Overview: Counterterrorism cooperation between India and the United States continued to increase in 2016, with both sides committing to deepen bilateral engagement against the full spectrum of terrorism threats. Indian leadership expressed resolve to redouble efforts, in cooperation with the United States and with other like-minded countries, to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism. India and the United States 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, including through greater collaboration on designations at the UN.
Indian and U.S. leaders directed officials to identify new areas of collaboration through the July U.S.-India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group, applauded finalization of a bilateral arrangement to facilitate the sharing of terrorism screening information, and called upon Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of terrorist attacks against India to justice.
During 2016, U.S. and Indian officials exchanged terrorist threat information in intelligence and law enforcement channels. U.S. Department of Justice officials worked with Indian interlocutors – including at the National Investigation Agency (NIA) – to enhance capacity for addressing use of the internet for terrorist purposes and to assist Indian investigations in terrorism-related cases. U.S. and Indian officials continued to strengthen cooperation on domestic terrorist designations, including implementation of UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1373 (2001), and on international designations, pursuant to the UN Security Council (UNSC) ISIL (Da'esh) and al-Qa'ida sanctions regime. The United States and India worked together to designate JeM leader Maulana Masood Azhar, although the listing was blocked in the UN 1267 Committee. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security continued to work with Indian counterparts to counter IED threats. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and India's Ministry of Finance continued to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
While India has not joined the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, it has publicly recognized the serious threat ISIS poses to global security and affirmed efforts to degrade and defeat this threat in accordance with UNSCRs 2178 (2014) and 2199 (2015). Indian officials have stated that their government takes threats posed by ISIS seriously and Indian law enforcement agencies arrested at least 68 ISIS supporters in 2016. In some instances, clerics and family members supported government-led de-radicalization efforts. In October, the Ministry of Home Affairs appointed a Senior Advisor to Curb Online Radicalization.
2016 Terrorist Incidents:
On January 2, terrorists attacked Pathankot Air Force Station in Punjab, killing eight security personnel and one civilian. Security forces killed five attackers and India's Ministry of Home Affairs subsequently sanctioned the prosecution in absentia of JeM leader Maulana Masood Azhar and three others for alleged involvement in the attack.
On June 25, alleged LeT terrorists attacked a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pampore, Jammu and Kashmir; killing eight officers and injuring 20. Indian security forces killed two attackers.
On August 5, suspected Bodo militants (armed Christian separatists who seek to obtain a sovereign Bodoland for the Bodo people in Assam) attacked a marketplace in Kokrajhar, Assam, killing 14 people and injuring 15 people.
On September 18, terrorists attacked an Indian Army brigade headquarters in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir, killing 19 Indian soldiers and injuring more than 30 people. Indian security forces killed four attackers allegedly affiliated with LeT.
On October 3, terrorists attacked an Indian army camp in the Baramulla District, Jammu and Kashmir, killing one officer. Security forces killed two attackers allegedly affiliated with JeM.
On November 29, militants attacked an army base in Nagrota, Jammu and Kashmir, killing seven Indian soldiers.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: India made no major changes to its counterterrorism laws in 2016 and 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. Other state-level counterterrorism laws reduce evidentiary standards for certain charges and increase police powers to detain an accused and his or her associates without charges and without bail for extended periods, sometimes lasting several years.
During 2016, India undertook measures to address the terrorist threat, including through efforts to improve the exchange of terrorism screening information and through law enforcement cooperation in individual cases. In July, a Mumbai court sentenced Indian Mujahideen/LeT affiliate and accused 2008 Mumbai attack conspirator Zabiuddin Ansari (aka Abu Jundal) to life imprisonment for his involvement in a 2006 criminal case. In July, India and Bangladesh agreed on steps to improve procedures for extraditing suspects involved in terrorism and organized crime. In November, the Ministry of Home Affairs banned radical cleric Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation as "an unlawful organization."
Since the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, India has sought to enhance its counterterrorism capabilities. Interagency coordination and information sharing remained a challenge, and local police forces continued to suffer from poor training and equipment. India has launched initiatives to address some of these challenges, including through a Multi-Agency Centre for enhancing intelligence gathering and sharing.
