Tag Archives: national security

Can ocean surveillance and patrolling curb drug-trafficking?

Dr G Shreekumar Menon

The Arabian Sea has been one of the many avenues for the rapid rise of global trade and services butconversely has also been a ready pathway for the actionof many transnational organised crime groups. Curbing these transnational groups has been a crucial priority for both coastal and landlocked States across the globe as they pose a threat not only to national security but also to the legal trade and commerce across the globe.

Majority of the illicit activities at sea are usually inter-linked with the regular licit traffic. Hence it isextremely difficult to detect such type of cases.

Let us, for example, visit and traverse the route of the recent Rupees 21,000/ crores seizure effected at Mundra Port, by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which also happens to be the world’s largest seizure of drugs. Information presently disclosed in public domain indicates that the contraband emanated from Kandahar in Afghanistan from a company named Hassan Hussain Limited. It made its initial foray into the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, by the land route. From there the
journey began to Mundra Port in Gujarat, India, declared as ‘talc stones. The intended recipient was Aashi Trading Company in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.

Let us explore this route to understand the security architecture prevailing, and the likely legal impediments that a container cargo containing contraband will have to encounter.

Kandahar is under the direct control of the Taliban, and the consignment would have therefore proceeded to the Iranian Port of Bandar Abbas with minimal checks and balances. The Taliban would have extorted their commission, and allowed the consignment to proceed to the Port of Bandar Abbas. The Taliban, would have for sure, known about the clandestine cargo, and its intended final destination.

Bandar Abbas Port is an entirely different theatre of operation. Iran’s main naval base is located at Bandar Abbas. The complex hosts a missile site where Chinese- built cruise missiles such as the CSS-N-2 Silkworm, HY-2 Seersucker and C-801 Sardine are tested, assembled, manufactured, and upgraded. The Revolutionary Guard Corps protects the complex with HAWK, SA-5 and SA-2 air-defense missiles.

Intelligence observers estimate that Iran generally keeps eight SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship missile batteries stationed near Bandar Abbas, as well as at least 12 Silkworm anti-ship missile sites around Bandar Abbas and Kharg Island. The military complex also houses Iran’s fleet of Chinese-made Houdong fast missile boats. Experts estimate that Iran has armed approximately twenty of these craft with Saccade C-802 missiles. It is into this high-security environment that the contraband entered smoothly, we have to presume that it was not detected at all, thereby putting a big question mark on the level of security prevailing there.

It is an entirely different story if there was active connivance of the authorities in routing the consignment to India.

Shahid Rajaee Port, Bandar Abbas, has a Customs facility spanning a massive area of 4800 hectares of land. This port has Iran’s largest container terminal. The port is a Special Economic Zone due to its strategic location. It has connections to 80 well-known ports with 35 container lines. All terminals at Shahid Rajaee Customs have up-to-date facilities and boasts of 40 separate docks.

The contraband consignment encountered no problems whatsoever at the high-security Bandar Abbas Port and through the massive Customs facility without any hitch.

The next leg of the journey would cover the Gulf of Hormuz, and thereafter into the Arabian Sea.

The Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea are intensely patrolled by navies of various countries, as well as joint patrolling.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 (UNCLOS), sets out the legal framework applicable to activities in the oceans, including countering illicit activities at sea. On 27 November 1997 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted Resolution A.872 (20), which contains Guidelines for the Prevention and
Suppression of the Smuggling of Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursor Chemicals on ships engaged in international maritime traffic. This was revoked and replaced by the Revised Guidelines for the Prevention and Suppression of the Smuggling of Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursor Chemicals on Ships engaged in International Maritime Traffic. In addition, IMO works closely with other international
organizations such as the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), on matters concerning drug smuggling on board ships.

The Djibouti Code of Conduct (2017) covers illegal maritime activities in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. These activities include: (a) Human trafficking and smuggling, (b) Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, (c) Trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances. (d) Arms trafficking, (e) Illegal trade in wildlife, (f) Crude oil theft, and (g) Illegal dumping of toxic waste. A revision was signed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 12 January 2017 and it became known as the Jeddah Amendment to Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017 (DCoC). So far 16 of the 20 DCoC signatory States have signed the Jeddah Amendment. They are: Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Somalia, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen.

