrorist activities, in varying degrees. Most international and domestic terrorism these days, however, is neither left nor right, but ethno-separatist in inspiration. Ethno-based terrorists4 have more power and strength than movements based on other aspects; they have a large reservoir of public support. These are groups formed on the basis of their common ethnic origin and history and they gather a much larger support base in their society. Hence, it is difficult to break these bonds compared to those of other groups, which are based on economic and political factors.
Terrorism is not particularly a phenomenon committed by individuals or groups. In fact, terrorism as a political term is derived from state terror. Some states are involved and are a total party in co-operation with few terrorist groups in the commissioning of terrorist acts. Nations such as Libya, and Syria have repeatedly been accused of involvement in state-sponsored terrorism.
However, the dawn of the modern age of terrorism dates back to September 5, 1972, when the Palestinian terrorists attacked the Israeli Olympic team in Munich. Followed by this, it has been a period of commercial airline hijacking, which culminated with the destruction of Pan Am aircraft 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Also, the explosion of the federal government building in Oklahoma City in the United States on April 19, 1995 was the most appalling bombing in US history. To come more recently, the suicide attacks carried out by Islamic extremists against the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam that killed 12 Americans and injured many more, had been the worst of the attacks. It is not merely the killing of 12 people or destruction of property but the impact that it inflicts on the minds of the people as also the political and economic costs for a nation. The terrorist expert Brian Jenkins recently wrote:
Terrorist acts cause crisis, provoke outrage, fray community ties, and undermine faith in our democratic institutions. Only six people died in the World Trade Center bombing. But such an event, if repeated annually, would put intolerable strains on our society.5
The threat of terrorism has much more implications at the international levels rather than at domestic levels where it impinges on the political setup of the country. International terrorism can:
l Destroy or delay peace processes;
l Provoke, prolong or entrench conflicts; and otherwise
l Accelerate the cycle of violence in areas of the world important to our national interest.6
New Aspects of International Terrorism
First, terrorists operate at an international level, no more concentrating on a particular region or a country. The wider threat posed to regional and international security by insurgents—by the enhanced ideological, technological and financial interaction with overseas insurgent groups—is slowly catching the world's attention. Today, actively or passively, the terrorist groups in any part of the globe, receive or derive vast economic, military and other forms of support from overseas, ranging from sanctuary, finance, weapons, and training from other governments, non-governmental organisations, and individuals. In reality, modern insurgents are no more groups but entities. They have their own investments, lawyers, ships and armies. They tap resources and expertise from a range of sources. The saturated arms market has become the centre of attraction for trans-national actors like the LTTE, PKK, Hamas, and others. Masters in improvisation of the weaponry system and explosives (suicide body suit, land mines, anti-personnel mines), the use of dual-use technology (civilian equipment that will enhance the performance of a militancy), and acquisition of area impact munitions (cluster bombs, fuel air explosives, multiple rocket launchers) by such sub-national actors have added a new dimension to terrorism and their warfare.
Another new aspect of terrorism is the growing possibility of terrorists making use of weapons of mass destruction—nuclear, biological and chemical. The terrorists, while carrying out a WMD attack, have to take four or five factors into account: 1) decision to obtain and use WMD; 2) acquisition of expertise, production equipment and material; 3) production of weapon; 4) testing; and 5) planning and conducting an atttack.7 Hence, the governments have to consider the threat of chemical weapons and biological toxins. The acquisition of equipment and materials necessary for the manufacture of these weapons is easy but has horrifying after-effects on the civilian population. It is the complexity involved in the making and employing of these weapons that makes its use in terrorist attacks unlikely; yet it would be much easier to generate fatal radioactive pollution by putting radio-active material in densely populated areas. The sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway I 1995 by Aum Shinrikyo, the apocalyptic Japanese sect, showed that the threat of chemical terrorism is now a reality. The one bio-terrorism incident that has occured, was in the United States in September 1984 by the religious cult, Rajneeshee, who had established a large base in Wasco County, Oregon. The same Aum Shinrikyo sect also had tried to use the biological agents in Japan three or four times. Till today, there have been 12 to 13 cases of bio-terrorism incidents (see Table).
