Even as Chennai reeled from a bomb blast on a train on Thursday morning, the U.S. State Department issued a counterterrorism assessment that warned that India remained “severely affected” by and vulnerable to terrorism, including from “Pakistan-based groups,” and efforts to counter terrorism thus far were “seriously hampered” by impediments to inter-agency coordination as well as a limited command and control capacity of law enforcement.
In its 2013 Country Report on Terrorism the State Department noted that after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks India had sought to enhance its counter-terrorism efforts through agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the National Security Guard (NSG), and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and it also planned to implement the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), a system for linking databases in different government departments and Ministries for use by intelligence agencies.
Despite these efforts, the report said, “there is no comprehensive national policy for countering radicalisation or violent extremism,” and further that India’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh, especially in rural areas, remained “susceptible to illegal border crossings,” and India’s maritime boundaries and its border with Nepal, remained “extremely porous.”
The report conceded that India however implemented a few initiatives to counter violent extremism, such as offering quality and modern education in madrassas, and also criminalised terrorist financing in accordance with international standards, as a member of the Financial Action Task Force, the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing and the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering.
Yet, even in the realm of countering terrorism finance there appeared to be holes in India’s policy achievements to date, for example the report’s allusion to the fact that “The government does not have procedures in place for freezing and confiscating terrorist assets without delay and does not routinely distribute U.N. lists of designated entities to financial institutions.”
Further, the report said, U.S. investigators only had limited success in coordinating the seizure of illicit proceeds with their Indian government counterparts, and while intelligence and investigative information supplied by U.S. law enforcement authorities made numerous money seizures possible, insufficient follow-through on investigational leads “prevented a more comprehensive offensive against violators and related groups.”
The report appeared to criticise India’s inadequate protection of whistle-blowers in the context of countering terrorism financing, arguing that official reporting structures only protected principal and compliance officers of institutions filing suspicious activity reports in good faith, and did not afford such protections to staff or employees of these institutions.