The South Asia Channel

General Confirms ISIS Recruiting in Af-Pak; Pakistani Police Clash With Anti-Charlie Hebdo Protest; ISIS Threat at Mumbai Airport

Editor’s Note: The South Asia Daily Brief will not be published on Monday, January 19, 2015, in honor of Martin Luther King Day. Regular publication will resume on Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Afghanistan General confirms reports of ISIS recruiting in Af-Pak On Thursday, Gen. John Campbell, the commander of the new NATO support mission in ...

AFGHANISTAN-UNREST-ISAF-NATO
US General John Campbell salutes during a ceremony marking the end of ISAF's combat mission in Afghanistan at ISAF headquarters in Kabul on December 28, 2014. NATO formally ended its war in Afghanistan on December 28, holding a low-key ceremony in Kabul after 13 years of conflict that have left the country in the grip of worsening insurgent violence.The event was arranged in secret due to the threat of Taliban strikes in the Afghan capital, which has been hit by repeated suicide bombings and gun attacks over recent years. "Together... we have lifted the Afghan people out of the darkness of despair and given them hope for the future," NATO commander US General John Campbell told assembled soldiers. "You've made Afghanistan stronger and our countries safer." On January 1, the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission, which has suffered 3,485 military deaths since 2001, will be replaced by a NATO "training and support" mission. AFP PHOTO / SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: The South Asia Daily Brief will not be published on Monday, January 19, 2015, in honor of Martin Luther King Day. Regular publication will resume on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.

Afghanistan

General confirms reports of ISIS recruiting in Af-Pak

On Thursday, Gen. John Campbell, the commander of the new NATO support mission in Afghanistan, said during an interview with Army Times that there are reports of ISIS recruiting in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Army Times). Gen. Campbell told Army Times: “We are seeing reports of some recruiting,” continuing “There have been some night letter drops, there have been reports of people trying to recruit both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, quite frankly.” Gen. Campbell cautioned: “We’re doing deep dives into it to make sure we’re seeing everything. I’ve made it a priority intelligence requirement for my staff, but I have not seen a whole bunch of it yet, to tell you the truth.” Gen. Campbell’s comments come amidst reports that residents of Afghanistan’s Sar-i-Pul province are voicing concern regarding gunmen claiming to belong to ISIS (Pajhwok). Masooma Ramazan, a provincial secretary, told Pajhwok Afghan News: “As we know, these elements carry black flags of Daesh and this has caused panic and fear among people.” Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, however, has downplayed reports of ISIS activity in the country (TOLO News). Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Thursday: “Intelligence information reveals that the same members of the Taliban and the Haqqani Network are active under different names, people should not be worried and youth must be not influenced these messages.” Bonus Read: “Meet the shadowy figure recruiting for the Islamic State in Afghanistan,” Dan Lamothe (Post).

Iran to invite Ghani for talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif is expected to invite Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to visit Iran during discussions he will attend next week in Kabul on a Comprehensive Security Pact (TOLO News). The security pact under discussion aims to counter terrorism and drug trafficking. Abdul Qadir Zazai, the head of Afghanistan’s parliamentary committee on international affairs, stated: “Definitely, if this agreement has importance for Afghanistan and enjoys sincerity, we will support it.”

Pro-government cleric killed in mosque bombing

Maulvi Abdur Rashid Naqshbandi, a pro-government cleric, was killed on Thursday night when a bomb exploded in a mosque in Afghanistan’s southeastern Khost province (Pajhwok). An anonymous security official told Pajhwok Afghan News that the bombing occurred before the nightly Isha prayers. Abdul Wahed Patan, the acting governor of Khost province confirmed the killing and called the attack un-Islamic.

Pakistan

Pakistani police clash with anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters

On Friday, Pakistani police clashed with around 200 anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters at the French consulate in Karachi (BBC, Reuters, ET, Dawn). At least three people were injured and the police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters who threw rocks and shot at security forces. Pakistan deployed Rangers, its paramilitary security force, to protect the consulate. The protest was part of a national set of protests organized by the Jamaat-e-Islami religious political party.

Pakistan to tighten anti-money laundering law

On Friday, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported that Pakistan intends to amend its anti-money laundering law to target terrorist financing (Dawn). According to the report the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank told the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue the laws had to be tightened to prevent international isolation. The proposed law would impose due diligence requirements and require the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan to maintain records of transactions that were previously not recorded.

U.S. welcomes talk of Haqqani Network ban

On Thursday, the United States welcomed reports that Pakistan would ban the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization (ET). Marie Harf, a State Department spokesperson told a regular briefing: “This is an important step towards eliminating terrorist activity in Pakistan.” Reports of an impending change in Pakistan’s laws regarding the Haqqani Network have followed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan and would represent a move towards a long desired U.S. goal in its relations with Pakistan.

-David Sterman

India

ISIS threat found scribbled on Mumbai airport toilet wall

An ISIS threat warning of a Republic Day attack was found Friday scribbled on a toilet wall inside Mumbai’s international airport — officially known as Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport — according to India’s Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) [NDTV, Times of India, Hindustan Times]. CISF personnel have yet to identify any individuals responsible for the offense, which was located in the domestic arrival terminal 1A. “Since the arrival terminals are used by a host of people including fliers, airport staff and airline crew, it is difficult to spot the culprit,” a senior CSIF official said (Hindustan Times).

A probe is underway by various agencies, who are questioning airport staff and reviewing closed-circuit footage. Earlier this month, a similar threat was found on January 7 in the international arrival terminal 2A. High levels of security have been put in place at the airport following these threats. From Jan. 25-27, U.S. President Barack Obama will travel to New Delhi where he will join Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the guest of honor for the Republic Day parade. Unprecedented security measures and coordination are expected between both countries during Obama’s visit.

Top Pentagon official to visit India before Obama, hold defense negotiations

U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s point person for the bilateral defense relationship, will travel to India for a fourth time next week to hold high-level negotiations and possibly tee up defense deals ahead of U.S. President Obama’s visit (FirstPost, Reuters). Maureen Shumann, Kendall’s spokesperson, said his visit “speaks to the importance we place on the relationship” and that “his primary objective is to continue the momentum on the India-U.S. Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), which promotes collaboration on defense technology and enables co-production and co-development of critical defense systems” (FirstPost).

Two such systems on the negotiating table are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), known more popularly as drones, and equipment for the C-130 transport military aircraft built by Lockheed Martin (Reuters). During his trip, Kendall will also meet a host of officials, including the Indian Defense Secretary Radha Krishna Mathar, Secretary for Defense Production G. Mohan Kumar, Scientific Advisor Avinash Chandar, and the new U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma.

Dozens of flights, trains delayed from dense Delhi fog

Dense fog and cold temperatures enveloped New Delhi on Friday, causing delays for more than 80 flights and dozens of trains (Hindustan Times, NDTV, Zee News). Some railway officials have placed the number as high as 135, according to a Times of India report, which also listed status updates for the delayed trains (Times of India). An official from the India Meteorological Department said “humidity was at 100 percent while the visibility was recorded at 200 meters” (Hindustan Times). Among the northbound trains delayed were premium lines such as the Rajdhani and Duronto Express. Temperatures ranged from a recorded low of 8.2 degrees Celsius (46.7 degrees Fahrenheit) to a high of 19 degrees (66.2 degrees Fahrenheit) for the day.

-Jameel Khan

— Edited by Peter Bergen

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

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