VIF News Digest: National Security - Defence Studies & Terrorism, 16-30 September 2021
Anurag Sharma, Research Associate, VIF

DEFENCE

  • External Affairs Minister's meeting with State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China on the side lines of SCO Council of Heads of State Meeting.
  • Prime Minister virtually participates in 21st Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
  • Exercise Surya Kiran between Indian Army and Nepali Army.
  • 6th Edition of SCO Exercise Peaceful Mission.
  • Call between Raksha Mantri (RM) and US Secretary of Defence.
  • 3rd edition of Bilateral Exercise ‘Samudra Shakti’.
  • Next Chief of the Air Staff.
  • MoD places supply order for 118 Main Battle Tanks (MBT).
  • Prime Minister’s participation in the Quad Leaders’ Summit.
  • Acquisition of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft.
  • Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) three-day visit to Oman.
  • Successful maiden flight test of Akash prime missile.
  • Centre dissolves Ordnance Factory Board.
  • Defence Acquisition Council approves proposals of value Rs.13,165 cr.

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

Canada
  • Canadian men arrested with bomb-making manuals and al-Qa’ida literature.
Africa
Somalia
  • At least eight people were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Mogadishu.
Afghanistan
  • al-Qa’ida will regroup in Afghanistan, and may strike US in next two years, claimed DIA Director Lt Gen Berrier.
  • Taliban will be responsible if al-Qa’ida threatens the US from Afghanistan, warned US Secretary of State Blinken.
  • Islamic State claimed series of attacks on Taliban in Nangarhar province.
Pakistan
  • Pakistan is home to 12 foreign terrorist organisations, claimed US’ CRS report.
  • TTP and al-Qa’ida terrorists have Pakistan ID cards, claimed Pakistan’s Senate report.

DOMESTIC TERRORISM

Jammu and Kashmir
  • Multiple locations in J&K were searched in Bathindi IED recovery case.
  • Police arrested four LeT terrorists from Bandipora.
  • NIA officials probed 10 people linked to JeI, J&K terror-funding case.
Left-Wing Extremism
  • Anti-Maoist posters emerged in Cherla Mandal in Telangana.
Islamic Extremism
  • Delhi Terror Module case: Surat, Mumbai, Patna were likely targets.
Khalistan-inspired Extremismv
  • Punjab police cracked a pro-Khalistan module in Ludhiana.

CYBER, INFORMATION WARFARE & AI (SECURITY PERSPECTIVE)

  • Android malware—GriftHorse stole millions after infecting 10 million phones.
Defence
External Affairs Minister's meeting with State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China on the side lines of SCO Council of Heads of State Meeting.

The two Ministers exchanged views on the current situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh as well as on global developments. EAM noted that since their last meeting on 14th July the two sides had made some progress in the resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh and had completed the disengagement in Gogra area. However there were still some outstanding issues that needed to be resolved.

In this context EAM recalled that Foreign Minister Wang Yi had in their last meeting noted that the bilateral relations were at low ebb. Both sides had agreed that a prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of the either side as it was impacting the relationship in a negative manner. EAM therefore emphasized that the two sides should work towards early resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols. EAM underlined that it was necessary to ensure progress in resolution of remaining issues so as to restore peace and tranquility along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh noting that peace and tranquility in the border areas has been an essential basis for progress in the bilateral relations. In this regard, the Ministers agreed that military and diplomatic officials of the two sides should meet again and continue their discussions to resolve the remaining issues at the earliest.
For more information: Click here to read..._

Prime Minister virtually participates in 21st Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

In his address, Prime Minister highlighted the problems caused by growing radicalisation and extremism in the broader SCO region, which runs counter to the history of the region as a bastion of moderate and progressive cultures and values.
He noted that recent developments in Afghanistan could further exacerbate this trend towards extremism. He suggested that SCO could work on an agenda to promote moderation and scientific and rational thought, which would be especially relevant for the youth of the region.

He also spoke about India's experience of using digital technologies in its development programmes, and offered to share these open-source solutions with other SCO members. While speaking about the importance of building connectivity in the region, Prime Minister stressed that connectivity projects should be transparent, participatory and consultative, in order to promote mutual trust. The SCO Summit was followed by an Outreach session on Afghanistan between SCO and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). Prime Minister participated in the outreach session through a video-message.
For more information: Click here to read...

Exercise Surya Kiran between Indian Army and Nepali Army.

