Chapter 2 -- Country Reports: South and Central Asia Overview
“May I emphasize, ladies and gentlemen, that we were the prime victim of terrorism and terrorism was never, nor is it today, a homegrown phenomenon in Afghanistan. Therefore, this threat can only be overcome if addressed appropriately across its regional international dimensions.…Recognizing that constructive regional cooperation is vital to a successful counterterrorism strategy, we proposed the holding of Joint Peace Jirgas between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and we were pleased for the support that this initiative has received from our friends in the international community.”
–Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Statement, 62nd UN General Assembly, New York
September 25, 2007
Terrorism remained a serious problem in the region, directly and indirectly threatening American interests and lives. Increasingly, South and Central Asian terrorists expanded their operations and networks across the region and beyond. To varying degrees, U.S. cooperation with regional partners on counterterrorism issues continued to increase, but much is left to be accomplished.
Despite progress in Afghanistan, the Taliban-led insurgency remained strong and resilient in the South and East. Although the insurgency absorbed heavy combat and leadership losses, its ability to recruit foot soldiers from its core base of rural Pashtuns remained undiminished.
Pakistan continued to suffer from rising militancy and extremism. The United States remained concerned that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan were being used as a safe haven for AQ terrorists, Afghan insurgents, and other extremists.
Terrorists staged numerous attacks in India and continued to foment terrorist ideology. India continued to rank among the world’s most terror-afflicted countries. Terrorists, separatists, and extremists took more than 2,300 lives this year. Although clearly committed to combating violent extremism, the Indian government's counterterrorism efforts were hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems.
Neighboring Bangladesh continued to arrest extremists, but porous borders and internal political strife threatened the progress made against violent extremists. Although the Caretaker Government made a concerted effort to crack down on corruption and address the root causes of violent extremism within its borders, mistrust between Bangladesh and India stymied potential counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries.
In Sri Lanka, both the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the government engaged in numerous violations of the 2002 Cease-fire Agreement that left more than 5,000 people dead since hostilities started again in 2006. The LTTE reverted to targeting civilians in bus bombings and claymore mine attacks, while the government used anti-LTTE paramilitaries to terrorize citizens suspected of having ties to the Tigers. Both the LTTE and armed groups allied to the government engaged in wide-spread human rights abuses including extra-judicial killings, abductions, and extortion.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) briefly entered into a coalition with the government in the spring, withdrew from the coalition in September, and rejoined the government in December. The Maoists continued to engage in violence, extortion, and abductions, and tensions remained high throughout the year. Various separatist groups fought with the government as well as with each other as crime, abductions, and general lawlessness were evident throughout Nepal.
A sustained commitment to counterterrorism by Central Asian states resulted in relatively few terrorist attacks. With U.S. support, Central Asian states have undertaken to improve the capabilities of their border forces and build new border posts to impede terrorist movements and interdict drug smuggling, some of which financed terrorism in the region. The sheer length of the border and local corruption remained obstacles in Central Asia's efforts to control its borders, however. More widely, popular grievances over governance and poor economic growth enhanced the conditions that terrorists and other extremists could exploit to recruit and operate in some parts of the region, such as the Ferghana valley.
Central Asia's most significant terrorist organizations include the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and a splinter group, the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG). However, radical extremist groups such as Hizbut-Tahrir (HT) foment an anti-Semitic, anti-Western ideology that may indirectly generate support for terrorism. HT, an extremist political movement advocating the establishment of a borderless, theocratic Islamic state throughout the entire Muslim world, has followers in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and elsewhere. The United States has no evidence that HT has committed any acts of international terrorism, but the group's radical anti-American and anti-Semitic ideology is sympathetic to acts of violence against the United States and its allies. HT has publicly called on Muslims to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight Coalition Forces.
Afghanistan struggled to build a stable, democratic, and tolerant government in the face of vicious attacks by the Taliban and related groups on Coalition Forces, civilians, international NGOs, and other soft targets, most notably through suicide bombings. Supported by the international community, the Afghan government has made suppression of terrorism and establishment of effective law-enforcement mechanisms a high priority. The Afghan government reached out to neighboring Pakistan through a Joint Peace Jirga to find ways to root out economic and social factors contributing to terrorism. Reconciliation of low- and mid-level insurgents remained a high priority, and the Program for Strengthening Peace and Reconciliation (PTS) has brought in over 5,000 Taliban and other insurgents who have wearied from the violence and lack of opportunity offered by extremism. The Government of Afghanistan was exploring additional efforts to strengthen and expand PTS reconciliation efforts.
The Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) program, the follow-on to the earlier Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) program, has disbanded 161 illegal armed groups and collected almost 36,000 weapons in 62 districts since its inception in March 2005. In April 2007, in an effort to achieve greater local government support, DIAG began offering development assistance to qualifying districts. DIAG operations expanded, intensifying efforts to build political will at the provincial and local levels to target the more threatening illegal armed groups.
In 2006, the Combined Joint Task Force (then CJTF-76), which had led the Coalition Forces' campaigns against terrorism, turned this responsibility over to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The ISAF used a combination of effective counterinsurgency means and methods, including synchronized use of combat (air and ground forces) and non-combat means (building civil governance and aiding reconstruction and development) to fight terrorism, extremism, and attempts to undermine the constitutionally constituted government. The careful targeting of insurgent leaders and insurgent centers, and proactive operations against them, were aimed at eliminating terrorists and facilitating the flow of reconstruction and development. The increasingly professional and effective Afghan National Army (ANA), and to a lesser extent, the Afghan National Police (ANP), more often took the lead in counterterrorism operations and cooperated closely with the United States. In December, the ANA combined with UK and U.S. forces to retake the Taliban-held town of Musa Qala in southern Helmand Province.
New integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency approaches in the east, particularly Nangarhar, have begun to yield successes. Despite progress, the Taliban-led insurgency remained a capable, determined, and resilient threat to stability and to the expansion of government authority, particularly in the Pashtun south and east. The insurgency continued to suffer heavy combat losses, including senior leaders, but its ability to obtain AQ support and recruit soldiers from its core base of rural Pashtuns remained undiminished. Taliban information operations were increasingly aggressive and sophisticated.
Streams of Taliban financing from across the border in Pakistan, along with funds gained from narcotics trafficking and kidnapping, have allowed the insurgency to strengthen its military and technical capabilities. At a Joint Peace Jirga held in August, Pakistani President Musharraf acknowledged that support to the Afghanistan insurgency was being provided from within Pakistani territory.
The Taliban continued to target police, police recruits, government ministers, parliamentarians, civil servants, and civilians, including urban crowds, in numerous violent incidents. Having increased the use of improvised explosive devices, suicide bombings became both more numerous and more costly in terms of innocent lives lost. According to media reports of UN- compiled figures, terrorists launched approximately 140 suicide bombing attacks this year, inflicting large numbers of civilian casualties.
Terrorists, often supported by criminal gangs, have also increasingly turned to kidnapping foreigners, most notably the July abduction of South Korean missionary aid workers. This kidnapping was an attempt to extort ransom as well as to make a political point; the Taliban killed two hostages before releasing the remaining 21 after talks with the Afghan and South Korean governments.
Insurgents also targeted international NGOs, UN workers, and recipients of NGO assistance. They attacked teachers, pupils (especially girls), and schools. They also threatened and often brutally killed those who worked for religious tolerance, including ex-insurgents, tribal leaders, and moderate imams, mullahs, and religious scholars. The Taliban coupled threats and attacks against NGOs with continued targeting of Provincial Reconstruction Teams, de-mining teams, and construction crews on road and other infrastructure projects.
Bangladesh continued to arrest dozens of alleged members of Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB), the banned Islamic extremist group responsible for a wave of bombings and suicide attacks in late 2005, and recovered bomb-making materials and weapons from their hideouts. The arrests, combined with the execution in March of six senior JMB leaders, appeared to have depleted the membership of the organization. Although there was speculation that JMB remnants might try to reorganize to launch a new wave of attacks, no such terror campaign unfolded.
On May 1, three small bombs went off at railroad stations in the major cities of Dhaka, Chittagong, and Sylhet. Authorities found a message signed by "Zadid al-Qa’ida" at each of the sites threatening non-governmental agencies if they did not leave Bangladesh within ten days. The deadline passed without incident and it remained unclear who was responsible for the attacks.
Neighboring India continued to allege that the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and other anti-India insurgency groups operated from Bangladesh with the knowledge of senior Bangladeshi government officials. India also blamed the terrorist group Harakat ul-Jihadi-Islami-Bangladesh (HUJI-B) for bomb attacks in the city of Hyderabad in May and August. Bangladesh strongly denied these allegations. The absence of counterterrorism cooperation between India and Bangladesh fueled mutual allegations that each country facilitated terrorism inside the borders of the other.
