Osama death, Rana trial-ISI finds itself in a corner

Photo courtesy: http://www.longwarjournal.org/
The death of Osama Bin Laden has had the world cheering, but this news is only an indicator of troubled times for the ISI. A source in the intelligence agency says that the ISI will find itself cornered and the days to come are only hard for them.

The death of Bin Laden will no doubt put the ISI in a very uncomfortable position among the Al-Qaeda, Haqqani network and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. Just when it would try and bring about some sanity in its circles post Bin Laden, the trial of both David Coleman Headley and Tahhawur Rana would commence thus causing more embarrasment for the ISI.

Indian agencies say that the ISI finds itself to be in the most difficult situation today as there will be a series of backlashes that they will have to face in the days to come. All the three terrorist groups mentioned above will have a score to settle with the ISI since they would feel betrayed by them due to the death of Bin Laden. Nothing in the Af-Pak region goes unnoticed by the ISI and if Bin Laden has managed to play hide and seek with the world it is only because of the blessings of the ISI that he always enjoyed. For the ISI Laden was a trump card and their most important soldier.

Although the US has claimed that the Pakistan was not in the know of this operation, the terror groups would not believe that. They are aware that nothing is possible unless there has been a certain degree of support from the establishment. Moreover Bin Laden was living in a place close to the army headquarters in Pakistan and this is not a fact which would have gone unnoticed by the ISI. The Pakstan military largely depends on the intelligence provided by the ISI and hence all these movements and operations are well known to the establishment.

The biggest backlash would however be from the Haqqani network with which the ISI has been toying. The ISI had managed to get this network into the Al-Qaeda network. This had worked well for the ISI which had managed to set up a very strong force. Both the Haqqani network and the Al-Qaeda would have expected more protection for Osama and today would feel betrayed that their leader has been killed.

The other embrassment that the ISI would face is post May 15 when Headley and Rana go on trial. Rana in particular had in his defence claimed that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba had nothing to do with the 26/11 attack and it was the ISI which was part of the planning since day one. The ISI has been extremely worried about this since the news broke out and has been trying to exert a lot of pressure through diplomatic channels to avoid any such statement coming out. If Rana claims are accepted by the court then may high ranking officials will have to stand trial and this in turn would mean that the Pakistan establishment has sponsored such a gruesome attack on Indian soil.

Indian agencies feel that the first step by the ISI would be to rally its troops together and assure them that the war could still go on. However terrorist groups would settle for nothing less than revenge and the ISI would need to play along to keep them amused. This would mean trouble since the ISI is expected to give them a free hand to stage attacks. There is very little that the ISI will be able to do and the kind of grip that they enjoyed in the past over these groups may be loosening after the death of Osama.

The strategy that the ISI would adopt in the days to come would be interesting. On one hand they cannot go all out in the wake of the trial against Headley and Rana. On the other hand they will need to allow attacks to take place to keep the terror groups united. However in all probability they will give the terror groups a go by and use the Osama death as an excuse, Indian agencies say.


What was Osama’s last salvo

Photo courtesy: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/

What was Osama Bin Laden planning before he died? According to reports from the Intelligence Agencies, he had planned a 9/11 styled attack which would emerge from Asia. The last of his plans which was delayed was to hijack airlines from Asia and crash them into US installations in Asian countries.

This was one of Osama’s pet plans for the past five years and with regulations and security amidst airlines up in the United States of America post 9/11, he had decided to hijack airlines from the Asian region where he thought security was lax. The IB says that till his last breath, Osama’s prime target was only the United Sates of America. Although he had expressed at times that Kashmir was also part of his agenda, he kept away from it since he felt that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba would put its forces in there. Moreover the ISI which has absolute control over any terrorist outfit wanted a clear bifurcation as who its forces would fight.

Various intercepts and dossiers pertaining to Osama only went on to show that his primary focus has always been the US and he would try and attack any installation of interest that the US owned or controlled. Moreover it is a known fact that he had always declared US to be his primary enemy and hence all his resources were used in focusing on that country.

