‘The madness continues’

When asked about the role of democracy in counter-terrorism, Dr. R. K. Raghavan, the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation in India, had a blatant response.

“I don’t think it is going to make a difference whatsoever.”

Raghavan discussed the challenges in preventing terrorism before an audience of 20 people in BSF 100 Thursday night. Raghavan is the head of the CBI, an agency equivalent to the FBI.

“I think (the invasion of Iraq) is a major mistake.” He went on to explain that spreading democracy in the Middle East is too difficult because of the major cultural differences between the West and several Muslim countries and that democracy does nothing to combat terrorism in the Middle East.

“The battle is hardly being won,” he said.

Raghavan said there was much to be learned from Sept. 11. He believes that a number of things can be improved in U.S. intelligence.

“There was a failure of intelligence on a tactical level,” he said. There was information received by intelligence before the attack, but it came in pieces, he added.

Raghavan said that there is also a “lack of appreciation of foreign threats to domestic targets.” He further explained that due to many previous terrorist attacks on American interests overseas, the domestic threat was overlooked.

Raghavan stated that there is a turf war between the FBI, CIA and a host of other intelligence agencies and that this war led to unwillingness to share information. He also said that there is an overabundance of intelligence leadership within the agencies.

Raghavan also discussed what we have learned about terrorism since Sept. 11. One fact is that terrorist cells are expanding and that they are decentralized.

“It was once thought that (Osama) bin Laden calls all the shots. This has been disproven,” he said. He made it clear that the capture of bin Laden will not be the end of the terrorist threat.

Another aspect of terrorism today is “the continued focus on soft targets,” Raghavan said. These include children, as demonstrated by the hostages taken by Chechen militants in Russia in September of 2004.

He also explained that there are both group and individual targets by terrorist organizations.

Raghavan discussed some of the obstacles in preventing terrorism in the future, one of which is the continual “expansion of commerce” and globalization. He said that because the United States is opening its doors to more and more global commerce, it is more difficult to keep the threat at bay.

“There is a deep suspicion of U.S. intentions (around the world),” said Raghavan. “(There is) a mindset of the United States as trying to be a universal policeman.”

He added that a lot hinges on the outcome of the Iraqi election. He hopes for a positive outcome after the recent resurgence of violence in the nation and believes that this may ease international suspicion of the United States.