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22 May 2002

South Asia Remains a Central Point for Anti-U.S. Terrorism

(South Asia Overview in "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001") (3340)
According to the "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001" report released
May 21 by the State Department, while South Asia remains a central
point for terrorism directed against the U.S., all countries in South
Asia have supported the Coalition effort against terrorism.
"All countries in South Asia have strongly supported the Coalition
effort against terrorism," said the report. "The challenge from here
is to turn that support into concrete action that will, over time,
significantly weaken the threat posed by terrorists in and from the
region."
In Afghanistan, the first military battleground in the war against
terrorism, Afghans now serve side by side with U.S. and other
Coalition forces in military operations.
The report notes that Pakistan has significantly changed its policy
and has rendered "unprecedented levels of cooperation to support the
war on terrorism," including breaking its formerly close ties to the
Taliban regime.
According to the South Asia section of this annual report, two South
Asian countries (India and Nepal) have been more a target of terrorism
than a base for terrorism against the United States. India suffered an
attack on the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly in October, and
in December 13 people were killed in an attack on the Parliament in
New Delhi. Nepal was a target of terrorist attacks carried out by an
indigenous Maoist insurgency. Maoists have increased their attacks
against international relief organizations and U.S. targets. Both
India and Nepal have been strong supporters of the Coalition against
terrorism.
The report also notes that there are "fragile indications of a
possible peaceful settlement" in Sri Lanka, but that the U.S. will
maintain the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) on its Foreign
Terrorist Organization list until the group no longer poses a
terrorist threat.
Following is the South Asia Overview from the "Patterns of Global
Terrorism 2001" report issued on May 21, 2002:
(begin text)
South Asia Overview
"Pakistan has a firm position of principle in the international battle
against terrorism. We reject terrorism in all its forms and
manifestations anywhere in the world." President Pervez Musharraf of
Pakistan, following his meeting with President Bush in Washington, 13
February 2002
In 2001, South Asia remained a central point for terrorism directed
against the United States and its friends and allies around the world.
Throughout the region, Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)
committed several significant acts of murder, kidnapping and
destruction, including the vicious 13 December attack on India's
Parliament.
The September 11 attacks focused global attention on terrorist
activities emanating from Afghanistan, which became the first military
battleground of the war on terrorism. Coalition military objectives in
Afghanistan were clear: 1) destroy al-Qaida and its terrorist
infrastructure in Afghanistan; 2) remove the Taliban from power; and
3) restore a broadly representative government in Afghanistan. All
countries in South Asia have strongly supported the Coalition effort
against terrorism. The challenge from here is to turn that support
into concrete action that will, over time, significantly weaken the
threat posed by terrorists in and from the region.
Some clear and important signs of fresh thinking are already apparent.
After September 11, Pakistan's President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, made
significant changes to Pakistan's policy and has rendered
unprecedented levels of cooperation to support the war on terrorism.
Pakistan not only broke its previously close ties with the Taliban
regime but also allowed the US military to use bases within the
country for military operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan sealed its
border with Afghanistan to help prevent the escape of fugitives and
continues to work closely with the United States to identify and
detain fugitives. Musharraf also has taken important steps against
domestic extremists, detaining more than 2,000 including
Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Maulana Masood Azhar.
In Sri Lanka, there are fragile indications of a possible peaceful
settlement to the decades-old conflict between the Sri Lankan
Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In 2001,
the LTTE was responsible for the devastating attack on the colocated
international and military airports north of Colombo. In December,
however, the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka established a
cease-fire brokered by Norway. The United States continues to support
the Norwegian Government's facilitation effort and its focus on
helping to bring about a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
Despite the possibility of positive change, the US will continue to
maintain the LTTE on its Foreign Terrorist Organization List until the
group no longer poses a terrorist threat.
Afghanistan
After years of ignoring calls from the international community to put
an end to terrorist activities within its borders, the Taliban, which
controlled most Afghan territory, became the first military target of
the US-led coalition against terrorism.