Bin Laden’s final plan was however a lethal one. It aimed at creating a scare worse than 9/11. The interrogation of Abd Al Malik Al Wahab one of Laden’s men who was captured in Afghanistan revealed this horrific plan. He was one of the key men in the Al-Qaeda network and was training to be a suicide bomber. During his interrogation he had revealed that the outfit had such a plan in mind whereby they would be hijacking airlines in Asia and crashing them into US owned installations in the Asian countries.

While Laden always felt the need to continue to battle US forces on the ground in Afghanistan, he was always in favour of attacks which they term as spectacular. There was this increasing feeling that was creeping in within the Al-Qaeda that the world felt that they were beaten post 9/11.

Battling forces on the ground was not yielding much of a result for them with US forces claiming victory almost every day. He felt that there was a need to carry out something spectacular which would get the attention of the world and hence this plan to hijack planes and then crash them into installations belonging to the US.

Wahab during his interrogation had revealed that he was working alongiside 30 men for this operation and they had been identifying trained pilots to undertake this job. Apparently they did not find it a problem while recruiting men for this job since Osama Bind Laden commanded such power that there is a huge section of youth who are ready to do anything for him.

However as reports started to flow out that the world got to know about this plan, Bin Laden had cancelled it. However this was considered to be an eye wash and looking at the manner in which he operated it was pretty clear that he would have cancelled it only to divert forces. Bin Laden’s biggest quality was the level of patience that he showed. He could plan for nearly a decade and lie low and strike, which many termed as a surprise element. This was one of the traits that has been adopted by most of the terrorist outfits who use this as their most lethal weapon till date.

Osama dead- Next on the rolls

With Osama Bin Laden gone, the question is who will succeed him. Indian Intelligence agencies say that their structure is in place and this was done a couple of years back when Laden had to take a back seat owing to health reasons. The first name that comes to mind is that of Ayman al-Zawahri who already held the number 2 position in the Al-Qaeda for the past many years.

An Egyptian national and a surgeon by profession, Zawahri will be the face of the Al-Qaeda while Ilyas Kashmiri and Baddaruddin Haqqani will head the operational structure of the outfit.

While Laden took a backseat due to health reasons, Zawahri had already become the popular face of the outfit and in the past few years there were videos of his being put out by the outfit which conveyed the message of Jihad. Zawahri was always close to Laden who considered him to be his most trusted aide. For the past few years Zawahri had come to the forefront and he was the chief of the organizational wing of the Al-Qaeda.

The first association between Laden and Zawahri was in the year 1980 when the two met at Peshawar. Both were in the same place with the same cause and that was to fight the Soviets. They had met at Peshawar when both were garnering support to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

After having done his medicine in the year 1974, he spent two years practicing it and then took to the cause of Jihad. His first operations were in Afghanistan where he felt the need to fight Soviet troops. He had even joined the Eqyptian Islamic Jihad and was part of the operation which assassinated President Anwar Sadat in the year 1981.

Over the years, Zawahri had become a key figure. The first time the world saw his face when he sent out videos of himself speaking in favour of the 9/11 attack and why it was necessary. Only until recently he was once again in the news for sending out a strong message to fight US and NATO forces in Libya.

While it is pretty clear that there will be no confusion who the successor to Laden would be, the Al-Qaeda also has in place the operational structure which would be headed by both Kashmiri and Haqqani.

Kashmiri has played a very big role with the Al-Qaeda when he took over as the Chief of the 313 brigade of the outfit. This is the strike force with the most fierce warriors and the men in this group are personally trained by Kashmiri. The intelligence bureau says that the Al-Qaeda had intentionally bifurcated its outfit so that there would not be a huge vaccum in the event of a death of an important leader. Kashmiri will continue to rally his forces in the Afghanistan region and he has already made it clear that his prime target would be the US troops. He had even had a falling out with the ISI who had asked him to stay away from Afghanistan and invest his resources in India. However now it appears that Kashmiri will continue his battle in Afghanistan and would look to avenge the death of his leader, Osama Bin Laden.