The US has been actively engaged in programmes to look into the production and use of WMD—particularly nuclear weapons. Mr. William Cohen, US Secretary of Defence, indicated the readiness to increase allocations for developing and upgrading devices for monitoring and removing nuclear and bio-chemical pollution. In 1999, the Clinton administration has asked for $3 billion over a five-year period towards this cause, though the retired Navy Admiral William Crowe, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who conducted an investigation on US embassy security, believes that at least three times that amount is needed. This was strongly supported by Defence Secretary, William Cohen and David Carpenter, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security. Carpenter said that terrorism "has all attributes of a long-term security problem" and therefore, must be dealt with very seriously.
Table. Known Incidents of Bio-terrorism
Date Group Event
April 1997 Counter Holocaust Sent package falsely claiming that it Lobbyists of Zion contained anthrax.
February 1997 James Dalton Bell Advocated assassination of government officials and allegedly investigated toxins.
May 1992 Minnesota Patriots Council Plotted to assassinate law enforcement officials using rich toxin.
April 1990- Aum Shinrikyo Unsuccessfully tried to use botulinum March 1995 toxin and anthrax, causing no casualties.
Mid 1980s Tamil Secessionist Group in Threatened to spread pathogens to Sri Lanka infect humans and crops.
August- Rajneeshee Contaminated salad bars and infected September 1984 751 people.
October 1981 Dark Harvest Spread dirt contaminated with anthrax.
November 1980 Red Army Faction Reportedly tried to toxin manufacture botulinum toxin.
June 1976 "B.A. Fox" Threatened to mail ticks carrying pathogens.
January 1974 SLA Showed some interest in biological warfare.
January 1972 RISE Intended to contaminate Chicago water supply with typhoid.
November 1970 Weathermen Attempted to acquire biological agents to contaminate water systems.
1950s Mau Mau Used plant toxins to kill livestock.
Source: W. Seth Carus, 'The Threat of Bioterrorism', Indian Defence Review, vol. 13 (1) January-March 1998.
For many years, it had been thought that weapons of mass destruction did not serve the purpose of terrorists and it was not mass murder they wanted. John Deutch, one of the specialists in international relations, noted that "terrorists want a lot of people watching, not a lot of people dead." But in the modern age of terrorism, one sees a wider use of powerful explosives that attack mostly the civilian population. Thus, what has happened is, even though, 1996 represented a 25-year low in international terrorism, with reported incidents down from a peak of 665 in 1987 to 296 in 1996, there was a drastic rise in the number of casualties (311 people killed and 2,652 wounded).
Causes of Rising International Terrorism
It would be quite essential to study what are the causes and justifications for the increasing terrorist incidents. Besides having certain belief systems by which an individual justifies terrorist actions, there are a few other commitments to men and women who engage in this violence. Listed below are some of the identified factors that guide them to different types of terrorism.8
Rise of Fundamentalist Terror
It would be worthwhile to take note of the factors that led to the rise of fundamentalist tendencies in the late twentieth century. During the last half of the twentieth century, both the Shia and the Sunni branches of Islam have spawned fundamentalist movements that have sought to re-establish Muslim cultural and political autonomy in the Arab states of the Middle East and Africa. These aggressive, defiant movements have sought to throw off the yoke of Western influence, and they share the goal of establishing Shari'a—the religious law derived from the Koran—as the principled law of the land.
One finds that it was also the failure of the secular political parties to give Muslims a dominant position that made a great appeal for the fundamentalist Islam in the twentieth century. The existence of the state of Israel has become a symbol of this failure. Hence, for fundamentalists, "Islam is the solution".
Economic crisis and social unrest have played an important role in the rise of this form of terror. The Mujahideen who got recruited were mostly young people who were highly educated, but could not find employment in the stagnant economies of the Middle East and Africa.
