Chapter 2. Country Reports: South and Central Asia Overview
“Our struggle against terrorism must be fought not just on the battlefield, but in education, in health, in jobs, in trade, and above all for the hearts and minds of our people.”
--Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan
September 24, 2009
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA OVERVIEW
Already plagued by terrorism, South Asia experienced more violence in 2009 as terrorists expanded their operations and networks across the region and beyond. In response, the United States worked to increase counterterrorism cooperation with its partners in South Asia. Progress was limited because of combination of political unrest in the region, weak governments, and competing factions within various South Asian governments.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban-led insurgency remained resilient in the south and east and expanded its presence into the north and west. Although the insurgency absorbed heavy combat and leadership losses, its ability to recruit foot soldiers from its core base of rural Pashtuns remained undiminished. Al-Qa’ida (AQ) provided some facilitation, training, and funding while maintaining its safe haven in Pakistan.
Pakistan continued to suffer from rising militancy and extremism. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Baluchistan, the North West Frontier Province, southern Punjab, and other parts of Pakistan continued to be used as safe havens for AQ terrorists, Afghan insurgents, and other terrorist groups.
India was the focus of numerous attacks from both externally and internally based terrorist organizations. Although clearly committed to combating terrorism, the Indian government’s counterterrorism efforts remained hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems. In the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008, India’s Parliament has introduced bills to restructure its counterterrorism laws and established a National Investigative Agency to create a national-level capability to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism.
In Bangladesh, the Awami League, which won a landslide electoral victory in 2008, acted on its pledge to focus serious attention on Bangladesh’s counterterrorism needs. This resulted in the arrest of several high-profile terrorism-related figures in Bangladesh, including some from Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT). The Bangladeshi government has also championed the creation of a South Asia counterterrorism task force that countries could use to work together regionally to stamp out the rise of violent extremism.
In spite of losing the war on the ground in Sri Lanka, the LTTE’s international network of financial support was suspected of surviving largely intact. The Sri Lankan government was criticized for using former LTTE paramilitary organizations that relied on abduction, extra-judicial killings and other illegal tactics to combat the LTTE and their suspected sympathizers. As the military recaptured the remainder of the LTTE-held territory, the LTTE reverted increasingly to more asymmetrical tactics, including suicide bombers and other terrorist attacks, some of which caused serious civilian casualties.
In April, 2008, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) won the national Constituent Assembly election and formed a Government under Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Following Dahal’s May 2009 resignation, the Maoists continued in political opposition and remained a U.S.-designated terrorist entity under the Terrorism Exclusion List and Executive Order 13224.
Other significant terrorist organizations in Central Asia include the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and a splinter group now known as the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). Extremist groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) foment an anti-Semitic, anti-Western ideology that may indirectly generate support for terrorism. HT, a political movement that advocates 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 terrorism, but the group 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.
During a year in which it conducted a presidential election, Afghanistan continued to confront the challenges of building a stable, democratic government in the face of a sophisticated, multi-faceted insurgency that primarily relied on asymmetric tactics. The insurgency targeted coalition forces, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA), international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foreign diplomatic missions, Afghan government officials and security forces, and Afghan civilians.
Separate but intertwined and affiliated extremist organizations led by Mullah Omar (Taliban), Sirajuddin Haqqani (Haqqani Network), and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin - HIG) increased their use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and coordinated attacks using multiple suicide bombers, resulting in an increase from 2008 in overall casualties. The Taliban, in particular, stepped up the pace of its attacks and simultaneously increased its shadow government presence throughout the country. Al-Qa’ida (AQ) and the Taliban senior leadership maintained an operational relationship, but AQ’s direct influence in Afghanistan has diminished over the past year due to effective counterterrorism operations.
With support from the international civilian and military community, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan worked to build and strengthen its national security forces and establish effective law-enforcement mechanisms and improved governance to increase stability and counter Taliban presence and influence.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led the coalition forces’ counterinsurgency campaign, using a combination of 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 in conjunction with UNAMA) to fight extremism. Over the summer, General Stanley A. McChrystal issued a tactical directive which sought to reduce civilian casualties caused by military actions. A UN report on the protection of civilians in Afghanistan showed a 14 percent increase in civilian deaths compared to 2008, but credited ISAF with a 28 percent reduction in civilian deaths from pro-government forces.
