Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by Daredevil, Nov 22, 2009.
A very sad state of affairs in RAW. Very worrying developments for the national security.
Mathur’s free run in Pakistan
NEW DELHI: A B Mathur, recently posted in the Research and Analysis Wing to possibly take over as chief in 2011, has serious question marks over his record.
While posted in Islamabad in the late ’90s, his bank account details of a previous European posting was noticed by the RAW top brass. There was around $125,000 parked in his personal account in Brussels; a bank statement managed to find its way to the then RAW chief.
It was more or less equivalent, contend experts, to what Mathur would have earned during his entire posting, including his foreign allowance. If his entire salary and allowance were deposited, on what did he live? How could a government servant be awash with so much money? Mathur was returning to headquarters from Islamabad, but the then RAW chief felt queasy. Signs had emerged that Mathur might be freelancing in addition to working for the RAW. RAW wanted to repatriate Mathur to the Intelligence Bureau, but it didn’t seem keen on having him back; the IB in turn was considering sending Mathur back to his parent cadre, Manipur.
The then RAW chief Vikram Sood along with IB counterpart Shyamal Dutta met the then National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra. Mishra asked the IB to enquire and papers, including bank statement for a year and correspondence, were handed over to the IB. When contacted, Sood refused to get into the details, saying only: “<Ab yeh sab baathein kyon bekar mein ched rahe ho? Thab bhi kuchh nahin hua, ab bhi kuchh nahin hoga.> (“Why are you uselessly raking this up now? Nothing happened then, nothing will happen now.”) But other sources familiar with Mathur’s case say the money was only one aspect.
Another dimension of Mathur’s Pakistan posting worried the Pakistan desk at RAW HQ. It found that Pakistani intelligence went unnaturally easy on Mathur; Islamabad is usually the toughest posting of a RAW officer’s career. Each and every move by undercover officers is closely and aggressively monitored by local intelligence. Barring one incident, where his car tyre hubs were maliciously removed, Mathur seemed to have thrived – while almost the entire RAW team under him was harassed, declared <persona non grata> and thrown out of Pakistan.
People posted in Pakistan at that t ime remember that Mathur had an extraordinarily free run in Islamabad as well.
They noticed that the ISI handlers showed deference to Mathur and his wife, even when they went shopping. How could it be possible, considering that he headed the visa section, traditionally the RAW cover? Or was it because of his extra-official activities in Islamabad? Islamabad tends to be a hectic posting for any RAW officer and yet Mathur found time to put his feet up in the Gulf area now and then.
The details or result of the IB’s enquiry are unclear, but Dutta’s successor, K P Singh, who viscerally disliked RAW, dumped Mathur in Guwahati.
IB appears to have heaved a sigh of relief with Mathur’s return to RAW in September.
The burial of an enquiry into a double agent
NEW DELHI: National Security Advisor M K Narayanan has been trying to mould the Research and Analysis Wing in his own image for the past five years. All he has managed, say serving officers, is to consolidate his grip over RAW without improving it, thereby plunging morale to rock bottom. A series of unfortunate stewardships imposed from outside to fix RAW has driven it to the brink of incompetency and worse.
The first opportunity came when Rabindra Singh, a RAW joint secretary suspected of being a double agent, defected in 2004. Singh was handing RAW secrets over to the USA, to where he fled from Kathmandu via Vienna once he was discovered.
Narayanan wanted to sack the then RAW chief C D Sahay. He began systematically undermining Sahay; he planted his own man, P K Hormese Tharakan, former Kerala police chief who was occasionally deputed to RAW, as Sahay’s eventual successor. The then NSA, J N Dixit, countered that Narayanan himself had not been sacked when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated (Narayanan was the IB chief), and that no intelligence heads rolled after the Kargil intrusions were discovered.
(Incidentally, no intelligence chief was sacked after 26/11; the NSA also remains untouched). Dixit died in early 2005 and Narayanan, who replaced him, had a free hand to fix RAW.
Tharakan was not a terrorism expert, nor a Pakistan expert, nor a China expert.
