State-sponsored terrorism is government support of violent non-state actors engaged in terrorism. Because of the pejorative nature of the word, the identification of particular examples are usually subject to political dispute (see Definitions of terrorism).
Afghanistan's KHAD is one of four secret service agencies believed to have possibly conducted terrorist bombing in Pakistan North-west during the early 1980s; then by late 1980s U.S state department blamed WAD (a KGB created Afghan secret intelligence agency) for terrorist bombing Pakistani cities. Furthermore, Afghanistan security agencies supported the terrorist organization called Al zulfiqar since the 1970s–1990s ;the terrorist group that conducted hijacking in March 1981 of a Pakistan International Airlines plane from Karachi to Kabul.
The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior took place in New Zealand's Auckland Harbour on July 10, 1985. It was an attack carried out by French DGSE Agents Captain Dominique Prieur and Commander Alain Mafart aimed at sinking the flagship craft of the Greenpeace Organization to stop her from interfering in French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. The attack resulted in the death of Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira and led to a huge uproar over the first ever attack on New Zealand sovereignty. France initially denied any involvement, and even joined in condemnation of it as a terrorist act. In July 1986, a United Nations-sponsored mediation between New Zealand and France resulted in the transfer of the two prisoners to the French Polynesian island of Hao, to serve three years there, as well as an apology and a NZD 13 million payment from France to New Zealand.
India has been accused by Pakistan, Sri Lanka and China of supporting terrorism and carrying out "economic sabotage" in their respective countries. India's Research and Analysis Wing has been accused of training and arming the Sri Lankan Tamil group, LTTE, during the 1970s when it was not considered a terrorist organization by any country but it later withdrew its support in the 1980s, when the activities of LTTE became serious, becoming the first country to ban LTTE as a terrorist organization.
Furthermore, India Research and Analysis Wing agencies supported the separatist/nationalist terrorist organization called Al Zulfiqar since 1977. This terrorist group conducted hijacking in March 1981 of a Pakistan International Airlines plane from Karachi to Kabul. The group is currently inactive. Richard Holbrooke in who is United States Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan stated that Pakistan didn't provide any credible evidence to back their accusations against India.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel suggested in 2011 that "India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan" in Afghanistan. Sadanand Dhume, former India bureau chief at the Far Eastern Economic Review and current resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute stated that Hagel's opinion reflect a "paranoid" worldview.
Pakistani Government and ISI have accused Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad, Afghanistan, for providing arms, training and financial aid to the BLA in an attempt to destabilize Pakistan.
Brahamdagh Bugti stated in a 2008 interview that he would accept aid from India in his terrorist activities in Baluchistan. Pakistan has repeatedly accused India of supporting Baloch rebels, and Wright-Neville writes that outside Pakistan, some Western observers also believe that India secretly funds the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). In August 2013 US Special Representative James Dobbins said Pakistan's fears over India's role in Afghanistan were “not groundless".
A diplomatic cable sent Dec. 31, 2009, from the U.S. consulate in Karachi and obtained by WikiLeaks said it was "plausible" that Indian intelligence was helping the Baluch insurgents. An earlier 2008 cable, discussing the Mumbai attacks reported fears by British officials that "intense domestic pressure would force Delhi to respond, at the minimum, by ramping up covert support to nationalist militants fighting the Pakistani army in Baluchistan." Another cable dating back to 2009 showed that UAE officials believed India was secretly supporting Tehreek-e-Taliban insurgents and separatists in northwest Pakistan.
In 2011, the Guardian published an article which mentioned that India is a safe haven for many Hindutva terrorists and that the Indian Government has turned a blind eye to many Saffron terror groups that operate within its territory. It urged the Indian Government to crack down on various terror groups that operate with impunity.
In 2015, Chinese authorities have notified and cautioned Pakistani authorities of a possible terror attack aimed at making the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor project a failure. According to China, Baluch insurgents with ties to India's Research and Analysis Wing plan on sabotaging some key projects particularly on the eastern alignment; Gwadar to Quetta, where work has already started. “The Chinese have sounded a note of 'caution' soon after reports suggested foreign agencies’ support to militants,” said the official, who attended an important meeting discussing key issues relating to Gwadar Port and the economic corridor at the Ministry of Defence. He further said, “The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), with other hostile agencies, is at the frontline to sabotage this project, that is what Chinese intelligence agencies shared with us.”
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was instrumental in founding, training, and supplying Hezbollah, a group labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the European Union.
The governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and Yemen have accused the previous Ahmadinejad administration of sponsoring terrorism either in their, or against their, respective countries. United Kingdom and the United States have also accused Iran of backing Shia militias in Iraq, which have at times attacked Coalition troops, Iraqi Sunni militias and civilians, and Anglo-American-supported Iraqi government forces.
Main: Lavon Affair
The 'Lavon Affair' refers to a failed Israeli covert operation, code named 'Operation Susannah', conducted in Egypt in the Summer of 1954. As part of the false flag operation, a group of Egyptian Jews were recruited by Israeli military intelligence to plant bombs inside Egyptian, American and British-owned civilian targets, cinemas, libraries and American educational centers. The bombs were timed to detonate several hours after closing time. The attacks were to be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian Communists, "unspecified malcontents" or "local nationalists" with the aim of creating a climate of sufficient violence and instability to induce the British government to retain its occupying troops in Egypt's Suez Canal zone. The operation caused no casualties, except for operative Philip Natanson, when a bomb he was taking to place in a movie theater ignited prematurely in his pocket; for two members of the cell who committed suicide after being captured; and for two operatives who were tried, convicted and executed by Egypt.
The operation ultimately became known as the 'Lavon Affair' after the Israeli defense minister Pinhas Lavon was forced to resign as a consequence of the incident. Before Lavon's resignation, the incident had been euphemistically referred to in Israel as the "Unfortunate Affair" or "The Bad Business" (Hebrew: העסק הביש, HaEsek HaBish). After Israel publicly denied any involvement in the incident for 51 years, the surviving agents were officially honored in 2005 by being awarded certificates of appreciation by Israeli President Moshe Katzav.
Israel actions during the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict were described as state-sponsored terrorism by Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. It is also accused of sponsoring Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) which was designated as a terrorist organisation under U.S. law until 2012.
After the military overthrow of King Idris in 1969 the Libyan Arab Republic (later the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), the new government supported (with weapon supplies, training camps located within Libya and monetary finances) an array of armed paramilitary groups both left and right-wing. Leftist and socialist groups included the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the Basque Fatherland and Liberty, the Umkhonto We Sizwe, the Polisario Front, the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, while others were on the far-Right such as the Moro National Liberation Front of the Philippines.
Citing Operation Merdeka, an alleged Philippine plot to incite unrest in Sabah and reclaimed the disputed territory, Malaysia funded and trained secessionists groups such as the Moro National Liberation Front as a retaliation.
Pakistan has been accused by India, Afghanistan, Israel, United Kingdom, of involvement in Indian Occupied Kashmir and Afghanistan. Poland has also alleged that terrorists have "friends in Pakistani government structures". In July 2009, the then President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari admitted that the Pakistani government had "created and nurtured" terrorist groups to achieve its short-term foreign policy goals. According to an analysis published by Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution in 2008, Pakistan was the worlds 'most active' state sponsor of terrorism including aiding groups which were considered a direct threat to USA.
The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has stated that it was training more than 3,000 militants from various nationalities. According to some reports published by the Council of Foreign Relations, the Pakistan military and the ISI have provided covert support to terrorist groups active in Kashmir, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jaish-e-Mohammed". Pakistan has denied any involvement in terrorist activities in Kashmir, arguing that it only provides political and moral support to the secessionist groups who wish to escape Indian rule. Many Kashmiri militant groups also maintain their headquarters in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is cited as further proof by the Indian government. Many of the terrorist organisations are banned by the UN, but continue to operate under different names.
The United Nations Organization has publicly increased pressure on Pakistan on its inability to control its Afghanistan border and not restricting the activities of Taliban leaders who have been designated by the UN as terrorists.
Ahmed Rashid, a noted Pakistani journalist, has accused Pakistan's ISI of providing help to the Taliban. Author Ted Galen Carpenter echoed that statement, stating that Pakistan "... assisted rebel forces in Kashmir even though those groups have committed terrorist acts against civilians" Author Gordon Thomas stated that whilst aiding in the capture of al-Qaeda members, Pakistan "still sponsored terrorist groups in the disputed state of Kashmir, funding, training and arming them in their war on attrition against India." Journalist Stephen Schwartz notes that several militant and criminal groups are "backed by senior officers in the Pakistani army, the country's ISI intelligence establishment and other armed bodies of the state." According to one author, Daniel Byman, "Pakistan is probably today's most active sponsor of terrorism."
