Michael Moore gives 5 scary reasons why Trump will win

BY ALEXANDRA ROSENMANN/ALTERNET

(This article is republished here with due permission from AlterNet. It was first published here)

Despite his “sh*t show” of a campaign, no one can doubt Trump’s momentum; especially not liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, who, for months, has urged mainstream media not to underestimate Donald Trump.

Though he may get no pleasure from being right, Moore told Business Insider in December 2015 that “Donald Trump is absolutely going to be the Republican candidate for president of the United States.”

And last night, returning to “Real Time With Bill Maher,” Moore made another terrifying prediction.

“I’m sorry to be the buzzkill… but I think Trump is gonna win,” Moore told host Bill Maher. According to the filmmaker, here’s why:

1. The Rust Belt/Brexit Strategy

“Mitt Romney lost by 64 electoral votes. The total votes of [Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania ]… 64,” Moore told Maher. “All he has to do is win those four states.”

2. The Trump Family

Trump’s main surrogates—his own family—have become Republican National Convention superstars, and their testimonials really cause voters to consider, “well if he raised them, he can’t be so bad, right?” Moore points out that the family members are not really looking like the “hostages” liberal voters might have thought they would. In fact, “between [Melania] and the children, none of them have offered any of the sort of anecdotes that you would expect,” Moore pointed out.

3. Make America Great Again? How About Just Reality Television

Moore believes Trump doesn’t even want to be in the White House; that he’ll give it to Mike Pence and his children after buying an estate in Fairfax. “The thing that we’re describing… ‘Make America Great Again’… He’s gonna turn his presidency into a reality show; a literal reality show. But if I say that, millions are gonna go, ‘F*ck yea,'” Moore said.

4. Angry White Men Vote

While statistically Trump needs as many as seven out of 10 white guys to win the presidency, Moore insists that angry white men are incredibly dependable when it comes to voting. “White men over 35 are only 19 percent of the country, but that’s 40 million voters, and I’m telling you they’re going to be out there [at the polls],” Moore said.

5. The Two Sides Don’t Even Talk Anymore

It’s worth investigating the yearlong conundrum of why poor, middle-American voters identify so well with an ego-centric real estate mogul from New York. “When you say he hasn’t read a book in his adult life, you’ve just described the majority of Americans. Get out of your bubble, everybody!” Moore urged.

(Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

Indianness asserts in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

BY RSN SINGH

Two developments in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), i.e. forthcoming elections in region (PoK less Gilgit-Baltistan) and joint patrolling by security forces of China and Pakistan on PoK-Xinjiang region, have vital lessons for India, particularly for Kashmiris, seduced by the military-intelligence establishment of Pakistan.

These two developments stand juxtaposed at a time when the pro-Pak elements in the Valley, are busy inflaming and destroying their own land while lamenting and deifying Burhan Wani, a dead jihadi as martyr. Nothing much can be done about people who possessed by bigoted  and imported religious frenzy are adamant on self-destruction.

The pro-Pak elements have been made to believe that Burhan was a freedom fighter, a soldier of Islam, engaged in the sacred duty of waging war against India. They feel India has no right over Kashmir and Kashmiriyat. They clamour for Pakistan in the misplaced notion that Muslims in that country are secure and prosperous. It is their belief that Kashmiriyat at best is an adjunct of Islam. Such a belief automatically excludes the Kashmiri Hindus and hence their forefathers. To tell them that their ancestors were Hindus, invites stoic silence. There is advantage that accrues from that silence. But for that silence, Indianness or Hindustaniyat would reassert and pose a question mark on the very idea called Pakistan. Consequently the militant or jihadi industry would be endangered.

While the pro-Pakistan elements in the Valley pretend to forget their ancestors, there is the opposite tendency in the PoK, the part from which Gilgit-Baltistan has been hived off.

It is just the 10 percent portion of total PoK created by Islamist spin-doctors of Pakistan sliced through with the scalpel of Sunnism, but for strategic reasons.