He was, stress erstwhile colleagues, a Yes-man to the NSA. Polite and affable, he dithered over crucial decisions – until the NSA prompted him. He presided over a post-Rabindra defection enquiry that has not damaged a single officer’s career; in some cases, the opposite has happened.
Shashi Bhushan Tomar was the last man to see Rabindra Singh after the latter’s car was searched as he left RAW HQ in Delhi on April 19, 2004. Tomar, suspect colleagues, tipped Singh off that he was under RAW surveillance, enabling the double agent to evade his stake-out and escape.
Singh fled to the US, and Tomar, believe it or not, is now posted in New York. Perhaps the two meet for a drink, suggest RAW officers, who add that perhaps the two raise a toast to Narayanan.
That the NSA wasn’t “really” interested in solving the mystery became evident to those who attended the handful of meetings in which videos and audios of Singh’s surveillance were scrutinized by Narayanan and others.
Strangely, the NSA never once bothered to call the man in charge of the surveillance, Special Secretary Amar Bhushan. N K Sharma, a director-level officer who worked with Bhusan, was denied a foreign posting till the enquiry’s completion; he is now back from a European posting at the RAW’s training facility in a Delhi suburb where his hands are full with Nisha Bhatia, the RAW officer who recently consumed rat poison outside the prime minister’s office (she has been deemed unemployable under a specific government rule).
Another example of Tharakan’s pliability by the NSA came with the question of a cadre review. Former RAW chief A S Dulat was mandated by the NDA government to submit a cadre review of the RAW. This went into improving prospects of various categories of officers; creating new posts; and looking at the issues of insiders, outsiders, deputations and permanent secondment – aspects crucial to a mixed cadre outfit like the RAW’s.
Imbalances would lead to administrative chaos, as indeed has happened the last few years. The NSA wanted a review of the review, and subsequently Tharakan rejected much of Dulat’s suggestions (made on Sahay’s advice).
This rejection stank of an agenda.
That agenda became clear when the next RAW chief took over.
The walking-talking disaster of a spy chief
NEW DELHI: Would you appoint as your spy chief a man described as “serially paranoid”, a “walking-talking disaster”, or a “washout”? National Security Advisor M K Narayanan did when in 2005 he allowed Ashok Chaturvedi to become the Research and Analysis Wing chief, proving that the NSA had an agenda and did not care about the RAW leadership’s quality.
Chaturvedi, who RAW insiders say was related to the then cabinet secretary, B K Chaturvedi, was incoherent – and it did not matter whether he was chewing paan or not. His gaffes were too many to be listed here, except one.
Chaturvedi’s wife, say RAW sources, got a diplomatic passport (D1027182, issued in New Delhi on 15/2/2008; lapsed on 28/2/2009; renewed till 13/9/2009) on which she traipsed around the world, contravening rules. This was unheard of. If it was the UK in April 2008, it was the US in June, Algeria in July… you get the picture. “Mrs Chaturvedi was everywhere,” said a source.
Chaturvedi was vindictive. He set about destroying careers of those who he imagined were against him in the RAW. “There were groups, factions, bitterness and rampant favouritism,” said a senior RAW hand. Chaturvedi demanded only loyalty of his cronies, not competency. He stopped short of daily loyalty oaths.
Narayanan exploited the situation, encouraging people to rat on one another.
This affected the RAW’s functioning across the entire spectrum of its activities, even operations. A RAW officer said: “When you start victimizing on such a large scale, there is naturally no useful work going on.” During Chaturvedi’s watch, the entire RAW team in Nepal was exposed in the local media, severely setting back operations.
Narayanan personally took care of the rest of the neighbourhood: he began to review operational activities and to prune operations on the pretext that RAW was duplicating the Intelligence Bureau’s and foreign ministry’s work. RAW insiders say this has led to deterioration in the RAW’s Kashmir and Pakistan operations and capabilities: “What had taken years to assiduously build was dismantled in a few cursory meetings”.