During the first three quarters of 2001, Islamic extremists from
around the world-including North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle
East, and Central, South, and Southeast Asia- used Afghanistan as a
training ground and base of operations for their worldwide terrorist
activities. Senior al-Qaida leaders were based in Afghanistan,
including Usama Bin Ladin, wanted for his role in the September 11
terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania as well as
for his role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
The al-Qaida leadership took advantage of its safe haven in
Afghanistan to recruit and train terrorists, to manage worldwide
fundraising for its terrorist activity, to plan terrorist operations,
and to conduct violent anti-American and antidemocratic agitation to
provoke extremists in other countries to attack US interests and those
of other countries. This was punctuated by the horrendous attacks on
the United States in September. The attacks brought a forceful
military response from the US and the international Coalition.
Our war against the Taliban and al-Qaida has been very successful, and
Afghans now serve side-by-side with US and other Coalition forces in
military operations to eliminate the remnants of Taliban and al-Qaida
fighters in the country.
In a UN-sponsored process in Bonn, Germany, Afghans representing
various factions agreed to a framework that would help Afghanistan end
its tragic conflict and promote national reconciliation, lasting
peace, and stability. Included in the text of the Bonn agreement that
established Afghanistan's Interim Authority was a promise by the
international community to help rebuild Afghanistan as part of the
fight against terrorism.
In turn, in January 2002 the international community pledged $4.5
billion in assistance to the people of Afghanistan to help them
recover from the ravages of Taliban rule.
The Taliban
After taking power in 1996, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan operated
one of the most repressive and abusive regimes in the world. By 2001
the regime controlled approximately 90 percent of the country and was
engaged in a war for the remaining territory with the Northern
Alliance, which had previously governed the country and was still
recognized by most nations and the United Nations as the legitimate
government.
Taliban-controlled Afghanistan became a major terrorist hub, a
training ground and transit point for a network of informally linked
individuals and groups that have engaged in international militant and
terrorist acts throughout the world. Usama Bin Ladin and al-Qaida
terrorists provided the Taliban with training, weapons, soldiers, and
money to use in its war to defeat the Northern Alliance. The Taliban
in turn provided safehaven and logistical facilities to al-Qaida.
The United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on the Taliban
in December 2000 for its failure to stop providing training and
support to international terrorists, to turn over Usama Bin Ladin to
face justice, and to close terrorist camps in Afghanistan.
The sanctions obliged member states to:
. Freeze assets of Usama Bin Ladin;
.Observe an arms embargo against the Taliban;
.Close all Taliban offices overseas;
.Reduce the staff at Taliban missions abroad;
.Restrict the travel of senior Taliban officials (except for purposes
of participation in peace negotiations, or humanitarian reasons,
including religious obligations);
.Ban the export of a chemical used in the production of heroin; and
.Close Ariana Afghan Airlines, and ban non-humanitarian flights.
The United States repeatedly warned Taliban officials that they would
be held responsible for any terrorist attacks undertaken by Bin Ladin
as long as he remained in Taliban-controlled territory. In the wake of
the September 11 attacks, President Bush warned: either hand over Bin
Ladin and his associates or share their fate. The Taliban chose the
latter. They were driven from power in the first few weeks of
Operation Enduring Freedom.
India
India was itself a target of terrorism throughout the year but
unstintingly endorsed the US military response to the September 11
attack and offered to provide the US with logistic support and staging
areas.
To address internal threats, the Indian cabinet approved in October an
ordinance granting sweeping powers to security forces to suppress
terrorism. Since then, at least 25 groups have been put on the Indian
Government's list of "terrorist organizations" and declared
"unlawful."
The Union Home Ministry asked all other ministries to create a
centralized point for sorting Government mail after a powder-laced
letter was discovered in late October at the office of the Home
Minister. The Ministry also deployed additional security forces to
guard important installations following a suicide attack in October on
an Indian Air Force base in the Kashmir Valley. The security posture
was significantly upgraded, including large-scale mobilization of
Indian Armed Forces, following the attack in December on India's
Parliament.
Security problems associated with various insurgencies, particularly
in Kashmir, persisted through 2001 in India. On 1 October, 31 persons
were killed and at least 60 others were injured when militants
detonated a bomb at the main entrance of the Jammu and Kashmir
legislative assembly building in Srinagar. The Kashmiri terrorist
group Jaish e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack. On 13
December an armed group attacked India's Parliament in New Delhi. The
incident resulted in the death of 13 terrorists and security
personnel. India has blamed FTOs Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish
e-Mohammed for the attack and demanded that the Government of Pakistan
deal immediately with terrorist groups operating from Pakistan or
Pakistan-controlled territory. India also faced continued violence
associated with several separatist movements based in the northeast.
