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NightWatch 20110907


For the Night of 7 September 2011

India: On 7 September a bomb in a briefcase detonated outside the security perimeter of the High Court in New Delhi. India's special home secretary said at least 9 people were killed and 45 injured in the explosion. An Islamic terrorist group, Harkat-ul-Jihad e-Islami (HUJI), claimed responsibility for the attack, Indian officials said. The group has demanded the government release a terrorist who was involved in the November 2008 attack in Mumbai and has been sentenced to death. It operates in Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Comment: The Indian government has not assigned responsibility for the attack, despite the claim. Regardless of the perpetrator, the overriding significance of the attack is that it shows Indian security remains lax ten years after the December 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament.

Pakistan: The Islamist militant group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) allegedly plans to kidnap high-ranking officials across Pakistan in an attempt to force the government to release the family of Osama bin Laden, The Tribune Express reported. The Pakistani Interior Ministry advised the officials of all government departments and law enforcement agencies to remain vigilant. The ministry's Crisis Management Cell circular advised strict security measures as such kidnappings can occur in Islamabad and other provincial capital cities.

In another security development, a pair of suicide bombers attacked the home of a Deputy Inspector General of the Frontier Corps in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, on 7 September. The attack killed the officer's wife and at least 27 others, including several guards, a colonel and two children, officials said. The brigadier was among the 82 people injured in the attack.

A man claiming to be a spokesman for Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the bombings in telephone calls made to journalists.

Comment: The attacks appear to be in retaliation for the Pakistan government's claim of having captured a senior al Qaida member with the help of the CIA. The TTP appears to be getting bolder again in that the attack was timed to the brigadier's departure for work from a high security neighborhood.

The brigadier's residence is located in a compound that includes the residence of the Chief Minister of Baluchistan and the Inspector General of Police. As with all such attacks, the TTP almost certainly had inside help. The attack shows that Pakistani security is so lax or so penetrated with TTP sympathizers that no officials are safe from attack. It adds credulity to the threat to kidnap officials.

Karachi. On 4 September for the second time, Chief of Army Staff General Kayani restated the Pakistan Army's readiness to assist the government in stopping the murders and violence in Karachi. Once again Kayani insisted that the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers were not being employed properly.

According to a report in Pakistan Today on 7 September, the Army leadership directed or pressured the Rangers to undertake suppression operations against assassins in areas that the police and the Rangers previously had ignored under a "reconciliation" policy of the government. Reportedly, the Army leadership ordered Interior Minister Rehman Malik to leave Karachi because of his mismanagement of the situation.

Comment: Despite Army warnings earlier in the summer, the security situation has not improved. The operation reported by Pakistan Today, if the limited details are accurate, represents the first time during Kayani's tenure that the Army has overruled government management of the security situation. Army patience is running out.

Libya: Update. Rebel fighters claim to have surrounded Qadhafi and say it is only a matter of time until he is captured or killed, a spokesman for Tripoli's new military council said Wednesday.  The spokesman would not say where Qadhafi had been found, but said he was still in Libya and had been tracked using high technology and human intelligence. Other reports say he is in southern Libya, possibly en route Niger.

Niger-Libya: A large military convoy from Libya arrived in the northern Niger city of Agadez late Monday. The new leadership in Tripoli said on Tuesday that a convoy of around 200 cars had crossed from Libya into Niger, but could not confirm who was in the convoy.

A Nigerien government source said prominent Libyan regime officials fled across the border on Sunday, including Qadhafi's internal security chief Mansour Daw, who had been reported to be in the pro-Qadhafi town of Bani Walid. The US and the Tripoli regime have called on Niger to repatriate members of the Qadhafi regime.

Comment: Even before this development, the Tripoli government was shifting its focus away from sub-Saharan African states and back towards the Arab world. Niger's action in accepting Qadhafi regime members will reinforce that shift and increases the risk of reprisals against sub-Saharan Africans in Tripoli and other coastal towns.

End of NightWatch for 7 September.

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