Departmental operational meetings made three things obvious to the top RAW echelons. Narayanan was killing initiative taken by the very chiefs he had an integral part in appointing; Narayanan had no confidence in those people; and most importantly, he was interested only in trimming the RAW’s profile and footprint.
Yet that was only part of his agenda.
A RAW hand put it bluntly: “The administration has been buggered, operational capabilities stunted, and expertise destroyed systematically”.
As a result, there is a void in areas of critical importance to the RAW, like China and Pakistan. Chaturvedi’s final disfavor to the RAW was allowing A B Mathur back.
MK Narayanan’s new bête noire: P Chidambaram
NEW DELHI: The buzz in India’s intelligence community is about how National Security Adviser M K Narayanan is chafing over the rise and rise of Home Minister P Chidambaram.
Chidambaram is proactive unlike predecessor Shivraj Patil, famous for carrying on about Sai Baba at meetings on internal security. Chidambaram, say sources, is sharp at meetings, wellprepared, follows things closely and does not suffer fools. Officials liken him to a breath of fresh air. They say India has a home minister who is engaged, hands-on and who wants to deliver.
Chidambaram treats the NSA on par with the intel l igence heads.
Narayanan, by protocol a minister of state, finds himself waiting outside Chidambaram’s room with others if he arrives early for the daily morning meeting. He gets no special favour. At times the NSA comes away from the meetings exasperated and often reminds his intelligence sub-peers that it was he who cleared Chidambaram politically when the latter began his career: “Iska maine hi clear karvaya tha”, is one remark doing the grapevine.
“I hope the home minister is not listening”, is another. There is a bit of posturing, aver sources who say the frequent utterances have two inferences: that he is piqued; and that he doesn’t care if it gets back to Chidambaram, secure that Sonia Gandhi backs him.
The NSA apparently gets worked up for having to explain Kashmir, again and again, to Chidambaram.
(“Oof ! How many times do I have to teach these fellows!”). Ironically, none of the NSA’s contemporaries or juniors remembers Kashmir being his forte. When NSA was Intelligence Bureau director, Kashmir’s problems were at an incipient stage and defied quick analysis or firm predictions.
V P Singh became prime minister and banished Narayanan to the Siberia-like Joint Intelligence Committee.
When Chandrashekhar succeeded VP Singh he brought Narayanan back to the IB at Rajiv Gandhi’s behest. Kashmir, though, was not on top o f Narayanan’s agenda or mind.
Chidambaram has risen due to performance and has inherited two challenges: Naxalism and Kashmir, both complicated and tricky, fraught with intelligence pitfalls and policy missteps.
Part of the blame for the proliferation of Naxals should go to the NSA, point out sources. After all, this was his “forte” in the IB.
Sources also say that Chidambaram is lucky that no further terrorist incident has occurred since 26/11. How long will his luck continue? Not very long if the external intelligence agency RAW continues to deteriorate under mediocre heads simply to fulfil Narayanan’s personal agenda.
Thnx DD for this article..This Rot in RAW been going on for few years now..corruption,deception,power struggle..all degrading the AGency.
Look at this and then look at ..what all is said and written in Pak media..that RAW is doing many covert ops in Pak.. etc etc.. here they are fighting within ..how could they support Taliban.. hope any Pakistan member reads this post here and gets enlightened.
If Pakistan media is to be believed RAW is the most efficient agency
I have a different opinion.. i dont think. Indians are that morally corrupt that ..they will sacrifice india's defence. NSA advisor , must be doing changes on specific inputs ..or whatever. I have confidence in them.
The end of the Kaoboys
I believe the rot in RAW has more to do with the lack of effective leadership in the years fater the retirement of the last of the "Kaoboys" than anything else!During the 70's ,80's and early nineties the Kaoboys were in charge of RAW, these students and proteges of Mr Rameshwarnath Kao were almost universally revered spymasters in the South Asian scenario having taken part in such intelligence coups as the "kashmir princess probe"(this earned Mr Kao a commendation from Zhou en lai the first premier of the people's republic of china),the bangladesh war support to the mukti bahini and the merger of sikkim with the Indian state.What india needs to do is hunt for the next Kao, maybe we could bring one of the retired Kaoboys out of retirement to train a new batch of RAW agents.