The Commander, U.S. Central Command, maintained command and control of U.S. forces operating in Afghanistan. United States forces targeted insurgent leaders, facilitators, improvised explosive device (IED) networks, the narcotics-insurgent nexus, and insurgent training and logistics centers with the objective of eliminating terrorists and facilitating reconstruction and development. The Afghan National Army (ANA), and to a lesser extent, the Afghan National Police (ANP), continued to lead in the majority of counterterrorism operations, in close cooperation with coalition forces. The Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) continued to work in close partnership with ISAF to develop the capability necessary to assume the lead in security across Afghanistan and take a greater role in planning and execution operations. Partly in response to their growing inability to prevail against coalition and ANSF forces in conventional encounters, insurgents increasingly resorted to asymmetrical tactics to intimidate ordinary Afghans. These tactics included increasingly sophisticated IEDs placed along key travel arteries, assassination attempts against Afghan government officials, and the use of suicide bombers and direct fire attacks in population centers where Afghan civilians are used as shields.
Integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency approaches in the eastern part of the country have continued to yield some successes. Nonetheless, the anti-government insurgency remained a capable, determined, and resilient threat to stability and to the expansion of government authority, particularly in the south and east. The insurgency continued to suffer heavy combat losses, including among senior leaders, but its ability to recruit soldiers remained undiminished. Taliban information operations were aggressive and sophisticated, including, for example, Mullah Omar’s injunctions on the Taliban website for Taliban fighters to avoid harming civilians and monitor local communities regarding their satisfaction with Taliban shadow government officials’ performance.
Despite increased efforts by the international community against funding flows, streams of Taliban financing from abroad, along with funds gained from narcotics trafficking and kidnapping, criminal enterprises, and taxing the local population, have allowed the insurgency to strengthen its military and technical capabilities. Narcotics trafficking in particular remained an important financing mechanism of terrorist/insurgent operations.
In addition to targeting Afghan and coalition military forces, insurgents and criminals attacked Afghan government officials and civil servants, Afghan police and army forces and recruits, humanitarian actors, and civilians. Foreign civilians, including diplomats, were deliberately targeted. Two high-profile terrorist attacks against foreign diplomats in Kabul City this year included the October 8 suicide car bombing of the Indian Embassy that killed at least 17 and the October 28 attack on a UNAMA guesthouse that killed five UN employees and three other Afghans. The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Throughout the year, insurgents targeted NGOs, Afghan journalists, government workers, UN workers, and recipients of NGO assistance. They targeted teachers, pupils (especially girls), and schools. Attacks on girls schools in the east and south increased. Taliban militants were suspected in late April and early May of using an unidentified gas to sicken girls and teachers at two schools in the town of Charikar in Parwan Province and one school in Mahmud Raqi, a small town north of Kabul. Insurgents coupled threats and attacks against NGOs with continued targeting of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), de-mining teams, construction crews working on roads and other infrastructure projects. Additionally, insurgents continued to kidnap foreigners and Afghans. While insurgents conducted most abductions for ransom, presumably as a means of raising money to support their operations, they have also sought to use victims to negotiate with Afghanistan’s government and the international community.
Taliban militants made a concentrated effort to thwart the August 20 Presidential and Provincial elections by intimidating voters and attacking election officials. There were more than 1,000 insurgent attacks in August, approximately 20% of which occurred on Election Day. Although there were few resulting casualties, voter turnout was notably lower than for the 2004 election, and, in some areas in the south and east, turnout was effectively shut down altogether as a result of Taliban intimidation.
Immediately after taking office in January 2009, the Awami League-led government began a crackdown on domestic and transnational terrorist groups. As a result, Bangladesh and India improved their counterterrorism cooperation during the year, which led to the arrest of several senior members of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), an anti-India insurgency group. In November, Bangladesh arrested several extremists alleged to have ties to Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LT), the organization believed responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai attack, Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B), and other extremist groups. The arrests were evidence of the government’s efforts to deny transnational terrorists safe haven and targeting opportunities in Bangladesh.
Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB), the banned domestic Islamist extremist group responsible for a wave of bombings and suicide attacks in late 2005, remained a threat. During the first three months of 2009, authorities arrested several suspected JMB members and uncovered weapons caches that included grenades and chemicals that could be used to make explosives.