Religious fanaticism: This is a derivation from the first point of the rise of fundamentalist terror. The Islamic Jihad proves to be one point of justification to their destructive power of a commitment to waging "holy" war based on religious principles. The so-called holy war waged by these fundamentalist groups have torn apart many nations and have caused the death or continued captivity of numerous Western hostages. They, through their religious fervour, have been responsible for the loss of hundreds or even thousands of lives. Their actions vary from the sabotaging of planes, storming of temples, waging of guerilla warfare, all in the name of religion. In the name of Allah, rivers and streams of blood have flowed, and will continue to flow, for these religious fanatics are seldom ever satisfied by any gains. The religious zealot committing an act of terrorism is assured by his religion and other leaders that his acts are acceptable to a "higher morality" than may currently exist. The religious fanatic is also assured of immortality and a suitable reward in an afterlife if he or she should die in the commission of the act of terrorism.
Anarchism: There are still few groups who follow strictly this cause. The Japanese Red Army is one group, which has espoused anarchistic feelings. Such groups have tended to be small and short-lived, probably because of their goals that are somewhat nebulous and they find it difficult to induct others into their ranks. Anarchism's more extreme form, nihilism, in which the destruction of all structure and form of society is sought, still exists as an ideology among certain Western European terrorist groups.
Neo-nazism and Neo-fascism: In recent years, there have been several groups coming up in the United States and in Western States and in Western Europe, that have embraced a neo-fascist doctrine. In the United States, for example, the Aryan Nations and its splinter groups like the Order, the White Patriots Party, the Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord have been involved in armed conflict with the authorities and have been responsible for several bombings in which innocent people were killed.
Separatism: Seeking separation from an existing state, is also a major theme. Some of the well-known groups are the Tamil group, LTTE in Sri Lanka for a separate Tamil Eelam and the ETA, the Basque separatists who seek independence or at least autonomy from Spain. They, sometimes use deadly weapons to evoke fear, anxiety among the common men and create pressure on their minds for separation. Creating absolute panic in the minds of the people is mostly the objective of most of the terrorist incidents and most mass killings or destruction of property. The psychological fear is created so as to have an increased effect on their demand for separation etc. In Spain, they have used bombs and machine guns to try to force the Spanish government to accede to their demands for independence. This is exactly what has been happening in Sri Lanka too.
Nationalism: It is a difficult task to make a distinction between a nationalist movement and a separatist movement as a motivator of terrorism. The separating line between the movements is quite unclear. Groups whose motivation is nationalism "are those who seek for their portion of society, which is usually but not always a minority, control of the system of government and the allocation of resources within that nation-state".9 Such groups do not seek independence or separation from the nation.
Issue Orientation: In the last few years, a number of issues have aroused such violent sentiments that adherents to one side or another have resorted to terrorist violence to enforce their beliefs. Abortion is one such issue, where opponents have actually bombed abortion clinics and shot the workers in those clinics. Another group has been that of the environmentalists and animal-protection activists. Towards the end of the twentieth century, they have increasingly become militant in their insistance that such protection is crucial and worth fighting for. 'Earth Now', one militant environmental group in the United States, rationalised that if it was necessary to kill people to save the trees, then they would be "justified" in killing people. The issue of nuclear power and nuclear weapons too has provoked violence.
Ideological mercenaries. The legendary Illich Ramirez Sanchez, known better to the world as "Carlos", and recently as Abu Nidal Organisation has given rise to a new phenomenon of "terrorist-for-hire". The arrest of "Carlos" from his abode in Sudan and his removal to France for trial indicate that the next century may have less tolerance, politically, for such individuals in a world in which nations no longer can count on a cold war to protect them from direct intervention by a stronger nation if they harbour a big and strong mercenary.
Pathological terrorists: There are also some people who kill and terrorise for the sheer joy of terrorising, not for any cause or belief. They have no cause; but are the sick and perverted individuals, who do things for the heck of it. Frederick Hacker calls them "Crazies".10 Crazies are emotionally disturbed individuals who are driven to commit terrorism by reasons of their own that often do not make any sense to anybody else.
