Thursday, June 14, 2012

In the Indian context, Both human intelligence and technical intelligence are crucial in combating terrorism

 India has emerged as a success story in the 21st century. A part of the rapidly developing EME (Emerging Market Economy) India has embarked on a growth path which has been at best exemplary. Coming in the wake of the 1991 economic crisis in the backdrop of the Gulf War India has emerged as a stronger and a resilient nation. The economy remained unfaltered as the financial world crumbled around it in 2008.This serves as a reminder to the resilience that India exhibits today.

Yet India today faces far more challenges than it did 20 years ago. 20 years ago India was a 3rd world country large, hungry and poor. The challenges of India were different in that era. Today while these problems persist yet India has emerged stronger and has more impact on the global world. And these factors have brought in new challenges. And one prime example of the various challenges that constitute threat to India today is terrorism. The Mumbai carnage of 26/11 demonstrates the vulnerability of the Indian state and also points to the fact that today India is one of the prime terrorist targets.

Terrorism has been defined by experts around the world in different degrees. One common parameter that however can be agreed upon is that it is a challenge to the state and poses a security hazard. There is a fundamental difference in other forms of violence like secessionism, insurgency and Maoism. While secessionism talks about secession they generally do not target the public and wage a war with the security personals. Insurgency is a war far on similar lines while Maoism perhaps is an expression of the misgivings of the deprived. In each of these forms there is a certain adherence to an ideologue which makes it easier to be combated with since the state can address these ideologues in order to dissipate these movements. Terrorism however is a different ballgame altogether. Terrorism believes in only one ideologue and that is spreading violence. There is not particular motive to either capture power or establish their own rule; terrorism only seeks to create a atmosphere of fear where the lives of the innocent people are in danger. And this formlessness with no inherent ideologue makes terrorism hard to combat with. While terrorism seeks to clamour around a war cry like religion or language yet these are merely pretentious jingoism to attract the average youth who believes violence can effect a change.

In the past 10 years the country has witnessed incessant terrorist attacks across the length and breadth of the country. While endangering the lives of innocent it has also posed a question as to whether our security is equipped to handle such threats .There must also be concrete efforts towards formulating a policy that addresses the structural faults that has existed in the security policy till now. It is in this respect that we must address two fundamental issues while formulating a policy to combat terrorism.

Human intelligence today has emerged as a prime tool in effectively curbing the menace of terrorism. The power of human information was on acute display during the Cold War when the very tool of human intelligence acted as a deterrent. A similar analogy can be drawn in the present times when human intelligence can be effectively used to monitor terrorism activities. A marked feature of terrorist groups is the existence of “sleeper cells”. These sleeper cells remain dormant with its members going on about their daily lives until they are activated. Once they are activated they carry out the orders given by their bosses and execute terrorist activities. This is the reason why we see normal people with simple lives executing gruesome attacks. Indoctrinated in the school of violence they wait to execute their plans. And no amount of technology can detect these sleeper cells and their movement. And it is at this juncture where human intelligence becomes important.

A successful example of the power of human intelligence in India has been the ‘mukhbir” scheme in Mumbai. After 1993 attacks in and around the city where vested interests sitting in the foreign decks remote controlled attacks in the city, the Mumbai police department was at a loss. They decided to give impetus to the “mukhbir” scheme where informants were placed in every area and their movements and information was regulated on the local police station level. A decentralised strong informant system worked wonders for the police .Between 1993 and 2005 Mumbai didn’t see any major terrorism attacks and the success was largely attributed to the human intelligence network. Effective schemes like protection of the mukhbirs and security to their families ensured that the system worked on a robust strong and effective framework. The informants had complete knowledge and control on the information that flowed in the ground level. For example if arms were transported in the Mumbai docks, if RDX was being moved or if any sleeper cell was being activated, these informants would immediately inform the police and the  impending terrorist strikes would be averted. However after 2005 this robust network began to crack and by 2007 it almost ceased to exist. And tragically after that Mumbai has become a victim of one terrorist strike after another. While a direct analogy between human intelligence and terrorist strikes cannot be drawn yet it can be said with a certain absolute certainty that such robust human intelligence network indeed acts as a deterrent to the impending terrorist strikes. A average citizen, working as an information vigilante would be a powerful deterrent to the terrorist who would not be able to decide whom to belief.

Thus human intelligence indeed is a powerful medium to combat terrorism but yet it cannot refute the effectiveness of technical intelligence in today’s world. As the war of terrorism moves from the street to the information highway the internet, policymakers have to start addressing the concerns of structural restructuring the technical intelligence. At the onset it must be understood that technical intelligence does not mean intelligence that has been gathered by using scientific and technical mediums. For example information collected by a drone or a satellite is not technical intelligence it is a source of information that forms a fundamental of the technical intelligence but it is not technical intelligence in itself. Technical intelligence is defined by the CLAWS (Centre for Land warfare and Strategic studies) as intelligence about the arms and weapons used by the enemies of the state. Technical intelligence offers an advantage to the security personals so that they are not taken by surprise when involved in a conflict with enemies. This becomes all the more important in LIC (Limited Impact Conflict) where conventional weapons are discarded and variations are used. For example in a war between two nations there is always a fair idea about the type of arms the nations will use from artillery to bombs. Such a liberty is not involved in a limited impact conflict like a terrorist attack wherein there is always an element of surprise in the weapons used. And it is to mitigate this element of surprise that the security establishment needs a robust technical intelligence background.

Technical intelligence does not stop at the weapons or the technical finesse of the enemies. It must also seek out the source of those weapons and also they production capabilities of that source and how the money has been routed. Thus technical intelligence effectively encompasses the “white collar” division as well. It has been often found that “Hawala money”, participatory notes etc has been used to promote terrorist activities in India. The security establishment must make concerted efforts to address these sources of money and how it has been utilized in terms of procuring weapons. Such economic intelligence converged with the technical finesse can strength the security establishment to a large extent. Today modern warfare is not limited merely to guns and bombs it has transgressed into domains like biological weapons and chemical weapons for e.g. ` anthrax. In such a scenario it becomes all the more important to have an idea about the strength of the enemies. For example in the event of an anthrax attack mere guns and bombs would not be able to mitigate the effects. Scientific research coupled with remedial measures is the key in the event of such a attack. And to have such a mechanism we must have a fair idea of the weapons the enemies possess beforehand. Thus technical intelligence not only acts as a deterrent but also as a effective tool of mitigating the threats posed by terrorism.

Thus seen in totality human intelligence and technical intelligence are important building blocks towards building an effective tool to combat terrorism. And this can be achieved when there is a perfect synthesis between the two. In a large country like India of multilateral hues and strong democratic fundamentals racial profiling or draconian laws like Patriot Act or Homeland Security Act of USA would be hard to implement. The Indian people cherish their freedom since it has been hard-fought and won after 200 years of serving as a colony. Thus any act that seeks to endanger this hard fought liberty would not go down well with the masses. The answer lies in creating a strong framework where human intelligence an technical intelligence works effectively to create a secure and safe environment. Thus in the Indian context a synthesis of the two is perhaps the best –possible strategy.

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