Then comes Baddarduddin Haqqani. The Al-Qaeda had inched closer to the Haqqani network in the past couple of months. The strategy was to groom alternate leaders and Baddaruddin was chosen to head operations alongside Kashmiri. A very recent announcement by both the Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network had claimed that he would be the most fierce and feared leader till date. While the Haqqani network would fight to a large extent in Afghanistan, it would have its eyes on India as well as per the wishes of Bin Laden who had always maintained that Kashmir is an important battle to wage. Under the Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network there was a recruitment of nearly 26000 youth in the past few months and according to intelligence sources they have been rearing to go.

Osama death will put brakes on recruitment

The world’s most dreaded man, Osama Bin Laden has been killed according t reports from the United States of America. Does the death of Laden mean the death of the Al-Qaeda?

Indian intelligence agencies say this will not be the case in terms of operations since they fear that the number of attacks especially on the United States will increase as a revenge measure.

The only hit that the death of Laden may have on the Al-Qaeda and various other terrorist organizations is the recruitment drive which was done solely on the basis of his name. The Indian IB says that Laden was like a father figure for young men who wanted to take up the path of jihad. At least 90 per cent of the youth who went into either the Lashkar-e-Tayiba or the Al-Qaeda did so with Laden in the back of their head and post 9/11 he had become a hero.

Intelligence agencies point out that even the Al-Qaeda knew that the end was near and the US would do a specific hunt for Laden since their war on terror in the AF-Pak region had not been showing the desired results. There were several names in the fray already who would succeed Laden as the chief of the Al-Qaeda and such developments had started to occur a couple of months back.

This indicates that there would be no great deal of damage to the operational structure within the Al-Qaeda. For the past three years, Laden had not taken the lead or was not involved directly in any of the plannings. He was unwell for a considerable amount of time and hence played no great role in the operations. There were many such as Ilyas Kashmiri, Zahwari and also Baddaruddin Haqqani who controlled the operations. The operational structure of the Al-Qaeda is very much in place and this death is only significant in terms of bringing to justice the master mind of the 9/11 attack.

Following the death of Laden, the other issue that the Al-Qaeda may face is the flow of funds into the outfit. Laden himself sat on a pile of cash and his several contacts within Saudi Arabia and other rich businessmen across the world helped raise funds for the Al-Qaeda. In terms of this the Al-Qaeda may have a bit of a set back following his death, but then again, there may be many who would view this death sympathetically and pump in more funds to avenge his death.

For those who want to take up the cause of jihad, this death may act as a deterrent since their mesaiah is gone. However the Al-Qaeda will continue to use his name and speak in volumes about his sacrifice so that they are able to lure more and more youth into their fold.

Frenzy, as Doddamallur awaits Prema Sai

Shri Ambegal Krishna Temple

The focus has shifted out of Puttaparthi and the attention is on a small village called Doddamallur which lies between Channapatna and Maddur around 90 kilometres away from Bangalore. Doddamallur will play a significant part in the days to come since this has been the village that has been identified by Sathya Sai Baba to be the place where next incarnation Prema Sai Baba will be born.

Doddamallur is a town around 100 kilometres away from Bangalore and with the death of Baba and the reincarnation stories doing the rounds, a great deal of interest has already been generated in this small village. This sleepy hamlet has had just one great story to tell in all these years and it was that Lord Rama had prayed at the Sri Apremeya of Shri Ambegalu Shri Krishna temple in the very same village before he set out to Lanka to battle Ravana.

There was a great deal of confusion regarding this place where stories of Prema Sai Baba were concerned. Earlier it was being said that he would be born in a village called Gunaparthi near Mandya, but now it is official according to many that the reincarnation would happen at Doddamallur. The villagers are in a frenzy over here and they say there could not be better news that a reincarnation of Baba will be born in their village. They are aware that if this happens then their village will become hugely important and what is more they all believe that God will be born in their village.