(On 22 January 2002, armed gunmen fired on a group of police outside
the American Center in Kolkata, (Calcutta), killing four and wounding
at least nine. The investigation of this attack is ongoing. Although
no US citizens were injured, Indian police have indicated that the
American Center was deliberately chosen. One US contract guard was
injured in the assault.)
The Indian Government continued cooperative bilateral efforts with the
United States against terrorism, including extensive cooperation
between US and Indian law-enforcement agencies. The US-India
Counterterrorism Joint Working Group-founded in November 1999-met in
June 2001 in Washington and January 2002 in New Delhi and included
contacts between interagency partners from both governments. The group
agreed to pursue even closer cooperation on shared counterterrorism
goals and will reconvene in Washington in summer 2002.
Nepal
Nepal was an early and strong supporter of the Coalition against
global terrorism and of military operations at the onset of Operation
Enduring Freedom, agreeing to allow access to their airports and
airspace.
Like India, Nepal was more a target of terrorism -- primarily from
indigenous Maoist revolutionaries -- than a base for terrorism against
the United States. The indigenous Maoist insurgency now controls at
least five districts, has a significant presence in at least 17
others, and at least some presence in nearly all the remaining 53
districts. Until recently, the Government used the police to address
the increase in Maoist activity, but elements of the Nepalese Army
were being deployed in July 2001.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba came to power in July pledging to
resolve the conflict through a negotiated peace. The Government and
the Maoists agreed to a cease-fire and held three rounds of talks,
during which Deuba announced plans for significant social reform that
addressed some of the Maoists' economic and social concerns.
The Maoists ultimately walked away from the talks and the cease-fire,
and on 23 November launched simultaneous nationwide terrorist attacks.
The Government declared a state of emergency. In mid-2001The Maoists
began expanding their operations with attacks on officials and
commercial enterprises. Prospects for negotiations in the near future
are very dim. The Maoists often have used terrorist tactics in their
campaign against the Government, including targeting unarmed
civilians. Of particular concern is the increase in the number of
attacks against international relief organizations and US targets.
(For example, terrorists burned the CARE International building when
they attacked the town of Mangalsen 16-17 February 2002.) Before that
attack, on 15 December, a US Embassy local employee was murdered.
Nepalese police and US officials are still investigating the December
killing. So far, no motive for the attack has been established and no
suspects have been identified.
(A small bomb exploded at the Coca-Cola factory in Bharatpur,
southwest of Kathmandu, the evening of 29 January 2002. The bomb
caused only slight damage, and there were no injuries.) A similar
device was set off at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kathmandu in
late November. No US citizens are employed at either Coca-Cola plant.
Pakistan
After September 11, Pakistan pledged and provided full support for the
Coalition effort in the war on terrorism. Pakistan has afforded the
United States unprecedented levels of cooperation by allowing the US
military to use bases within the country. Pakistan also worked closely
with the United States to identify and detain extremists and to seal
the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. (In February 2002, the
United States and Pakistan agreed to institutionalize counterterrorism
exchanges as a component of a newly created, wide-ranging Law
Enforcement Joint Working Group.)
As of November, Islamabad had frozen over $300,000 in
terrorist-related assets in several banks. In December President
Pervez Musharraf announced to the Government a proposal to bring
Pakistan's madrassas (religious schools)-some of which have served as
breeding grounds for extremists-into the mainstream educational
system. Pakistan also began sweeping police reforms, upgraded its
immigration control system, and began work on new anti-terrorist
finance laws.
In December, Musharraf cracked down on "anti- Pakistan" extremists
and, by January 2002, Pakistani authorities had arrested more than
2,000 including leaders of the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT), and
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM), both designated as Foreign Terrorist
Organizations-as well as the Jamiat Ulema-I-Islami (JUI), a religious
party with ties to the Taliban and Kashmiri militant groups. Pakistani
support for Kashmiri militant groups designated as Foreign Terrorist
Organizations waned after September 11. Questions remain, however,
whether Musharraf's "get tough" policy with local militants and his
stated pledge to oppose terrorism anywhere will be fully implemented
and sustained.