In February, the Awami League-led government adopted into law the Money Laundering Prevention Act (MLPA) and the Antiterrorism Act (ATA). These laws formalized ordinances passed in 2008 under the caretaker government. Although not fully compliant with international standards, the MLPA addressed many flaws in the 2002 money laundering law and antiterrorist financing into the Bangladeshi legal system for the first time. The laws facilitated international cooperation and established a financial intelligence unit (FIU) at the Bangladesh Bank. The new laws are part of the effort to enable Bangladesh to enter the Egmont Group, the international body of FIUs that plays a critical role in fighting terrorist financing.
U.S. and Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies cooperated well on several cases related to domestic and international terrorism. Bangladesh worked with the United States to further strengthen control of its borders and land, sea, and air ports of entry.
India remained one of the countries most afflicted by terrorism with over 1,000 deaths attributed to terrorist attacks in 2009, primarily in Kashmir, the Northeast, and the Maoist affected “Red Corridor.” India continued to face persistent and significant external threats from groups including LT, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami-Bangladesh. Although there were no large-scale assaults similar to the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai, senior government officials warned that India remained at risk on the basis of the volume of credible threats the government continued to receive. Terrorist attacks included:
- On January 1, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) detonated several bombs in Guwahati, Assam, killing five people and injuring 50.
- On February 1, Maoists/Naxalites killed and mutilated the bodies of 15 police officers in Maharashtra’s eastern district of Gadchiroli, looting guns and ammunition.
- On October 7, Maoists/Naxalites beheaded Police Inspector Francis Induwar near Ranchi, Jharkhand, after the Indian Government refused to respond to a demand for the release of three jailed Maoist/Naxalite leaders.
- On October 8, Maoists/Naxalites ambushed a police patrol in Maharashtra killing 17 police.
- On December 2, Maoists/Naxalites in West Bengal beheaded school teacher Satya Kinkar Hansda following his earlier abduction.
Indian authorities made several terrorism-related arrests:
- On May 3, state police arrested approximately 20 sympathizers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) for attacking an army camp in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
- On June 4, police arrested Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) operative Mohammad Omar Madini in New Delhi.
- On August 7, police arrested two suspected Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terrorists in New Delhi ahead of Independence Day celebrations.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir, historically victim to the largest number of foreign terrorist attacks, saw casualties decline significantly from previous years. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reported that 71 civilians and 52 members of the security forces were killed in terrorist-related violence in the state through November. Home Minister P. Chidambaram reported to Parliament in December that 700 foreign insurgents were active in the state, down from 800 earlier in the year.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Parliament that Maoists/Naxalites insurgent groups represented the most significant threat to domestic security. Maoists/Naxalites conducted numerous attacks against police and local government officials and bombed railways, killing civilians and disrupting services. No American citizens were victims of Maoist/Naxalite-related terrorism during the year. Foreign companies were reportedly targeted for extortion. In June, the central government banned Maoist/Naxalite groups under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of 1967. Chief Ministers from the most affected states agreed to cooperate with the MHA to launch joint operations against the Maoists/Naxalites along inter-state borders. MHA established counter-insurgency schools for police officials in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Jharkhand. The central government deployed additional security forces in Chhattisgarh and Orissa, and announced plans to deploy to eight additional states.
Ethno-nationalist insurgent groups remained active, particularly in the Northeast. The ULFA, a domestic terrorist group banned by India in 1990, continued a campaign of bombings in Assam state resulting in 27 fatalities this year. On December 2, security forces arrested ULFA Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa near the Bangladesh border. The Assam state government offered talks and free passage to ULFA leaders in a bid to make peace with the group. Home Minister Chidambaram reported to Parliament that the central government would agree to hold talks with the ULFA, if the group “abjured violence.”
Parliamentary elections in April and May returned the ruling Congress Party-led coalition government to power despite criticism that security and intelligence lapses failed to prevent the 26/11 attacks. The new government instituted several reforms designed to augment its existing security structures and to develop new capabilities. The MHA instituted regular meetings to improve communication among security agencies at the central and state levels, and it assigned senior officers to review counterterrorism and counter-Maoist/Naxalite operations. The government implemented tighter immigration controls, and, in some areas. It also implemented more effective border management through fencing and flood lighting and undertook a coastal security project that began issuing identity cards to villagers in some coastal areas. The MHA instituted a mega-city police training program and, in coordination with the Ministry of Defense (MOD), established assistance programs to train state police. The MHA increased resources for the National Security Guard (NSG), India’s first responder paramilitary force, and established NSG hubs in Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. It also reorganized the Multi-Agency Centers (MACs), which are tasked with collecting real-time intelligence and coordinating among agencies and began establishing subsidiary MACs in state capitals. The new National Investigation Agency created in the wake of the Mumbai attacks registered several cases in 2009. The trial of Ajmal Kasab, the alleged lone surviving gunman involved in the Mumbai attack, continued in Mumbai.
Amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) came into force in June, furthering India’s ability to combat the financing of terrorism. Indian officials participated in the South Asian Regional Conference for Countering Terrorist Financing in the Charitable Sector in April. The Asia/Pacific Group and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) conducted a joint mutual evaluation in December to evaluate India’s compliance with global anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance standards in the context of India’s candidacy for FATF membership. In December, India’s Narcotics Control Bureau arrested Naresh Kumar Jain, allegedly a significant underground banker, as part of an operation to close a global network of illegal money transfers.
In the wake of the Mumbai attack, the government increased its bilateral and multilateral cooperation with foreign governments on counterterrorism. Senior Indian government officials, including the Home Minister, visited the United States to advance bilateral counterterrorism cooperation, culminating in the conclusion of the U.S.-India Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative during Prime Minister Singh’s official state visit in November.
Kazakhstan continued to aggressively combat terrorism. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Interior announced on January 10 that Ministry of Interior troops have new responsibilities related to the fight against terrorism under a new military doctrine, and the Ministry held a counterterrorism exercise in January. In August the National Security Committee (KNB), and the Ministries of the Interior, Defense, and Emergency Situations held counterterrorism exercises at the international trade port in Aktau. On August 28, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed two new laws to counter terrorist funding and money laundering.
Kazakhstan’s cooperation with the United States included its hosting of a September 29-October 1 Legislative Drafting Expert Workshop on Counterterrorism. During the seminar, Kazakhstani legal experts from both houses of the country’s Parliament, the General Prosecutor’s office, and the Customs Control Committee reviewed Kazakhstan’s counterterrorism legislation, based on advice from U.S. and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) experts. During FBI Director Robert Mueller’s November 17 visit to Astana, the Prosecutor-General’s Office and the FBI signed a memorandum of understanding, stating that the parties intend to cooperate in the fight against organized crime and money laundering. Mueller also met with then-KNB Chairman Amangeldy Shabdarbayev, who agreed to intensify cooperation in the fight against terrorism and extremism. Kazakhstani government agencies have typically provided limited information on domestic terrorism cases and generally do not provide contextual information on cases reported by the press.
Kazakhstan has continued to detain and prosecute suspected terrorists. The press reported a number of cases in which individuals were detained or sentenced for suspected acts of terrorism, including the following:
- On September 22, local press reported that the Astana City police detained a 23-year-old Uzbek citizen. After an investigation determined he was wanted by Uzbek law-enforcement agencies on suspicion of carrying out terrorist activities, the police arrested him, pending an extradition decision.
- On September 24, national media published an article stating that an Aktobe Province court sentenced six local people to 12-17 years in prison for terrorism. According to the press, the group intended to punish foreign investors and announce a jihad against infidels. The six alleged terrorists reportedly planned to blow up oil company facilities in the region and possessed arms and explosives.
To prevent radicalization and support other domestic counterterrorism initiatives, Kazakhstan actively promoted intercultural and religious dialogues. Most notably, Kazakhstan hosted the third triennial Congress of World and Traditional Religions in Astana July 1-2, and it has stressed multi-confessional concord as a key element of a proposed “doctrine of national unity.” During the October 26 opening session of the Kazakhstan People’s Assembly (KPA), Nazarbayev also suggested the creation of a doctrine on national unity. Nazarbayev suggested that the doctrine focus on the shared priorities of Kazakhstan and the KPA and particularly emphasized multi-confessional concord.
Kazakhstan also continued to strengthen its engagement in international counterterrorism activities. On February 11, the Government of Kazakhstan ratified a 2007 Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) agreement to actively advance cooperation in the fight against terrorism and extremism. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) held a counterterrorism drill in Aktau in October, with participation from various Kazakhstani security forces.
In 2009, the Government of Kyrgyzstan took political and law enforcement steps to disrupt and deter terrorism. Since 2001, Kyrgyzstan has actively supported U.S. counterterrorism efforts and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
The Government of Kyrgyzstan, with the financial support from the U.S. and other international organizations, continued efforts to improve border security throughout the country and particularly in the southern Batken region. These efforts included the construction of more modern border facilities, a program to create central communications between the dispersed border checkpoints and government agencies, the installation of radiation detection equipment at select crossings, and the establishment of a tracking system to monitor the transport of certain dual-use equipment throughout the country.
