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Are part-time terrorists a new challenge faced by the security forces in Kashmir?
Senior officials of the security forces and intelligence agencies believe they are. A part-time terrorist, also called a "hybrid terrorist", is an otherwise normal youth without any track record of terrorist activities.
"Such youth are given a specific task identified and overlooked by an overground worker (OGW) and once accomplished, they are advised to return to routine life.
"The main objective of using a hybrid terrorist is to generate fear among the masses and also create an impression of uncertainty in areas where the part-time terrorist is used," an official said.
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These youth are different from the sleeper cells of terror outfits. A sleeper cell is a group of highly motivated, trained, armed terrorists with a well-defined track record of terrorist activities.
"A sleeper cell is allowed to hibernate so that a bigger attack is carried out while the focus of the intelligence agencies and the security forces remains on those cadres of terror outfits who are active in a specific area."
Army in Pahalgam.Wikimedia Commons
A sleeper cell is trained to come back from the rear with an absolute element of surprise to carry out its task.
"In sharp contrast to this, the hybrid or part-time terrorist is not an armed cadre. Such a terrorist is given a weapon, most likely a pistol to kill an unprotected, soft target."
The movements of the unprotected target are carefully monitored by an OGW who passes on all the relevant information to the hybrid terrorist. The OGW overlooks the attack carried out by the hybrid.
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"Once the attack is successful, the OGW takes the weapon back and leaves the hybrid terrorist to return to his otherwise normal life," a senior official of the security forces said.
The officer said in almost all such cases, parents and other members of the hybrid's immediate family may not know about the role and involvement of the part-time terrorist.
Security forces believe that the level of indoctrination is good enough for the hybrid terrorist to attack a soft, unarmed target.
"The motivation and weapon handling capacity of the hybrid is just good enough to pick a soft target, but such a terrorist is not motivated enough to become a suicide bomber or take on the security forces in a one-on-one engagement," said another officer. (IANS/KB)
The U.S. Institute of Peace is training Kenyan women from 20 organizations to help fight terrorist radicalization campaigns. The program comes as Kenya struggles to halt the recruitment efforts of Islamist militant group al-Shabab.
The organization Sisters Without Borders was formed in 2014. One of its missions is to bridge the mistrust between Kenyan security agencies and families of terrorism suspects. The organization includes at least 20 women’s groups from Nairobi, Mombasa and Garissa, all of which have seen deadly terrorist attacks by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.
Sureya Hirsi, a member of the sisters’ group from Mombasa, attended the conference in Nairobi. She says it is time for women to take an active role in the fight against terrorism.
“The reason I joined this sisters group, it’s because I have been affected, I have family members, people whom I know, I know youths who have been recruited, and this is happening because as a community we don’t speak up about these issues. As a woman who is lucky and also educated, I have decided to be on the frontline to help my community so that we can speak about these issues that affect our community.”
Nicoletta Barbera, a program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace, says women can play a key role in preventing young people from going down the terrorist path.
“The women that we work with, the sisters without borders are integrated within their communities, they live, work, and serve. They are very aware of the threats that are in their homes, in their markets, in their communities. We enable them to identify those potential individuals who are prone in engaging in violent extremism and give them the skills to try to mitigate them at the very beginning when they see those initial signs of radicalization,” Barbera said.
Kenya National Counterterrorism Center Director Martin Kimani says that kind of ground-level activism is exactly what the country needs.
“We in the security services are hunting and looking for recruiters to put them behind bars where they belong. But radicalization continues to be a problem. That problem is going to need for the county level actions to get radicalization, to where, for example, Kenya got HIV/AIDS where everybody could speak about it, everybody knows what it is and everybody know their role in how to stop it and protect it each other from getting into that kind of life,” Kimani said.
Kenya has been prime recruiting territory for al-Shabab since 2011, when the government sent troops into Somalia to fight militants. Al-Shabab has been responsible for several major terrorist attacks, the worst coming in 2015, when al-Shabab fighters stormed Garissa University College, killing nearly 150 people. (VOA)
The United States is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information that disrupts the finances of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant organization.
The U.S. State Department announced the award Monday, saying it would be paid to those who give information about major Hezbollah donors and financiers as well as businesses that support the organization and banks that facilitate the group’s transactions.
The payments will be made by the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program, which until now has focused on offering cash rewards for information that leads to the capture of wanted terrorists.
Hezbollah was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in 1997.
The Shi’ite group, backed by Iran, has recently been increasing its influence on Lebanon’s government. It has also been growing its regional clout, including sending fighters to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad.
The State Department said its Rewards for Justice program has paid more than $150 million to more than 100 people for giving information that helped brings terrorists to justice or prevented acts of terrorism. The program began in 1984. (VOA)
The European Union is reportedly contemplating designating the leader of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) a terrorist.
The EU’s decision comes nearly a week after a push by France and India to declare JeM leader Masood Azhar a terrorist and freeze his assets.
JeM is already a U.S.- and U.N.-designated terror group.
Focus on Kashmir
Azhar is an Islamist extremist who wants to end Indian control of a portion of the disputed Kashmir area and merge it with Pakistan. He was born in 1968 in Pakistan’s Punjab province in a Deobandi (Sunni sect) Muslim family.
He reportedly received his early education in Bahawalpur, Punjab, and later enrolled in Jamia-ul-Uloom, an Islamic seminary in Karachi, where he became a teacher.
Azhar founded Jaish-e-Mohammad in 2000 and maintained his affiliation with several terror groups, including al-Qaida, Hurkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) and Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA), all U.S.-designated terror groups.
JeM is believed to be based in the Peshawar region of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
Azhar received his militant training in Afghanistan in the 1980s and fought Soviet troops there.
Spurred by jihad decree
Azhar reportedly traveled to Afghanistan in 1988 with his brother, Ibrahim Azhar, who according to analysts played a key role in shaping Masood’s religious ideology.
“Azhar himself mentioned in one of the articles that his inclination towards jihad started when Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, head of the Karachi Jamia-ul-Uloom at that time, issued an Islamic decree for students to go and participate in Afghan jihad,” Mujahid Hussain, an author and expert on terror outfits, told VOA.
It was during his time in Afghanistan that Azhar developed a relationship with al-Qaida and its leadership, and later worked closely with the terror group.
Azhar traveled to several countries, including Britain, Saudi Arabia, Zambia, India and Bangladesh, to raise funds and recruit youth toward jihad.
He has written over 20 books on Islamic history and the importance of jihad.
Location a mystery
Azhar’s current whereabouts are unknown. Some experts in Pakistan believe he is living in Bahawalpur, a city in southern Punjab.
“I personally know many people who have met Azhar in Bahawalpur. Azhar reportedly goes to the mosques, gives sermons and greets people. And he continues to write for JeM’s magazine,” Hussain said.
On Feb. 5, when various religious parties throughout Pakistan marked Kashmir Day, an audio clip of Azhar was played during a JeM rally in Karachi. In the audio, Azhar invited people toward jihad.
“Stay determined,” he said. “And instead of going one by one, if you all go out there together as a group, India won’t be able to stand us for even one month. (VOA)