Yeah, leadership is a big problem in the intelligence services especially RAW which has crucial task of external intelligence gathering. Due to this, there is no substantial changes are taking place for the upgradation of its hardware, operation tactics and procedures and recruitment of quality manpower. Also, there is a lot of infighting between RAW and IB which is another hindrance to effective cooperation between the two premier intelligence services of our country. Both of them serious upgrades in terms of tech hardware and quality resources at their disposal.
related to intelligence agencies. so posting here instead of opening a new thread.
Paper no. 3560 22-Dec-2009
Headley's Case: Impact On Indo-US Intelligence Co-Operation
By B. Raman
Periodic misunderstandings and mutual bitterness in the relations between co-operating intelligence agencies are part of the game of intelligence.
2.The CIA's penetration of the Chennai office of the Research & Analysis Wing in the 1980s to collect intelligence about India's role in Sri Lanka, its penetration of the Intelligence Bureau in the 1990s to collect intelligence about its counter-intelligence set-up, its post-2001 penetration of the R&AW through Maj. Rabinder Singh, who was helped by the CIA to flee to the US to avoid being arrested and interrogated by the Indian counter-intelligence, and its post-2004 penetration of the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) through the mechanism of the Indo-US Cyber Security Forum created feelings of bad blood and bitterness in the relations between the intelligence communities of the two countries, but this did not last long. The intelligence communities of the two countries realised the importance of not allowing such instances of perceived betrayal of confidence to affect their long-term relationship, which has served the two countries well in the past and which would be necessary in the future if they have to strengthen their strategic relationship.
3. A permanent itch for penetration is ingrained in an intelligence professional. He or she keeps looking out all the time for opportunities for penetration. It is immaterial whether the set-up to be penetrated is that of a friend or a foe. The important question is whether the penetration would produce valuable intelligence and whether the resulting intelligence is of such value as to warrant risk-taking to the extent of temporary misunderstandings with the country whose set-up is penetrated.
4. Past instances of misunderstandings and unhappiness in counter-terrorism co-operation between the intelligence communities of India and the US date from the days of Khalistani terrorism in Punjab, the Mumbai blasts of March,1993 and the outbreak of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir in 1989. The Indian intelligence community always felt and continues to feel that in matters relating to the complicity of the State of Pakistan in acts of terrorism in India, the co-operation of the US intelligence left much to be desired. This position shows no signs of changing even after the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai in which for the first time Pakistan-sponsored terrorists killed not only 141 Indian nationals, but also 25 foreigners---six of them US nationals and six others Jewish either with Israeli nationality or with dual Israeli-US nationality.
5. Despite this, there has been a qualitative change in the Indo-US co-operation in counter-terrorism since 9/11. This change has been particularly noticeable in four matters. Firstly, the US has recognised that some of the terrorist organisations operating in India such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) are largely, if not wholly, Pakistani organisations and not Kashmiri organisations as claimed by Pakistan. Secondly, examples of advance sharing of preventive intelligence are increasing. An example was the reported alerts from the US intelligence in September, 2008, about the plans of the LET for a sea-borne attack on some hotels in Mumbai. Thirdly, there is a greater readiness on the part of the US to place its forensic resources at the disposal of the Indian investigators to facilitate their investigation into acts of terrorism. This was clearly seen after the 26/11 attacks. Fourthly, there is a greater willingness on the part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to assist the Indian investigators in the prosecution of the terrorists. Before 26/11, the FBI was reluctant to allow its experts to testify before Indian courts. After 26/11, it allowed its experts to testify in Indian courts through video-conferencing.
