How ISI masterminds fake currency racket in India

India’s fake currency problem gets bigger and bigger.

So dependant are Pakistan-based terror outfits on fake currency they recently stole a secret template India used to print its currency.

The Central Bureau of Investigation is currently probing the theft with the help of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory.

The CBI and sources in the Intelligence Bureau say certain security features of the template were stolen to enable the printing of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes. The investgators are certain that the theft has the fingerprints of the Pakistan military’s Inter Services Intelligence directorate.

Sources told rediff.com that the ISI relies on local gangs to undertake such assignments. IB sources say they are also probing if fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s [ Images ] henchmen were involved in the crime.

Investigating agencies also do not rule out in-house involvement. They suspect the ISI’s Indian contacts penetrated the establishments responsible for printing currency and obtained information.

Preliminary investigations have revealed that the ISI wanted to make the fake Indian currency look authentic. Earlier, Indian security agencies easily spotted the fake currency. Hence, investigators claim the ISI’s dirty tricks division felt it was necessary to produce Indian currency to near perfection.

IB sources say the operation to steal the security features of Indian currency was two years in the making.

After stealing the template, the manufacturers of the fake currency also changed the quality of paper used for printing. Earlier, they used paper manufactured in Pakistan out of wood pulp. Today, the paper is imported from abroad and resembles the paper India uses in its currency.

IB reports allege that the ISI convinced the Pakistan government to import the currency standard printing paper, which the ISI diverted towards printing fake currency.

Indian intelligence sources point out that some Pakistan officials are aware of these activities since much of the fake currency is printed at government presses in Quetta, Lahore and Peshawar.

Once the notes are printed, the ISI transports them to Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Agents hand over the notes to individuals who smuggle them into India where it is exchanged on a 2:1 basis. That is, two fake rupees are exchanged for one genuine rupee.

The interrogation of a gang arrested recently in Uttar Pradesh revealed that most of the fake currency is being brought into India through Nepal. Women are often used to transport the notes to lower suspicion at border checkpoints.

Investigators say the thread in the freshly printed fake currency notes are no longer hazy; the watermarks, the Ashoka Pillar, Mahatma Gandhi’s image, the denomination and the RBI mark are more prominent.

The sprinkled dots are harder to identify when held against ultra violet light; also, the new fake notes ensure better visibility of the superimposed digit when held horizontally.

The biggest problem the ISI faced before the template was stolen was the size of the series prefix. However, with the template in its possession, the agency has fixed this problem — the alignment of the series prefix has been placed in a correct line.

Some Indian observers estimate the fake currency in circulation at Rs 169,000 crore (Rs 169 trillion), a figure the RBI denies.

Apart from funding terror operations in India, the fake money is used in real estate transactions.

The fake money has also entered the banking system. Investigators say an individual who wants to deposit fake currency will ensure that s/he does so when there is a crowd at the teller’s desk. Since the teller is too busy to check every note, the fake currency gets deposited, and into the Indian banking system.

The National Crime Record Bureau states that 1,170 cases of fake currency were registered last year, a decline from the 2,204 cases registered in 2007.

In the past year Rs 3.63 crores (Rs 36.3 million) in fake currency has been seized.

The CBI is investigating 13 cases pertaining to fake currency. All 13 cases have international ramifications involving the ISI.

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Why Naseer is a prize catch for Indian security agencies

Indian investigators have plenty to smile about with the arrest of Thadiyantavida Naseer and his associate, Shafas, who were picked up by the Bangladesh police on the Meghalaya-Bangladesh border.

Naseer is a prized catch since he played a crucial role in the various serial blasts that rocked the country. Moreover, he is also suspected to have guided terror suspect Tawwahur Rana (arrested for being a Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative by the FBI in Chicago) during the latter’s visit to Kerala prior to the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

Naseer’s name first sprung up during the Bangalore serial blasts in 2008. The interrogation of 20 odd accused persons in connection with the blasts revealed that Naseer was behind the blasts. Intelligence Bureau sleuths who have a dossier on him say he operated as the financer of the Indian Mujahideen with Riyaz Bhatkal.

He had worked as a ginger contractor in Karnataka’s Kodagu district and sheltered several accused before the blasts. He then put all the IM cadres in a rented house near Hosur in Bangalore a month before the blasts.

Naseer, who originally hails from Kerala, took to jihad almost a decade ago. He started off as a small time operative who took part in anti-India meetings in Kerala. During this period, Naseer was accused in two murder cases and was also an accused in an attempt to murder case relating to then Chief Minister E K Nayanar. He was also booked by the police for setting a Tamil Nadu state transport bus on fire.

