COUNTER-TERRORISM PERSPECTIVES (CTP) deals with Armed Insurgencies, Islamist Violence, Jihad and Radicalisation issues and other forms of Asymmetric Conflicts and policy responses in South Asia and beyond.
Following a notable lull in militant activity, Pakistan is now facing a unique militant escalation targeted against its security forces in the North Waziristan area and bordering regions. Despite the Taliban force largely being subdued following the concerted counter-terrorism efforts by Pakistan’s military, such as Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad, a resurgent faction Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA) has been carrying out targeted attacks in regular intervals.
In a significant turn of events, on October 23 Maldivian security agencies arrested Mohamad Ameen, an Islamist militant recruiter associated with Islamic State (IS). His arrest came around a month after the Presidential Commission on Deaths and Disappearances named him as the leader of an IS-linked group operating in the Maldives. Ameen’s arrest came as a surprise for many in the region, as successive governments in the Maldives had earlier failed to act against a homegrown Islamist-criminal gang nexus and radicalized Maldivians traveling abroad for jihad in Syria and Afghanistan.
Bangladesh’s Islamist landscape unexpectedly expanded with a reported resurgence of al-Qaeda-linked Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami-Bangladesh (HUJI-B—Movement of Islamic Holy War-Bangladesh) terrorist group, which has been lying dormant for over a decade. On October 2, Dhaka police arrested three senior HuJI-B operatives from the Khilgaon area of the capital city who were reportedly engaged in reviving HuJI-B’s operations in Bangladesh.
On August 23, the Sri Lankan government ended a four-month-long state of emergency that was declared after multiple suicide bombings inspired by the Islamic State (IS) rocked the South Asian nation (Colombo Page, August 23). Over 250 people died and scores were injured when on April 21, Easter Sunday, suicide bombers targeted popular hotels and churches in the capital city of Colombo, Dehiwala, Negombo (on the East Coast), and Batticoloa (on the West Coast).
On July 31, news of Hamza bin Laden’s death surfaced with only partial comment from U.S. intelligence officials and al-Qaeda media sources (Dawn [Karachi], August 1). The original report citing unnamed U.S. officials did not confirm the date, place or circumstances that led to the death of the chosen son of Osama bin Laden, who was touted as the “crown prince of jihad” and future leader of al-Qaeda.
On February 14 (2019), over 40 Indian paramilitary force personnel belonging to Central Reserve Police Force were killed near Awantipora in Pulwama district, when a Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) fidayeen (suicide) squad member Adil Ahmed Dar ambushed the security convoy with an explosives-laden vehicle (VBIED), or simply put, with a car bomb. While the use of a car bomb in itself is not new in the Kashmir region, but the terrorist outfit led by Masood Azhar used this method after a gap of almost 14 years.
China is increasingly facing transnational jihadist threats as a result of the long-standing plight of its ethnic Uighur Muslim citizens, who are mostly concentrated in the country’s northwestern region of Xinjiang (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region). Amid mounting Western criticism of China’s handling of its minorities in Xinjiang, especially over the last couple years, there has been a puzzling lack of outcry from the larger Muslim world.