Apr 10, 2007

Next Level in ULFA's Terror Campaign

Stratfor is of the view that the April 8th bomb explosion near PM Manmohan Singh’s motorcade route in Assam could indicate the next level in ULFA’s “liberation struggle”. Stratfor writes, “Although the explosion appears to have been premature, it strongly suggests the ULFA is expanding its targeting criteria to include national figures. Moreover, this could have been the group's first suicide bombing.”

It is possible the bomber was planning to place the device along the motorcade route when he collided with the autorickshaw. However, there also is reason to believe this was the first suicide attack staged by the ULFA. In March, ULFA chairperson Arabinda Rajkhowa hinted in an e-mailed statement that the group was ready to conduct suicide attacks, saying members have reached the stage in which "they would strap bombs on their chest and attack." If this incident was indeed a premature suicide bombing, it would indicate the group has added a powerful new weapon to its arsenal.

...ULFA, however, also is a powerful, profit-generating entity, deriving much of its income from protection and extortion rackets and other illegal activities.

As in the past, the ULFA rejected the Assam government's latest offer to hold unconditional peace talks. Moreover, given that the ULFA has been known to carry out provocative attacks in response to such offers of talks, an attack near Singh's motorcade might have been meant to derail any chance of negotiations. With lucrative enterprises involved, the group's leadership has a strong incentive to sustain the militant front for business purposes.

If this was a suicide attack, the ULFA could have gotten the inspiration from Islamist groups in Bangladesh or the Sri Lankan separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The ULFA, which wields influence in Bangladesh through its considerable financial resources, could have obtained the services of a suicide bomber or bombmakers from Islamist groups in that country. The ULFA also has established ties with the Tigers, whose campaign against the Sri Lankan government has long included the use of suicide bombers, many of whom have used motorcycles to stage their attacks. However, the ULFA's limited experience in constructing suicide bombs as well as poor workmanship or design on the part of the bombmaker might have led to the premature detonation.

ULFA has assassinated state officials in Assam before, but this apparently was its first attempt against the prime minister, which indicates an escalation in the group's targeting criteria.[Stratfor]

One of the militants killed during the explosion was identified as Ainul Ali. He was the one carrying the bomb. ULFA members are basically Hindu upper-caste. This Muslim guy could be one of those hired by ULFA from Bangladeshi Islamist groups.

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