The Inter-Services Intelligence has often been accused of playing a role in major terrorist attacks across the world including the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, terrorism in Kashmir, Mumbai Train Bombings, Indian Parliament Attack, Varnasi bombings, Hyderabad bombings and Mumbai terror attacks. The ISI is also accused of supporting Taliban forces and recruiting and training mujahideen to fight in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Based on communication intercepts US intelligence agencies concluded Pakistan's ISI was behind the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008, a charge that the governments of India and Afghanistan had laid previously. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has constantly reiterated allegations that militants operating training camps in Pakistan have used it as a launch platform to attack targets in Afghanistan, urged western military allies to target extremist hideouts in neighbouring Pakistan. When the United States, during the Clinton administration, targeted al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan with cruise missiles, Slate reported that two officers of the ISI were killed.
Pakistan is accused of sheltering and training the Taliban as strategic asset in operations "which include soliciting funding for the Taliban, bankrolling Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban's virtual emissaries abroad, arranging training for Taliban fighters, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and on several occasions apparently directly providing combat support," as reported by Human Rights Watch.
Pakistan was also responsible for the evacuation of about 5,000 of the top leadership of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda who were encircled by Nato forces in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. This event known as the Kunduz airlift, which is also popularly called the "Airlift of Evil", involved several Pakistani Air Force transport planes flying multiple sorties over a number of days.
On May 1, 2011 Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, he was living in a safe house less than a mile away from, what is called the West Point of Pakistan, the Pakistan Military Academy. This has given rise to numerous allegations of an extensive support system for Osama Bin Laden was in place by the Government and Military of Pakistan.
In 2011 the Washington Times reported that Qatar was providing weapons and funding to Abdelhakim Belhadj, leader of the formerly U.S. designated terrorist group, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and then leader of the conservative Islamist Al-Watan Party.
In December 2012 the New York Times accused the Qatari regime of funding the Al-Nusra Front, a U.S. government designated terrorist organization. The Financial Times noted Emir Hamad's visit to Gaza and meeting with Hamas, another internationally designated terrorist organization. Spanish football club FC Barcelona were coming under increasing pressure to tear up their £125m shirt sponsorship contract with the Qatar Foundation after claims the so-called charitable trust finances Hamas. The fresh controversy follows claims made by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that the Qatar Foundation had given money to cleric Yusuf al Qaradawi who is alleged to be an advocate of terrorism, wife beating and antisemitism.
In January 2013 French politicians again accused the Qatari Government of giving material support to Islamist groups in Mali and the French newspaper Le Canard enchaîné quoted an unnamed source in French military intelligence saying that "The MNLA [secular Tuareg separatists], al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa have all received cash from Doha."
In October 2014, it was revealed that a former Qatari Interior Ministry official, Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari, had been named by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as an al Qaeda financier, with allegations that he gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the terrorist group. Kuwari worked for the civil defense department of the Interior Ministry in 2009, two years before he was designated for his support of al Qaeda.
A number of wealthy Qataris are accused of sponsoring the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In response to public criticism over Qatari connections to ISIL, the government has pushed back and denied supporting the group.
According to Lunev, a probable scenario in the event of war would be poisoning of Potomac River with chemical or biological weapons, "targeting the residents of Washington DC" He also noted that it is "likely" that GRU operatives have placed already "poison supplies near the tributaries to major US reservoirs." That was confirmed by Alexander Kouzminov who was responsible for transporting dangerous pathogens from around the world for Russian program of biological weapons in the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. He described a variety of biological terrorism acts that would be carried out on the order of President Putin in the event of hostilities, including poisoning public drinking-water supplies and food processing plants. US Congressman Curt Weldon supported claims by Lunev but noted that Lunev had "exaggerated things" according to the FBI. Searches of the areas identified by Lunev—who admits he never planted any weapons in the US—have been conducted, "but law-enforcement officials have never found such weapons caches, with or without portable nuclear weapons."
Alexander J. Motyl, professor of political science at Rutgers University argues that Russia's direct and indirect involvement in the violence in eastern Ukraine qualifies as a state-sponsored terrorism, and that those involved qualify as "terrorist groups.". Behaviour by Russia with its neighbours was named by Ms Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania, who gave an interview to the BBC, in which she repeated her charge, saying that “Russia demonstrates the qualities of a terrorist state.”
Saudi Arabia is said to be the world's largest source of funds and promoter of Salafist jihadism, which forms the ideological basis of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS and others. Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide, according to Hillary Clinton. According to a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state, "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups."
The violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan is partly bankrolled by wealthy, conservative donors across the Arabian Sea whose governments do little to stop them. Three other Arab countries which are listed as sources of militant money are Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, all neighbors of Saudi Arabia. Taliban and their militant partners the Haqqani network earn "significant funds" through UAE-based businesses. Kuwait is described as a "source of funds and a key transit point" for al-Qaida and other militant groups. The Pakistani militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, used a Saudi-based front company to fund its activities in 2005. According to studies, most of suicide bombers in Iraq are Saudis. 15 of the 19 hijackers of the four airliners who were responsible for 9/11 originated from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon. Osama bin Laden was a Saudi by birth. His family is a wealthy one intimately connected with the innermost circles of the Saudi royal family.
Starting in the mid-1970s the Islamic resurgence was funded by an abundance of money from Saudi Arabian oil exports. The tens of billions of dollars in "petro-Islam" largess obtained from the recently heightened price of oil funded an estimated "90% of the expenses of the entire faith."
Throughout the Sunni Muslim world, religious institutions for people both young and old, from children's maddrassas to high-level scholarships received Saudi funding, "books, scholarships, fellowships, and mosques" (for example, "more than 1500 mosques were built and paid for with money obtained from public Saudi funds over the last 50 years"), along with training in the Kingdom for the preachers and teachers who went on to teach and work at these universities, schools, mosques, etc. The funding was also used to reward journalists and academics who followed the Saudis' strict interpretation of Islam; and satellite campuses were built around Egypt for Al Azhar, the world's oldest and most influential Islamic university.
The interpretation of Islam promoted by this funding was the strict, conservative Saudi-based Wahhabism or Salafism. In its harshest form it preached that Muslims should not only "always oppose" infidels "in every way," but "hate them for their religion ... for Allah's sake," that democracy "is responsible for all the horrible wars of the 20th century," that Shia and other non-Wahhabi Muslims were "infidels", etc. While this effort has by no means converted all, or even most, Muslims to the Wahhabist interpretation of Islam, it has done much to overwhelm more moderate local interpretations, and has set the Saudi-interpretation of Islam as the "gold standard" of religion in Muslims' minds.
Critics[who?] have argued that by its nature, Wahhabism encourages intolerance and promotes terrorism. Former CIA director James Woolsey described it as "the soil in which Al-Qaeda and its sister terrorist organizations are flourishing." However, the Saudi government strenuously denies these claims or that it exports religious or cultural extremism.
Soviet secret services worked to establish a network of terrorist front organizations and have been described as the primary promoters of terrorism worldwide. According to Ion Mihai Pacepa, General Aleksandr Sakharovsky from the First Chief Directorate of the KGB once said: "In today’s world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon." He also claimed that "Airplane hijacking is my own invention". George Habash, who worked under the KGB's guidance, explained: "Killing one Jew far away from the field of battle is more effective than killing a hundred Jews on the field of battle, because it attracts more attention."
Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa described the operation "SIG" ("Zionist Governments") that was devised in 1972, to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the United States. KGB chairman Yury Andropov allegedly explained to Pacepa that "a billion adversaries could inflict far greater damage on America than could a few millions. We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States."
The following organizations have been allegedly established with assistance from Eastern Bloc security services: the PLO, the National Liberation Army of Bolivia (created in 1964 with help from Ernesto Che Guevara); the National Liberation Army of Colombia (created in 1965 with help from Cuba), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in 1969, and the Secret Army for Liberation of Armenia in 1975.
The leader of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, established close collaboration with the Romanian Securitate service and the Soviet KGB in the beginning of the 1970s. The secret training of PLO guerrillas was provided by the KGB. However, the main KGB activities and arms shipments were channeled through Wadie Haddad of the DFLP organization, who usually stayed in a KGB dacha BARVIKHA-1 during his visits to Russia. Led by Carlos the Jackal, a group of PFLP fighters accomplished a spectacular raid the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries office in Vienna in 1975. Advance notice of this operation "was almost certainly" given to the KGB.
A number of notable operations have been conducted by the KGB to support international terrorists with weapons on the orders from the Soviet Communist Party, including:
- Transfer of machine-guns, automatic rifles, Walther pistols, and cartridges to the Provisional Irish Republican Army by the Soviet intelligence vessel Reduktor (operation SPLASH) in 1972 to fulfill a personal request of arms from Michael O'Riordan.
- Transfer of anti-tank grenade RPG-7 launchers, radio-controlled SNOP mines, pistols with silencers, machine guns, and other weaponry to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine through Wadi Haddad who was recruited as a KGB agent in 1970 (operation VOSTOK, "East").
- Support of the Sandinista movement. The leading role here belonged to the General Intelligence Directorate of Communist Cuba.