Elections are to be held in this 10 percent region, that Pakistan calls ‘Azad Kashmir’, as if the 90 percent that constitute Gilgit-Baltistan are slaves. The nationalist parties PML(N), PPP and Imran Khan’s Tehrek-e-Insaf are the main contenders. There are 26 parties, 423 candidates and 26 lakh eligible voters – but no contending ideology. Ironically, the elections are also not being fought on Kashmiriyat, because there are no Kashmiris left in the region.

All political analysts have concluded that voting will be influenced by ‘clan’ rather than any other factor, least of all religion, notwithstanding that the Jamat-e-Islami is also in fray. The Rajputs and Jats dominate the political landscape of Kotli, Mirpur and Bhimber. The other districts are dominated by Gujjars and other tribes. Interestingly, the Rajputs are aligned with Nawaz Sharif PML (N) and the Jats with PPP. Barrister Sultan Mahmud is a key Jat leader. The pertinent deduction is that in absence of Kashmiris, there is no issue about ‘Kashmir Valley’ or ‘Kashmiriyat’. Hafeez Saeed or Maulana Masood Azhar may attract large crowds but have little influence over politics of ‘Azad Kashmir’.

The other inference is that the Valley people have no familial links with people in PoK. Those with links are Gujjars and Pahari Rajputs who are patriotic Indians.

Islam has always to content with ethnicity. In an exhortation, which is reflective of the wide and diverse Muslim cultural milieu on the Indian Subcontinent, Jinnah during his address at the annual session of Punjab province of Muslim League at Sialkot in April 1944 said: “I appeal to Ahrars, Jamiat, Ulemas, Shias, Sunnis, Jats, Rajputs, Afghans – to unite themselves for the cause of Muslim League and the achievement of Pakistan.” The ethnic Jats and Rajputs that Jinnah referred to were those who at some point in history, converted to Islam but retained a fierce pride in their ethnicity. The lesson in the current reference is that in the long run ethnicity triumphs over Islam.

The pull of ethnicity or ‘clan’ is therefore not only restricted to PoK but entire Pakistan. The incontrovertible truth is that Pakistan which in the name of Islam was created as a homeland for Muslim has never transcended ethnicity. Even, as the election results conveyed after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in December 2007, nationalism or Islam could not demolish the ethnic barriers. The PPP’s victory was mainly on account of Sindh and some parts of Seraiki region in Punjab, contiguous to Sindh. In India on the other hand, nationalism swept all considerations in elections held after Mrs Gandhi’s assassination in 1984.

If Islam was the motif force behind Pakistan, then Benazir a Shia and of Sindhi Rajput origin and before that Liaquat Ali Khan a Sindhi and a Jat Muslim, also the pioneer of Pakistan, would not have been victims of Islamists.  One factor amongst many for their elimination in 1951 and 2007 at the same location in the Company Bagh in Peshawar was that they were Shias. In Gilgit-Baltistan, the majority status of Shias is being eroded at a furious pace. Because it is a Shia majority region more than 5000 sq km of their area was gifted to China in 1963. Then in the Kargil War the dead bodies of the soldiers of Northern Light Infantry (NLI) was not claimed because they were Shias. Now Pakistan has handed over entire Gilgit-Baltistan to China for China -Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In total disregard to religious, cultural and ecological sensitivities of the people and in deference to economic greed and strategic compulsions, the region is gradually turning into a Chinese colony.

And now at the prodding China, Pakistan and Chinese security forces are carrying out joint patrolling the PoK-Xinjiang border region to deter Uighur jihadists who have been known to use the area for tra\ining and other activities. More than 100 Uighur Muslims have reportedly joined the Islamic State in Syria. Earlier the Chinese authorities had banned burqas and fasting by government officials during Ramazan. Hafiz Saeed and likes kicked lot of dust but to no avail. The military-intelligence establishment ensures that Pakistani Islam remains India-centric. To placate the fundamentalists, an official delegation from Pakistan was sent to China, and as expected and dictated they had no adverse observations.

President Xi Jinping has urged Uighur Muslims to practice their religion “as part of Chinese society and direction”. Clearly he was emphasizing on Chinese brand of Islam.