The IB says that Naseer was passionate about the cause and that what made the Lashkar-e-Tayiba rope him in as one of their main cadres. His first assignment with the Lashkar was to arrange for recruits. He travelled between Kerala and Karnataka and conducted several underground meetings and recruited many young men. In fact he teamed up with Bhatkal and recruited a core team of jihadis who were later sent into Kashmir to battle the Indian Army. This in fact was his first major assignment which sprung him to fame.

Naseer was then handed over a new role. This led the birth of the Indian Mujahideen, which was nothing but another wing of the LeT. The IB says that he travelled extensively between the Gulf and Pakistan while setting up the IM and finally he was asked to handle the finances of this outfit. Naseer single-handedly managed to rope in a lot of Gulf contacts who financed IM operations in India.

His first major assignment with the IM was the serial blasts which rocked Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi. He operated mostly out of Karnataka and Kerala. It was only after these blasts that the Indian security agencies raised the heat on him.

Intelligence Bureau officials say that Naseer had stayed on in Kerala for sometime after the blasts. It was during this time that he came in contact with Rana whom the Indian agencies say played a vital role along with David Headley (also arrested by the FBI in Chicago) in the 26/11 attacks. During Rana’s visit, Naseer played a vital role in helping set up a fake job agency. In turn Rana helped Naseer and his brother-in-law Shafas get out of Kerala. The IB says that they had information that the duo had slipped into Bangladesh and were directed to lie low before undertaking further operations.

One handler three names four countries


The arrests in the United States of America and also at Italy have thrown up a whole new angle to the Mumbai 26/11 plot. Investigations by the National Investigating Agency has made it clear that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba which plotted and executed the 26/11 attack had not only used Indian and Pakistani modules to carry out the attacks, but had also accessed its modules across the continent to undertake the 26/11 carnage.

An interesting detail that has cropped up during the investigation is that there was one person who played a major role in coordinating the entire attack on Mumbai. The FBI and the Italian police have termed this man as Sajid Mir, the Indian police as Abu-al-Qama while the Pakistan authorities who have arrested this man call him Zarar Shah.

It is now clear that this man Mir alias Qama alias Shah is the most vital link to the entire Mumbai carnage as he would be able to tell in detail as how he managed to coordinate forces in the US, Italy, India and Pakistan to undertake an attack of such a large nature.

Mir according to the intelligence bureau has been in the Lashkar for nearly 15 years. The closest aide of Lashkar boss, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, this man is a professional with computers and has been largely responsible for setting up the tech division of the Lashkar. He was made in charge of the Lashkar tech cell in the year 2002 and since then he has not only become a high ranking cadre in the Lashkar but also a trusted commandant of the ISI in Pakistan.

Looking at his skills in computer education and the manner in which he was able to coordinate cadres between various countries, he was promoted to the position of trans-continental head of the Lashkar in the year 2005. It was from here that his journey began into planning the Mumbai attack. Almost single handedly he oversaw transaction of funds and also kept in touch with operatives such as Headley, Rana, the Italian duo and also Sabahuddin and Fahim Ansari every time they were executing something relating to the Mumbai attack.

IB sources told rediff.com that being the trans continental head of the Lashkar it was his responsibility to coordinate with these cadres from across the globe. Working purely on a need to know basis, this man ensured that none of the opereatives from other countries were even aware of what the other was doing. While he sent out Sabahuddin to appoint Fahim Ansari to draw out the maps, he simultaneously told both Headley and Rana to conduct reccees in Mumbai. The interesting fact is that even Sabahuddin or Ansari were aware of the fact that two other persons from Canada and Chicago were carry out a similar operation on the ground. While Ansari prepared the initial maps of the targets and sent it across to Pakistan, Headley and Rana did a finer analysis of the same.

Mir had instructed both Rana and Headley on the basis of the information provided by Ansari to do a finer analysis of the targets. Based on the information made available by Ansari, Headley and Rana went ahead and prepared finer sketches of the targets and also shot videos of the same. Apart from this Mir also coordinated with modules in other parts of Europe and ensured that a large part of the financial transactions came in from that part of the world in order to carry out the Mumbai attack.