Kyrgyzstan’s military and internal forces worked to improve their counterterrorism capabilities and to expand cooperation with regional partners. Kyrgyzstan continued to be an active member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Cooperative Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). With U.S. assistance, the Kyrgyz armed forces continue to improve their facilities and tactical capabilities. U.S. financial support has resulted in the training of dozens of Kyrgyz military and law enforcement personnel, and the establishment of more modern defense installations.
Kyrgyzstan’s under-regulated borders, especially in the Batken region, remain highly problematic. Kyrgyz law enforcement still lacks the equipment, personnel, and funding to effectively detect and deter terrorists or terrorist operations in the southern regions of the country. In 2009, however, Kyrgyz law enforcement agencies conducted multiple raids in southern Kyrgyzstan against terrorist groups.
Supporters of the terrorist groups Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) are believed to maintain a presence in Kyrgyzstan. Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), an extremist group banned in Kyrgyzstan, remained active, especially in the south. In addition to law enforcement initiatives, the government, in particular the State Agency for Religious Affairs, was actively conducting outreach efforts to diminish support for extremist groups and reverse the growing trend toward religious extremism.
While Nepal experienced no significant acts of international terrorism, several incidents of politically-motivated violence occurred in the country. Maoist -affiliated Young Communist League (YCL) criminal activity continued, including intimidation and extortion. In response to the YCL violence, other political parties condoned the use of violence by their youth wings. Unrest in the southern Terai plains remained high with the proliferation of numerous armed groups and an inadequate police presence. More than 100 armed groups are estimated to be operating in the Terai, some in pursuit of independence or autonomy, most composed of opportunistic criminal elements. Competing factions clashed with each other, with the Maoists, with hill-origin Nepalese, and with police, instigating numerous strikes, demonstrations, and Indo-Nepal border road closures. A Special Security Plan (SSP) was put in place in July to curb violence and end the culture of impunity. Despite this program, police still do not have an active presence in many parts of the Terai.
Nepal experienced several acts of religiously-motivated violence, most prominently the bombing of a Catholic Church in May. The attack was conducted by the Nepalese Defense Army (NDA), a Hindu extremist group that was responsible for shooting a Catholic priest and bombing a mosque in 2008. The leader of this group has since been arrested and their activities appear to have ceased.
There were no indications that Nepal was a safe haven for international terrorists. Given Nepal’s continued instability, however, there is a possibility that members of extremist groups could transit Nepal, especially into India. The large ungoverned space along the Nepal/Indian border exacerbates this vulnerability, as do security shortfalls at Tribhuvan Airport, Nepal’s international airport. In June, Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LT) member Muhammad Omar Madni traveled through Nepal enroute to New Delhi.
Nepal is not a regional financial center and there were no indications that the country was used as an international money laundering center. There were no prosecutions or arrests for money laundering in 2009. However, YCL illicit financial activities, including smuggling, extortion, and protection demands, increased in 2009.
The United States sponsored the attendance of Nepalese security force officers at various international counterterrorism events.
Foreign terrorist organizations, including al-Qa’ida (AQ) and its affiliates, continued to operate and carry out attacks in Pakistan. Violence stemming from Sunni-Shia sectarian strife and ethnic tensions, limited to certain geographical areas, claimed civilian lives. Similar to last year, attacks occurred with greatest frequency in the regions bordering Afghanistan, including Baluchistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Attacks targeting the country’s major urban centers, including Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, and Rawalpindi, continued to increase.
The coordination, sophistication, and frequency of suicide bombings continued to climb in 2009. (See the NCTC Annex of Statistic Information or www.nctc.gov for precise figures). These suicide attacks often resulted in large numbers of casualties, with about 50 percent of them occurring in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, and Rawalpindi. The terrorists launched complex attacks and chose high-value targets, coordinating their attacks with greater precision. Additionally, there were several audacious and deadly attacks on key security forces targets in retaliation for Pakistani military operations in Swat and throughout the Federally Administered Tribal Areas:
- On October 10, terrorists attacked the Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
- On October 15, terrorists targeted three different security forces locations in Lahore simultaneously with assault rifles, hand-grenades, and suicide vests. Approximately 20 persons, mostly police personnel, were killed in these well-coordinated attacks.