Prema Sai Baba according to the discourses given by Sathya Baba would be the third and the last incarnation of Sai Baba, the first being Shiridi Sai Baba. Baba had said during his discourse that he would reincarnate as Prema Sai at this village near the Shri Ambegalu Krishna temple. This has also been documented in a book written by a lady by the name Kannamma who herself is a great devotee of Sathya Sai Baba. She has quoted Baba on this point and this has in turn turned out to be a document.

Now, will Prema Sai be born or is this just a myth only time will tell. But the fact remains that the hunt has already begun. The first time that a search began for Prema Sai’s parents was five years ago. A team had been dispatched from Puttaparthi to find out if a lady by the name Kasthuri existed in this village. According to Baba this lady would be the mother of Prema Sai. However at that time they were sent back by the villagers stating that there was no such happening.

The people from Puttaparthi have been showing a great deal of interest in Doddamallur. What is more ironical is that two months back, Baba himself had dispatched a team of at least 700 members to Doddamallur. The villagers were a bit taken aback to see such a large contingent. These people who came down from Puttaparthi headed straight to the temple at Doddamallur and offered ‘Laksharchana’ and ‘Kumkumarchana’ pujas, which were conducted for nearly 10 hours. Chairman of this temple trust, Venu confirmed this fact.Venu goes on to add that this is a moment that they are all waiting for. They have no reason to believe that this will not happen and the whole village thinks that the prophecy by Baba will come true. Now everyday all the people in the village speak about it and there is kind of a frenzy that has been built up. Venu goes on to add that there has been a lot of activity in his village and the people from Puttaparthi are keeping a constant watch. Yesterday too there were some people from the Sathya Sai Baba camp who were making inquiries over here, Venu explains.

But when Venu was reminded that as per the prophecy Prema Sai would be born in 2024, he said that there is no clarity on that. What we were given to understand is that there is no date specified for the birth of Prema Sai and so it could happen anytime in the near future. Moreover the age factor which is being debated was also clarified to us. We were given to understand that Sathya Sai Baba will live on till the age at 85 and it would be Prema Sai who will live 96 years.

The villagers of Doddamallur are however expecting something very special to happen very soon. One may call it a case of being gullible, the faith among the people is very strong and they are waiting for this to happen.

Venu says that till date the parents of Prema Sai have not been identified as yet. There is no such preparation also being made. We expect the people from Puttaparthi to come down and identify Prema Sai for us. Although we are on the look out for the possible parents of Prema Sai, we would still wait for the people from Puttaparthi to do the needful. All they have told us is to inform them if they find something strange or a miracle which is bound to happen around the Shri Ambegala Krishna temple.

Baba has no will, Sathya has no role

Photo caption: http://citizeninitiative.com

Sathya Sai Baba had no will, Sathyajith has no membership in the trust and person would be elected shortly as the Chairman of the Shri Sathya Sai Baba Central Trust to run the affairs. These are some of the points that have cropped up during the ongoing press conference of the trust at Puttaparthi a day after Baba was laid to rest.

There was a lot of speculation in the media regarding the role that the trust members would play and who would hold the key to the affairs of the trust. The members of the trust have now clarified that Baba had left behind no will and also added that they have no knowledge of a will. They stated that Baba had always maintained that he did not have a single rupee to his name and all the assets are property of the trust and hence he could write no will.

Regarding the powers of signing on cheques, the trust said that only Baba had the power to sign on cheques. The future course of action on this aspect would be decided in the next meeting of the trust. Baba did not have a single personal account and all the property was in the name of the trust, they also added.

The trust also went on to add that they were upset with the manner in which some sections of the media had been defaming the trust. We are contemplating legal action against all those media who have defamed the trust and floated stories about us. They also went on to clarify that they had not ordered a freezer on April 4

th as had been reported in some sections of the media. The rumour was that the members of the trust had placed ordered for a freezer from Bangalore on April 4th itself thus giving the indication that Baba had passed away then itself. The trust said that an order for a freezer was placed only after Baba’s passing away.

