With US President Barack Obama calling the Islamic State of Syria and Levant (ISIL) a “global problem” at bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the two countries have decided to forge their security cooperation anew, with real time intelligence-sharing, cyber-security and counter-terrorism cooperation as the leading edge.
Sources told Hindustan Times that the signatories to the refreshed agreements, Indian and US security agencies, will share actionable intelligence specific to both countries. “India and US are not joining any multilateral initiative like the expanded Five Eyes alliance but have decided that intelligence and technical agencies of both sides will share not only share secret information but also alert the other side in case of any imminent terror or security threat. The sharing is not region-specific but on all issues concerning the two countries,” said a top official. The Five Eyes alliance was formed after World War II with the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia sharing real time technical, human and signal intelligence. This alliance has now expanded to include 17 countries.
At the bilateral talks, President Obama offered close cooperation on cyber-security, including cyber-forensics in case of any attack. “With a majority of global internet companies and servers based in the US, Washington is offering all-encompassing cooperation and support. In fact, the cooperation offered was at such a level that Indian delegation had fears of intrusiveness,” said one of the delegates at the talks.
On the terrorism front, both delegations discussed the growing scourge of ISIL and the need to confront the menace, cooperation in confronting other terrorist groups like al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Taliban in the Afghanistan-Pakistan arc. Counter-terrorism agencies of both countries already have an institutionalized channel at the security agency level to share threats, groups and technical intelligence.
The two sides also discussed internal security issues, with the US appearing to be more than willing on offering Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAP) vehicles to Indian security forces for better survivability against landmines in anti-Naxalite operations. “The US delegation has assured us of all necessary licences and approvals for these vehicles,” said an Indian delegate.