The 15th Edition of Indo - Nepal Joint Military Training, Exercise Surya Kiran between Indian Army and Nepali Army commenced on 20 September 2021 at Pithoragarh (UK) till 03 October 2021. During this exercise, an Infantry Battalion from Indian Army and an equivalent strength from Nepali Army shared their experiences gained during the conduct of various counter-insurgency operations over a prolonged period in their respective countries.
As part of the exercise, both the Armies familiarise themselves with each other’s weapons, equipment, tactics, techniques and procedures of operating in a counter-insurgency environment in mountainous terrain. Also, there were a series of Expert Academic Discussions on various subjects such as Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, High Altitude Warfare, Jungle Warfare etc. The joint military training culminated with a gruelling 48 hours exercise to validate the performance of both the armies in counter-insurgency in mountainous terrain. Last edition of Exercise Surya Kiran was conducted in Nepal in 2019.
For more information: Click here to read...

6th Edition of SCO Exercise Peaceful Mission.

The 6th Edition of Exercise PEACEFUL MISSION: 2021 of SCO Member States hosted by Russia at the Orenburg Region of South West Russia culminated on 24 September 2021. An Indian military contingent comprising of an all arms combined force of 200 personnel from Indian Army and Indian Air force is participating in the exercise. The twelve days long joint training involving Armed Forces of all Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states was organised with an aim to foster close relations between SCO member states and to enhance abilities of the military leaders to command multinational military contingents. In this joint multinational exercise which began on 14 September 2021, SCO member nations conducted joint training focusing on combating terrorism. All military contingents took part in the final joint exercise where-in multinational forces exhibited their tactical prowess, combat power and overwhelming dominance over terrorist groups. The validation phase of the Exercise was witnessed by all Chiefs’ of the General Staff of the SCO member states.
For more information: Click here to read...

Call between Raksha Mantri (RM) and US Secretary of Defence.

US Secretary of Defence Mr Lloyd Austin made a telephone call to Raksha Mantri on 20 September 2021. Both the leaders discussed bilateral and regional matters, including developments in Afghanistan. They discussed defence cooperation and looked forward to working closely.
The Raksha Mantri and Secretary Austin also exchanged views about combating terrorism in the region. Both sides appreciated the mutual cooperation in the recent evacuation operations in Afghanistan and agreed to remain in regular contact in view of the evolving situation. Click here to read...

3rd edition of Bilateral Exercise ‘Samudra Shakti’.

Indian Naval Ships arrived at Jakarta, Indonesia on 18 Sep 21 to participate in the 3rd edition of Bilateral Exercise ‘Samudra Shakti’ with the Indonesian Navy scheduled off the approaches to Sunda Strait from 20 Sep to 22 Sep 21.
For more information: Click here to read...

Next Chief of the Air Staff.

Government has decided to appoint Air Marshal V R Chaudhari, PVSM, AVSM, VM, presently Vice Chief of Air Staff, as the next Chief of the Air Staff after the retirement of Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC on 30th September, 2021.
For more information: Click here to read...

MoD places supply order for 118 Main Battle Tanks (MBT).

Ministry of Defence (MoD) placed an order with Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF), Avadi, Chennai for supply of 118 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) Arjun Mk-1A for the Indian Army on September 23, 2021. The order, worth Rs 7,523 crore, will provide further boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative in defence sector.
For more information: Click here to read...

Prime Minister’s participation in the Quad Leaders’ Summit.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi participated in the first in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit in Washington D.C., USA on 24 September 2021, along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan, and President Joseph Biden of the United States of America. The Leaders had a very useful exchange of views which reinforced the shared interests, values and underlying principles in which the Quad framework was anchored.

The Leaders shared their respective perspectives on Afghanistan and the regional situation in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific. On Afghanistan, they agreed to deepen their cooperation in counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and called on the Taliban to abide by UN Security Council Resolution 2593. The Leaders denounced the use of terrorist proxies and emphasized the importance of denying any logistical, financial or military support to terrorist groups which could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, including cross-border attacks.

The Quad Leaders took stock of progress made since their March 2021 Summit, especially the Covid-19 vaccine partnership. They welcomed Prime Minister’s announcement that India will start supply of India-made Covid 19 vaccines to the Indo-Pacific region with eight million doses, from October 2021. With the objective of normalising international travel and ensuring predictability, Prime Minster proposed common travel norms among countries and mutual recognition of vaccination certificates.

