Pulwama terror strike: The surprising Intelligence failure

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The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) data revels that the terror attack in the country saw a major decline since the Narendra Modi government came to power. The data was presented by the Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir in a written statement in the Parliament. The MHA said in the last 5 years from 2014 to 2018, the hinterland of the country saw just 6 terror incidents, with 3 in 2014, 1 each in 2015, 2016, 2018 and none in 2017. But the situation in Kashmir is different. The number of terror attacks increased from 222 in 2014 to 614 in 2018 in which 138 civilians and 339 security personnel were killed. Kashmir saw 1708 terror attacks in the last 5 years.

India’s intelligence community never got the political clearance which hoped to deal with terrorism till Narendra Modi era. The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh believed in peace dialogue process with Pakistan, in spite of increasing terrorist attack including 26/11 in 2008. The former Prime Minister I.K Gujral, ended Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) operations in Pakistan without being conscious of national security. The Prime Minister P.V Narasimha Rao was no different from the previous political masters, who wound up RAW’s eastern operations.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi was different from beginning itself and made the first-ever public comment states that to authorise intelligence agencies to carry out offensive covert operations against terrorists. Many believed that this statement was part and parcel of election stunt but it reflected in the country by major decline in the terrorist attack. In the past few years Indian intelligence agencies transformed from defensive to offensive line of operation which neutralised militant organisation in the country.

Pulwama bomber Adil Ahmad Dar was under the scanner of Jammu and Kashmir Police associated with terror links. In spite of this lead, all security establishments pathetically failed to prevent the most terrifying attack in recent event. The root cause of intelligence failure point out the massive failure in various stages of the intelligence process which generate the ‘actionable intelligence’.

The revamped Multi Agency Centre (MAC) under Intelligence Bureau (IB) streamlined for intelligence collection and sharing soon after 26/11. All agencies are expected to share the inputs with the MAC on 24/7 basis. The actionable intelligence shall be shared with respective states ‘need to know’ basis by the MAC.

The Pulwama terror strike questions the credibility of the MAC along with other agencies fundamental operations from grass root level. India’s security monitored by various agencies such as Intelligence Bureau (IB) which is solely responsible for internal security, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) which is responsible for foreign intelligence, National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) which provides technical intelligence, Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) which collect and share intelligence from three armed forces such as army intelligence, naval intelligence and air force intelligence and every state have their own intelligence set-up.

Adil Ahmad Dar, a 22 year old Jaish-e-Mohammed operative was driving vehicle with 350 kg explosives; rammed in to the convoy carrying CRPF soldiers, resulted 40 CRPF soldiers have been martyred in Pulwama district, Jammu and Kashmir. It is hard to believe that it is a one man show. The various stages of planning, procuring explosives and arranging in the vehicle, design of modus operandi and whatever else, has taken place both inside and outside of India simultaneously. Also, this process involved with more people and time along with detailed planning. Still our internal and external intelligence agencies failed in every aspect. Their lack of foresight and pro-activeness resulted the worst and the most terrifying terrorist attacks in recent Indian history.

Compare to previous disgusting era, in recent times India strike back on terror beyond its border. The first surgical strike was carried out at terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir days after terrorists attacked an Army camp in Uri in Kashmir. The Indian Air force carried out shell shock strike on Balakot, inside Pakistan territory followed by Pulwama terror attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad was second one. The above incidents proved the competency of the intelligence community along with its covered the recent failures.

The root cause analysis reveals that when intelligence communities drastically improves their offensive capabilities, same time pathetically failing in fundamental intelligence collection process. Adil Ahmad Dar, Jaish-e-Mohammed operative was an in listed ‘Target’ in Jammu and Kashmir Police radar. In spite of this, system failed to track down his movements and plan in various stages and eventually he successfully completed his mission.

Jammu and Kashmir police receive maximum information through their own sources such as paid sources and rapport with local peoples. This intelligence shall be shared with other security agencies to take the call on specific subject. Intelligence Bureau (IB) also collects and analysis inputs. By passing so many inputs to the law enforcement agencies under the banner ‘intelligence alert’ is not leading to any fruitful result. Rather there is not any system in the place to generate ‘actionable intelligence’ from multiple sources and agencies.

Still for an ‘actionable intelligence’ officers shall go to the field and create own sources and build contact across the agencies. The rigid hierarchy, lack of skilled man power, sources, massive transfers in intelligence community also affecting to generate the ‘actionable intelligence’.

Since political will supporting intelligence community presently, it is the right time to work on the root cause of recent massive failure. The position of National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) unanswered so far on this subject. The celebrated concept of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) after the 26/11 attack to deal with terrorism, still remain as concept only.

Under the Narendra Modi government and aggressive National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, recent intelligence failure is surprising rather than shocking. If the notable lapses in the present system is not resolving in short span of time, the same act as the root cause of the upcoming terror strike in India.

Dr T P Vipin is a Criminologist:- Investigation & Legal Consultant

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