India has joined the Djibouti Code of Conduct/ Jeddah Amendment, as Observer, along with Japan, Norway, UK and the US as Observers following the high-level meeting of the Djibouti Code of Conduct/ Jeddah Amendment (DCOC/JA) held virtually on 26 August 2020.

Under the Code, which became effective from the date it was signed, signatories declared their intention to co-operate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, and other illegal activities at sea.

In supporting the implantation of the code of conduct, IMO has developed strong partnerships with key implementing partners including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the European Union; United States Africa Command (US AFRICOM), Canadian Coast Guard, the One Earth Future Foundation’s Stable Seas project, the Institute for Security International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mohammed Bin Nayef Academy of Marine Science and Security Studies (Saudi Arabia), Djibouti Regional Training Centre, British Peace Support Team (Africa), and NATO Maritime Interdiction Operations Training Centre (NMIOTC, Greece).

In addition to the above, there are platforms like the Indian Ocean Forum on Maritime Crime of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Further, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) is a multinational maritime partnership, which exists to uphold the International Rules-Based Order (IRBO).

It is a 33-nation coalition of Combined Maritime Forces and is based in Bahrain established to monitor, board, inspect, and stop suspect shipping to pursue the “Global War on Terrorism”.

Countries presently contributing to CTF-150 include Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Pakistan, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Other nations that have participated include Italy, India, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. The command of the task force rotates among the different participating navies, with commands usually lasting between four and six months. The task force usually comprises 14 or 15 ships.

Inspite of such a formidable force operating in the Arabian sea, this massive contraband consignment sailed through effortlessly, to reach its destination at Mundra, Gujarat State, India.

The smooth transit through a huge phalanx of naval forces is because the patrolling at sea is to interdict unidentified vessels. The targets are usually small fishing vessels, and small craft. which may be carrying contraband. The big container ships and cargo ships ply without interruption, as they have authorized permissions and identities. It is these vessels containing licit cargo, that are made use of by terror groups and traffickers to clandestinely carry contraband cargo. It is simply impossible for any Navy to apprehend a Container Ship, and physically check the cargo. Hence the contraband cargo has a smooth sail from the country of origin to the point of destination.

The next and final entry is into the Port of Mundra. India has around 15 lakh containers and this itself is not sufficient for our import-export traffic. There is heavy pressure on the Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Finance – Customs, for quick clearance. A shipload of containers is expected to be cleared within 16 to 24 hours.

In FY 2020-21, Mundra port alone handled 144.4 million tons (MT) of cargo. The port handles dry cargo, liquid cargo, crude cargo, and containers. Mundra port is also a special economic zone (SEZ). SEZs are designated duty-free enclaves in India where the Indian Customs law does not apply. It was from this Mundra port that on 16 September 2021 the DRI, on prior information, seized the world’s biggest seizure of narcotic drugs valued at a mind-boggling Rupees twenty-one thousand crores. This seizure has raised many legal issues apart from the threat to national security. A total of eight persons including four Afghan nationals, one Uzbek and three Indians have been arrested so far. A special Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Court in Gujarat has directed the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to investigate several aspects of this case including the manner in which the Port is administered. Many issuesrelating to national security, cargo clearance modalities, Customs checks, including coastal and blue water patrolling will come up for the Court’s detailed scrutiny in the coming months.

Concealment in containers is happening very intelligently, taking advantage of the fact that only 2% to 10% of containers worldwide undergo inspection.

Only 5% of all containers shipped to US ports are physically inspected. This figure is estimated to be still lower in Europe. In India also, 100% check of containers is impossible. The thrust of the Government and all stakeholders on expeditious clearance of cargo, results in low level of examination and acceptance of declarations by importers at face value. And people wonder why there is trouble eliminating drug trafficking, arms trafficking and human trafficking.