There was also a clarification by the members of the trust regarding the birth of Baba’s next incarnation Prema Sai Baba. The trustees said that Baba had not given any specific date for the birth of Prema Sai Baba.

With regards to Sathyajith, the members of the trust have made it clear that he had no no membership in the trust. There is no plan on bringing on board either for the moment. Further it was also said that Chakravarthy, the IAS officer who joined Baba a couple of years ago is only a secretary of the trust and is not a member of the same.

Baba’s nephew, Ratnakar who is a members of the of the trust made it clear that the trust will function as per the wishes of Baba and also went on to add that there was no dispute he had with Sathyajith as has been reported in the media. He has said that they would need some time to elect a new chairman ( post held by Baba) and assured that the trust would function well.

With regard to the controversy surrounding the trust that they had hidden details when Baba was undergoing treatment, they clarified that the allegations were far from true. The family members were allowed inside the hospital and they have personally witnessed Baba undergoing treatment. There is no confusion on that and the members of the family too have not disputed anything on that.

Justice P N Bhagavathi, former Chief Justice of India who is a member of the trust had indicated that prior to the press conference that Baba had not appointed any successor and also added that there is also there was no document also mentioning any successor. He had also made it clear that there is unity in the trust and there is no difference of opinion between the trust and the family members.

Rumour has it…


The events leading up to the death of Sathya Sai Baba were all quite strange in my view. For one I thought that the members of the trust who were round him during his last days at hospital were not too forthcoming with information which only made a lot of people like me, ” whether Baba had passed away long back.” Now the thing it that there reporting can be done only with confirmation and since that was not coming my way, there was no option but to refrain myself from writing a lot of things.
One wondered that the focus would shift from Puttparthi to the rest of the nation with Baba being burried at the Sai Kulwant hall on Wednesday. However I was mistaken and not a single moment since 10.30 AM today has passed without me hearing a rumour and people asking me to confirm the same. I would like to share with you a couple of these rumours which have been doing the round since this entire episode started to unfold.

1) Baba had passed away two weeks before and his face was all haggered at that time since he had lost a lot of weight. The members of the trust did not want to show Baba in that form to the rest of the world. Hence they had flown in a couple of plastic surgeons who spent time reconstructing the face so that it looked younger to the general public especially his devotees. This was supposed to be done so that the devotees dont start looking at him as an ordinary man after his death.

2) Now this one is pretty strange. The body that the public got to see was not that of Baba’s. It is the body of another man and Baba is actually alive. The idea behind this circus was to give the devotees a surprise. The plan as per the rumour in Puttaparthi was that Baba would come back after 15 days and his devotees would think that he has risen from the dead. This was supposed to have been planned since the members of the trust felt that the faith aspect was at an all time low and in showing the people such a miracle the devotees would return in larger numbers.

3) Now certain parts of this rumour have been confirmed. The members of the trust ordered a fridge on April 4 from Bangalore. This was apparently done to preserve Baba’s body. The item was delivered on the 5th. The question being asked is why was this ordered so early when at that time the statements that came out from the hospital indicated that Baba was improving. Did that mean that he had passed away on April 4th itself is the question being asked.

Now I would like to attach a disclaimer to the above mentioned points since all this has been written purely on hearsay. There is no confirmation about these incidents and till date they continue to be pure rumours which no one even bothers to confirm. Now these aspects will be discussed at 11 AM on Thursday when the trust meets with the press. Let us wait and watch what happens over there. Yes and of course you will get to read those developments here.

Future of Puttaparthi- find out tomorow

Ratnakar, Baba's nephew-how much stake will he have?

With Sathya Sai Baba being buried this morning, the next question is the future at Puttaparthi. There has been speculation regarding the future at Puttaparthi after Baba’s passing away and the members of the trust will brief the media on this issue tomorrow at 11 AM.