- Support of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, in order to destabilize Turkey, a key NATO member during the Cold War.
Large-scale terrorist operations have been prepared by the KGB and GRU against the United States, Canada and Europe, according to the Mitrokhin Archive, GRU defectors Victor Suvorov and Stanislav Lunev, and former SVR officer Kouzminov. Among the planned operations were the following:
- Large arms caches were allegedly hidden in many countries for the planned terrorism acts. They were booby-trapped with "Lightning" explosive devices. One of such cache, which was identified by Mitrokhin, exploded when Swiss authorities tried to remove it from woods near Bern. Several others caches (probably not equipped with the "Lightnings") were removed successfully.
- Preparations for nuclear sabotage. Some of the allegedly hidden caches could contain portable tactical nuclear weapons known as RA-115 "suitcase bombs" prepared to assassinate US leaders in the event of war, according to GRU defector Stanislav Lunev. Lunev states that he had personally looked for hiding places for weapons caches in the Shenandoah Valley area and that "it is surprisingly easy to smuggle nuclear weapons into the US" ether across the Mexican border or using a small transport missile that can slip undetected when launched from a Russian airplane.
- Extensive sabotage plans in London, Washington, Paris, Bonn, Rome, and other Western capitals have been revealed by KGB defector Oleg Lyalin in 1971, including plan to flood the London underground and deliver poison capsules to Whitehall. This disclosure triggered mass expulsion of Russian spies from London.
- FSLN leader Carlos Fonseca Amador was described as "a trusted agent" in KGB files. "Sandinista guerrillas formed the basis for a KGB sabotage and intelligence group established in 1966 on the Mexican US border".
- Disruption of the power supply in the entire New York State by KGB sabotage teams, which would be based along the Delaware River, in the Big Spring Park.
- An "immensely detailed" plan to destroy "oil refineries and oil and gas pipelines across Canada from British Columbia to Montreal" (operation "Cedar") has been prepared, which took twelve years to complete.
- A plan for sabotage of Hungry Horse Dam in Montana.
- A detailed plan to destroy the port of New York (target GRANIT); most vulnerable points of the port were marked at maps.
The United Kingdom (UK) has been accused of supporting Ulster loyalist paramilitaries during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. During the 1970s, a group of loyalists known as the "Glenanne gang" carried out numerous shootings and bombings against Irish Catholics and Irish nationalists in an area of Northern Ireland known as the "murder triangle". It also carried out some cross-border attacks in the Republic of Ireland. The group included members of the illegal Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) as well as British soldiers and RUC police officers. It was allegedly commanded by British Military Intelligence and RUC Special Branch. Evidence suggests that the group was responsible for the deaths of about 120 civilians. The Cassel Report investigated 76 killings attributed to the group and found evidence that soldiers and policemen were involved in 74 of those. One former member, RUC officer John Weir, claimed his superiors knew of the group's activities but allowed it to continue. Attacks attributed to the group include the Dublin and Monaghan bombings (which killed 34 civilians), the Miami Showband killings and the Reavey and O'Dowd killings. The UK is also accused of providing intelligence material, training, firearms, explosives and lists of people that the security forces wanted to have killed.
The Stevens Inquiries concluded that the Force Research Unit (FRU), a covert British Army intelligence unit, helped loyalists to kill people, including civilians. FRU commanders say their plan was to make loyalist groups "more professional" by helping them target IRA activists and prevent them killing civilians. The Stevens Inquiries found evidence only two lives were saved and that FRU was involved with at least 30 loyalist killings and many other attacks – many of the victims uninvolved civilians. One of the most prominent victims was solicitor Pat Finucane. A FRU double-agent also helped ship weapons to loyalists from South Africa. Members of the British security forces had tried to obstruct the Stevens investigation.
The United States was accused of being a state sponsor of terrorism for their support of Cuban exiles Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch. The US also supported Afghan Mujahideen as part of the Reagan Doctrine, which arguably contributed to the creation of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. However, scholars such as Jason Burke, Steve Coll, Peter Bergen, Christopher Andrew, and Vasily Mitrokhin have argued that Bin Laden was "outside of CIA eyesight" and that there is "no support" in any "reliable source" for "the claim that the CIA funded bin Laden or any of the other Arab volunteers who came to support the mujahideen." American academic Noam Chomsky, a critic of U.S. foreign policy, has referred to the United States as "a Leading Terrorist State".
- State terrorism
- Asymmetric warfare
- False flag
- State Sponsors of Terrorism (according to the United States Department of State)
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India_supportwas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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