IB sources say that it was Mir’s idea to ensure that the Lashkar becomes a global outfit and they stamp their authority in every possible country. This is the reason why the Lashkar through Headley thought of targeting Denmark, a country which otherwise would fall under the jurisdiction of the Al-Qaeda. Mir apart from overseeing operations of the Lashkar in other countries has also been told specifically by the ISI to coordinate with the Al-Qaeda since they want to see the two outfits merging in order to spread global terror together.

Pakistan conceal truth: In February 2008, Pakistan had claimed that it had arrested a person by the name Zarar Shah and he was facing trial. They also claimed that Shah had said that he was aware of who Ajmal Kasab and the rest were. However Pakistan has been extremely suspicious in its behavior where this man is concerned. A request by the US officials to interrogate Shah was denied by Pakistan authorities at the behest of the ISI. Information now trickling in from the IB and investigating agencies would suggest that the Zarar Shah who has been arrested by Pakistan is fake and he actually is a very low level operative of the Lashkar who goes by the real name, Abu Wajid. The IB says that through the Interpol a red corner alert has been sounded against this man. Moreover Indian authorities have made requests to provide his photograph which has been denied lest the truth comes out.

The IB says protecting the identity of Mir alias Qama alias Shah is of utmost importance for the Pakistan based ISI. He hold the key to extremely crucial details of the ISI’s role in spreading global jihad and he will also be a one stop information for the international contacts of both the Lashkar and also the ISI.

Sources say that pinning down this man would be crucial since he will be able to piece together the exact details of the entire Mumbai carnage and also how the international jihad factories played a role in excercising this horrific attack.

How Indian intel sleuths goofed up on Headley

The Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing are downplaying their team’s failure to meet David Headley, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative currently in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s custody.
Agents from India’s domestic and external intelligence agencies traveled to the US recently to interrogate Headley, who the FBI arrested last month and charged with being part of a Lashkar conspiracy to spread terror in the United States, Denmark and India.

An agent, who was part of the joint IB-R&AW team, told rediff.com that a local court had turned down their plea to meet the Pakistani-American.

“In the United States, it is important to obtain the court’s permission before interrogating anyone on its soil,” the agent said, requesting that his name not be mentioned in this report.

An application was filed before a local court, but it was rejected, he added. “We were unable to convince the court that we had sufficient grounds to interrogate Headley.”

When asked why the team had traveled to the US without completing the groundwork, the agent said IB and R&AW officials had communicated the team’s agenda to the FBI who had given them the go-ahead to interrogate Headley.

“But Headley was in judicial custody and we needed the court’s permission to question him. We would have had no problems had he been in police custody,” the agent added.

A FBI team will visit India next week to investigate Headley’s links with the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.

Investigating teams have fanned out to the cities and towns that were on Headley’s terror radar as revealed by the FBI probe. These teams have been told to trace Headley’s activities diligently and gather information about his plans.

The future terrorist attacks on India

A year has gone by since Mumbai was attacked by the Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Tayiba. Following this attack India put a lot of pressure on Pakistan to shut down terror factories in their country. Several arrests and releases were carried out of Lashkar militants and Pakistan claimed that they have been able to deal with the problem to a large extent.

The big question now is whether the threat of terror in India has come down or does it still loom large. What plans do outfits such as the Lashkar have on their mind and how do you think they would try and attack India once again.

We spoke to security experts and officers in the Intelligence Bureau to assess the situation in India and what sort of threat the country faces still.

According to security experts the terror factories in Pakistan are still very much open and they are constantly trying to destablise India. Ajith B Doval, former Chief of the Intelligence Bureau points out, “ threat from the terrorists depends on their intentions, capabilities and the opportunities they can seize. Larger the space that these variables provide, the more varied and higher the level of threat. As the strategic intention of the terrorists is to destabilise India, which they consider necessary to establish supremacy of Islam, their tactical objectives stretch from targeting senior national leaders, destroying country’s vital installations, striking at economic targets to bleed its economy arousing religious passions and shaking faith of the people in the ability of the government in protecting them by wanton depredations leading to mass killings. Fortunately, the capabilities of terrorists fall far short of their intentions. However, they are still sufficiently high to inflict unacceptable losses against inadequately defended soft targets. Considering their present capabilities, they can target busy public places, centres of economic activity, tourist spots, infrastructural facilities like those in power and communications sector, etc. Of late, they have also been trying to acquire skills to hit cyber critical infrastructure. What is a matter of serious concern is the consistent and perceptible increase in their capabilities.