The Leaders discussed affirmative actions towards climate change, decarbonization efforts in shipping and port operations, deployment of clean hydrogen technology, the need for responsible and resilient clean energy supply chains. In this context, Prime Minister proposed a Global Green Hydrogen coalition, given our respective strengths and capabilities. The Leaders also launched a Shipping Taskforce that will coordinate greening and decarbonizing the shipping value chain. Mumbai Port Trust will participate in this initiative along with ports from the other three Quad countries.

The Leaders issued the Quad Principles on Technology Design, Development, Governance, and Use that will guide not only the region but the world toward responsible, open, high-standards innovation. To facilitate and strengthen people to people linkages, the Leaders announced a Fellowship program for 100 students per year to pursue Masters and Doctoral degrees in STEM fields in USA.

A Quad Infrastructure Coordination Group was launched to share assessments of regional infrastructure needs and coordinate approaches, technical assistance and capacity-building efforts. The Leaders also setup a space cooperation working group to exchange satellite data for monitoring and adapting to climate change, disaster preparedness, and responding to challenges in shared domains.
For more information: Click here to read...

Acquisition of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a contract with M/s Airbus Defence and Space, Spain for acquisition of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force, on September 24, 2021. It is a transport aircraft of 5-10 tonne capacity that will replace the ageing Avro transport aircraft of IAF. The aircraft will give a major boost to tactical airlift capability of IAF, especially in the Northern and North-Eastern sector and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Out of 56, forty aircraft will be manufactured in India by TATA Consortium. All the deliveries will be completed within ten years of signing of the contract.
For more information: Click here to read...

Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) three-day visit to Oman.

The CNS is scheduled to hold bilateral discussions with his counterpart Rear Admiral Saif bin Nasser bin Mohsen Al-Rahbi, Commander of Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) in Muscat. During the visit, the CNS would also be interacting with senior hierarchy of Oman including Chief of Staff Sutan’s Armed Forces, Commander of Royal Army of Oman, Commander of Royal Air Force of Oman and Secretary General, MoD. He would also be visiting key defence installations. Both Navies have been participating in the biennial maritime exercise Naseem Al Bahr since 1993. This exercise was last conducted in 2020, off Goa and the next edition is scheduled in 2022.
The CNS also signed an MoU for exchange of White Shipping Information which would facilitate information exchange on merchant shipping traffic, through IFC-IOR, India and MSC, Oman and contribute to enhanced maritime safety and security in the region.
For more information: Click here to read...

Successful maiden flight test of Akash prime missile.

A new version of the Akash Missile – ‘Akash Prime’ was successfully flight tested from Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, Odisha on 27 September 2021. In comparison to the existing Akash System, Akash Prime is equipped with an indigenous active Radio Frequency (RF) seeker for improved accuracy. Other improvements also ensure more reliable performance under low temperature environments at higher altitudes. Modified ground system of the existing Akash weapon system has been used for the current flight test.
For more information: Click here to read...

Government of India dissolves Ordnance Factory Board.

Government of India has decided to transfer, with effect from October 1, 2021, the management, control, operations and maintenance of these 41 production units and identified non-production units to seven government companies (wholly owned by the government of India). According to the newa, the name of the seven defence PSUs (also called DPSUs) are Munition India Limited, Armoured Vehicles Nigam Limited, Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited, Troop Comforts Limited, Yantra India Limited, India Optel Limited and Gliders India Limited.
For more information: Click here to read...

Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approves proposals of value Rs.13,165 cr.

The (DAC) in its meeting of
accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for Capital Acquisitions proposals for modernization and operational needs of the Indian Armed Forces amounting to approx. Rs.13,165cr. Of the total amount approved, procurement worth Rs. 11,486cr. (87%) is from the domestic sources. Key approvals include helicopters, guided munition and rocket ammunition. Looking into the need of the Indian Army for an Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) Squadron, to improve its integral lift capability ensuring its operational preparedness, the DAC accorded approval of procurement of 25 ALH Mark III helicopters from M/s HAL under Buy Indian-IDDM at an approx. cost of
Rs.3,850 cr. Giving boost to Indigenous Design and Development of ammunitions, DAC accorded approval for procurement of Terminally Guided Munition (TGM) and HEPF/RHE Rocket Ammunition under Buy(Indian-IDDM) category at an approx cost ofRs.4,962 cr. from domestic sources. Other proposals worth Rs. 4,353 cr. were also accorded AoN by the DAC.
For more information: Click here to read...