Had it not been for the timely information received by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the prompt interception, the consignment would have smoothly proceeded to its final destination –
Vijayawada. The fact that none of the enforcement and intelligence agencies from Mundra Port to Vijayawada had any inkling of the contraband likely to transit through their jurisdictions, raises several security questions and concerns.

From the month of March 2021 there has been a spurt in the movement of narcotics in the Arabian sea region. The American exit from Afghanistan is reckoned as a major factor contributing to this trend. The gradual easing of COVID-19 related restrictions with consequent increase in maritime traffic density, is also another contributor of this trend. Major drugs seized included Methamphetamine, Cannabis, Heroin and Khat. The seizure of large quantities of methamphetamine during the recent months remains a concern for the region, including a single seizure of 55,836 kg by Omani authorities. Indian Coast Guard made twin drug seizures, and in one case seized five AK 47 rifles with 1000 rounds of ammunition, apart from drugs, from foreign fishing vessels, off Minicoy Island, Lakshadweep, India.

The Government needs to have a comprehensive reviewof the existing maritime patrolling at sea and the quality and quantity of Customs checks at various ports, including those designated as Special Economic Zones.

The author Dr G Shreekumar Menon, IRS (Rtd) Ph. D (Narcotics), is

  • Former Director General National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics, and Multi-Disciplinary School of Economic Intelligence India
  • Fellow, James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies, USA.
  • Fellow, Centre for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, USA 
  • Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A.
  • AOTS Scholar, Japan

Dr G Shreekumar Menon can be contacted at shreemenon48@gmail.com

Islamic Terror groups and India’s War against Terror

Newsroom24x7 Network

Besides the operatives of ISIS and Daish, there are sleeper cells of Lashkar-e-Taiba that are active in India. LeT is one of the largest Islamic Terrorist organizations in South Asia, founded in 1987 by India’s most wanted terrorist Hafiz Saeed the head of Jammat-Ud-Dawah in Pakistan.

Then there is Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, an Islamic terrorist organisation operating from Bangladesh. It continues to remain active in Bengaluru in Karnataka where a huge floating population from Bangladesh has settled and is retained as domestic help especially by the cash-rich executives of the IT sector.

Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based Deobandi jihadist Islamic Mujahideen group has been active in Kashmir for many years but it is now facing the heat after the abrogation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in 2019.

The Popular Front of India (PFI), which is an extremist Islamic fundamentalist organisation has also spread its tentacles in some parts of India.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, a global terrorist, is co-founder of the Jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) with the help of Pakistan’s ISI and is the chief of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah. He is the most wanted by NIA for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He is reported to have once said: “There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy.”

Riyaz Ahmed Naikoo, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Commander in Kashmir Valley who was gunned down and eliminated by security forces in South Kashmir’s Awantipora on 6 May 2020.

On the run since four years is Merrin Jacob Pallath @ Mariyam along with Bestin Vincent @ Yahiya. Sheis wanted by the NIA in the ISIS Case of Palakkad, Kerela for criminal conspiracy, commission of unlawful activities, membership and support to proscribed terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Recent terror linked cases

Special Cell of Delhi Police registered an FIR on 9 January 2020 under sections 353, 186, 307 & 34 of the IPC and sections 25/27 of the Arms Act, 1959 relating to arrest of Khaja Moideen, who is an absconding accused along with Syed Ali Nawaz and Abdul Samad in an ISIS /Daish case registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Another case was registered on 8 March 2020 at PS special Cell (SB), New Delhi, u/s 120B,124A and 153A of IPC and sections 13 & 20 of UA (P) Act, 1967 relating to the arrest of two persons namely, Jahanzaib Sami @ Dawood Ibrahim @ Xaib @ Abu Muhammed Al Hind @ Abu Abdulla S/o Abdul Sami Wani resident of Purnibal, Shivpora, Srinagar, J&K and his wife Hina Bashir for having affiliations with ISKP (Islamic State-Khorasan Province), which is a terrorist organization and for being involved in subversive/anti-national activities in India.