Counter-terror terrorists: Probably the most frightening development towards the end of the twentieth century is the rise of so-called counter-terror terrorists. Several countries in Central and South America have fallen prey to the lure of counter-terror tactics to control terrorism.11
Thus, ultimately, the target and aim of all categories of terrorists is to pose a threat to those they consider oppressors, enemies, and obstacles in the achievement of their goals. Their tactics include hijacking, blackmail ruthless killing by shooting and use of bombs etc. Terrorist groups are generally small, to facilitate functioning successfully against governments. Therefore, violence is not their immediate goal and that is why they insist upon creating psychological fear rather than practical results. They simply want to create panic in the minds of people, at times, to a level where the government cannot really tackle the issue. Slow destabilisation of the government is another after-effect of this increasing violence in the society. This also forms part of the objective of the terrorists. The purpose of terrorism, therefore, is to create an emotional state of extreme fear among specific groups, and thereby, ultimately alter their behaviour and disposition, or bring about a general or particular change in the structure of society and government.12
At this point of time, one wonders what is the way out from these attacks. The conclusion would be until and unless the roots of terrorism are attacked, only superficial relief could be hoped for. It is to be emphasised that the roots of terrorism lie in basic attitudes towards the use of violence against fellow human beings. Thus, the inculcation of democratic values would end the use of terrorist acts for political purposes.
In response to changing terrorist threat, and also a changing national security environment, it is quite essential that the basic elements of the counter-terrorism policy be changed and kept in pace. Experts on international terrorism A Behm and M. Palmer put forward five basic elements as part of the strategy to combat terrorism.
1. Comprehensive and co-ordinated prevention and response capabilities.
2. A firm negotiating policy of no concessions on substantive terrorist demands.
3. A negotiating and operational policy aimed at maximising uncertainty for the terrorists.
4. The maintenance of effective national criminal provisions where terrorism is always treated as a crime.
5. The maintenance of effective international instruments that ensure the prosecution of terrorists without exception, and no safe havens.13
An effective, coherent policy at the national, bilateral and multilateral levels is highly recommended to tackle this big menace of terrorism.
Responses from India and the US
The widespread terrorist activities in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia force the US and India to recognise terrorism as an international threat to all democracies. In the last one year or so, South Asia has become increasingly vulnerable to Islamic fundamentalism, with Afghanistan-Pakistan becoming the epicentre of terrorist activities. The US Annual Report on Terrorism, Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999, pointed out that in 1999 the locus of terrorism directed against the United States had shifted from the Middle East to South Asia.14 In 1999, Pakistan was close to being named as a state sponsor of terrorism. It was not done primarily for the reason that Pakistan has been an old friend and ally of the United States. However, Pakistan's relationship with the Taliban and the militant groups active in Kashmir is a matter of concern for the US and India. In fact, Michael Sheehan, US State Department Co-ordinator for Terrorism, has stated that the United States keeps a serious watch on Pakistan and that it will continue to be under "serious and constant review".15 Regarding the role of Pakistan in sponsoring terrorism cited in the annual report of the State Department, Pakistan Information Minister Javed Jabbar expectedly dismissed them as "erroneous and misleading conclusions."16
Sheehan said that Pakistan was not included in the terrorist list also for the reason that Pakistan carried a mixed response to the issue of terrorism. Remarking on the findings of the US Congress's Blue Ribbon Commission on terrorism, Sheehan said that Pakistan's record on co-operating on counter-terrorism remains a mixed one. He added that "despite significant and material co-operation in some areas—particularly arrest and extraditions—Pakistan has also tolerated terrorists living and moving freely within its territory."17 The US could follow two types of policy with regard to this issue. Either keep Pakistan at a distance and impose sanctions on it for its non-democratic political set-up and continued support to terrorists, or follow a policy of engagement through which Pakistan is kept within the US' foreign policy reach, and at the same time tighten the grip on Pakistan, as and when the situation so warrants.
Analysing the rise of militancy by Pakistan, Sheehan makes a point that it is Pakistan's political and economic difficulties and the ensuing damage to its institutions that have provided a fertile ground for terrorism.18 Collapse of the educational system has further forced the poor to seek education provided by the Pakistani religious schools (madarasas), which is the training ground for militancy. These schools, some of them at least, inculcate religious extremism and also anti-Americanism and anti-Indian feelings in their minds. The United States has continued its repeated requests to Islamabad to end its support for elements harbouring and training terrorists in Afghanistan and urged the Government of Pakistan to close certain madarasas that serve as conduits for terrorism. Reports have also indicated that there is official Pakistani support for Kashmiri militant groups, such as the Hizbul Mujahideen, and Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM) that have been engaged in terrorism. Several reports, including the one brought out by the US National Commission on Terrorism,19 have said that Pakistan provides a safe haven, and transit and moral, political and diplomatic support to several groups engaged in terrorism. Pakistan has also very openly said that it will continue to support those who are fighting for Kashmir. Federal Minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas Affairs, Abbas Sarfaz Khan reiterated that Pakistan would continue moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris, struggling for the right to self-determination.20 This explains the Pakistani support to militancy in Kashmir and elsewhere by Hizbul Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Ansar or Osama bin Laden against India as well the United States.