The Sai Trustees and the Management Council will meet with the press at 11 AM tomorrow at the Indoor Stadium in Puttaparthi and are expected to speak about the future course of action. Although the note from the trust does not make clear as to what would be spoken tomorrow, the expectation is that they will announce how the Shri Sathya Sai Baba Central Trust will be managed in future.

There are daunting questions in the minds of the general public and the devotees in particular about the management of the trust. The two names which are doing the rounds are that of Satyajith, Baba’s personal caregiver and Ratnakar, Baba’s nephew.

Speculation has been rife that Satyajith is in possession of a will written by Baba in which it is said to be mentioned that he would run the affairs of the trust after Baba. However this has been denied by the Ratnakar camp which states that there is no such will.

However what sources indicate is that there is a compromise formula in place brokered by the Andhra Pradesh government. As per this formula, both Rathnakar and Satyajith will have key roles to play in the management of the trust. The government had also made it clear that it would no role in the trust but would like a peaceful transition.

The meet tomorrow by the members of the trust will also make it clear whether there is a successor in place or would also indicate if there is any sort of rift within the trust. In case there is a will then that too would be made public tomorrow. The entire exercise would be to instill trust in the devotees who are shaken by the passing away of Baba and have questioned as to how the trust would be managed in future.

Baba laid to rest

A living God for millions of devotees, Sathya Sai Baba who passed away on Sunday at 7.40 AM was laid to rest at the Sai Kulwant Hall in Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh amidst full state honours.

The final rites which were performed as per the Hindu custom commenced at around 9 AM. Number nine was considered to be lucky for Baba. An 18 member team of priests conducted the last rites as per Hindu rituals. The 18 priests were led by Kandukoori Kondavadhani from Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh and they performed the process in Aagama Shastra.Baba’s nephew Ratnakar who sat next to the body of Baba was seen performing the last rites.

He appeared calm for a while, but broke down when performing the last rites. Sitting by his side was Satyajith, Baba’s personal caregiver.

The body of Baba was covered in an orange cloth at 9.40 after the rituals were complete and his body lowered into his Samadhi amidst chanting of Hindu mantras. The body was lowered into the pit which was later filled with Kurukshethra soil, salt, silver, gold and navaratnas. Water and soil from the Ganga, Jamuna, Cauvery, Godavari, Narmada and Sindhu were used in the ritual. The procedure of gifting of a cow (godana), donation of land (bhudana) and gifting of clothes (vastra dana) were also followed.Although the rituals were conducted as per the Hindu rights, priests from the Muslim community, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists also conducted prayers at the Sai Kulwant Hall.

The funeral which was performed with full state honours witnessed important dignitaries, members of the trust, family members and also volunteers of Prashanthi Nilayam. The gun salute was accorded and the police band played in homage as the funeral proceedings were going on.

Prepartions for the burial of Baba commenced on Tuesday itself. The pit which is 7 feet by 12 feet was dug our at the dais of the Sai Kulwant hall and Baba’s body was lowered. The place is considered to be significant because over the past several decades, Baba gave darshan to his devotees from this very same place. Baba himself had expressed that he buried at the very same place since he felt closest to his devotees here.

A memorial will now be constructed at the same place where Baba was buried. However this process would commence in the days to come. After the building of the Samadhi, a golden statue of Sai Baba will be erected at the same place. Following the ritual the general public will be allowed to have a glimpse of the Samadhi Mandir for the next two days. Normal prayer and bhajan sessions would also resume in a couple of days after that.

The scenes in Puttaparthi were emotional. Devotees cried their hearts out while chanting the Sai Mantra as Baba’s body was lowered. It was a final good bye for them. Giant screens were erected all across Puttaparthi so that the devotees could witness the final rites. The look on the faces of the devotees was that of a state of shock and the temple town of Puttaparthi is still coming to terms with the demise of their swami.

Among the dignitaries persent were L K Advani, Venkaiah Naidu, former home minister, Shivraj Patil, chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Kiran Kumar Reddy, Chandrababu Naidu among others.