There was a dacoity case at the house of one Anitha P. Majumdar by JMB Cadre at K.R. Puram, Bengaluru city by Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, which is an Islamic terrorist organisation operating from Bangladesh. During investigation by NIA it has been revealed that in the month of February 2018, dacoity was committed in various places in Bengaluru to raise funds for the cause of JMB in the name of “Maal-e-Ganimat” and the looted gold and money was used for the organizational purposes. In this regard, a case was registered earlier on 27 February 2018 at K.R. Puram P.S., Bengaluru, Karnataka under sections 323, 448, 524, 506 and 34 of the IPC. NIA is continuing investigation in this case

In the month of February 2018, a dacioty was also committed by the same JMB accused at the house of another person, Venkatesh Reddy by JMB Cadre at Attibele, Bengaluru city.

Later on 7 July 2019, a case was registered under sections 18, 38 & 40 of the UA(P) Act 1967 and sections 34, 121, 121A read with 120B of Indian Penal Code at PS Soladevanahalli Yeshwanthpura Sub Division of Bengaluru City, Karnataka relating to seizure of 05 improvised hand greanades, 03 fabricated grenade caps, 03 circuits of IEDs, 01 timer device, 02 rocket bends, one body of rocker, one 09mm bullet, one air-gun, suspected explosive powders and various other incriminating materials used in fabrication of hand grenades/IEDs, from a place rented by members of Jammat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), in Chikkabanawara, Bengaluru.

On 5 April 2020, NIA registered a case relating to an LeT module of about 20/25 individuals working secretly with the purpose of committing acts pre-judicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India primarily by conspiring to target certain persons and places of public importance. The main conspirator in this module is one Tania Parvin daughter of Alamin Mondal, Village Malayapur, PS Baduria, District North 24 Parganas.

One Hilal Ahmed Naikoo, an over ground worker of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) was arrested at Amritsar in Punjab and an FIR was registered on 25 April 2020 at PS Sadar, District Amritsar, Punjab under sections 10,11,13,17,18,20 & 21 of the UA(P) Act relating to arrest of one Hilal Ahmed Shergojri, son of Abdul Samad, r/o Nowgam Ullar, district Pulwama, J&K with Rs. 29 lakh in his possession, by Punjab Police. Investigation has revealed that the arrested accused is an Over Ground Worker of banned terrorist organization Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) and had collected the money from an unknown person in Amritsar on instructions of Riyaz Ahmed Naikoo, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Commander in Kashmir Valley who was gunned down and eliminated by security forces in South Kashmir’s Awantipora on 6 May 2020.

One Ramalingam, son of Vadivel, Thoondilvinayagam – pettai, Thirubuvanam, Thiruvidaimarudur, PS, Thanjavur district, was murdered on 5 February 2019, by one Rahman Sadiq, son of Mohammed Ismail, who was involved in the activities of terror outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa or JuD in Thirubuvanam area, along with Muhammad Ali Jinna s/o Saji Muhammad, Thirubuvanam (District Secretary, PFI) and other accused persons. Jammat-Ud-Dawah, has been founded by Hafeez Saeed, a designated terrorist and one of the most wanted by India.

NIA is also conducting further investigation into a case of criminal conspiracy of waging war by Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar (brother of Masood Azhar) & other members of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based Deobandi jihadist Islamic Mujahideen group active in Kashmir. Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar has planned every major Jaish attack in India. All accused in this case have been charged of criminal conspiracy for strengthening base of proscribed terrorist organisation JeM, in India, raising funds for terrorists acts, conspiracy for carrying out terrorist acts, organizing terrorist camps and recruiting persons for carrying out terrorist acts and harbouring the cadres of JeM.

US Secretary of State Pompeo talks about China and how it presents itself as a “threat today”

Newsroom24x7 Network

Washington DC: The US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo has expressed serious concern regarding the challenge posed by China and linked it directly to national security imperative.

Pompeo was addressing Business Executives for National Security (BENS) Gala and Awards Ceremony in Washington on 30 April 2019.