The Taliban continue to provide safe haven for international terrorists, particularly Osama bin Laden and his network, in the portions of Afghanistan they control. Despite the serious and ongoing dialogue between the Taliban and the United States, Taliban leadership has refused to comply with a unanimously adopted UNSC resolution demanding that they turn Osama bin Laden over to a country where he can be brought to justice. Pakistan can act significantly on this front. The US has had a long history of friendship with Pakistan since the Cold War years and thus it should be much easier for the US to bring Pakistan into a co-operative framework on counter-terrorism.
It is here that India and the United States need to co-operate on the issue of terrorism. First, both India and the United States have a long tradition of democracy as the basic political norm and terrorism does not fit into the democratic framework at all. Also, the two countries have had a secular bent of mind, which opposes any form of extremism. Therefore, both share similar political values and an abhorrence to all kinds of terrorism.
Yet another reason for Indo-US co-operation on this front is because of the fact that both the countries have been the declared enemies of Islamic fundamentalism, as declared by Osama bin Laden and other militant groups like Jihad Group in Egypt, Islamic Group, Jihad Movement in Bangladesh etc.21 These groups feel that the Americans have been entering the land of Islam, the holiest places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighbouring Muslim peoples.
Hence, any strategy evolving to combat terrorism has to attack the issue at its base level i.e., their complex links with other groups across the world to meet their needs of fund-raising, procurement of weapons, maintenance of training camps etc. As Sheehan pointed out, there has to be a strategy of "draining the swamp" and some of the key principles involved are:
l We pressure state sponsors, isolating them from the international community.
l We criminalise terrorism through the process of designating Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTOs).
l We de-politicise the message of terrorism through public statements separating actor from action.
l We build international consensus for zero tolerance by working with our G-8 and EU partners.
l We support the construction of an international legal framework to allow states and the UN, EU, OAS, and other organisations to legally be tough on terrorism.
l We work bilaterally to arrest, disrupt, and expel terrorists.
l Finally, we bolster the capacity of those countries that need it to fight terrorism, through our international training programme, which are run by state, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies.22
Through the strategy of "draining the swamp", the mobility of the terrorists are restricted and they could get easily exposed. This needs to be an important component in the Indo-US counter-terrorism strategy. This process would also bring pressure on the states and governments that provide material and moral support to terrorists. However, this necessitates a well co-ordinated international effort to pressure certain regimes like that of Taliban in Afghanistan that provide a safe haven for Osama bin Laden and other related groups that operate in and around Pakistan. As one scholar puts it, there has to be a determined policy to check all sources of terrorism within the domestic polity along with the building up of an international consensus on international terrorism by all nations (at least who have been victims of this menace).
Draining the swamp would also mean including a shift in the public rhetoric. Very often one hears terrorists being called freedom fighters. One has often heard the clarification and differentiation that General Musharraf has made between terrorists and freedom fighters and terms jihad as legitimate. In a recent interview with the New York Times magazine, General Musharraf said that, unlike the State Department, he did not consider Harkat-ul-Mujahideen as a terrorist organisation; it is a freedom fighters' group.23 When the leader of the nation offers this kind of a statement, what more support could the terrorists ask for? International community offers groups legitimate means of expression, but violence and terrorism are not to be considered as legitimate ones. Just because the terrorists put forward a political or religious view does not mean violent acts are justified. They are to be viewed as simple and plain crimes committed by those groups and proper action needs to be taken against them.