Hafiz Saeed and ilk have not objected to this joint patrolling against Muslim brethren from China. Earlier too, Pakistan at the insistence of China had carried out extensive operations to flush out Uighur jihadists, under the banner of East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), who had established bases in Pakistan. Where are the jihaids and suicide bombers against China? What has happened to the cause of Islam and Ummah?

Why do not the pro-Pak elements including Hurriyat speak-up against the Chinese? So, if a Pakistan brand of Islam can be acceptable to them in context of J&K, why should India not insist on Indian brand of Islam and Kashmiriyat for nation building?

Many Islamic countries have expended their vitality in the grind between Islam and ethnicity.

If the pro-Pak elements in Valley and our politicians realize the endurance and supremacy of ethnicity over religion, there will be no problem in the Valley.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

The menace that consumes Kashmiris

BY RSN SINGH

The killing of Burhan Wani exposed the mindset of separatists, soft separatists in garb of mainstream politicians and their sympathizers in the academia and the media. Nawaz Sharif’s comments hailing Burhan Wani, as martyr was in consonance and resonance with Burhan’s Indian sympathizers. They were not happy that a dreaded terrorist had been eliminated. There was not a word of praise for the security forces, nor any anguish for police personnel who along with their vehicle were thrown into raging Jhelum River by the pro-Pakistan mob.

It is intriguing that the sympathizers in India should suffer pain and tears for a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, who not only reveled in killing security forces, but also Muslim opponents (sarpanches). A number of Kashmiri girls had become victims of his lust. The stance of the sympathizers only emboldened the Hizbul Mujahideen, the parent and patron jihadi outfit based in Pakistan, which Burhan as the Commander owed allegiance to. Hizbul Mujahideen has been wreaking havoc on India and Kashmiris since 1989.

Burhan’s killing caused mass terror in its wake. Mass terror couched in demonstrations has been an intrinsic facet of jihadi militancy in the Kashmir Valley. This mass terror took the form of mass stone-pelting at security forces by murderously overwhelming security posts. This form of stone-pelting is more lethal than grenade attack. To be consigned to a river, by an anti-national mob, whatever its size, is a humiliation no self-respecting security force engaged in the sacred task of maintaining the integrity of the nation will brook. These anti-national elements, want to accomplish the impossible geographical feat of eloping with the Valley to Pakistan, unmindful of the reality that it is overlooked by domineering heights all around, inhabited by patriotic populace .

The fact that it has a Muslim majority cannot override Kashmiriyat.

Within the Valley there is a substantial constituency which is not seduced by Pakistan. This constituency consists of those, who despite being Muslims are respectful to their Hindu forefathers and the composite culture of Kashmiriyat. It is Kashmiriyat that culturally defines and distinguishes the Valley’s entity and not Islam. After all, the great poet Mohd Iqbal who later became a formidable ideologue of Pakistan was a close cousin of the famous Tej Bahadur Sapru. The very basis of Independent India was predicated on the emphasis on “Indian Islam” to which Kashmiriyat is intrinsic.

It is this very Kashmiriyat that Pakistan sponsored terrorists, indoctrinated and steeped in Wahhabi variety of Islam, struck and purged the Valley of Kashmiri Hindus, forcing them to become refugees in their own country. The size of the Kashmir Hindus was five lakhs. This was the worst manifestation of terror in India. Yet it is to the credit of Kashmiri Hindus, that they did not allow pain and tears of two decades to translate into terror. They did not produce one ‘Burhan’, but the ‘ethnically clean’ Valley is never at loss in realizing the number of requisite jihadis. What therefore impels the cause? Is it jihad against India? Why the clamour for a ‘failed-state’ and a hell on this earth called Pakistan? Are the reasons, therefore not religious? That Pakistan is the perpetrator of proxy war with jihad as its instrument is common knowledge, but who is promoting the ammunition factory in the Valley that provides the cannon fodder of jihadis and suicide bombers to Pakistan, uninterrupted? Can such an ammunition factories flourish without the tacit support of the Valley based political parties and politicians? In this regard Omar Abdullah’s comment after the liquidation of Burhan dispelled any doubts.