Whether it’s the work that they’re doing to install their technology and networks inside of “your business or our country or those of your partners, or whether it’s their efforts to out-compete the United States of America, but with not a competitive objective but rather a national security imperative. – Michael R. Pompeo, the US Secretary of State

At Mandarin Oriental, Washington, DC, April 30, 2019

Pompeo referred to his conversation with Henry Kissinger and said when he was the US Secretary of State and dealing with China, he believed that if the economy grew and democracy would surely follow in China. And we’ve seen that that has just simply not proven to be the case.

Speaking of day-to-day challenges and reflecting upon his experience as a small business owner, when he sold products in China and purchased materials from China, the US Secretary of State said the challenge from that country is very different today.

Pompeo set the tone of his discourse by stating whether it’s the work that they were doing to install their technology and networks inside of “your business or our country or those of your partners, or whether it’s their efforts to out-compete the United States of America, but with not a competitive objective but rather a national security imperative, and the advantages they face in some of those challenge – battle spaces, because the idea of a private sector entity is literally foreign to them”.

Sharing his concern further, Pompeo remarked “We have a separation between government and private sector that they simply don’t have, and that has real implications for the US leaders tasked with defending America today.”

On the US business and how it’s engaged in commerce in China, Pompeo said – we watch the massive human rights violations in Xinjiang, where there are over a million people being held in a humanitarian crisis that is the scale of what took place in the 1930s, and we see American businesses and their technology being used to help facilitate that activity from the Chinese Government – it’s something worthy of thinking about.

Pompeo concluded his remarks by stating: “As we work to figure out how to deal with China – a billion and a half people that provide very important markets for the United States of America, and yet a country that at the same time presents enormous risk over the coming years and decades – to help all of us think about the right way to approach this and how it is the case that we can achieve our national security objective while ensuring that America continues to grow and prosper and our private sector crushes them every place that we compete.”

Prison at Guantanamo Bay: Obama sends closure plan to Congress

Newsroom24x7  Staff

gauntanamo Bay priosnWashington DC: The US administration met the deadline and on Tuesday (23 February, 2016) morning at 10:00 a.m. submitted to the Congress the plan required by the National Defense Authorization Act of fiscal 2015, seeking a plan on the future detention and on Guantanamo.

Briefing media on this, a senior administration official informed that President Obama and Secretary Carter have made clear, responsibly and securely closing the detention facility at Guantanamo is a national security imperative. The report presented to the Congress provides a way ahead for responsibly closing the facility while continuing to treat detainees in our custody in a manner consistent with international and domestic law, the official said.

First, according to the official,detainees who have been designated for transfer, have to be responsibly and securely transferred to other countries. Currently, there are 91 people at Guantanamo. Thirty-five are eligible to be transferred and the administration is optimistic that all the 35 will be transferred in the next several months. So it is anticipated that the population will be down below 60 later this year.

The officer said that the second element is continuing to conduct what we call the Periodic Review Board. These are periodic — as the term implies, periodic reviews of our authority to detain an individual and whether they continue to pose a threat to the United States. And if they don’t, then we make them eligible for transfer.

Third, continuing to identify individuals’ dispositions for those who remain designated for law of war detention, including possible prosecution either in Article 3 court, military commissions, or foreign prosecutions.

And fourth and finally, an important focus of this plan, working with the Congress on a location in the United States to securely hold detainees that we cannot transfer at this time to foreign countries, or who are subject to the military commission proceedings.

To summarize the population, the officer said, we you have  figures: 91 people; 35 eligible for transfer; 10 are in some phase of the military commission process; and the remainder, which is 46, are subject to law of war detention but are going through the periodic review board process.

Citing the reason for closing the Prison at Guantanamo Bay, the officer said: The reason (why) the President is doing this, finish what we began, which is Guantanamo is a symbol, it’s a negative symbol for our national security. The President has said this, the prior President has said this, many of our generals have told us this. It hurts us with our allies, it inspires jihadists, and it’s time to bring this chapter of American history to a close.