Indian officials participated in U.S.-sponsored law enforcement and security training at the central government and state levels to enhance India's capabilities in critical incident management, infrastructure security, community-oriented policing, crime scene investigations, explosive ordnance detection and countermeasures, forensics, cyber security, mega city policing, and other areas. Indian police and civilian security officials at both the state and federal levels received 12 capacity-building training courses under the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program in technical areas related to counterterrorism and law enforcement. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security, through Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted training programs and exchanges with Indian law enforcement personnel.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: India is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and two FATF-style regional bodies – (1) the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and (2) the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering. India's Financial Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-IND) is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. The government regulates the money services business (MSB) sector, requiring the collection of data for wire transfers and the filing of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) by non-profit organizations. While the Indian government supervised, regulated, and monitored these entities to prevent misuse and terrorist financing, a large unregulated and unlicensed MSB sector remained vulnerable to exploitation by illicit actors.
In November, Prime Minister Modi announced the de-monetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee currency notes and asserted that one purpose of this initiative was to curb terrorist activity funded by counterfeit notes, black money, and stockpiled cash reserves. Although the Government of India aligned its domestic anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) laws with international standards by enacting amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in 2012, and in 2016 initiated a National Risk Assessment for AML/CFT to assess the country's terrorist financing risk, it has yet to implement the legislation effectively, especially with regard to criminal convictions. Law enforcement agencies typically open criminal investigations reactively and seldom initiate proactive analysis and long-term investigations. While the Indian government has taken action against certain hawala financing activities, prosecutions have generally focused on non-financial businesses that conduct hawala transactions as a secondary activity. Additionally, the government has not taken adequate steps to ensure all relevant industries are complying with AML/CFT regulations. The reporting of terrorism-related STRs has shown an increasing trend in recent years, with FIU-IND receiving 112,527 STRs between July 2015 and May 2016.
The degree of training and expertise in financial investigations involving transnational crime or terrorism-affiliated groups varied widely among the federal, state, and local levels and depended on the financial resources and individual policies of various jurisdictions. U.S. investigators have had limited success in coordinating the seizure of illicit proceeds with Indian counterparts. While, in the past, intelligence and investigative information supplied by U.S. law enforcement authorities led to numerous seizures of terrorism-related funds, a lack of follow-through on investigative leads has prevented a more comprehensive approach. India continues to comply with international sanctions pursuant to the UNSC ISIL (Da'esh) and al-Qa'ida sanctions regime.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Countering Violent Extremism: During 2016, India continued to support efforts to counter violent extremism. Following the naming of a special envoy for counterterrorism and extremism in June 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs in October appointed a senior advisor to curb online radicalization. The Indian government advanced some countering violent extremism efforts, provided tacit support for civil society efforts to counter violent extremism, continued initiatives to provide "quality and modern education" in madrassas, and maintained programs to rehabilitate and reintegrate former terrorists and insurgents into mainstream society. These programs targeted disaffected sectors of Indian society that have been sources of violent insurgency.
Indian government officials continued to raise concerns over the use of social media and the internet to recruit, radicalize, and foment 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.
International and Regional Cooperation: India is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and participated in GCTF and other UN forums on counterterrorism in 2016. India also used multilateral fora and bilateral visits to highlight terrorism concerns and their impacts. During the 2016 BRICS (a grouping of emerging economies that includes Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa) Summit and the 2016 BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand) Leaders' Retreat, India led efforts to produce declarations condemning terrorism and calling for joint efforts to counter it. During visits with Israel, Japan, and the United Kingdom, Indian leaders and their counterparts likewise focused on terrorism issues and counterterrorism efforts. Led by India, the 2016 Heart of Asia ministerial meetings condemned terrorist groups including ISIS, LeT, and JeM for their contribution to terrorist violence in the region.
India continued to cooperate with its neighbors on counterterrorism matters. During 2016, India and Bangladesh continued to strengthen their cooperation under their bilateral Coordinated Border Management Plan to control illegal cross-border activities.