Security Brief: PACOM Week of May 24, 2021
Week of Monday, May 24, 2021 | Issue 15
Elizabeth Fisher, PACOM Team
Indian soldiers in Kashmir
Date: May 27, 2021
Parties involved: Jammu and Kashmir, Awantipora Police, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Central Reserve Police Force
The event: On May 27, Jammu and Kashmir police arrested seven associates of the terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad in several raids. Police accused the associates of providing logistical support, shelter, and transporting arms to Jaish members located in Awantipora and Tral areas. In addition, law enforcement discovered the associates were in contact with Jaish commanders through various social media platforms. Security forces also arrested six youths who are believed to have been indoctrinated and eager to join the ranks of Jaish-e-Mohammad.
The involvement of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) is concerning since it is an organization intending to unite Kashmir with Pakistan. Their involvement and spreading of propaganda in Jammu and Kashmir will likely continue. It is also a terrorist organization known to work with other groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Al Qaeda. The willingness to engage other terrorist groups displays concerning behavior because these collaborations could lead to more sophisticated, well-executed violent attacks.
The arrested associates will likely claim they have no involvement in the terrorist organization. Many of the terrorists linked to JeM have been provided resources, training, and the organization even produces its own magazine. It is not out of the question that some materials may direct supporters on how to interact with law enforcement if questioned.
The joint efforts of police and security forces have been ongoing in the territory to root out terrorist associates. Many of the investigations have begun as a result of a tip on the location of hideouts. The commitment of the community to rid terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir will most likely continue in short to medium term. However, there will still be efforts of multiple terrorist organizations to spread their ideas throughout the territory, which will prolong instability in the area.
JeM has held recruitment rallies in Pakistan and most members originate from there. This adds stress to the already tense situation between India and Pakistan and should be concerning as the attack on Kashmiri soldiers perpetrated by JeM in February 2019 led to a tense standoff between the two nuclear powers. Attacks by JeM have been less deadly, although, with outreach to susceptible populations, the organization stands to grow in size, increasing its threat to Jammu and Kashmir.
Date: May 28, 2021
Location: Shopian District, Jammu and Kashmir
Parties involved: Jammu and Kashmir Police, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
The event: On Friday, May 28, a terrorist named Aitmad Ahmad Dar was killed by security forces during an encounter. Dar was a known associate of LeT, and according to police records, was involved in several crimes. The police found arms and ammunition at the encounter site, including an AK-56 rifle and other incriminating items.
Shopian District has been a source of multiple terrorist attacks after a recently-held meeting between Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), JeM, and LeT, where it was decided that HM would focus its attacks on civilians while JeM and LeT would target security officials and their installations. According to local experts, the reorganization of HM after the killing of its Kashmir commander and the district being the primary source for young HM recruits is another potential reason for the rise of terrorist attacks. The fact that these terrorist organizations work together raises concerns for more elaborate and deadly joint operations in the district.
The involvement of a known LeT associate is troubling. The investigation will determine if Dar was planning to meet someone to discuss plans for an attack. With Dar being known by the police, the role he played for Let in the Shopian District should be considered regarding recruitment, obtaining weapons, and providing information for planning attacks.
Although security forces have performed well in following up on leads regarding terrorist activity, the result is likely retaliation from LeT targeting security forces in Shopian District. Additionally, Jammu and Kashmir should collaborate with Australia, due to their strategic partnership aiming to reduce terrorism and transnational crime, and the US to further investigate terrorists. Both nations could also provide help with training on how to identify terrorists and ways to combat recruitment.