Bangladesh's caretaker government pledged to pass a series of amendments that would strengthen Bangladesh's Anti-Money Laundering Act and a draft Anti-Terrorism Act, but failed to do so by the end of the year. The legislation would help Bangladesh enter Egmont, the international body of Financial Intelligence Units that plays a critical role in fighting terror financing.
The caretaker government took a strong stance against corruption and arrested many leading politicians and businessmen on graft charges. The United States launched a $20 million, five-year anti-corruption program in Bangladesh to further transparency and good governance efforts, necessary foundations for counterterrorism activity.
U.S. and Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies cooperated well on several cases related to domestic and international terrorism. The United States continued to fund Antiterrorism Assistance programs for Bangladeshi security forces. Bangladesh also continued cooperation with the United States to strengthen control of its borders and land, sea, and air ports of entry.
India continued to rank among the world’s most terror-afflicted countries. The conflict in Jammu and Kashmir, attacks by extreme leftist Naxalites and Maoists in eastern and central India, assaults by ethno-linguistic nationalists in the northeastern states, and terrorist strikes nationwide by Islamic extremists took more than 2,300 lives this year. The Indian government's counterterrorism efforts remained hampered by outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems. The Indian court system was slow, laborious, and prone to corruption; terrorism trials can take years to complete. Many of India's local police forces were poorly staffed, lacked training, and were ill-equipped to combat terrorism effectively.
The Indian government accused Islamic extremists for the following terrorist attacks:
- The February 19 attack on the Friendship Train service between New Delhi and Lahore, Pakistan that killed dozens;
- The May 18 bomb blast at the Mecca Masjid (Mosque) in Hyderabad that killed eleven;
- The August 25 nearly simultaneous explosions on at an amusement park and a market in Hyderabad that killed dozens;
- The October 11 blast at a Sufi mosque in Ajmer, Rajasthan, that killed three;
- The October 14 explosion in a cinema in Ludhiana, Punjab, that killed seven; and
- The November 23 three simultaneous explosions on in judicial complexes in Lucknow, Varanasi, and Faizabad (all in Uttar Pradesh) that killed 13.
These attacks, which killed and injured both Muslims and Hindus, were probably conducted by extremists hoping to incite anger between the Hindu and Muslim communities. Indian officials claim that the perpetrators of these attacks have links to groups based in Pakistan and Bangladesh, particularly Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami, among others.
These groups also have links to terrorist activity in Jammu and Kashmir. The number of civilians killed were approximately half of that in the previous year. In May, the Indian government acknowledged that the level of infiltration across the Line of Control had fallen, but noted that insurgents had in some case shifted routes to enter India through Bangladesh and Nepal. Attacks in Kashmir continued. For example, on October 11, two civilians and five soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device (IED), and on July 29, six people were killed when a bomb exploded on a tourist bus.
The Government of India is very concerned with the threat from leftist extremist (Maoist or agrarian Naxalite) groups to India’s internal stability and democratic culture. Leftist extremist groups were very active in wide areas of impoverished rural eastern and central India, and also operated in parts of southern India. Hundreds of people were killed in conflicts between the government and various leftist extremist groups, such as the Naxalites and the Communist Party of India; Maoists (CPI-Maoists) and the government; and between the groups themselves. There were at least 971 Naxalite attacks in the first seven months of the year, approximately equal to that of the entire previous year. Leftist extremists were highly active across a wide swath of India, including the states of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal. They were also active in some areas of Orissa, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. Extremists have targeted elected officials: On March 4, CPI-Maoists shot a Member of Parliament from Jharkhand and five others during a soccer game, and on August 25, leftist extremists killed the son of a former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh during a cultural performance in the city of Hyderabad. Ethnic-linguistic separatist groups were responsible for numerous attacks in Northeastern India, particularly in the states of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, and Meghalaya.
Several proscribed terrorist groups operated in the northeast, including the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the People’s Liberation Army. At least 850 died in conflicts between dozens of insurgent groups and security forces, and in conflicts between the groups.
Lack of security, remoteness, and inhospitable terrain combined to prevent the government from providing security and other basic services in many of the areas in which the leftist extremists and the northeastern separatist groups operated. Both types of groups increased the level of sophistication of attacks this year by using satellite phones and sophisticated IEDs. In some districts, they took control of a large proportion of the territory, making it impossible for government service providers to enter the area. Infighting, particularly among groups in the northeast, may have slowed the increase in the attacks, but poverty and isolation combined to make the rural, mountainous, and forested areas of India vulnerable to both the Maoists and those who claimed to be fighting for liberation in the northeast.
