Military & Aerospace

How Pakistan's Proxy War Began - IX
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By B Raman

Wake-up call

The Day of Infamy in New York and Washington DC on September 11 is a wake-up call for all nations grappling with the menace of externally-directed terrorism. More so for India.

Also read: How Pakistan’s Proxy War Began – I

Security agencies all over the world had been concerned since the middle 1990s over the possibility of the following three potentially catastrophic future scenarios, which they call new or catastrophic terrorism:

Click to buy: A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally

  • First, the use of or threat to use weapons of mass disruption (eg a computet virus) to damage or destroy the national security, economic, communications, energy and other vital supplies’ infrastructures.
  • Second, the use of or threat to use weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
  • Third, seizing control of sensitive installations such as nuclear reactors and using them as bargaining chips to force the State to concede their demands.

Terrorist networks of today are becoming increasingly autonomous in their functioning with their dependence on their State-sponsors reduced by the easy availability of narcotics dollars and weapons and explosives, which they can buy from the flourishing smugglers market with narcotics money.

These concerns were the outcome of the Sarin gas attack by the Om Shinrikiyo sect in Tokyo in 1995 and subsequent interviews given by Osama bin Laden in which he had expressed an interest in the procurement of weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical weapons.

However, none of the scenarios discussed in the past had visualised the type of horrendous attacks mounted by the terrorists on September 11. But irrational and fanatical minds think alike. A Sikh terrorist arrested in the early 1990s had stated that Pakistan’s ISI had suggested to the terrorists the possibility of crashing a plane into the Mumbai High platform. Mumbai – March, 1993, was the seed from which New York and Washington DC – 2001 was born.

In the third and final part of its report on National Security during the 21st Century released in February, 2001, a bipartisan Commission led by former US Senators Warren B Rudman and Gary Hart had called for the creation of a Cabinet-level agency to assume responsibility for defending the US against the increasing likelihood of terrorist attacks in the country. The report warned that terrorists probably will attack the US with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons at some point within the next 25 years.

The Commission proposed a complete redesign of the National Guard to provide a new “Homeland Security Agency” with US-based troops to combat those who threatened the US within its territory. It outlined a far-reaching reorganisation of the Pentagon, the State Department, the National Security Council and other agencies, saying that they had become bloated and unfocused. Its report even urged Congress to streamline its own committee structure to keep interference in national security matters to the minimum necessary.

Deaths are no longer counted in dozens, but in thousands. Old crisis management drills evolved to meet conventional threats such as hijacking, hostage-taking, etc, will no longer meet the horrendous threats of today.

The Commission recommended merging the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Customs Service, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard into the new “Homeland Security Agency.” It said that the National Guard should be “reorganised, properly trained and adequately equipped” to cope with natural disasters and attacks on US targets by weapons of mass destruction. The Commission said that the National Guard should be relieved of the responsibility of participating in overseas deployments and concentrate on security at home.

The report added: “The combination of unconventional weapons proliferation with the persistence of international terrorism will end the relative invulnerability of the US homeland to catastrophic attack. A direct attack against American citizens on American soil is likely over the next quarter century. The risk is not only death and destruction but also a demoralisation that could undermine US global leadership. In the face of this threat, our nation has no coherent or integrated governmental structures.”

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

B Raman

Former, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai & Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is the author of The Kaoboys of R&AW, A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally,  INTELLIGENCE, PAST, PRESENT & FUTUREMumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy and Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

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