Pak Support Makes IM Lethal and Resilient, Says US Report
The terrorist outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) is more lethal and resilient as it receives support from Pakistan and Bangladesh-based militant groups, according to a 110-page report authored by noted South Asia security expert Stephen Tankel.
The report, ‘Jihadist Violence: The Indian Threat’, indicted Pakistan for providing safe haven to the terrorists on the run.
It said the hideouts in Pakistan enabled IM cadre to travel to Gulf countries in order to rebuild their network.
The report, based on research conducted over 20 months as well as field interviews in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, suggests that the Gulf countries remain an important and sometimes under-appreciated support base and transit point for Pakistani and Indian militants planning to launch attacks on Indian soil.
In fact, several captured operatives confirmed ISI facilitation for Indian militants based in or transiting through Gulf countries.
“The Indian Mujahideen is part of a larger universe of jihadist entities operating in India. Many are connected to one another and to external jihadist entities like the LeT or HuJI-B, each of which recruits and runs its own Indian operatives in addition to supporting independent networks,” said the report produced by Woodrow Wilson International Centre, based in Washington.
However, the report argues that safe haven and ad hoc support most likely do not translate into strict command and control over the entire IM network, which is significantly decentralised. Different Indian operatives are alleged to act as an interface with the LeT, the ISI, or both.
“The ISI and LeT may have influence over individuals and modules within the IM, even to the point of promoting specific attacks, but that is different than command and control over the entire network,” it said.
The report underlines that Indian jihadist movement constitutes “an internal security issue with an external dimension.”
The two dimensions are historically intertwined and in the last few decades the boundaries between them have increasingly blurred. Indian militants who transit through or base themselves out of the UAE and Saudi Arabia are known to travel on Pakistani passports.
Tankel noted that the issue of Indian jihadism is not a major threat to regional stability or India’s rise.
Rather, it is a symptom of certain factors: a bilateral relationship with Pakistan that remains defined by zero-sum competition, and poor internal governance, political malfeasance, economic inequality and widespread sense of injustice.