The United States-India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group (CTJWG) has met nine times since its creation in 2000, most recently on November 28. India participated in CTJWGs with 15 other countries, and in multilateral CTJWGs with the EU and with the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, an organization that promotes economic cooperation among Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal. In October, the Indian government held the second round of consultations with Pakistan under the bilateral counterterrorism joint mechanism, and hosted a ministerial level meeting of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation on Counterterrorism.
Kazakhstan continued to aggressively combat terrorism and extremism locally and strengthened its cooperation and timeliness in sharing information with the United States. There was little movement, however, on counterterrorism legislation, and the long-delayed draft law on money laundering remained stalled in Parliament. In June, Kazakhstan hosted over 50 partners for the third meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
In April, authorities began Kazakhstan’s first ever trial concerning the financing of terrorism. According to press reports, the trial involved two leaders of the banned East Turkistan Islamic Party and an unnamed organization in Central Asia. In April, authorities arrested approximately 20 people in Shymkent and other cities, accusing the individuals of organizing terrorist acts against Special Services’ employees. In July, a trial began in the case of ten members of a radical Islamic Wahabi group suspected of organizing terrorist acts in and around Astana and Almaty. Also in July, an Almaty court sentenced ten individuals from the terrorist group Jamaat Muhadjir, who were detained in 2006, on allegations of planning a series of terrorist attacks. Nine of the individuals were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to twenty-five years. According to press reports, there is one Kazakhstani national being detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
The Islamic extremist group Hizbut Tahrir (HT) remained the only group designated and outlawed as an "extremist" organization under the Law on Extremism. There were several instances of arrests of individuals associated with HT, as well as the confiscation of printed materials and electronic media. In August, a closed trial began against 30 members of HT arrested in December 2006 on accusations of activities in support of a banned extremist organization, the stirring of national and religious enmity, and establishing an organized criminal group. The list of fourteen banned terrorist organizations was unchanged from 2006.1
Kazakhstan, with China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which established a Regional Antiterrorism Center in Tashkent. Kazakhstan is also a member of the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasia Group, a regional anti-money laundering organization modeled on the Financial Action Task Force, with the objective of integrating Kazakhstan, Belarus, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia, and Uzbekistan into the global system of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.
The Kyrgyz Republic took political, legislative, and law enforcement steps to disrupt and deter terrorism. Since 2001, Kyrgyzstan has hosted the Operation Enduring Freedom Coalition airbase at Manas International Airport near Bishkek. In October 2006, Kyrgyzstan adopted an antiterrorism law that provided for establishment of an antiterrorism center to coordinate the activities of state agencies and facilitate international cooperation. In November 2006, President Bakiyev signed a comprehensive law on “Counteracting Terrorist Financing and Legalization (Money Laundering) of Proceeds from Crime.” The law obligates financial institutions to report any suspicious activity and bank transactions that exceed the threshold of $25,000. The law also established a Financial Intelligence Service, an administrative body charged with collecting and analyzing information related to financial transactions, developing systems to prevent and detect suspicious transactions, and submitting cases to the prosecutor's office for further action.
Kyrgyzstan’s military and internal forces worked to improve their counterterrorism capabilities and to expand cooperation with regional partners. Kyrgyzstan is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Cooperative Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which established lists of banned terrorist groups in an effort to streamline cooperation. With U.S. assistance, the Kyrgyz National Guard opened a counterterrorism training facility. Also in December, the Ministry of Defense opened a U.S.-funded facility to house a non-commissioned officers academy.
While Nepal experienced no significant acts of international terrorism, several incidents of domestic terrorism and politically-motivated violence occurred in urban areas and in the Terai. In 2007, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists), a designated organization on the Terrorism Exclusion List (TEL), became part of the interim government. Despite ending their ten-year insurgency by signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in November 2006, and entering into the interim government in April 2007, the Maoists, the only U.S.-designated terrorist organization in Nepal, continued to engage in violence, extortion, and abductions. The Maoists withdrew their ministers from the interim government between September and December, but left their members in place in the interim Parliament. The government failed to hold the Maoists accountable for violating the peace process, and law enforcement efforts against terrorist activity were minimal. The Maoist People's Liberation Army (PLA) ostensibly settled into UN-monitored cantonments but at times attempted to circumvent the disarmament and combatant verification process. The Maoist-affiliated Young Communist League, which included former PLA members, grew increasingly prominent during the year, carrying on the Maoist militia's tactics of abuse, abduction, assassination, intimidation, and extortion in cities and villages.