Burhan’s grave (a terrorist’s grave) as per Abdullah would act as the new galvanizing factor of youth in the Valley. Mr Abdullah continues to be the beneficiary of security provided by the Indian Security Forces. The bounden duty of the Security Forces is to ensure that terrorists waging war against India, unless they choose to surrender, need to be sent to their final destination, i.e. the grave.

The recent jihadi machinations in Kashmir were therefore deliberately portrayed by vested interests, as indigenous freedom struggle, when the truth is that it is part of a larger global jihadi narrative.

The Burhan episode and the developments in its aftermath was part of sinister chain of recent jihadi terror events in Asia and Europe. It followed jihadi attacks in Istanbul, Baghdad, Kabul, Dacca and even Mecca. In most of these terrorist attacks, Pakistan was the common factor. The targets, apart from foreigners, were also Muslims who did not subscribe to the Wahhabi brand of Islam. In Dacca suicide bombers slit the throat of their victims. Some Muslims suffered death because of their inability to recite Quran. Use of truck without explosives to mow down unsuspecting people in France underscores the new facet of jihad that leaves no financial or explosive trail.

Europe has been a victim of the Wahhabi brand of Islam because of the burgeoning and expansion of the Muslim ghettos and absence or destruction of all social and religious bridges with the majority community. The sociological chemistry brewing in these ghettos is hardly known because even the security forces are fearful in treading into them. After the purge of Kashmiri Hindus, the Valley has also turned into a similar ghetto.

Jihadi terror’s greatest logistical asset is their particular brand of religious ideology. The thread of this ideology runs through Europe, Africa, West Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South East Asia, Kashmir Valley and some other parts of India. It needs reiteration that Kashmir Valley is also linked by the same thread. Just as the jihadi terrorists, who killed Ismaili Shias in Pakistan, just as Dhaka killers, the Kashmiri youth turning terrorists, if not as educated and privileged, are by no standards, least of all Indian, an impoverished lot.

The recent jihadi machinations in Kashmir were therefore deliberately portrayed by vested interests, as indigenous freedom struggle, when the truth is that it is part of a larger global jihadi narrative. Islamic State (IS) or LeT flags or Pakistani flags would not have been the abiding symbols outside mosques after Friday prayers, if it was not part of a pan-Islamic narrative. To impart it the flavor of India-specific grievances for terrorism – politics and political process is the imperative. It is here that the Valley based parties like the NC and PDP assume their suspicious role. In fact, this could be their assigned role by extra-territorial powers that they are beholden to. One of these powers definitely is Pakistan, and the Chinese, given their evolving strategic interests in J&K, are also not above suspicion.

The two family oriented Valley based parties have alternated in power for many years now. Had they adopted the much desired Indian nationalism as the dominant hue in their political agenda, it would have yielded ethnic and religious ‘convergence’ within J&K, and with the mainstream national narrative, away from Pakistan. It teases the mind to assess the consequences in the Valley, had Pakistan emerged as a successful and prosperous country. Is it that these Valley based political parties and the separatists are exploiting the vulnerabilities of ‘Failed Pakistan’ as well as ‘Growing India’, thus reaping political and economic bonanza?

The so-called J&K problem is an irony and miscarriage of geography of the state of Jammu and Kashmir — Pakistan occupied and Indian-held combined. The Kashmir Valley constitutes no more than eight percent of the total area of J&K, and in that only two percent of the area is impacted by the ‘Burhan syndrome’. 98 percent of Indian held J&K is absolutely peaceful. No geographical area of comparable size, anywhere in the world is as tranquil. The Hindu majority Jammu region, the Shia majority Kargil region and Buddhist Laddakh is entirely peaceful. The Kashmir Valley unlike the Jammu, Laddakh and Kargil region has no external borders. It is the people residing along the LoC and International Border in J&K have borne the hostile brunt of Pakistan for last seven decades.

It is travesty of truth that the Valley politicians have since independence been peddling the untruth that the whole of J&K is on boil. Contrast the situation in Indian held Kashmir and PoK. The Gilgit-Baltistan region has been traded to the Chinese for the second time in deference to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The rest and miniscule tail part of the PoK has no Kashmiris left. The Shias of Gilgit-Baltistan have been used and abused. Their majority status is about to be compromised. They were used for the Kargil conflict as part of the Northern Light Infantry and their dead bodies were never claimed. Not a drop of tear was shed in the Kashmir Valley over this beastly treatment of J&K brethren by Islamic Pakistan.

