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State of Terrorism in South Asia 2018 – Assessment by US State Department

Published Nov 07, 2019
Updated Feb 18, 2020

Afghanistan, Pakistan and India remained considerably impacted by terrorist violence in 2018 as per the Report despite progress made in neutralising the groups active in the region.

US Country Report on  Terrorism which is  submitted in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f (the “Act”), which requires the Department of State to provide to Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of the Act has indicated the overall state of terrorism in South Asia remains grim

On South Asia the  Report states that although al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been seriously degraded, remnants of al-Qa’ida’s global leadership, as well as its regional affiliate al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), continued to operate from remote locations in the region that historically have been exploited as safe havens.

Afghanistan continued to experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by ISIS’s branch in the region, the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and the Afghan Taliban, including the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN). Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) retained full responsibility for security in Afghanistan and in partnership with NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, took aggressive action against terrorist elements across Afghanistan.

ISIS-K remained active in 2018, although counterterrorism pressure from Afghan and Resolute Support forces, and clashes with the Afghan Taliban, removed fighters from the battlefield and restricted the group’s ability to expand territorial control in 2018. Nevertheless, the group was able to conduct a significant number of high-profile, mass-casualty attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban took steps towards a political settlement in 2018. In June, the Afghan government initiated a successful Eid-al-Fitr cease-fire, although ANDSF and Resolute Support committed to continue operations against al-Qa’ida and ISIS-K during the cease-fire. In September, President Trump appointed Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, who has advanced a political settlement in Afghanistan.

Pakistan continued to experience significant terrorist attacks, particularly against vulnerable civilian and government targets. Pakistani military and security forces undertook counterterrorism operations against groups that conducted attacks within Pakistan, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Pakistan did not take sufficient action against externally focused groups such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continued to operate, train, organize, and fundraise in Pakistan. The Pakistani government pledged support for political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban but did not restrict the Afghan Taliban and HQN from operating in Pakistan and threatening U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. In June, the FATF placed Pakistan on its list of jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies (the “grey list”) for deficiencies in its AML/CFT regimes, including the failure to implement UN sanctions related to designated entities.

 India continued to experience attacks, including by Pakistan-based terrorist organizations and tribal and Maoist insurgents. Indian authorities blamed Pakistan for cross-border attacks in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. India continued to apply pressure to detect, disrupt, and degrade terrorist organizations’ operations within its borders, including the disruption of an ISIS-inspired terrorist cell reportedly planning terrorist attacks in late 2018. During 2018, the Government of India sought to deepen counterterrorism cooperation and information sharing with the United States, including through the bilateral Counterterrorism Joint Working Group meeting in March and the first 2+2 (top U.S. and Indian diplomatic and military officials) Ministerial Dialogue in September. In June, the Indian government designated ISIS-K and AQIS as terrorist organizations under domestic designation authorities.

The pace and magnitude of terrorist attacks in Bangladesh continued to decline in 2018, although a secularist writer was killed and a university professor seriously injured in separate incidents. Bangladeshi security forces claimed to have disrupted planned attacks, captured suspected militant leaders, and seized caches of weapons, ammunition, and explosives. The Government of Bangladesh continued efforts to counter terrorist radicalization and recruitment and limit the flow of FTFs.

Countries in Central Asia remained concerned about the potential spillover of terrorism from Afghanistan, as well as the potential threat posed by the return of individuals from Central Asia who traveled to Iraq or Syria to fight with terrorist groups, including ISIS. In July, ISIS claimed responsibility for an unprecedented attack in southern Tajikistan, which left four Western tourists dead, including two Americans. Through the C5+1 (United States plus the Central Asian countries) diplomatic platform, officials from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan participated in the associated C5+1 Security Working Group focused on regional cooperation on counterterrorism and CVE.

The Report is as indicated in the US State Department website for information and analysis please, Security Risks Asia has not verified the same and is not responsible for the details or analysis therein.