Country Report on Terrorism 2017 - Chapter 1 - India

Overview: The parts of India most seriously impacted by terrorism in 2017 included the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the northeast Indian states, and parts of central India in which Maoist terrorists remain active. India continued to apply sustained pressure to detect, disrupt, and degrade terrorist organizations’ operations within its borders. Indian leadership expressed resolve to prevent terrorist attacks domestically and to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism, in cooperation with the United States and other like-minded countries.

Counterterrorism cooperation between India and the United States increased in 2017. The two pledged to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including al-Qa’ida (AQ), ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), and D-Company. During a June 2017 summit, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi directed officials to establish a new mechanism for cooperation on terrorist designations. The first meeting of the bilateral Designations Dialogue was held in December. India welcomed the U.S. State Department’s June designation of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) senior leader Mohammad Yusuf Shah, also known as Syed Salahuddin, and the August designation of HM as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

2017 Terrorist Incidents:

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: India made no major changes to its counterterrorism laws in 2017. The Indian government continued to address terrorism-related activities through existing statutes, including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) (1967), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Convention on Suppression of Terrorism Act (1993), and various state-level laws. The UAPA presumes the accused to be guilty if the prosecution can produce incriminating evidence indicating the possession of arms or explosives or the presence of fingerprints at a crime scene, regardless of whether criminal intent is demonstrated. State governments held persons without bail for extended periods before filing formal charges under the UAPA.

India’s state-level law enforcement agencies play a significant role detecting, deterring, and preventing acts of terrorism. These state agencies have varying degrees of capability. After the Mumbai attacks of 2008, state Anti-Terrorism Squads (ATS) were created to handle rapid, first-responder duties. At the central government level, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is the lead law enforcement investigation agency. The National Security Guard (NSG) retains the mandate for nationwide response. Despite its rigorous training, NSG’s rapid response capability is somewhat limited, due in part to its small staff relative to India’s large size. Continued weaknesses in intelligence and information sharing negatively impacted state and central law enforcement agencies. In 2016, India and the United States signed an arrangement to exchange terrorism screening information, and the Indian Multi Agency Centre/Intelligence Bureau continued work on implementation.

In an example of a significant counterterrorism law enforcement action, police arrested Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) leader Mohammad Idris from a central Kolkata hideout on March 8. Police believe Idris was involved in the July 1, 2016, Holey Artisan Bakery attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh. On November 21, local police arrested two Bangladeshi terrorists belonging to Ansarullah Bangla Team in Kolkata. The police stated the two planned to murder bloggers in Bangladesh and had come to Kolkata to buy arms.

In April, an Indian court sentenced two Indian ISIS financiers to seven years in prison, in the country’s first ISIS-related convictions. The two pled guilty to a criminal conspiracy to propagate ISIS ideology, recruit persons, raise funds, and facilitate the travel of those recruited to join ISIS in Syria. India detained an alleged AQIS facilitator in September. The case was pending in court at the end of 2017.

India participated in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program and received training in internet, dark web, mobile device, and advanced digital forensics capabilities.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: India is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as well as two FATF-style regional bodies – the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering. India’s financial intelligence unit is a member of the Egmont Group. India has formed an interagency committee to conduct its National Risk Assessment in accordance with FATF guidance. Under the chairmanship of the Additional Secretary (Revenue), the committee will form several working groups to examine specific topics, e.g., financial institutions, financial inclusion, and anti-money laundering. Once complete, the committee will present the assessment to the Finance Minister for approval.

India took steps to pass legislation to allow for the confiscation of assets and prosecution of individuals involved in certain third-party transactions. India also took steps to amend its laws related to recovering confiscated property. At year’s end, India was in the final process of approving an amendment to bring dealers of precious metals, stones, and other high-value goods under the jurisdiction of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act from 2002.

Between August 2016 and May 2017, India initiated 117 anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism investigations, filed 83 prosecution complaints, arrested 19 individuals, and secured two convictions and two property/asset confiscations.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Indian CVE programs in 2017 targeted disaffected sectors of Indian society that were at the highest risk of vulnerability for terrorist recruitment. On October 23, the Ministry of Home Affairs appointed a Special Representative to begin dialogue with all stakeholders in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to discuss issues of street violence, cross-border terrorism, and pervasive alienation, particularly among youth.

Indian government officials raised concerns over the use of the internet – including social media – for terrorist recruiting, radicalization to violence, and fomenting inter-religious tensions. In particular, officials expressed concern about ISIS’s ability to recruit online, following incidents in which Indians were attracted to join or support the group.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad produced four short, high-quality films to counter terrorist recruitment, which were played before movies in theaters in the state.

The city of Mumbai is a founding member of the Strong Cities Network.

International and Regional Cooperation: India is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and participated in GCTF and other UN fora on counterterrorism in 2017. India also used multilateral fora and bilateral visits to highlight terrorism concerns and their impacts. During the 2017 BRICS Summit (with Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa) and the 2017 SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) Summit, India led efforts on declarations condemning terrorism and calling for joint efforts to counter it. At the 15th ASEAN-India Summit in November in Manila, India pledged to cooperate closely with ASEAN nations to stem terrorism.

India continued to increase bilateral cooperation on counterterrorism. India provided US $500,000 to the Philippines to aid the rehabilitation of inhabitants of Marawi who were affected by fighting between the Philippine military and ISIS-inspired militants.