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

Canada
Canadian men arrested with bomb-making manuals and al-Qa’ida literature.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)’s Toronto O-INSET (Ontario Integrated National Security Enforcement Team), on 23 September 2021, arrested Kevin Omar Mohamed, who was on probation for a terrorism case. On his smartphone, Kevin Omar had downloaded al-Qa’ida literature, manuals on bombs and poisons, and an article justifying the killing of women and children, according to the allegations filed in the Court of law.
“Mohamed’s phone contained a large amount of information that could be used to carry out a terrorist attack, including multiple bomb-making guides and extremist ideological material,” the O-INSET reports claimed.
For more information: Click here to read...

Africa
Somalia
At least eight people were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Mogadishu.

On 25 September 2021, at least eight people were killed in a suicide car bomb explosion at a street junction near the President’s Palace. Al-Qa’ida affiliated al-Shabaab claimed the responsibility of the attack. “At the crime scene, the number of casualties can be higher, since some of the injured and dead had been taken away by their relatives,” said police spokesperson— Abdifatah Aden Hassan.
“A mujahid driving a suicide car bomb targeted the convoy of cars going into the (Presidential) Palace,” claimed al-Shabaab military operation spokesperson— Abdiasis Abu Musab.
For more information: Click here to read...

Afghanistan
al-Qa’ida will regroup in Afghanistan, and may strike US in next two years, claimed DIA Director Lt Gen Berrier.

Speaking at an intelligence conference on 14 September 2021, the Director of the United States’ (US) Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)— Lt Gen Scott Berrier said that “the current assessment probably, conservatively, is one to two years for al-Qa’ida to build some capability to at least threaten the homeland [US].”
Agreeing to the claims made by Lt Gen Berrier, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s Deputy Director— David Cohen said that the intelligence agencies are already monitoring activities by al-Qa’ida regrouping in Afghanistan.
For more information: Click here to read...

Taliban will be responsible if al-Qa’ida threatens the US from Afghanistan, warned US Secretary of State Blinken.

Referring to the reports of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on al-Qa’ida’s regrouping in Afghanistan, the United States (US) Secretary of State— Anthony Blinken warned that if al-Qa’ida threatens the US from Afghanistan, the Taliban will be responsible for it.
Despite Taliban’s commitment on not to allow anyone to threaten any country from Afghanistan soil, the US will not rely on such commitment.
For more information: Click here to read...

Islamic State claimed series of attacks on Taliban in Nangarhar province.

On 19 September 2021, the Islamic State’s (IS) media arm— Amaq Agency claimed that more than 35 Taliban terrorists, were killed or injured in series of bombings on 18 and 19 September in Jalalabad city of Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.
Both terror groups, IS and Taliban, subscribe to the violent interpretation of the Islam religion, but Taliban have goal to take control of Afghanistan; whereas IS and its affiliates in Afghanistan & elsewhere call for global jihad.
For more information: Click here to read...

Pakistan
Pakistan is home to 12 foreign terrorist organisations, claimed US’ CRS report.

In a report released by an independent Congressional Research Service (CRS), the United States (US) officials identified Pakistan as a “home” or base of operations to at least 12 terrorist groups designated by the US as ‘Foreign Terrorist Organisations’ (FTOs), including five of them being India-centric such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

According to the report, these groups based and operating from Pakistan can be broadly categorised into five types— i) globally-oriented, ii) Afghanistan-oriented, iii) India, including Kashmir-oriented, iv) domestically-oriented, and v) Sectarian (anti-Shia). Pakistan has “continued to serve as a safe-haven for certain regionally focused terrorist groups,” and has “allowed groups targeting Afghanistan, as well as groups targeting India to operate from its territory,” CRS’s report quoted the US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2019.
For more information: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-home-to-12-foreign-terrorist-organisations-crs-report/articleshow/86574100.cms" target="_blank">Click here to read...

TTP and al-Qa’ida terrorists have Pakistan ID cards, claimed Pakistan’s Senate report.

According to a Senate report submitted by Senator Faisal Sabzwari of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)-Pakistan on 25 September 2021, several terrorists/operatives of the banned groups—Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), al-Qa’ida, and Afghan nationals have been found to be in possession of Pakistan’s National Identity cards.
Around 50 to 60 per cent employees of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) in Karachi are involved in corruption. Al-Qa’ida operative Abdullah Baloch obtained ID cards from NADRA, more than once.
For more information: Click here to read...

DOMESTIC TERRORISM

Jammu and Kashmir
Multiple locations in J&K were searched in Bathindi IED recovery case.

