The Global Security News: 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites): “global security” – Google News: Liberia: Nobel Women’s Initiative 2019 Conference Opens Today in Monrovia – Front Page Africa

Liberia: Nobel Women’s Initiative 2019 Conference Opens Today in Monrovia  Front Page Africa

MONROVIA – The Nobel Women’s Initiative 2019 Conference would commence today at the Monrovia City Hall for the next three days. Shirin Ebadi, Jody …

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1. New York and Brooklyn from Michael_Novakhov (111 sites): “Madison Brooklyn” – Google News: Baseball: German’s late blast rallies Philo past John Glenn – Zanesville Times Recorder

Baseball: German’s late blast rallies Philo past John Glenn  Zanesville Times Recorder

The Muskingum Valley League baseball race took another turn on Monday night.

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The Global Security News: Rod Rosenstein: Deputy Attorney General submits his resignation –

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April 29, 2019
Rod Rosenstein: Deputy Attorney General submits his resignation –
“peter strzok is removed” – Google News: Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein resigns and thanks Trump for ‘courtesy and humor’ – Daily Mail
FBI Says It Thwarted A Planned Terrorist Attack By A Military Vet in Los Angeles Area – WJCT NEWS
FBI says received vague tips ahead of deadly California synagogue shooting – Reuters
“fbi criticism” – Google News: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein submits letter of resignation to President Trump – Baltimore Sun

Rod Rosenstein: Deputy Attorney General submits his resignation –
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department official who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the Russia investigation, is now, finally and officially, stepping down.
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“peter strzok is removed” – Google News: Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein resigns and thanks Trump for ‘courtesy and humor’ – Daily Mail

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein turned in his letter of resignation Monday, thanking President Trump and even complimenting his private ‘courtesy’ despite the president going after him publicly during the Mueller probe.
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FBI Says It Thwarted A Planned Terrorist Attack By A Military Vet in Los Angeles Area – WJCT NEWS

A U.S. Army veteran with experience fighting in Afghanistan conspired to stage a terrorist attack on a planned white supremacist rally with the intent of inflicting mass casualties in the Los Angeles area, according to federal prosecutors.
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FBI says received vague tips ahead of deadly California synagogue shooting – Reuters

(Reuters) – The woman who was killed in a deadly shooting at a Southern California synagogue will be buried on Monday after being hailed as a hero, as police continue to investigate the motive of the 19-year-old suspect.
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“fbi criticism” – Google News: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein submits letter of resignation to President Trump – Baltimore Sun

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites)
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein submitted his resignation Monday after a two-year run defined by his appointment of a special counsel to investigate connections between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.
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1. New York and Brooklyn from Michael_Novakhov (111 sites): “Brooklyn Art” – Google News: Whitney Biennial Artists Join Call for Removal of Weapons Manufacturer Warren B. Kanders from Museum Board – – ARTnews

Whitney Biennial Artists Join Call for Removal of Weapons Manufacturer Warren B. Kanders from Museum Board –  ARTnews

A version of the letter was first released in early April and had signatures from 120 academics.

“Brooklyn Art” – Google News

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The Global Security News: Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (51 sites): Eurasia Review: China’s Digital Silk Road: The Integration Of Myanmar – Analysis

Although relatively new to the information and communication technologies (ICT) field, Myanmar has made rapid progress in the technological domain in the past few years. This, coupled with the country’s unique geographical location between South Asia and Southeast Asia makes Myanmar an increasingly vital intersection in China’s Digital Silk Road.

By Chan Jia Hao*

With projects valued at over US$740 billion, Southeast Asia has become one of the most participative regions for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In September 2018, China and Myanmar officially signed the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) agreement, an initiative first proposed by China’s foreign minister Wang Yi during his Myanmar visit in November 2017.

Connecting Kunming, Yangon and Mandalay, the CMEC has an enhanced bilateral focus on Myanmar within the BRI, aimed at fostering greater bilateral economic integration
through the formation of joint industrial zones and further lowering of
trade barriers. But alongside the CMEC, a parallel undercurrent of
technology flows between Myanmar and China is flourishing but given
little attention. It is crucial to understand this bilateral
technological exchange within the ambit of the Digital Silk Road to
perceive the significance of these developments.

The Digital or Information Silk Road (DSR)

Introduced as one of the sub-goals of connectivity under the massive
BRI in 2013, the Digital or Information Silk Road was conveyed to the
business community and governments at the China-European union digital
cooperation forum in July 2015 as a mere area of multilateral
cooperation with China.