- On December 4, militants attacked a mosque in Rawalpindi with assault rifles, hand-grenades, and suicide jackets. Forty people, mostly members of the military and their families, were killed and more than 80 were injured.
- Other high profile suicide bombings targeted the only four-star hotel in Peshawar, the offices of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) in Peshawar and Lahore, the office of the World Food Program (WFP), and the International Islamic University in Islamabad.
- On February 2, ethnic Baluch separatists were involved in the kidnapping of UNHCR official and American national John Solecki, who was released by his captors on April 4.
- On February 11, an ANP member of the NWFP provincial assembly, Alamzeb Khan, was killed in a remote-control bomb attack in Peshawar. Seven others were injured in the attack.
- On March 3, militants attacked a bus transporting the visiting Sri Lanka cricket team and its accompanying police detail in Lahore. At least seven police officers were killed and several cricketers were injured.
- On March 11, there was an unsuccessful suicide attempt against senior ANP leader and senior minister in NWFP government, Bashir Bilour. Two suicide bombers and four other persons were killed in the attack. (Bilour was also attacked in 2008.)
- Another ANP member of the NWFP assembly, Dr. Shamsher Ali Khan, was killed and 11 others, including his two brothers, were injured in a suicide bomb blast in his native Swat. Khan’s house was blown up by militants in May.
- Dozens of ANP activists across NWFP were also assassinated by terrorists.
Besides targeting security forces, government institutions and elected representatives, terrorists systematically targeted perceived adversaries, such as aid workers, religious scholars, journalists, diplomats, senior military officers, and educational institutions.
- On July 16, a Pakistani UNHCR official was killed along with his driver at the Katcha Garhi camp in a kidnapping attempt.
- On September 2, there was an attempt to assassinate the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Hamid Saeed Kazmi, in Islamabad. He was injured in the attack, while his driver was killed and two guards were injured.
- On June 12, an important moderate religious scholar, Dr. Sarfaraz Naeemi, was assassinated in a suicide attack. Five others were killed and seven injured in that bomb blast.
- On August 24, an Afghan journalist, Janullah Hashimzada, was killed in Jamrud Tehsil of Khyber Agency.
- The fate of Afghan and Iranian diplomats who were kidnapped from Peshawar last year remained unresolved this year, while another Pakistani working at the Iranian Consulate in Peshawar was shot and killed by terrorists on November 12.
- Terrorists also continued targeting schools --especially ones for girls -- in NWFP and FATA. Approximately 100 schools were attacked with explosives or rockets this year.
While the terrorists continued their violence against the population in Pakistan, the government made significant gains, clearing several areas of their control after the insurgents failed to honor an agreemente with the government. On February 16, the NWFP government signed a peace agreement with Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM) led by an elderly cleric, Sufi Mohammad, in the hope of restoring the writ of government in Malakand Division, including the districts of Buner, Dir Lower, Dir Upper, Malakand, Shangla, and Swat. While the government of NWFP acceded to all the demands of the TNSM, the latter refused to lay down its weapons. In a widely watched speech on April 19, Mohammad announced his disregard for the political system of Pakistan and asked government-appointed judges to leave Malakand Division. This proved to be a turning point, provoking a full-scale military operation across Malakand Division, code-named “Raah-i-Raast” (the way of the truth). Hundreds of terrorists were killed, injured, and arrested in the operation, which also resulted in the country’s most extensive internal displacement crisis. The military operation succeeded, and life has gradually returned to normal in Malakand Division.
Another major blow to the terrorists in Pakistan was the August 4 death of the leader of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Baitullah Mehsud. The top three leaders of the TTP, Hakimullah Mehsud, Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud, and Qari Hussain, jockeyed for power after his death. Hakimullah Mehsud, a nephew of Baitullah Mehsud was eventually made the consensus leader and TTP increased its attacks. This prompted the military to intensify operations against the TTP, finally culminating in a full-scale ground offensive in South Waziristan code-named “Raah-i-Nijaat” (the way of riddance) in mid-October. As of December 7, the Pakistan army had cleared major towns and highways of the terrorists. The local population, however, still remained internally displaced and many extremist organizations have not been dislodged. At year’s end, Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) was engaged in fighting against a banned terrorist organization, Lashkar-i-Islam (LI), in the Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency, while the Pakistan Air Force and Army Aviation was striking the TTP in Orakzai Agency with aerial bombardment in advance of a possible ground assault. The Government of Pakistan claimed to have made gains against the TTP and its affiliates in the tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand, where there were frequent clashes, including airstrikes, against the terrorists.