Modern terrorism includes a variety of tactics like intelligence gathering, intensified security measures, and the use of force. Thus, gaining international support for multilateral treaties in combatting terrorism is a very important goal for India and the United States. For most governments, the key question is how to fight against terrorism. There are, at present, eleven multilateral conventions related to states' responsibility in combatting terrorism and India and the United States are party to most of these conventions. They are as listed below:
1. Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (Tokyo Convention, agreed 9/63—safety of aviation);
2. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft (Hague Convention, agreed 12/70—aircraft hijackings);
3. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation (Montreal Convention, agreed 9/71—applies to acts of aviation sabotage such as bombing aboard aircraft in flight);
4. Convention on the prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons (agreed 12/73—protects senior government officials and diplomats);
5. Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (Nuclear Materials Convention, agreed 10/79, combats unlawful taking and use of nuclear material);
6. International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages (Hostages Convention, agreed 12/79);
7. Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation (agreed 2/88—extends and supplements Montreal Convention);
8. Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (agreed 3/88—applies to terrorist activities on ships);
9. Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf (agreed 3/88—applies to terrorist activities on fixed offshore platforms);
10. Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Identification (agreed 3/91—provides for chemical marking to facilitate detection of plastic explosives, e.g., to combat aircraft sabotage);
11. International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing (agreed 12/97—expands the legal framework for international cooperation in the investigation, prosecution, and extradition of persons who engage in terrorist bombings.24
However, over the past few decades, the government and security forces have become more sophisticated in their approach to terrorist attacks. The modern terrorists, as one of India's earlier Prime Ministers I.K. Gujral said, "have access to not only funds but also the most sophisticated technology"25 and as a result, the government needs to update their technology to stay ahead of the terrorists. The trouble is when the terrorists have committed to the use of suicide bombers (Hamas, Hizbollah, LTTE) and nerve gas as in the Tokyo subway in the 1990s, much needs to be done by the international community on the counter-terrorism front. The US and India, on combatting terrorism, need to take a few factors into consideration:
l To carefully examine important incidents and prepare detailed action oriented reports for those areas.
l To build a sophisticated communication network as part of a wider modernisation drive which gives access to the latest technology.
l Better management of local contacts, their support bases and sources of funding.
l To develop new techniques of security and the maintenance of secrecy.
l A need to have specialists in affected areas.
l To develop capability to anticipate security needs.26
It is only in the 1990s with a wide spurt of terrorist attacks that the US has decided to come up with definite policies on terrorism. Listing of certain groups as terrorist organisations, as per the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, has been a major step in this line. President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State, Ms. Madeline Albright have said that this step would ensure that the terrorist groups do not get any kind of support from the United States, and make the US totally a "no-support-for terrorism zone".
One important element in combatting terrorism would be to ensure that the terrorists do not get any support from outside—be it in terms of arms, money, training or even moral support. Terrorist groups who operate at local level cannot create as much damage to the society as those who receive external aid. However, one reality with regard to terrorist groups is their complex and wide network all over the world.20 For example, LTTE has its strong presence, by way of offices and cells, in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, South Africa, and recently in Thailand too. The latest report in Jane's Intelligence Review confirms the LTTE presence in Thailand.27 They engage themselves in activities related to fund-raising, propaganda, procurement and transfer of weapons etc. The network in South Africa is quite a strong and matured one with a full-fledged Tiger Brigade, LTTE Baby Brigade, Female Brigade forces etc, enabling training facilities and more importantly fund-raising activities through a large section of the Tamil Diaspora in South Africa. Until and unless these host states stop these slimy activities and take up a sincere and truthful role to put an end to such activities, these groups will carry on their activities very successfully as they have been doing for decades. It is really a hard task to break into those complexities and cut off their world-wide linkages.
In January 2000, the United States and India agreed to establish a Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism.28 The agreement was announced following meetings between Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott and Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh in London. The inaugural meeting of the US-India Counter-terrorism Working Group was held in Washington. Both delegations included an interagency group of counter-terrorism and law enforcement officials. The two sides expressed concern at the growing menace of international terrorism, extremism, and drug trafficking. The two sides unequivocally condemned all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious, or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.29 The two sides also agreed to intensify their joint cooperation to ensure that the perpetrators of the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814 are brought to justice, as part of their joint efforts to combat international terrorism.