But to date, memorandums of understanding between China and 16
countries have been officially signed under the Digital Silk Road (DSR).
Unofficially, the number of host countries would include at least a
third of BRI host countries − the China-based Belt and Road Portal has
reported that over 6,000 of China’s Internet enterprises alongside over
10,000 Chinese technological products have penetrated the overseas

As China continues to promote digital connectivity and its
technologies under the BRI, this raises Myanmar’s playing field for
further economic integration in the region, especially with the country
acting as a strategic bridge between South and Southeast Asia. Myanmar
could do so both geographically and through its presence in regional
groupings like ASEAN and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM)

Digitalising Myanmar

In ASEAN, Chinese investments in its combined technological sectors
account for over one third of Chinese tech investments across all BRI
countries (2007-2016). However, Myanmar is still a relatively new
entrant in the global ICT market. As of 2016, Myanmar still ranks 133th
out of 139 countries under the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness
Index (NRI).

Across all ASEAN countries, Myanmar also scored the lowest in terms
of rank of business, government and individual usage under the NRI. In
addition, only an estimated 20 percent of Myanmar’s population has
access to 4G internet services.

But with progressive transformation from military to civilian rule,
the World Bank helped to liberalise its telecommunication sector,
through the Myanmar Telecommunications Sector Reform
in 2014. In August 2016, the Myanmar government formulated a 12-point
economic policy aimed at attracting investments as well as improving
employment opportunities and productivity. Within this grand economic
strategy, the government aims to build a digital government strategy,
supported by a rapidly growing ICT sector with infrastructure.

Through these efforts, Myanmar’s domestic ICT market is significantly
expanding. In 2017, Myanmar’s mobile phone users stood at 108 percent
of the population, having increased from a mere 13 percent in 2013. A
more liberal market has also made access to technology significantly
affordable. The average price of mobile sim cards has fallen 99.3
percent within the five year period from 2012-2017.

Broadband access also increased to 56 percent in 2017 as compared to
one percent in 2012, while the actual number of Internet lines that are
fibre optic based has grown at least 440 per cent between 2010 and
2016-17. Conversely, the number of dial-up lines fell to zero since
2016-17. At the backend of technology service provision, the Myanmar
government is also working on a 15-year power development plan to
sustain Myanmar’s digitalisation in the long run.

Digital Silk Road’s Involvement in Myanmar

Despite Myanmar’s steady growth in the ICT sector in the past few
years, the country continues to rely on external technology partners to
aid its domestic technological advancement. A number of instances
illustrates the magnitude of Chinese interest to further strengthen
Myanmar’s digital infrastructures.

First, Chinese interests in Myanmar’s ICT landscape have been
deepening over the last decade. Since, 2018 the country’s Ministry of
Transport and Communications has been working with
Huawei in order to deploy 5G broadband services across Myanmar within
the next five years. A further push was given to its 5G plans in
February 2019 when Huawei pledged to increase digital literacy and the
usage of Internet of Things in Myanmar.

However, even as early as 2013, Huawei had begun its involvement in Myanmar – it donated
more than US$5 million of equipment to Myanmar for a various purposes,
including the SEA Games Organisation and mobile technology systems.

On the softer side of Myanmar’s digital economy, Alibaba acquired, Myanmar’s largest online shopping platform in early 2018
and has plans to localise e-commerce by working with local suppliers and
labour. It also attempts to introduce the Myanmar Payment Union on its e-commerce platform as a uniform payment solution across local bank partners.

Myanmar as a Critical Node for China

But their tech interests is not one-sided. As part of infrastructure building under the CMEC,
both China and Myanmar held their first science and technology
cooperation meeting in Yangon in late 2018, where they established a
joint radar and satellite communications laboratory. Prior to this,
China Unicom, China’s second largest mobile and fixed network operator, launched
a US$50 million China-Myanmar International (CMI) terrestrial cable
system in 2014. But this has yet to be activated for undisclosed

Spanning across 1500 km from Ruili (Southwestern China) to Ngwe Saung
Beach on the west coast of Myanmar, the CMI cable project is but one of
the many Chinese cable projects in Asia set to link to those in
Djibouti in Africa, including ongoing Chinese cable projects under the
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Earlier in 2014, the Myanmar’s state
department of agriculture had also procured 520 sets of BeiDou satellite
navigation receiver for collecting and utilising agricultural data.