It is only the Valley, which serves as the nursery of jihadi terror, under the watchful eyes of the madrasas, mullahs, mosques, separatists and Valley embedded politicians. The mullah-madrasa-mosque combine in concert with Pak-ISI back jihadi outfits like LeT, JeM and HeM, prepare, train and indoctrinate recruits to the level of transforming them to suicide bombers. A similar infrastructure and incubatory exists in Western Pakistan to feed Taliban with suicide bombers for proxy war against Afghanistan. India, including the Kashmir Valley and Afghanistan are thus victims of same Pakistani jihadi machinery. The international community, particularly the West, must therefore view the Kashmir issue and insurgency in Afghanistan with the same Pakistan prism. The Pakistan military, the world should realize is the coward entity. It will never fight a conventional war in India and Afghanistan. It will continue using suicide bombers incubated in the madrasas, while military personnel send their children to English medium schools and destinations in the West. The Kashmir Valley elite are no different.

This could not have gone on forever. There is, but a new worry now. Children educated in English medium schools are also turning into suicide bombers. The Islamic State has used the English language to deadly effect in propagating Wahhabi philosophy. The buyers of this philosophy and indoctrination are intelligent enough to transform themselves to suicide bombers through online methods. Zakir Naik’s getup – a hybrid of Muslim skull-cap and coat and tie is not incidental. What Hafiz Saeed or Mullah Masood Azhar is in vernacular, Zakir Naiks in English. He very much induced the killers in Dhaka and is doing so in India and other parts of the world. Politicians and separatist leaders in Kashmir need to watch out.

The jihadi narrative in pursuance of the proxy war by Pakistan has gone by beyond the neighbourly dimension of India and Afghanistan. It has acquired a global phenomenon. Giving impetus to this Wahhabi phenomenon are politicians, not only in Kashmir but other parts of India as well. The donning of Arab shawls and caps during the Iftar parties by politicians came into vogue only when the petro-dollars began to fund political parties. Anti-national reverberations on official and media castigation of Zakir Naik were felt as far as Patna, which manifested in an anti-India rally.

We cannot allow India to become victim of this global phenomenon and allow the jihadi cancer to spread to the rest of the country. A certain amount of malignancy in this regard is in evidence in all the cardinal directions of the Indian territory.

What is the solution?

The answer to this question is predominantly ideological. The solution for Kashmir lies in reclaiming Kashmiriyat. In the larger national perspective, the solution lies in reclaiming the Indian brand of Islam, which is rooted in the soil of this country. The fusion of Hindu and Islamic streams, which gave rise to composite culture, came through the Persian route. The Arab component was very small. The language Urdu and Indian art and music have much been enriched by this fusion of Persian and Sanskrit cultures. It is this fusion that scholars like Tarek Fateh are emotional about. Pakistan incrementally abandoned this fusion and has brought itself to the brink of disaster. In his book, ‘A Life in Diplomacy’ Ambassador MK Rasgotra writes about the idea of Pakistan when it was gaining currency: “The Muslim League demand for Pakistan was on the agenda and Mookerjee (Shyma Prasad Mookerjee) asked me to speak on the subject in the main session. In about twenty minutes I made three or four points: the absurdity of a population of converts claiming to be a separate nation, the financial un-sustainability of the areas that might comprise two separated lands, Mr Jinnah would never get a Pakistan comprising all the areas he was claiming and, finally, Pakistan was a scheme for the wily English to leave behind a weak India and an even weaker Pakistan, forever dependent on its benefactor, Britain and other powers for security.”

Tarek Fateh is right when he says that he has been an Indian for last 5000 years and a Pakistani for a few decades. There can be no better definition of Indian brand of Islam. A prominent politician however finds this sentimentality expressed by Tarek Fateh indigestible because it is contrary to Wahhabi Islam , the same ideology fueled by petro-dollars that fetches votes. If Tarek Fateh had not been anti-Pakistan, he would have never attracted the hostility of Indian politicians and religious leaders in India, masquerading as nationalists. The Central Asian States have been able to insulate themselves from Wahhabism by rejecting all other forms of Islam except the type which is rooted to their soil. Countries like Tajikistan have banned beards and burqas on the grounds that it is alien to the culture of Tajiks.