Ethnic tensions increased in the southern Terai plains. From mid-January to early March, as Madhesis (Terai inhabitants culturally and linguistically close to India) protested against the failure of the interim constitution and the interim government to address their concerns, an occasionally-violent popular uprising, the Madhesi Andolan, left many dead. Over a dozen extremist groups in pursuit of independence or autonomy and some criminal elements followed the Maoist lead of “negotiation” via armed struggle. Competing factions of Madhesis clashed with each other, with the Maoists, with hill-origin Nepalis, and with police, instigating numerous strikes, demonstrations, and Indo-Nepal border road closures. The most violent of these groups were factions of the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (People's Terai Liberation Front), which had broken with the Maoist-affiliated Madhesi Mukti Morcha (Madhesi Liberation Front) insurgency in 2004 in order to bring about the secession of the Terai from the rest of Nepal. The Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha factions became increasingly more violent through 2007, despite splitting into five factions by the end of the year. The Maoists exacerbated bloodshed in the Terai in a scramble to regain influence it had lost in the region. On March 21, confrontation between Maoists and Madhesis at a rally in Gaur resulted in the massacre of over 25 people, most of them Maoists. The Government of Nepal largely ignored the conflict in the Terai.
Anti-money laundering legislation remained stalled in Parliament, although the government responded favorably to U.S. requests to be prepared to freeze the assets of individuals and entities involved in the financing of terrorism when or if such assets were discovered. The United States provided substantial antiterrorism assistance and training to Nepal's security forces, including courses on crisis management, post-blast investigations, and terrorist crime scene investigations.
International terror organizations, including al-Qa’ida (AQ) and its supporters, operated and carried out attacks in Pakistan. Violence stemming from Sunni-Shia sectarian strife and militant sub-nationalists also claimed civilian lives. Attacks occurred with greatest frequency in the regions bordering Afghanistan: Balochistan, the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), and the adjacent Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), but militant attacks continued to grow and target urban centers including Karachi, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi.
The trend and sophistication of suicide bombings grew in Pakistan this year. The December 27 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, in a suicide bombing after a political rally in Rawalpindi, was the most prominent suicide attack. Between 2002 and 2006, the Department recorded approximately 22 suicide attacks in the country, whereas in 2007 there were over 45 such attacks. These suicide attacks often resulted in large numbers of casualties, and several occurred in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. A number of these attacks targeted well-protected government targets and made use of coordinated and complex operations, such as the November 24 and September 4 suicide attacks in Rawalpindi. On October 18, the most deadly suicide attack in Pakistan’s history took place against Bhutto’s homecoming procession in Karachi, killing over 130, and injuring hundreds more. In separate suicide attacks in Peshawar and Charsadda, extremists targeted Federal Minister for Political Affairs Amir Muqam in November, and former Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao in December and April; neither were killed, although there were civilian casualties.
Extremists led by Baitullah Mehsud and other AQ-related extremists re-exerted their hold in areas of South Waziristan and captured over 200 government soldiers, who were later released after a local peace deal collapsed. Earlier this year, extremists took over the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad for a number of months until they were ousted in July during a military operation. Extremists have also gained footholds in the settled areas bordering the FATA, including Swat, Tank, and DI Khan. The Taliban broke a peace agreement between the government and local leaders associated with the Taliban, which contributed to the increase in attacks. Maulana Hasan Jan, a prominent Islamic teacher who preached against the practice of suicide bombings, was assassinated in September. Taliban-linked extremists have closed barber shops and CD and music stores that were alleged to be anti-Islamic, through a series of bombings and threats in the NWFP. A number of girls' schools have closed due to similar threats. Pakistani security forces continued to fight militant leader Maulana Fazlullah in Swat, a settled area in NWFP, after his group tried to implement Sharia law there and displaced court and law enforcement authorities. As of early December, Pakistan’s military was conducting enhanced operations against Fazlullah, although Islamabad will likely continue to face challenges to its ability to enforce its writ of law there.
The government's crackdown on banned organizations, hate material, and incitement by religious leaders continued unevenly. Madrassa registration, foreign student enrollment in madrassas, and financial disclosure requirements remained a source of friction between government and religious leaders.