While Myanmar appears to be only one of the many hosts to the Digital
Silk Road, the country’s unique geographical location is a critical
node to link the BRI between South Asia and Southeast Asia, with respect
to digital connectivity. In addition, Myanmar’s participation in both
ASEAN and the BCIM Forum can further strengthen its position as a
potential collaborator and base for new-age projects such as inter-smart
cities for countries in this region.

*Chan Jia Hao is a Research Analyst with the Institute of South Asian Studies, an autonomous research institute of the National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore. Deepakshi Rawat is a Junior Research Analyst with Pulse Lab Jakarta, Indonesia.

Eurasia Review

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The Global Security News: Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (51 sites): Eurasia Review: Putin-Kim Summit: Enter The Russian Factor – Analysis

President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un on 25 April 2019 in Vladivostok is not unexpected. It merely confirms that Russia has always had a role in trying to resolve the protracted issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapon development. The main purpose of this meeting is to reinforce the message that the US alone cannot influence what Pyongyang will do on denuclearisation.

By Chris Cheang*

The last summit between Russian and North Korean leaders took place in 2011 when Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il, travelled to Siberia to meet Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s then president. That Kim Jong-un has agreed to meet Putin should not come as a surprise. Putin had issued an invitation to Kim Jong-un to visit Russia soon after the latter met Donald Trump at their summit in Singapore on 12 June 2018. It is also not surprising that the summit did not lead to any breakthrough on North Korean nuclear weapon development and denuclearisation.

The Putin-Kim summit took place not with a view to attempting a
breakthrough. That was obvious from the start. Both sides did not
publicise the summit weeks before, unlike Kim’s two summits with
President Trump. The Kremlin itself officially confirmed Kim’s visit
only on 18 April with no details or dates of the visit, other than
stating in a pithy fashion that he would visit Russia “in the second
half of April”.

Why the Putin-Kim Vladivostok Summit

While Russia is a key player in the whole issue, the fact remains
that only the United States and China could offer North Korea real
relief from the sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the US. Both
Putin and Kim know that. But there are at least four reasons why Putin
had entered the fray.

First, Putin wanted to show the world, especially the US, that no
lasting solution to the issue can be found without Russia’s
participation. Being a UN Security Council Permanent Member, a nuclear
power as well as North Korea’s neighbour, denuclearisation cannot happen
without Russia’s support. The Putin-Kim summit has only reinforced
these points. Indeed, the US Special Envoy for North Korea, Stephen
Biegun visited Moscow when news of the summit was made known.

Putin stressed at a press conference after the latest summit “it is
unlikely that agreements between the two countries will be enough”,
alluding to the need for international guarantees for North Korea’s
security. The two countries cited were the US and North Korea. Putin
felt that the Six-Party Talks format would certainly be “highly relevant
to develop a system of international security guarantees for North

Launched in 2003, the Six-Party Talks were aimed at ending North
Korea’s nuclear programme through negotiations involving China, the US,
North and South Korea, Japan and Russia but the process ended when North
Korea left the negotiations in 2009.

Showing Russia as an Asia-Pacific Power

Second, for the benefit of China, the US, South Korea and Japan which
have a direct interest in the issue, Putin also wanted the summit to
showcase Russia’s great power status and above all, that it is an
Asia-Pacific power.

Third, Putin would like to add momentum to international efforts to
find an acceptable and sustainable solution to the issue. Maintaining
contact and dialogue with Pyongyang therefore is not only logical but
also desirable.

Fourth, Russia also does not want a nuclear-armed and unstable North
Korea as that would pose a real security threat to its territory should
hostilities break out between North Korea and the US and its allies in
the region. Moreover, the current situation only provides the US and its
allies with more reasons to justify the deployment of missile defence
systems in the region. These systems could devalue Russia’s strategic
nuclear deterrent.

At the press conference, Putin emphasised that Russia also advocated
“complete denuclearisation: this is a fact”, adding that Russia
completely opposed the global proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction. He said that Russia had prioritised efforts to reduce the
threat of nuclear conflicts, a common priority. Of note, Putin stressed
that his impression was that Kim also “shares this viewpoint”. All North
Korea needed were national security guarantees. Putin’s references to
North Korea’s need for security guarantees imply that Russia remains
opposed to any regime change by the US.