Hence Jihadi terrorism in India does have ideological and political solutions.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

The Essar Tapes petition

BY ARUN AGRAWAL

Essar tapping and taping Reliance! Could the story get bigger!

The story involving two of the greatest icons of crony capitalism in India, Essar and Reliance, indulging in corporate espionage, wherein the former was tapping and recording conversation of the latter would be considered as one of the biggest stories of recent times.

The concerted cover up by the media bordering on blackout was shocking. However, those familiar with the transformation of the media from the fourth pillar to surrendering to cronyism were not too surprised except by the extent of the surrender.

This time media did not have the alibi of the EMERGENCY. Money and power were their only alibi and ally. The omnipresence of the nefarious capitalists in free media portends ill for the nation. Democracy can and has been subverted.

However, it is time that the reader and the viewer freed himself from the print and broadcast media. The Gas Swamis of the ‘The NATION WANTS TO KNOW’ fame have rendered themselves obsolete and irrelevant. Yes, “The nation knows!”

Barring Outlook and the India Today group, none stood up to be counted.

Here then is the copy of the petition filed before the Delhi High Court to let the nation know that it is no more dependent on the conventional media.

The petition shows that the petitioner lawyer, Suren Uppal, has shown remarkable maturity in acting responsibly in the filing of the petition and eschewing the temptation for sensationalism.

Click here to read the petition

(Arun Agrawal is the author of the book Reliance: The Real Natwar. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

Individual hackings and terror attacks in Bangladesh: A whodunnit

BY SAEED NAQVI

Before we dwell on Bangladesh’s current travails, the good news. It is the only double distilled entity to emerge from Partition. Armed with Bengali nationalism, it shuffled itself out of the Islamic identity the authors of Partition had imposed on the people. It is, therefore, a tough resilient society.

An overwhelming majority had fought Pakistani hegemony to become Bangladesh. But a powerful minority had not – say about 30 percent. This minority, consisting of elements in the army, police, civil service, Islamic groups like the Jamaat e Islami, clustered around spells of army rule and has now thrown its lot with Begum Khaleda Zia, leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League is emotionally (and politically) more inclined towards India. Begum Zia correspondingly leans towards Pakistan. This background was at the back of my mind when I turned up in Dhaka in mid-April at the invitation of friends to participate in the Pahela Baisakh festivities. I have never seen Pahela Baisakh, or the Indian New Year, celebrated on the epic scale as in Bangladesh.

Every year I received a card inscribed beautifully in BJP stalwart Murli Manohar Joshi’s hand wishing me a happy New Year on April 14. Like most of my friends, I have grown accustomed to receiving New Year cards in December. I regarded Dr. Joshi’s greetings as his eccentric attachment to a pre-historic past. But Pahela Baisakh in Dhaka opened my eyes. Ramana Park, the vast maidan in the heart of Dhaka, was a riot of colours, a carnival like never before. Groups of women, in elegant sarees, bindis on their foreheads, sang Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrul Geet, and, for variety, more contemporary songs in Bengali to the accompaniment of a rock band.

Hilsa, the national fish from Padma river (a pity our Bengalis have access only to the inferior variety) disappears from the market because of Baisakh feasts.

Our hostess at a lunch stood in the hallway, with a packet of bindis in one hand. She put a bindi on the forehead of all the ladies who came for the festivities. Exactly the opposite of the mood this lunch created was available the previous day. Clerics affiliated to the Jamaat, had issued a “fatwa” declaring Baisakh festivities as “haram” or impure. Not only did the lunch take place, but newspapers reported festivities across the country. The people had thumbed their nose at the Mullah.

The basic conflict in Bangladesh is between modernism and Islamism. Contrary to ones expectations, all modernists are not necessarily lined up behind Sheikh Hasina. A large segment is disenchanted with her poor governance and increasing intolerance. But his lot, tested in the 1971 civil war, will never go over the precipice, towards intolerant Islamism. So, there is that anxious waiting and watching on the part of many.