AQ's continued public calls for the overthrow of President Musharraf remained a threat to Pakistan, despite government efforts to eliminate AQ elements. Pakistan continued to pursue AQ and its allies through nationwide police action and military operations in the FATA and elsewhere. Despite having approximately 80,000 to 100,000 troops in the FATA, including Army and Frontier Corps (FC) units, the Government of Pakistan’s authority in the area continued to be challenged. While military operations caused disruptions in militant activities, there were no reports of the government capturing or killing any senior AQ leaders. Over 1,000 Pakistani military personnel have been killed since 2001 while carrying out counterterrorist operations.
Pakistani security services cooperated with the United States and other nations to fight terrorism within Pakistan and abroad. Hundreds of suspected AQ operatives have been killed or captured by Pakistani authorities since September 2001. Close cooperation between Pakistani, British, and American law enforcement agencies exposed the August 2006 London-Heathrow bomb plot, leading to the arrest in Pakistan of Rashid Rauf and other alleged conspirators connected to the case. On December 15, 2007, Rashid Rauf escaped from police custody in Rawalpindi and remained at large. Two of the police officers guarding him were arrested and questioned.
Pakistan's leaders took steps to prevent support to the Kashmiri militancy, and the number of violent attacks in Kashmir was down by approximately 50 percent from 2006, according to public statements made by the Indian Defense Minister. Meetings in September 2006 led to the March establishment of the Anti-Terrorism Mechanism to coordinate Pakistan-India exchange of information on terrorist threats.
Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) and other Kashmir-focused groups continued regional attack planning. In 2007, Kashmir-focused groups continued to support attacks in Afghanistan, and operatives trained by the groups continued to feature in AQ transnational attack planning.
Armed conflict between the government and militant Baloch nationalists continued. Pakistani press reported that the government killed the leader of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Nawabzada Balach Marri, in November, although the details remained unclear. The BLA and its sympathizers responded with violent protests and terrorist attacks against the government leaving more than 12 dead. (Pakistan declared the BLA a terrorist organization in April 2006.)
Sectarian violence claimed hundreds of lives this year and increased since 2006, according to data from the Institute for Conflict Management. In November, more than 100 people were killed in Sunni-Shia fighting in Parachinar. In April, approximately 80 people were killed in Kurram (in the FATA), when sectarian fighting broke out after a religious procession was attacked.
In 2006, President Musharraf and governmental agencies developed the FATA Sustainable Development Program (SDP) to accelerate economic and social development and strengthen political administration and security in the region. The government created a FATA Development Authority and filled all of its executive positions in November 2006. Pakistan allocated 120 million USD in its FY-2007 budget for FATA development programming, with the bulk going to education and infrastructure projects. While capacity remained a serious challenge, the government continued to build schools, enhance security, and provide training and education.
Although Pakistan continued to work with the UNSCR 1267 Committee to freeze the assets of individuals and groups identified as terrorist entities linked to AQ and the Taliban, several UN-sanctioned entities continued to operate in Pakistan. In September, the long-awaited anti-money-laundering (AML) ordinance was adopted by presidential decree. Unfortunately, parts of the ordinance did not meet international norms and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, particularly in the areas of designated offense categories and the statutory definition of money laundering. The AML ordinance formally established a Financial Management Unit (FMU) to independently monitor suspicious transactions.
The State Bank of Pakistan required all informal money changers (or hawaladars) to register as authorized foreign exchange dealers and meet minimum capital requirements, although enforcement was uneven. The regulation had limited success in consolidating the national foreign exchange regime, subjecting it to more stringent regulation and accounting standards. Despite government efforts, unlicensed hawalas still operated illegally in parts of the country (particularly Peshawar and Karachi). The informal and secretive nature of the unlicensed hawalas made it difficult for regulators to effectively combat their operations. Most illicit funds were transacted through these unlicensed operators.
Pakistan arrested or detained several high-profile terrorist suspects, but faced significant challenges in prosecuting such cases. The government freed 28 militants in November, three of whom were convicted on terrorism charges, in exchange for the release of 213 Pakistani soldiers held by militant commander Baitullah Mehsud. In August, the government released Muhammad Naem Noor Khan without formally charging him, even though the government claimed at the time of his arrest in July 2004 that he was a top AQ operative.
The United States and Pakistan engaged in a broad range of counterterrorism cooperative efforts including border security and criminal investigations, as well as several long-term training projects. Pakistan is the third largest recipient of U.S. military and economic assistance. (See Chapter 5, Terrorist Safe Havens (7120 Report), for further information on U.S. Assistance for Pakistan.)