Russia’s Limited Economic Leverage

Finally, since Russia has very limited economic leverage over North
Korea, compared to China, Russia will not exercise economic pressure on
Pyongyang. However, it is in Russia’s interest to try to revive economic
projects stalled by sanctions and the summit provided a good
opportunity to raise them with Kim Jong-un.

These projects revolve around Russia’s proposals to establish rail
links with both Koreas and a gas pipeline to South Korea running through
the North’s territory as well as the possible construction of electric
power lines.

Putin referred to these projects in the press conference, pointing
out that they were also in South Korea’s interest while alluding to
Seoul’s difficulties in making decisions. In a somewhat sarcastic tone,
Putin said that “apparently, there is a shortage of sovereignty during
the adoption of final decisions, and the Republic of Korea has certain
allied obligations before the US”. He made it plain that implementation
of these projects “would create essential conditions for increasing
trust, which is vitally needed to resolve various problems”.

On his part, Kim needed to balance his contacts and relations with
China, the US and South Korea. After all, he had met President Xi
Jinping, President Trump and President Moon Jae-in several times in the
past one year. His summit with Putin was therefore long overdue and part
of Pyongyang’s balancing act. Kim also wanted to show his people his
growing international stature, having met the leaders of the US, China
and Russia in a relatively short time.

What It Means for ASEAN

Any reduction of tensions in Northeast Asia would benefit Southeast
Asia as well. That Russia is playing its part to lessen these tensions
by holding a summit with North Korea is only to be welcomed. ASEAN
should expect Russia to continue playing a positive role in maintaining
peace and stability in the region.

ASEAN may need to revisit its position on the Six-Party Talks as this
subject may be raised by the Russian side at future ASEAN Plus settings
like the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum.

*Chris Cheang is a Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. He was a diplomat in the Singapore Embassy in Moscow for three terms between 1994 and 2013 before retiring in September 2017.

Eurasia Review

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The Global Security News: Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (51 sites): Eurasia Review: China Bars Australian Coal In Political Rift – Analysis

By Michael Lelyveld

After months of concern over China’s curbs on coal from Australia,
signs are growing that the imports have fallen victim to political

Speculation over China’s motives has been rising since November, when
reports first surfaced that Chinese ports had stopped clearing inbound
coal shipments until the end of 2018 due to high inventories built up
ahead of winter.

While China is the world’s top producer and consumer of coal, it is
also the biggest buyer with imports of 281.5 million metric tons last
year, according to customs figures.

But the import restrictions in November have extended well into 2019, focusing heavily on Australia.

In early February, The Australian daily reported that customs
clearance times for the country’s exports of coking coal had doubled to
40 days at key Chinese ports. The paper cited speculation over
“Sino-Australian relations” as a reason for the slowdown.

The Australian pointed to the government’s decision last August to
ban Chinese telecom companies Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp. from
participating in the country’s 5G network development due to
cybersecurity concerns.

Other issues included Australia’s decision in November to block a bid
by Hong Kong-based CK Asset Holdings Ltd. for the gas pipeline business
of the country’s APA Group on “national interest” grounds.

Later in February, Reuters reported that Chinese traders had stopped
ordering Australian coal because of long wait times for customs
clearance at Chinese ports.

The report indicated that only Australian shipments had been targeted
for lengthy inspections at five import facilities controlled by the
Dalian Port Group in northeastern China’s Liaoning province.

“The traders and a broker said only cargoes from Australia, the
biggest supplier of the fuel to the world’s top consumer, were
affected,” Reuters said. The report noted that the ban applied to
thermal coal used in power plants and industry, as well as coking coal
for steel manufacturing.

Reuters also cited differences with China over hacking allegations and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

In January, Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne backed an
increase in Japan’s defense spending and voiced support for more
operations within disputed South China Sea boundaries, Australia’s ABC
News reported at the time.

In March, Chinese sources told The Australian that a second
statement on the South China Sea issue during Pyne’s January visit to
Singapore had angered Beijing and led to the coal crackdown.

As implications mounted and the Australian dollar came under
pressure, Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged caution “about leaping to
conclusions,” AFP News reported. The government sought an “urgent”
clarification from Beijing, the BBC said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said China was
conducting a “risk monitoring analysis … to safeguard the legitimate
rights and interests of Chinese importers and to protect the

When asked whether Australian coal had been singled out, Geng simply repeated the statement, The Australian reported.