On 21 September 2021, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials, with assistance of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) police and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) personnel, carried out searches at eight locations in Anantnag, Baramulla, Kulgam, Srinagar, Doda and Kishtwar districts of J&K in connection with Bathindi IED (Improvised Explosive Device) recovery case.

The case is related to recovery of 5 kilograms of IED from a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist in Bathindi in Jammu district, J&K. Investigation revealed LeT’s conspiracy to use the IED in blasts in Jammu. During the searches, many digital devices, and other incriminating material was recovered from the premises of the suspects.
For more information: Click here to read...

Police arrested four LeT terrorists from Bandipora.

On 23 September 2021, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police cracked a terrorist module and arrested four Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists from Hajin area of Bandipora district. On Twitter, Bandipora police tweeted- “Terror-cum-recruitment model of Lashkar-e Taiba busted in Hajin, Bandipora. Four arrested. Case FIR registered; further investigation underway. More arrests expected.”
For more information: Click here to read...

NIA officials probed 10 people linked to JeI, J&K terror-funding case.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials, on 20 September 2021, probed 10 people closely associated with proscribed groups/organisation Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) terror-funding case. The senior office-bearers of the JeI were questioned over source and utilisation of funds, key players behind the group based in India and Pakistan. “JeI’s Kashmir chapter raised donations in India and abroad, ostensibly for charity, but diverted the funds raised to finance violence and secessionist activities,” according to the NIA.
For more information: Click here to read...

Left-Wing Extremism
Anti-Maoist posters emerged in Cherla Mandal in Telangana.

On 17 September 2021, several pamphlets against the Maoist leadership appeared in villages in Cherla Mandal of the Bhadradri-Kothagudem in Telangana. The pamphlets were published in the name of Adivasi Sanghams accusing the Maoists of claiming innocent tribals’ lives by planting landmines and other explosives in the forests and near tribal habitations.
The Adivasi Sanghams also printed images of cattle and people that died because of the hidden explosives set up by Maoists. Recently, an Adivasi youth died in a landmine explosion after he accidentally stepped on it.
For more information: Click here to read...

Islamic Extremism
Delhi Terror Module case: Surat, Mumbai, Patna were likely targets.

The investigation in the “Delhi terror module case” revealed that Surat, Mumbai, and Patna were likely terror targets in coming months. The main accused—Zeeshan Qama, confirmed that Gujarat and Maharashtra were on their target and recce was done in two cities, Surat and Mumbai. The accused also informed that in Bihar, Mahatma Gandhi Setu (Bridge)—which connects Patna with neighbouring Hajipur was another possible target.
“Zeeshan confirmed that he and other co-accused had visited Surat and also carried out recce of Mumbai. The conspiracy was to carry out blasts in the months of September and October,” said a senior police officer on the basis of anonymity. Zeeshan is a management degree holder (MBA) from Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh and had travelled to Pakistan via Muscat for terror training in April 2021.
For more information: Click here to read...

Khalistan-inspired Extremism
Punjab police cracked a pro-Khalistan module in Ludhiana.

On 17 September 2021, Punjab police personnel cracked a module of the Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) and arrested three of its operatives— Gurwinder Singh, Jagwinder Singh, and Sukhdev Singh, after recovering 2.84 lakh pro-Khalistan pamphlets promoting ‘Referendum 2020’, from their possession during a raid in Rampur village in Khanna, Ludhiana district.
The SFJ was banned by the Government of India in July 2019 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UA(P)A] for their involvement in promoting secession, including Sikh Referendum 2020, and terrorist activities in Punjab.
For more information: Click here to read...

CYBER, INFORMATION WARFARE & AI (SECURITY PERSPECTIVE)

Android malware—GriftHorse stole millions after infecting 10 million phones.

A new Android-based malware—GriftHorse has infected more than 10 million Android devices from over 70 countries, and likely to stole hundreds of millions from its victims by tricking them into subscribing to paid services with their consent. Once installed on a victim's phone, these malicious apps gained access to the mobile phone number and used it to present their victims with prize and gift alerts that trick the unsuspecting victims to subscribe to premium SMS (Short Message Service) that charged more than €30/ ₹2500 per month to their phone bills.
The Grift Horse malware campaign, active for approx. five months (November 2020-April 2021), was discovered by Zimperium Lab’s researchers. The malware was delivered through over 200 Trojan Android applications delivered through Google’s Play Store, and other third-party app stores.
For more information: Click here to read...

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