Approximately 5,000 people were killed and many thousands more displaced as the conflict escalated between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Sri Lankan government took effective control of the Eastern Province in midyear, but the LTTE continued to control much of the north and carried out attacks throughout the country. The Sri Lankan Army remained deployed across the country in all areas it controlled to fight the insurgency. The Special Task Force (STF) police were deployed both in the east and in strategic locations in the west. Although a Cease-fire Agreement was nominally in effect, the level of violence rose to that associated with the period prior to the signing of the agreement in 2002.
The LTTE and government forces engaged in retaliatory attacks throughout the year. On November 28, an LTTE suicide bomber attempted to assassinate Minister for Social Services and Welfare Douglas Devananda. (This was at least the 11th attempt on the Tamil leader’s life.) On the same day, a parcel bomb killed at least 19 in a shopping area in southern Colombo. The likely perpetrator was the LTTE, although there is some public speculation that this may have been a criminal, rather than LTTE, attack. Other major LTTE attacks included attacks on the Anuradhapura Air Base (October); the first-ever LTTE attacks by air of Katunayake Airport and a gas storage facility in Colombo (March), the Palaly Air Force Base in Jaffna (April), and parcel bombings of two intercity buses in southern Sri Lanka (January). Many of these attacks appeared to have been reprisals for offensive actions taken, or at least alleged to have been carried out, by the Government of Sri Lanka, such as attacks on busses and villages and the air raid on November 2 that killed LTTE political chief S.P. Tamilchelvan.
A breakaway group from the LTTE, the Karuna Faction, was also responsible for extrajudicial killings and attacks against the LTTE and its alleged civilian supporters in eastern Sri Lanka. Its former leader, Karuna Amman, was arrested in London on charges of immigration fraud in November. A rival leader, Pillayan, has since consolidated control of the Karuna faction and displaced cadres loyal to Karuna.
The government took control of Sri Lanka’s eastern province by July, but was unable to move forward on elections, devolution of power, and economic development programs because of instability and the fragility of the national governing coalition. The LTTE maintained control of much of the north and retained the capacity to mount attacks throughout the country. In late November and December, government forces increased activity against targets in the north.
The LTTE continued to finance itself with contributions from the Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Australia, by imposing local "taxes" on businesses operating in the areas of Sri Lanka under its control, and reportedly by extortion operations in government-controlled areas. The LTTE also used Tamil charitable organizations as fronts for its fundraising. In November, the USG designated under Executive Order 13224 and froze the U.S.-held assets of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization, a charity associated with the LTTE. The LTTE previously used such funds for weapons purchases on the international black market and also captured arms from Sri Lankan security forces. The Sri Lankan Navy sunk three LTTE supply ships in September and another in October.
Human rights groups and other observers have accused all parties to the conflict with carrying out abductions and extrajudicial killings. The LTTE and the Karuna faction were charged with forced conscription and child recruitment. In general, the LTTE did not intentionally target U.S. citizens or assets, limiting attacks to Sri Lankan security forces, political figures, civilians, and businesses. However, attacks occurred within the vicinity of the U.S. embassy and personnel; the U.S. Ambassador was traveling in a helicopter that came under mortar fire in February. The LTTE subsequently apologized for the incident.
Sri Lankan cooperation with the FBI resulted in arrests of persons charged with material support to terrorist groups. The U.S. provided training for relevant Sri Lankan government agencies and the banking sector. The Government of Sri Lanka cooperated with the United States to implement both the Container Security Initiative and the Megaports program at the port of Colombo.
As the poorest of the former Soviet countries, the Tajik government’s main impediment to counterterrorism remained its lack of resources. The government, particularly the Border Guards, lacked appropriate technical equipment, personnel, and training to effectively interdict illegal border crossings and to detect and analyze hazardous substances. As a result, Tajikistan could serve as a transit country for extremists and terrorists traveling to and from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States and other donors assisted the government of Tajikistan to secure its 1400 kilometer porous border with Afghanistan.
Assistance included a $5 million U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) radio program to improve Border Guard communications capability. DOD held four Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) sessions with Tajikistani security forces to improve their capacity to conduct counterterrorism operations. The U.S. Embassy administered training which included chemical weapons response and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) detection training. These programs will help Tajikistan stop potential terrorists who may attempt to cross the Tajikistani border, and will enable Tajikistan to better control its borders.