‘Using coal as a weapon’

Australian suppliers argued against concluding that their exports had
been targeted, but analysts saw a political message in China’s curbs.

“The banning of those coal shipments is a form of coercion against
Australia. It’s punishment against states that resist China’s pressure,”
said Dr. Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic
Policy Institute, according to the BBC.

“China is using coal as a weapon to fight back against Australia,” an unnamed commodity analyst told The Australian Financial Review.

On April 15, the business daily reported that fears of port delays
had caused Chinese buyers to switch from Australian sources to other

In interviews, Chinese traders and customers agreed that Australian
coal has been subjected to tougher environmental checks than exports
from Indonesia, Russia, or Mongolia.

“China doesn’t need to introduce a formal ban,” the paper quoted one
source as saying. “The real risk is that customers will just stop buying
it because they think shipments won’t get through.”

On April 12, The Sydney Morning Herald reported comments by a Chinese industry official that seemed to strip away any ambiguity over motivations behind the coal ban.

“You can’t earn Chinese money and then politically make irresponsible
comments about China and become unfriendly,” said Cui Pijiang, director
of the China Coking Industry Association, speaking at a conference in

“I’m afraid … this is something the Chinese government can’t tolerate,” Cui said.

Although Chinese traders were unable to say which of the
disagreements with Australia had prompted China’s restrictions, they
voiced support for retaliation on imports.

“The ban on Australian coal has created a lot of disturbance for coal traders, coal users, and related industries. But it is more important for China to give Australia a good lesson,” one trader told The Financial Review.

A common response

The import penalty appeared to signal an increasing willingness on
the part of China to throw its economic weight around in the global
energy market in the service of its political agenda and strategic

But the uncertainty over which of the bilateral conflicts may have
triggered the Chinese crackdown on Australian exports may make the
problem especially difficult for diplomacy.

Mikkal Herberg, energy security research director for the
Seattle-based National Bureau of Asian Research, said China’s government
has been typically responsive to the interests of domestic coal
companies, which have suffered from weakening demand and environmental

“It is very common for Beijing to respond to pressure from the coal
industry associations by cutting imports and using a whole variety of
often bogus explanations,” Herberg said.

But Herberg also sees a political motive behind the restrictions on Australian coal.

“Clearly, there is also a political, diplomatic element to this and
more evidence that Beijing is willing to use its market power as well as
other means to send political messages,” he said.

“It seems to me that this is clearly a message to Australia over
recent political tensions. Otherwise, how can you explain the cut and
delays in imports of Australian coking coal while other suppliers are
unaffected?” Herberg said.

A combination of industry pressures and politics also seems possible.

“Put the two together and why not help support the domestic coal
industry … by cutting cheaper coking coal imports while also sending a
very blunt message to the Australians that ‘positive political
relations’ are required for growing trade?” Herberg said.

In the case of coking coal in particular, Herberg sees no justification for banning Australian imports on environmental grounds.

“The environmental explanation hardly works, since Australian coking
coal is generally very low sulfur, one of its key market advantages,”
Herberg said.

Before the ban, Australia accounted for some 44 percent of China’s coking coal imports, The Australian reported.

While some Australian coal under contract is getting through the
ports to Chinese traders and buyers, the delays are expected to last
through the rest of the year, Australian reports said.

Last week, a Reuters report gave a glimmer of hope to Australian
exporters, noting that Chinese customs figures showed a near doubling of
coking coal imports from Australia in March from February.

But a trader suggested that some ports may have allowed the increase
to take advantage of lower prices despite the continuing customs delays.

Bloomberg News reported that the slowdown would last at least through
Australia’s federal elections on May 18, giving China time to assess
the possibility of policy changes in Canberra. The report cited unnamed
“people with knowledge of the plan.”

Eurasia Review

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The Global Security News: Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (51 sites): Eurasia Review: India: Sustained Subversion In Punjab – Analysis

By Nijeesh N*

As in previous years,
Pakistani efforts to create disturbances in the Indian State of Punjab
in support of Khalistani separatism continued through 2018. Worryingly,
Khalistani terrorists managed to inflict a major attack
(resulting in three or more fatalities) in the State after an 11 year
gap, with three persons killed and another 20 injured in a grenade
attack at a religious congregation at the Nirankari Satsang Bhawan at
Adliwal village in Amritsar District on November 8, 2018. The last such
major attack was reported on October 14, 2007, when seven persons were
killed and 40 were injured in a bomb blast inside a cinema hall in