Recently, the powerful Editor of Daily Star, Mahfuz Anam, had 84 cases slapped against him by Awami League workers in the country’s 56 districts because the Prime Minister was cross with him. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of his newspaper he invited Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus. Yunus’s name had once surfaced as a possible replacement for Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia. His presence at the Daily Star function was therefore seen by a paranoid Prime Minister as the start of another conspiracy against her.

Even though the persistent image in my mind is of Pahela Baisakh in Bangladesh, it is difficult to remain sanguine about the parallel macabre narrative. Soon upon my return, I received news that Prof. Rezaul Karim Siddique had been hacked to death. His contribution to Rajshahi University’s literary life was immense. He was an expert on Tagore and Qazi Nazrul Islam. Soon, the rampant culture of impunity claimed its next victim – Xulhaz Mannan, editor of a gay magazine – then another and another. The climax, of course, was reached with the killing of 28 guests at the restaurant in Dhaka’s elite Gulshan neighbourhood on July 2 followed up by a bomb blast on Eid day. In two years, 51 people, including 20 foreigners have been killed.

Sheikh Hasina blames it all on the opposition combine – Khaleda Zia, Jamaat e Islami, Pakistan. The Jamaat is particularly livid with Hasina for the hanging of its chief Motiur Rehman Nizami for his and the organization’s role in the 1971 war crimes.

Since Indo-Bangladesh relations have seldom been better, there is considerable willingness among her advisers to blame Pakistan for attempts to destabilize her.

A Bangladeshi editor has drawn my attention to an interview by ISIS’s official magazine, Dabiq. The interviewee happens to be Sheikh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, the “Amir of ISIS soldiers in Bengal”. The Amir strongly chastises the Jamaat, the object of Hasina’s ire.

“Jamaat is a political party that has long committed acts of Kufr (sin) and shirk (deviant behavior). Firstly it supports and calls the Muslims of Bengal to the religion of democracy, and this is blatant shirk. Democracy is a religion that believes in giving people the power to legislate and make things halal or haram, whereas that is the right of Allah alone.”

Hasina is persistent: Jamaat and Pakistan are out to destabilize her. But a disembodied voice informs the unverifiable ISIS mouthpiece Dabiq, that the Jamaat is the devil incarnate.

Place these contradictions in the cauldron, and vapours of confusion choke you. It is difficult to see through this mist. But one bet can be taken: a nation which has paid with millions of lives to win the right to celebrate Pahela Baisakh in its own way, is not going to be brought to its knees easily. I am less sanguine about the political longevity of the two incorrigible ladies.

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

Brace for IS ‘Lone Wolf’ attacks, warns Military Intelligence

BY VK SHASHIKUMAR

Indian military intelligence (MI) units in Southern India are on high alert for so-called “Lone Wolf” attacks on military bases, installations, coastal and inland assets and cantonment areas. Indian intelligence agencies have credible information that IS operatives have set up OGWs (Over Ground Workers) in the Southern Indian cities of Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Bangalore and Coimbatore. In fact, Hyderabad is believed to be the hub of the IS network in India. The city’s airport has been designated as highly sensitive and local law enforcement agencies have been hard pressed to explain why certain parts of the old city areas of Hyderabad have virtually become inaccessible.

The Indian Army is uniquely positioned and capable of dealing with such terror strikes because according to an MI source “the fidayeen terror attacks that army units have frequently encountered in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) are what are today known under the new terminology of ‘Lone Wolf’ attacks.”

Immediately, after India crushed Pakistani army infiltrators in the 1999 Kargil war Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) devised a new terror technique – Fidayeen terror attacks. The first fidayeen attack on the Indian Army took place in 1999 when its 15 Corps headquarters at the Badami Bagh cantonment, Srinagar, was attacked. This was followed by a series of fidayeen terror attacks between July 1999 and 2001 September.