Sectarian violence claimed over 200 lives in 2009, and several high-casualty bomb blasts targeted Shia.
- On February 5, 30 people were killed and 20 injured in a bomb blast near a Shia mosque in D.G. Khan in the Punjab.
- On April 5, there was a suicide bomb blast at a Shia mosque in Chakwal in which 24 people were killed and 140 injured.
- On December 28, a suicide bombing attack in Karachi during a Muharram procession killed at least 93 people, injured at least 75 others, triggering riots and arson.
- There was also an increase in ethnic violence in Baluchistan, especially the killing of Punjabi settlers in Quetta.
The November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India were attributed to the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT). LT was a designated terrorist organization before the Mumbai attacks, as was its humanitarian front, the Jamaat ud-Dawa (JUD), which the Government of Pakistan banned after the attack. The United Nations Sanctions Committee agreed to list the group and several individuals associated with it. In response to allegations of involvement by LT in the Mumbai attacks, Pakistani officials cracked down on an LT camp in Muzzafarabad and arrested or detained more than 50 LT or JUD leaders in Punjab and elsewhere in Pakistan, but it subsequently released many of them. LT remained a serious threat to Western interests.
Pakistani officials pledged to prosecute all individuals in Pakistan found to be involved in the Mumbai attacks and offered to share intelligence regarding the attacks with the Government of India. At year’s end, however, peace talks between Pakistan and India remained frozen amid Indian allegations that Pakistan was not doing enough to bring the terrorists to justice.
Unlicensed informal hawalas (money changers) still operated illegally in parts of Pakistan. The informal and secretive nature of the unlicensed hawalas made it difficult for regulators to effectively combat their operations. Most illicit funds were moved through unlicensed operators, including through bulk cash smuggling.
The Sri Lankan government effectively dismantled much of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), after cornering remaining LTTE fighters and several hundred thousand civilians in the northeast of the island. Though the government declared victory on May 18, in completing this military campaign, both sides suffered heavy losses. Earlier in the year, the LTTE carried out a number of attacks, including suicide bombings and an air raid on Colombo, but no further attacks occurred following the end of the war. On a number of occasions after May, the government announced the capture of suspected LTTE forces, often stating that those captured were intending to carry out violent attacks. Military and Sri Lankan Police Service personnel discovered large caches of weapons, ammunition, and military grade explosives that had been abandoned and left uncontrolled throughout the country. These items have been uncovered by government military forces, usually in the northern region most recently under LTTE control. The Sri Lankan Army remained deployed across the country once the war was over. Special Task Force (STF) police were deployed in the east, north, and in strategic locations in the west.
In 2009, there were over 40 attacks attributed to the LTTE, including:
- On January 2, a suicide bomber killed two people and injured 32 in an attack at the Air Force Admin Base less than two miles from the US Embassy in Colombo.
- On February 9, a female suicide bomber killed 30 people and injured 64 in an attack at a Mullaithivu IDP Rescue Center.
- On March 10, a suicide bomber killed 14 and injured 46 people after he blew himself up in a mosque in Matara during a religious procession.
- On April 20, a suicide bomber killed 17 people who were among thousands of Tamils fleeing the LTTE and who were seeking refuge with Sri Lankan military forces in Mullaithivu.
In spite of losing the war on the ground in Sri Lanka, the LTTE’s international network of financial support was suspected to have survived largely intact. However, the international network likely suffered a serious blow by the August arrest in Southeast Asia and rendition to Sri Lanka of Selvarajah Patmanathan (aka KP), the LTTE’s principle financier and arms supplier. This network continued to collect contributions from the Tamil diaspora in North America, Europe, and Australia, where there were reports that some of these contributions were coerced by locally-based LTTE sympathizers. The LTTE also used Tamil charitable organizations as fronts for fundraising.
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.
Tajikistan’s security forces confronted members of terrorist groups in the east-central district of Tavildara in spring and summer 2009. Government forces killed several suspected members of the terrorist group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), while other terrorists fled the area as a result of government counterterrorism operations from May to August. The terrorists had infiltrated Tajikistan from Afghanistan and, reportedly, from Russia. Tajikistani security forces also fought extremists near the capitol of Dushanbe and in northern Tajikistan, as well as on the Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan border.