The Punjab Chief Minister
Captain (Retd.) Amarinder Singh referring to the Satsang Bhavan blast
stated on November 19, 2018, that the attack had Pakistan’s ‘signature’
as the grenade used (HG-84) in the attack was similar to the grenades
manufactured by Pakistan’s Army Ordnance Factory. Indeed, Punjab Police
subsequently arrested two members of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF),
Bikramjit Singh (arrested on November 21, 2019) and Avtar Singh
(November 24, 2019), for their involvement in the grenade attack and
identified three other persons residing in foreign countries as accused
(names not disclosed). The arrested persons disclosed that the grenade
was provided by Pakistan-based KLF ‘chief’ Harmeet Singh Happy aka PhD.

Harmeet Singh had earlier
masterminded the conspiracy to carry out a series of targeted killings
in different parts of Punjab over 2016-2017, with the support of
Pakistan’s military establishment and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
A total of nine persons, including some leaders of Hindu outfits, were killed over
this period in ‘targeted attacks’ which the National Investigation
Agency (NIA)’s investigation unveiled were planned and executed by a
transnational network of conspirators, including Harmeet Singh.

Punjab recorded another attack
on September 14, 2018, when four militants hurled four grenades at the
Maqsudan Police Station in Jalandhar District, injuring two Police
personnel. Investigation revealed that Jammu and Kashmir-based Ansar
Ghazwat-ul-Hind, headed by Zakir Rashid Bhatt aka Zakir Musa, had
carried out the attacks. Zakir Musa had also directed Kashmiri students
to plant a grenade at the Chandigarh bus stand.

On December 26, 2018, the UMHA banned KLF and all its manifestations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). KLF was the 40th entry in the list of terrorist organizations banned by the Government of India.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), in 2018 three civilian fatalities were recorded in Punjab, all in the November 8, 2018 attack. In 2017, apart from the targeted killings of six persons, Punjab had recorded two fatalities as the Border Security Force (BSF) shot dead two Pakistani infiltrators along the Indo-Pakistan border. During 2016, Punjab recorded 25 fatalities, which included the attack on the Indian Air Force (IAF) Base at Pathankot on January 2-3, 2016, by Islamist Terrorists of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). 2015 also saw an Islamist terrorist attack at the Dinanagar Police Station  campus in the Gurdaspur District of Punjab in the early hours of July 27, 2015, in which 10 persons were killed (three civilians, four SF personnel and three terrorists). No fatalities were recorded in 2014 and 2013. Two infiltrators were killed along the Punjab border in 2012.

Significantly, the Minister of State in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA), Hansraj Gangaram Ahir on January 2, 2019, informed the Rajya Sabha
(Upper House of Indian Parliament) that a total of 18 Khalistani
terrorist modules were neutralized, resulting in the arrest of 95
Khalistani operatives, during the preceding two years in Punjab.

Earlier on November 18, 2018,
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh stated that at least 15 terrorist modules
had been neutralized in the preceding 18 months, with indications of
‘Kashmiri terror’ links emerging in some instances as well, as evidenced
in the case of the grenade attack at Maqsudan Police Station on
September 14, 2018.

Partial data on the SATP
database records at least 16 Khalistan militants arrested through 2018,
in addition to 42 arrested in 2017. A total of 234 Khalistani terrorists
principally associated with the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI),
Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), Bhindranwale Tigers Force of Khalistan
(BTFK), Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), Khalistan Commando Force (KCF),
International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) as well as some minor
factions have been arrested since 2010 (data till April 28, 2019). At
least seven of these militants have been arrested in the current year
(data till April 28, 2019).

Most recently, on March 31,
2019, the State Special Operations Cell (SSOC) of the Punjab Police
neutralized a terrorist module and arrested five ‘highly radicalised’
members of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) from a park near Dara
Studio in the Phase 6 area of Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar in Mohali
District. One .32 bore pistol along with a magazine and four live
rounds, as well as 15 letter pads of BKI, were recovered from the
possession of the arrested persons.

According to reports, the fives
arrestees were part of a bigger module which also included three other
militants, identified as Rupinder Singh, Daler Singh Bunty and Ranjit
Singh, who are yet to be arrested. Ranjit Singh, former ‘chief’ of the
Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF),
is based in Germany, and was the mastermind providing help to the
accused and motivating them to eliminate the targets. The arrested
persons were also reportedly in touch with Jagtar Singh Hawara of BKI,
currently lodged in Tihar jail in New Delhi.

