Keeping eyes on the upcoming general election in Bangladesh, notorious terror outfit in the Indian northeastern state of Assam, United Liberation Front (ULFA) is plotting a massive terrorist attack in the country. According to credible intelligence sources, during the recent weeks, ULFA has secretly established links with Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a terrorist outfit led by Rohingya Muslims. Counterterror experts are seeing ARSA as a growing monster, which may ultimately turn into a bigger threat than Al Qaeda and ISIS.
What is ULFA?
United Liberation Front of Assam is a notorious separatist outfit operating in Assam; North East India for what is claims to be for the Indigenous Assamese people. It believes in ethnic nationalism, Marxism and socialism.
The government of India banned the organization under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 1990, citing it as a terrorist organization, while the United States Department of State lists it under “other groups of concern”.
According to ULFA sources, it was founded on 7 April 1979 at Rang Ghar, a historic structure dating to the Ahom kingdom (1228–1826) and began operations in 1990. Sunil Nath, former Central Publicity Secretary and spokesman of ULFA has stated that the organization established ties with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1983 and with the Myanmar based KIA in 1987. Military operations against the ULFA by the Indian Army began in 1990. Meanwhile, on 3 September 2011, ULFA had abandoned its demand of separating from India.
Currently, Paresh Baruah is the Commander-ileader. Hi havetomei, who was sentenced to death by Bangladesh court in 2014.
The ULFA has claimed responsibility for bombings of economic targets like crude oil pipelines, freight trains and government buildings, including the 7 August 2005 attack on oil pipelines in Assam. ULFA carried out a bombing and destruction of a five million-liter petrol reservoir at Digboi refinery in Tinsukia, with an estimated property loss of Rs 200 million. On the same day they also damaged a gas pipeline in the oil district of Tinsukia.
In the initial years of the ULFA movement (when it used to enjoy widespread public support in both urban and rural areas of Assam among the indigenous Assamese people), cadres were recruited from rural areas as well as from many towns in Lower Assam, Northern and Upper Assam and middle Assam districts. One of the most popular ULFA leaders of all time, the late Heerak JyotiH Mahanta hailed from a place which is just a few kilometres from Guwahati. However, with the elite upper caste Assamese urban middle class becoming increasingly skeptical of ULFA’s method of functioning, the ULFA targeted the remote villages and the predominantly backward areas for recruitment. According to intelligence sources, the Paresh Baruah faction of the Ulfa, which have been continuously raising its voice against the ongoing peace process being initiated by the Arabinda Rajkhowa faction, is engaged in a massive recruitment drive in the rural areas of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sivasagar, Lakhimpur and Nalbari districts of Assam. The Ulfa also has strong following among the Naga people in Assam.
ULFA has been involved into some bank robberies during its initial stages. Now it is widely reported to extort businessmen, bureaucrats and politicians for collecting funds. In 1997, the Chief Minister of Assam accused Tata Tea of paying the medical bills of the ULFA cultural secretary Pranati Deka at a Mumbai hospital.
As most of the ULFA camps in Bangladesh had been destroyed at the initiatives of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, camps in Bhutan were demolished by Royal Bhutan Army aided by Special Frontier Force.
The ULFA maintains close relationships with other separatist organizations like NDFB, KLO and NSCN (Khaplang).
What is ARSA?
Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) also known by its former name Harakah al-Yaqin (meaning Faith Movement in English), is a Rohingya insurgent group active in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. According to a December 2016 report by the International Crisis Group, it is led by Ataullah Abu Ammar Jununi, a Rohingya man who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and grew up in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Other members of its leadership include a committee of Rohingya émigrés in Saudi Arabia.
Myanmar’s Anti-Terrorism Central Committee declared ARSA a terrorist group on 25 August 2017 in accordance with the country’s counter-terrorism law. The Burmese government has alleged that the group is involved with and subsidized by foreign Islamists, despite there being no firm evidence proving such allegations. ARSA released a statement on 28 August 2017, calling government allegations against it as “baseless” and claiming that its main purpose is to defend the rights of Rohingyas.
ARSA is designated as terrorist organization by the Myanmar authorities.
The terror plot:
According to intelligence sources, in 2017, ULFA had secretly joined hands with ULFA under the direct initiatives of Pakistani security agency ISI. Key reason behind such connections between ULFA and ARSA were aimed at implementing terrorist attacks on Bangladesh. With this agenda, ISI had coordinated a meeting between key figures of ULFA and ARSA.
Militancy-linked Jamaat-e-Islami is aware of the establishment of connections between ULFA and ARSA and had already contributed unknown amount of fund for buying weapons and explosives. Pakistani also has been helping these terror outfits with fund mainly through supplying counterfeit Indian currency. It should be mentioned here that, counterfeit Indian currency are being printed at the security printing press in Pakistan. According to estimation, Pakistan pushes few billion counterfeit notes inside India each year. Additionally, ISI has been pushing counterfeit Indian currency notes through a fugitive Bangladeshi named Shipan Kumer Basu, who also has deeper connections with BNP leader Aslam Chowdhury.
Intelligence sources said ULFA and ARSA are jointly plotting a massive terror attack in Bangladesh prior to the upcoming general election.