While security forces were able to defeat the incursion in Tavildara, they continued to suffer from lack of resources. Border Guards and other services lacked appropriate technical equipment, transportation, personnel, and training to interdict illegal border crossings, detect and analyze hazardous substances effectively and respond quickly to incursions. Pervasive corruption and low wages also undermined the motivation of security force members to interdict smugglers.
Tajikistan’s 1,300 kilometer long border with Afghanistan is lightly guarded. Much of it runs through remote and difficult terrain, which allows smugglers, extremists, and terrorists to travel to and from Afghanistan. To address the transshipment of illicit goods and people across Tajikistan’s borders, the United States and other donors assisted the Government of Tajikistan’s efforts to secure its border with Afghanistan. The United States provided communication support to the Border Guards, built a commercial customs facility at the Nizhny Pyanj Bridge, and provided technical and scanning equipment at this location. The U.S. Department of Defense sponsored two Counter Narcoterrorism Training (formerly Joint Combined Exchange Training) events with Tajikistani security forces to improve their capacity to conduct counterterrorism operations. The U.S. Department of State’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau (INL) provided Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security with a Counter Narcotics/Counterterrorism Analytical Center which included space refurbishment, computer hardware, analytical software, and training. It also refurbished three Border Guard Service outposts on the border with Afghanistan.
Tajikistan hosted Exercise Regional Cooperation 10, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. This exercise focused on regional responses to terrorism and strengthening cooperation among Central Asian countries. The Tajikistani government participated in regional security alliances, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Tajikistan prohibited activities by groups it considered extremist, including the Tablighi Jamaat. It closely monitored groups it listed as terrorist organizations, including the IMU and Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT).
Since the September 2008 violence in Ashgabat’s Khitrovka neighborhood, the Turkmenistan government has not reported any other terrorist incidents. The government maintains a military-style counterterrorism unit that is reported to have hostage rescue and explosives threat management capabilities. There is also a Department for the Prevention of Terrorism and Organized Crime in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In May, the Turkmenistan government passed an Anti-Money Laundering and Counterterrorism Financing Law, which went into effect in August. This law is understood to have aimed at creating a new state agency to collect information and uncover suspicious transactions. Although Turkmenistan’s law enforcement and security agencies exerted stringent control over society, Turkmenistan’s border guards, customs services, and law enforcement were small in size and uneven in quality. While the government strictly controlled 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. The United States worked with Turkmenistan’s authorities to improve the quality of border checkpoints. In October, a new checkpoint at Farap on the border with Uzbekistan was opened.
The Government of Uzbekistan maintained tight control over internal security. No large scale terrorist attacks were carried out on Uzbekistan’s territory in 2009, although several assassinations and other incidents were believed to be linked to extremist groups. Terrorist groups that originated in Uzbekistan, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), were active in other countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On May 26, an armed group attacked a police outpost in Andijan province, near Uzbekistan’s border with Kyrgyzstan. At the same time, at least two suicide bombings took place in the city of Andijan. The IJU claimed responsibility for the attacks.
On July 16, the deputy director of Tashkent’s largest madrassa was murdered in front of his home. On July 31, three men attacked and stabbed the principal imam of Tashkent in front of his home, but the imam survived.
Although terrorist financing does not appear to be a significant problem in Uzbekistan, a large and robust black market functions outside the confines of the official financial system. The unofficial, unmonitored cash-based market created an opportunity for small-scale terrorist money laundering. In April 2009, the Government of Uzbekistan responded to international concerns and passed legislation to reestablish an anti-money laundering regime that had been suspended by Presidential decree. The new legislation falls short of international standards in some areas, but represented a step forward in Uzbekistan’s commitment to combat financial crimes.
Uzbekistan cooperated with foreign governments on general security issues, including border control. Uzbekistan hosted the Central Asian Border Security Initiative (CABSI) meeting in October 2009, for the purpose of facilitating border security cooperation within the region. Tashkent was the seat of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure.
 According to Home Minister Chidambaram, groups affiliated with the Communist Party of India (Maoist) had pockets of influence in 20 states, but were primarily active in 223 out of India’s 545 Parliamentary districts across eight states known as the “Red Corridor”, comprised of West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka.
 Aktau is Kazakhstan's largest port on the Caspian Sea and an important shipping site in the transportation of oil from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan and Russia.