According to Varinder Paul
Singh, Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of SSOC, Mohali, the arrested
persons were radicalised over social media by suspected persons based in
Europe. The module was planning to kill specific targets in Punjab,
including Hindu leaders and members of Dera Sacha Sauda. The accused
wanted to kill certain people to fulfill the ‘incomplete’ task other
militants who were lodged in different jails in Punjab and other States.
The module was mobilising funds and had already procured lethal
weapons. They were also planning to arrange weapons’ training in Jammu
and Kashmir (J&K) and were in touch with leaders such as Ranjit
Singh and Jagtar Singh Hawara in this regard.

Meanwhile, activities to keep
Khalistani/Sikh separatism alive continued at the international level.
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a marginal Khalistani diaspora group
headquartered in the United States (US), organized an event on August
12, 2018, at Trafalgar Square in London and announced the ‘Khalistani
Referendum 2020’ campaign. The ‘referendum’ purportedly aims to
determine the wishes of the Sikh community settled across the globe on
the issue of Punjab’s ‘liberation’ from India by 2020, and then pursue a
referendum through the intervention of the United Nations (UN).

According to intelligence
sources in August 2018, ISI, a secret operation code-named as ‘Express’
was funding and promoting the ‘Khalistani Referendum 2020’ campaign.
Significantly, on November 23, 2018, when India’s Cabinet approved the
decision on the construction of the Kartarpur corridor, Pakistan gave permission
to the SFJ to open its office in Lahore. On November 28, 2018, the SFJ
leadership even declared, ‘the Kartarpur corridor is a bridge to
Khalistan’ and announced their intention to organise the Kartarpur Sahib
Convention-2019 in support of the referendum agenda at Kartarpur Sahib
in Pakistan, if the proposed corridor for Sikh pilgrims between India
and Pakistan is functional by then. On April 14, 2019, however, the
Pakistan Government disallowed foreign-based Khalistani Sikhs from
commencing registration for ‘Referendum 2020’ in Pakistan.

On the Sikh festival of
Baisakhi (April 14), the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee
(PSGPC) general secretary, Gopal Chawla, raised slogans in support of
Khalistan while trying to instigate Indian Sikh pilgrims from the stage
at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Pakistan. An unnamed Indian intelligence
officer observed,

Things are not as they are being presented. It appears a preplanned game plan of both the ISI and SFJ… Its [Pakistan’s] leadership is under tremendous pressure from international community and can’t afford to allow a secessionist movement to operate from its soil which has the potential to turn violent. Allowing its own Sikh leader to raise Khalistan slogans is less detrimental than allowing foreign separatists to use its land for fanning anti sentiments in full public and media glare.

Interestingly, on April 12,
2019, due to the domestic political compulsions, the Canadian Government
removed eight references to Sikh extremism and six references to
Khalistan from its terror report – “2018 Public Report on the Terrorism
Threat to Canada”. Earlier, in December 2018, for the first time, the
Canadian Government had listed Khalistani extremism among the threats
the country is facing, in its annual federal report on terror threats
since the commencement of the report in 2013. On February 21, 2018,
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had handed over
a list of ‘A’ category operatives of BKI, KTF and ISYF to the Canadian
Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, during the latter’s visit to Punjab.

The peace that has long
prevailed in Punjab, after a decade and a half of Khalistani terrorism,
is now being tested. Islamabad is exerting efforts to create a bond
between Islamist and Khalistani terrorist formations in its stables.
According to an April 8, 2019, media report, the Intelligence Bureau
(IB) had warned that Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind and several pro-Khalistan
groups would come together to disrupt the General Elections in Punjab,
scheduled to be held on May 19, 2019. Seven-phase general elections are
currently underway across the country, with the last phase on May 19,
and the counting of votes on May 23.

There is a continuous trickle of Khalistani extremist recruitment and radicalization in the Punjab, fuelled by extremist elements in the Sikh Diaspora and generously supported and actively directed by Pakistan’s ISI. The Punjab Police and intelligence apparatus has been successful in neutralizing a large number of potential terrorists and cells within Punjab, and consequently in preventing a number of incidents. The impact within Punjab remains marginal, but any complacency would be an invitation to future disasters, and the risks of major incidents remain constantly alive.

*Nijeesh N
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Eurasia Review

Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (51 sites)

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