Daniel Pearl
Daniel Pearl, 38-year-old reporter and chief of the Wall Street
Journal's South Asia bureau for two years, was kidnapped in Karachi,
Pakistan, on 23 January 2002. He had been researching a story linking
the alleged shoe-bomber Richard Reid with al-Qaida and various Islamic
radical groups in Pakistan. His kidnappers sent e-mail messages
accusing Pearl of being a spy and listing numerous demands.
For weeks Daniel Pearl's fate was unknown. President Bush and
President Musharraf condemned the kidnapping and stated that no
concessions would be made to terrorists.
Pakistani law enforcement officials worked tirelessly to locate Pearl
and his abductors, and US Embassy officials cooperated closely in the
investigation. On 21 February it was learned that Mr. Pearl was
murdered by his captors.
Police in Karachi made several arrests in the case, including Ahmed
Omar Sheik. Sheik spent five years in prison on charges of kidnapping
three British citizens and one US citizen in 1994. In 1999, hijackers
took over Indian Airlines flight 814 en route from Nepal to India and
forced the plane to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan. In exchange for the
155 persons aboard, they demanded the release from an Indian prison of
Sheik and Masood Azhar, founder of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which the
United States designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2001. The
Government of India released them.
President Bush said: "Those who threaten Americans, those who engage
in criminal barbaric acts, need to know that these crimes only hurt
their cause, and only deepen the resolve of the United States of
America to rid the world of these agents of terror." The Department of
State called the murder of Mr. Pearl "an outrage" and said the United
States and Pakistan "are committed to identifying all the perpetrators
in this crime and bringing them to justice."
"His murder is an act of barbarism that makes a mockery of everything
Danny's kidnappers claimed to believe in," read a statement by Peter
Kann, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, and Paul Steiger, the
newspaper's managing editor. "They claimed to be Pakistani
nationalists, but their actions must surely bring shame to all true
Pakistani patriots."
Daniel Pearl leaves behind his wife, French journalist Marianne, who
at the time of his murder was seven months pregnant with their first
child.
The murder of Daniel Pearl underscores the importance of not making
concessions to terrorists, the dangers faced by journalists around the
world, the nature of the current terrorist threat, and the need to
maintain vigilance and take appropriate security precautions.
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka declared support for US-led military action in Afghanistan
following the September 11 attacks and welcomed US resolve to root out
terrorism wherever it exists. On 1 October the Government of Sri Lanka
issued a statement of support and ordered that all financial
institutions notify the Central Bank of transactions by named
terrorists. The Government has issued a freeze order on certain
terrorist assets and has promulgated regulations to meet requirements
under UNSCR 1373. Colombo has taken measures since September to
strengthen domestic security such as posting extra security forces at
sites that may be particularly vulnerable to attack and acceding to
the Convention on Plastic Explosives-a weapon favored by domestic
terrorists.
In early 2001 the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) continued
its unilateral cease-fire, begun in late 2000. In April it broke the
cease-fire and resumed a high level of violence against government,
police, civilian, and military targets. On 24 July the LTTE carried
out a large-scale attack at the co-located military and international
airports north of Colombo, causing severe damage to aircraft and
installations. An LTTE attack in November killed 14 policemen and
wounded 18 others, including four civilians. Also in November, LTTE
members were implicated in the assassination of an opposition
politician who had planned to run in December's parliamentary
elections. There were no confirmed cases of LTTE or other terrorist
groups targeting US citizens or businesses in Sri Lanka in 2001.
On 24 December, the LTTE began a one-month cease-fire. Shortly
thereafter, the newly elected Sri Lankan Government reciprocated and
announced its own unilateral cease-fire. (In 2002, both parties
renewed the cease-fire monthly and continued to work with the
Norwegian Government in moving the peace process forward. On 21
February 2002, both sides agreed to a formal cease-fire accord. There
have been no significant incidents of violence attributed to the LTTE
since the December 2001 cease-fire. On 21 January the LTTE repatriated
10 prisoners it had been holding-seven civilians it had captured in
1998 and three military officers held since 1993. It is unknown how
many other captives the LTTE continues to hold hostage.)
The United States continues strongly to support Norway's facilitation
effort and is helping to bring about a negotiated settlement of the
conflict. Agreement by both sides for direct discussions is a hopeful
sign. Nonetheless, given the ruthless and violent history of the LTTE
(including acts within the past year), and its failure to renounce
terrorism as a political tool, the United States maintains the LTTE on
its Foreign Terrorist Organization List.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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