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ULFA outsourcing suicide attacks: Report
September 19, 2007 11:18 IST
United Liberation Front of Asom has been showing a growing propensity to work with Islamist militant groups like Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami in the north-east and has begun to outsource operations, including suicide attacks, a leading US think tank has said.
In its latest report 'India: ULFA Abandons Peace Talks', Stratfor said the ULFA, the most powerful separatist group in the north-east, has announced that it is giving up on the peace process and readying itself for a full-scale battle.
"India received a wake-up call to this threat from the north-east on August 25, when twin bombings occurred in the city of Hyderabad in southern India," Stratfor said.
"The two prime suspects in that bombing belonged to Bangladesh-based Islamist militant group HuJI, which is known to have a working relationship with ULFA and other north-eastern insurgent groups, and with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency," the think tank said.
"The ULFA has begun to outsource operations, including suicide attacks, in the restive state of Assam to Islamist militant groups," it added.
Assam police had announced the arrest of a top ULFA leader on Monday even as army generals said the group is raising a new battalion in Karbi Anglong district near the Bangladesh border to take advantage of reduced security in that area.
Stratfor said though ULFA's militant activity is confined to the north-east, the group's financial enterprise and strong links with Islamist militant groups have made it a threat that New Delhi will not be able to ignore much longer.
The think tank accused ULFA of regularly dancing around the idea of peace talks as it is aware New Delhi is "not serious about rewarding its militant campaign with political concessions."
"At the same time, ULFA prefers keeping up the militant front to maintain its financial network and its beneficial relationship with Pakistan's intelligence agency that helps keep India's hands tied. Thus, talk of negotiations does not really hold much weight," Stratfor said.
With the government facing political pressure on its civil nuclear deal with the US and the entry of corporate retail firms into the country, the ULFA likely sees this as an opportune time to put pressure on New Delhi, it claimed.
"India's north-eastern insurgent outfits and militant Islamist groups regularly traverse India's extremely porous border with Bangladesh. This is an area where ideology, religion and ethnicity hold little or no regard, as each militant group works with another to promote its cause," the report said.
Meanwhile, defence sources claimed that a rift in the top ranks of the ULFA over the two crucial issues -- illegal migration from Bangladesh and a political solution to the insurgency problem -- is growing, leading to disintegration within its ranks.
The arrest of top ULFA leader Prabal Neog is seen as a fallout of this rift. Police claim Neog is a moderate who favoured a politcal solution to the insurgency in Assam.
Neog, the commander of ULFA's main strike force, the 28th battalion, had issued ultimatums to illegal migrants to leave Assam. He did this against the wishes of senior ULFA leaders living in Bangladesh, police said.
Neog and his comrades in the group believe Bangladeshis should be treated as outsiders, just like the Hindi-speaking community targeted by the ULFA, sources said.
However, the ULFA leadership is alleged to have a soft corner for Bangladeshi migrants as the group's top leaders have their bases and businesses in the neighbouring country.