Tajikistan endorsed the joint U.S.-Russia co-chaired Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. In November, it hosted a regional conference to discuss with its neighbors more effective cooperation to counter WMD proliferation. The Tajikistani government also participated in regional security alliances, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Since September 11, 2001, the Government of Tajikistan has allowed its airspace to be used for counterterrorist actions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Tajikistan prohibited extremist-oriented activities and closely monitored groups it listed as terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Hizbut-Tahrir (HT). The Government of Tajikistan believed that HT, in particular, was active in the northern part of the country. Analysts believed that supporters of terrorist groups such as al-Qa’ida and the IMU were active in the region this year.
The Government of Tajikistan did not provide safe haven for terrorists or terrorist organizations. However, the country’s poor economic climate and repressive government policies to restrict Islamic religious practice provided conditions that religious extremists could exploit. Events occurred in Tajikistan that may have been terrorism-related. A small bomb exploded outside the Supreme Court on June 17, causing no injuries or serious damage, and another bomb detonated at a conference hall on November 14, killing one person. These incidents remained under investigation at year’s end.
Under the guise of fighting extremism, the Government of Tajikistan has taken increased measures against opposition parties in the country, particularly the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), the only legal Muslim opposition party in Central Asia.
Turkmenistan’s longtime president, Saparmyrat Niyazov, died in late December 2006, and it remained too early in the presidency of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to assess any change in the government's counterterrorism policy. The Government of Turkmenistan, while generally supportive of counterterrorism initiatives, increasingly was viewing counterterrorism through a domestic security lens and was receptive to international counterterrorism initiatives as they related to the country's effort to prevent terrorist activity on its own soil. The government cooperated with a variety of international organizations and partner countries in conducting counterterrorism training events for government personnel, including, for example, canine bomb detection training and professional seminars on terrorism and security studies.
While the government continued to strictly control access into and passage through Turkmenistan at official border crossings and along main roads, clandestine passage was still possible due to long and porous borders that stretch across mountain and desert terrain, as well as the small size and uneven quality of Turkmenistan's border guard and customs services. Turkmenistan's law enforcement and security agencies exert stringent security control over all aspects of society making it unlikely that Turkmenistan could easily be used as a terrorist refuge. The Government of Turkmenistan strictly controlled religious expression, and radical or extremist forms of Islam were not tolerated.
The government maintained a military-style counterterrorism unit with hostage rescue and explosives threat management capability, as well as a Department for the Prevention of Terrorism and Organized Crime in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Government of Turkmenistan continued to support humanitarian assistance related to the War on Terror and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The government entered the names of individuals and organizations on terrorist financing lists into its banking system.
The Government of Uzbekistan did not provide safe haven for terrorists or terrorist organizations and continued to work aggressively to combat terrorist groups and other suspected Islamic radicals. Nevertheless, widespread poverty and the government's repressive security policies created conditions that religious extremists could exploit. In the past, Uzbekistan's porous borders, particularly in the Ferghana Valley, allowed for people and illicit goods to move in and out of the country with relative freedom. The government responded to these threats with impressive tightening of border controls, especially in the Ferghana Valley and increased its cooperation with Kyrgyzstan. It did not, however, systematically address the conditions terrorists might exploit to gain popular support and recruits for their cause.
Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the IMU-affiliated East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and other al-Qa’ida (AQ)-affiliated groups were active in the region, and terrorist groups in the region continued to target both the Government of Uzbekistan and western interests. Members of these groups expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and some have attacked U.S. interests in the past, including a 2004 suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent conducted by the IJG. USG personnel and facilities continued to operate at a heightened state of alert.
In contrast with 2005, when the Government of Uzbekistan ended virtually all counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, there were a few modest steps in resuming cooperation. In November, the government of Uzbekistan extended for another year a protocol giving over-flight rights to commercial aircraft contracted by the Department of Defense, and permitted several over-flights of such aircraft in 2007.
Tashkent hosts the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS), which said it had both facilitated combined counterterrorism exercises among SCO member states and begun work on developing a coordinated terrorist database. Uzbekistan is also a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which said it held counterterrorism exercises and made progress in coordinating counterterrorism efforts.
Nonetheless, the Government of Uzbekistan did not participate fully in the SCO or CSTO exercises. The government increased its participation in counterterrorism-themed UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) programs, and took part in two out of three regional terrorism prevention activities organized by UNODC.
1 The list of Kazakstan’s fourteen banned terrorist organizations included al-Qa’ida, the East Turkistan Islamic Party, the East Turkistan Liberation Organization, the Kongra Gel/Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Asbat al-Ansar, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Aum Shinrikyo, the Boz Gurd, Jamaat of Central Asian Mujahadins, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the Social Reform Society, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and its splinter group, the Islamic Jihad Group.