Inter-agency teams from the two countries agreed on a range of measures to enhance cooperation between the two countries to combat international terrorism. The two sides would share experience, exchange information, and coordinate approaches and action. This working group is intended to enhance the effectiveness of our efforts to counter international terrorism world-wide. The next meeting of the US-India Counter-terrorism Working Group will be held in India on mutually agreed dates.
The Indian Government agreed to the US offer of Anti-terrorism Assistance programmes. Intelligence gathering and sharing of vital information between India and the United States should be important components in their efforts on counter-terrorism. Both India and the United States have a shared interest in strengthening a regime to counter international terrorism. This mutual interest in countering terrorism should be the ideal platform for a rich, enhanced cooperation between India and the United States.
1. The full text of the announcement by President Bill Clinton that the United States had attacked a terrorist base in Afghanistan and a chemical weapons-related facility in Sudan, as recorded by the Federal Document Clearing House, International Herald Tribune, August 21, 1998.
2. This theme of self-determination and ethnic conflict has been well brought out by Strobe Talbott in his article "Self-Determination in an Interdependent World", Foreign Policy, Spring 2000, pp. 152-163.
3. Ibid., p. 153.
4. Ethno-based terrorists are a group of people who resort to violence and various other forms of extremism based on ethnic or religious roots. These people have a large support base in the society as the group is formed on the basis of such ethnic ties, which are very strong in nature. The bonds that emerge through factors of birth do not wither away that easily.
5. Speech of Ambassador Michael Sheehan, "Post-Millennium Terrorism Review" at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., February 10, 2000.
6. Speech of Ambassador Michael Sheehan, "Post-Millennium Terrorism Review" at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., February 10, 2000.
7. Francis H. Marlo, "WMD Terrorism and Intelligence Collection", Terrorism and Political Violence, vol. 11, no. 3, Autumn 1999, p. 56.
8. Frederick J. Hacker, Crusaders, Criminals, Crazies: Terror and Terrorism in Our Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1978).
9. Cindy C. Combs, Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997), p. 49.
10. Frederick J. Hacker, Crusaders, Criminals, Crazies: Terror and Terrorism in Our Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1978).
12. Sudhir Hindwan, "Combatting Terrorism: Lessons From Around the World", Peace Initiatives, May-June 1997, pp. 70-81.
13. Allan J. Behm and Michael J. Palmer, "Coordinating Counterterrorism: A Strategic Approach to a Changing Threat", Terrorism, vol. 14, pp. 190-91.
14. US State Department, Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999 (Washington, D.C., 2000).
15. "Terrorism issue: Pakistan has mixed record, says US", Dawn, June 18, 2000.
16. "US allegations baseless, says Jabbar", Nation, June 7, 2000.
17. "Terrorism issue: Pakistan has mixed record, says US", Dawn, June 18, 2000.
18. "Pak—a fertile ground for jehad factories: US", The Hindu, July 14, 2000.
19. US National Commission was set up by the Congress in 1998 after the bombings of the two US embassies in East Africa. The commission has found that even if Pakistan cooperated in counter-terrorism efforts, it was never a consistent one. Pakistan and Greece are under the category of "not cooperating fully" and these states do face an US embargo on arms sales.
20. "Pakistan to continue supporting Kashmiris, says minister", The News International, April 13, 2000.
21. "Text of Fatwah Urging Jihad Against Americans", Published in Al-Quds al-'Arabi on February 23, 1998.
22. Speech of Ambassador Michael Sheehan, "Post-Millennium Terrorism Review" at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., February 10, 2000.
23. "State of Pak-US ties", Dawn, June 27, 2000.
24. US Department of State, "International Terrorism Conventions", Released by the Office for Counterterrorism, August 17, 1998.
25. Sudhir Hindwan, "Combating Terrorism: Lessons From Around the World", Peace Initiatives, May-June 1997, p. 80.
26. Some of the suggestions have been taken from Sudhir Hindwan, "Combating Terrorism: Lessons From Around the World", Peace Initiatives, May-June 1997, p. 80.
27. Anthony Davis, "Bangkok discovers LTTE logistics cell", Jane's Intelligence Review, vol. 12, no. 11, July 2000, p. 3.
28. US Department of State, Office of the Spokesman, Press Statement by James P. Rubin, "Joint US-India Statement on Counter-terrorism Working Group," February 8, 2000.