The Indian Mujahideen, a terrorist group responsible for dozens of blasts killing hundreds of civilians across India since 2005, has expanded its area of operations into Nepal, states the Country Report on Terrorism-2018 recently published by the US Department of State.
“Due to Nepal’s open border with India and insufficient security protocols at the country’s sole international airport in Kathmandu, Nepal has been, and could continue to be, used as a transit or staging point for international terrorists,” reads the report.
“Airport security controls in Nepal are weak and inadequate. Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, Nepal’s only international airport, does not pre-screen passengers and landing data are not entered into any database. Physical security checks of passengers are rudimentary. The airport even lacks ultraviolet light to examine documents,” states the report.
It adds that the law enforcement entity directly responsible for counter-terrorism activities is the Special Bureau of the Nepal Police.
“This unit consists of approximately 120 officers. The bureau is supplemented by Nepal Police and Armed Police Force officers when necessary. The Nepali Army Special Forces units are tasked with counter-terrorism efforts and receive training in hostage rescue and in responding to hijackings and similar terrorism incidents,” states the report.
“The bureau assigns approximately 10 personnel to the airport and 15 officers to its Interpol national central bureau. Interpol notices are maintained in a database, but passengers are not routinely screened through this database. Security and immigration officials are generally responsive to the US requests for information, but often have little information to provide,” adds the report.
“Nepal shares an open border with India. The 1,850-km border has a few checkpoints, but it lacks sufficient security controls. For example, only one immigration official may be present at the checkpoint. Thus, most people crossing the border are neither stopped nor checked. Moreover, the crossing points can easily be circumvented to avoid scrutiny.
“The primary constraint preventing more robust border-control capability is lack of resources. The security services lack personnel, technology, databases, basic equipment and often even electrical power to provide effective border control. Additional constraints include lack of training and widespread corruption,” adds the report.
While the Government of Nepal has made symbolic progress in constructing an Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism regime, many regulations and requirements that are in place nominally for these purposes do not actually address AML/CFT trends or dynamics.
“Additional work is required to develop expertise in financial crimes awareness, prevention, identification, investigations, case management, inter-agency and departmental coordination, and border control,” suggested the report.