6. At a time when the co-operation was developing in a positive and mutually beneficial direction, some suspicion has crept in the relations between the intelligence communities of the two countries following the discovery of the Chicago cell of the LET consisting of David Coleman Headley alias Daood Gilani and Tahawwur Hussain Rana and their arrest by the FBI. Even if it is true----one will never be able to find that out definitively--- that Headley was a penetration agent of the US intelligence to monitor the activities of the LET, the Indian intelligence should have no grouse against its US counterpart on that account. Since the US agencies fear that any future terrorist attack in the US homeland would originate either from Pakistan or from the Pakistani diaspora abroad, their efforts to penetrate organisations in Pakistan or of Pakistani origin in order to collect preventive intelligence not only about terrorists but also their links with the narcotics world are understandable. Placed in a similar situation, that is what the Indian intelligence would be doing.
7. After 9/11, there has been considerable criticism of intelligence agencies all over the world---including in India and the US---for their inadequacies in the field of human intelligence (HUMINT). The only effective way of improving the collection of HUMINT is through more and better penetration operations.
8. In the case of the Headley operation, there have been failures on the part of the intelligence communities of both the countries. In the US, the failure is one of effective supervision. It was an operation which has created an embarrassment for the US because the US agencies failed to factor into their tradecraft the danger of the LET playing Headley back on the US and using him for its operations in India and the West.
9. One would find it difficult to accept that the US agencies were aware of the entire conspiracy relating to 26/11 through Headley, but shared the information only selectively with the Indian intelligence. The allegation that has been made in India is that the US intelligence shared with India only those portions of the intelligence which would not have endangered their penetration operation and refrained from sharing those portions which could have endangered it. Theoretically, this is possible, but really not. The US agencies would have been anxious to protect the lives of their nationals and those of Israel and NATO countries. They would not have consciously sacrificed their lives in order to safeguard their links with Headley. Due to the poor control exercised by the US handling officers over Headley, he was more loyal to the LET than to the US agency handling him and was not telling everything to his US handling officers.
10. In the case of the Indian agencies and the Ministry of External Affairs, the failures have been relating to the apparently inefficient scrutiny of his visa application by the Indian Consulate-General in Chicago and the failure of the Indian intelligence and investigative agencies and the airport immigration to suspect even once his bona fides. According to the FBI, after each of his five visits to India, Headley went to Pakistan to hand over to the LET the video-recordings made by him in India. It is amazing that none of the Indian officials noticed his frequent toing and froing between India and Pakistan and questioned him on that.
11. There are only three ways of explaining this.
* Either, the Indian immigration at the airport was negligent in the scrutiny of his passport;
* or he was using two passports----his old pre-2006 passport as Gilani for his travels to Pakistan and his new passport as Headley for his travels to India;
* Or, the ISI was helping the LET by allowing him to enter and exit from Pakistan without any entry in his passport.
12. The present misunderstanding between the intelligence professionals of the two countries has arisen from the alleged reluctance of the FBI to give independent access to Headley to Indian investigators for interrogation and from the feeling right or wrong that that the FBI has not been as forthcoming as it ought to have been and has not shared with the Indian investigators all the information that needed to be shared.
13. Continued breast-beating by the Indian professionals about the perceived reluctance of the FBI to co-operate fully is not going to help matters. There are two aspects to the L-affaire Headley. The first relates to the reconstruction of the 26/11 attacks. The second relates to the prevention of future attacks.
14. Indian and US professionals must remember that Headley may be only the tip of the LET iceberg in the US as well as India. It is in the common interest of the two countries to identify his network of contacts and sleeper cells, if any, in the two countries. It is significant and worrying that neither the FBI in the US nor the Central Investigation Agency in India has so far been able to identify and arrest any other contact of Headley in their respective countries except Rana of Chicago. This gives rise to a strong suspicion that while he has been talking freely to the FBI about the past, he has not been forthcoming about the future and about the identities of LET cells in the US and India, which could organise future attacks.
15. This is an area where the intelligence professionals of the two countries can and ought to co-operate despite the Indian unhappiness about the past. The Indian unhappiness about the past is legitimate and understandable, but this should not be allowed to come in the way of joint efforts to prevent future attacks.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: [email protected])
Headley's Case: Impact On Indo-US Intelligence Co-Operation
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