“The Indian Army has more than 15 years of experience in effectively handling what the Western world calls ‘Lone Wolf’ attacks. Our attempt is to snuff out potential ‘Lone Wolf’ attacks through effective intelligence gathering. We have mapped out cities, individuals and even political groups who are providing a nurturing environment for the Islamic State terror sympathizers and its jihadi terror recruits. There should not be any doubt in anybody’s mind – We will not hesitate to do what needs to be done.” It is clear that the Indian security establishment will rely on the Army’s expertise to deal with the alarming intelligence inputs of IS terrorists in India who apparently are preparing a series of fidayeen or ‘Lone Wolf’ attacks.

“It is a shame that a particular political party has nurtured such high levels of religious extremism that there are certain parts of Hyderabad city, which has become completely out of bounds from a law enforcement perspective. I have reported this to relevant authorities in Delhi in accordance with the established procedure,” says the MI source. “The fact is that the National Investigation Agency conducted raids early in the morning to arrest suspected IS terrorists who were planning a series of fidayeen strikes in Hyderabad city. What does this suggest?”

Joining the IS call to step up ‘Lone Wolf’ attacks in India, the Al Qaeda in the Indian Sub-Continent (AQIS) on July 3 issued a statement in which Asim Umar, the leader of AQIS “incited Indian Muslims to rise up and to follow the example of lone wolves in Europe and kill administrative and police officers in India.” It is interesting to note that this AQIS call was issued three days after the U.S. State Department issued a press release announcing the addition of AQIS to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organization and listed its emir, Asim Umar, as a specially designated global terrorist. The AQIS is a consolidated umbrella group of Pakistan-Afghanistan based terrorist groups including the LeT and JeM.

Two years after the Intelligence Bureau first issued warnings over the possibility of ‘Lone Wolf’ attacks after the arrest of Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the security situation across the Southern India has become quite critical. According to information available with MI in Southern India, over the last two years the following sequence of IS consolidation have been noticed.

It appears that Indian IS operatives recruited from within the Indian Muslim communities in West Asia and those who traveled from India to Syria to join the IS set up OGW networks across cities along the Eastern and Western coasts of India. Hyderabad was designated as the Centre of IS activities because of the pro-fundamentalist orientation of certain political outfits in the city, which provided an effective cover for IS to expand its base.

Southern India is considered to be more internet savvy than North. “Recruitment through social media channels is, therefore, expectedly high in Southern India,” says the MI source. “Even though all ‘Terror Preachers on Internet’ (TPoI) – a new terminology created by MI to track terror evangelizers and recruiters on the internet are in the surveillance radar as and when we find them, we do not yet have sophisticated means tracking digital media terror chatter.” As evidence from Dhaka terror attacks seems to be suggest, even fundamentalist tele-evangelists like Zakir Naik have played a role in creating a culture of attracting Muslim youth to extreme violence in the name of religion. The head of the Hyderabad IS module, Mohammad Ibrahim Yazdani, reportedly told the National Investigation Agency that he was radicalized by listening to Naik’s extremist speeches exhorting Muslim to take recourse to violence.

The young, educated and radicalized terrorists in Dhaka were recruited online. So were most of the suspected IS young terrorists arrested in India, including those recently arrested in Hyderabad. South Indian cities which have a considerable network of IS OGWs – Hyderabad, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Trivandrum – incidentally, also show high numbers of Muslim migrants from other states such as West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. These migrant workers, such as Mohammad Moshiruddin alias Musha, 25, are easy targets of extreme radicalization within short window of exposure to IS recruiters, who in turn become recruiters. Musha, for instance, was arrested by law enforcement officials in Burdwan. He was under surveillance for several months and made frequent trips to West Bengal to recruit for IS. Or take case of Adnan Ahmed and Nouman Jameel, two Hyderabad youths who were counseled by the police when it was cyber surveillance revealed that both were showing tendencies towards sourcing extremist literature online. One of them had even booked a ticket to Turkey.

“From our perspective all the soft setting up has happened over the last two years – formation of the OGW network, effective penetration of TPoIs, creation of a network of IS recruiters and all the associated collaterals. Now, anytime, we expect the hard stuff to happen,” says the MI source.

(VK Shashikumar is an investigative journalist and a strategist. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)