Intelligence Bureau officials also point out that terrorist outfits have been constantly upgrading their skills. A senior IB officer points out that terrorists have undoubtedly upgraded their skills — particularly in leveraging and improvising commercially available technological aids to supports their operations. Their technology, communications, fabrication of Improvising Explosive Devices (IEDs), acquire use sophisticated weapon, obtain genuine or forged travel documents, ability to operate clandestinely using covers and alibis all have increased manifold. This has enabled them to inject higher degree of surprise, speed and deniability in their operations. However they can counter our security forces and out-smart them in any engagement. The situation in Pakistan is, however, qualitatively different. The terrain, tribal factor, local support, large-scale culture of violence among certain societies for centuries, weaponisation of the civil society, etc. make it an entirely different ball game. It is compounded by the dubious policy of the government – particularly its intelligence of selectively patronising and supporting different terrorist groups. They have been running with the hare and hunting with the hounds and working as the single most important factor in accretion of the striking capabilities of the terrorists.

Preventing terror post 26/11

K P S Raghuvanshi, Chief of the Mumbai Anti Terrorist Squad says that the scenario as of today is different. We are better equipped to fight terror when compared to a year back prior to the Mumbai attack. Forces have been upgraded and we are also working on a separate intelligence unit considering the fact that Mumbai is very high on the terror radar. However we need to keep upgrading since the opponent cannot be taken for granted. We have to be prepared for a surprise element that they may spring upon us.

A senior police official in Delhi who is part of the Anti terror team says that there needs to be proactive operations and intelligence will be a crucial aspect. We need to be constantly informed and upgraded about the new threats so that we can prepare ourselves accordingly.

Ajith Doval points out India has tried to strengthen its protective security regime to deny them tactical opportunities by hardening the targets. However, in a country of India’s size, vulnerabilities, limited resources and democratic freedoms, it is not possible to make all the potential targets impregnable. This leaves large gaps providing opportunities to the terrorists to take on soft targets. This will require high interdicting intelligence capability. This will also require greater technology support and strengthening of our emigration, border security, check on flow of illegal finances, action against gun runners and breaking collaborative networks of terrorists with underworld, drug traffickers and organised crime syndicates. I think this area still requires much greater strengthening through structural reorganisation, pumping additional resources and accretion in operational capabilities. Only a high proactive intelligence capability can keep the country ahead of the terrorists and surprise them before the strike, rather than chasing them after the event.

Biological warfare: This is an often spoken about threat by intelligence agencies and security ex This is an often spoken about threat by intelligence agencies and security experts. IB officials point out that while terror groups like the Lashkar have the capabilities of launching biological warfare, it is high likely that they may resort to this option immediately. The fact of the matter is that the Pakistan agencies such as the ISI and also the government machinery is not in favour of terror groups launching an attack of this nature. No terror group in Pakistan can independently launch biological warfare or use weapons of mass destruction against India unless and until there is a definitive nod from the government or the ISI. The IB says that it would be a whole other scenario if they even attempt using such methods against India. The consequences of such an attack would be severe since there is every chance of the international community isolating Pakistan in case they resort to such tactics. Doval points out that Pakistan will do everything under the sun to exercise necessary restraint and control over terrorist groups in order to restrain them from using WMD against India.

The Al-Qaeda threat and threat from foreigners:

Off late India has seen unexpected threat perceptions from both the Al-Qaeda and also from foreign nationals. It is only a clear indication that we are unaware of what sort of threat is looming large over us.

The IB says that the man to watch out for is Ilyas Kashmiri and unless and until we deal with him, he could prove to be a nuisance to India. He is the face of the Al-qaeda and there is talk of him taking over from Osama Bin Laden.

Security experts while speaking of the Al-Qaeda threat say that this outfit should be understood and dealt with as an ideological movement rather than a hierarchically structured terrorist outfit. Large number of Jihadi groups around the world draw inspiration from it, subscribe to its ideology and share their world view of enemies of Islam without any organisational alliance. The IB says that the threat to India from the

Al- Qaeda as an organization may not be very high but the ideology it subscribes to and methodology it follows can prove to be dangerous ever if a minuscule minority in the country starts subscribing or getting influenced by it. Moreover, there are many Pakistan-based organisations like Lashkar and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) which owe allegiance to it is and have been targeting India. Ilyas Kashmiri is operational chief of HUJI and till few years ago was a trusted operative of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). He served in the Pakistan elite Special Service Group and was trained with Pakistan’s Special Operation Unit by Britain’s Special Air Service. It was only on the bidding of the ISI that in the early 1990s, he was asked to join HUJI and build it up. He lost favour with the ISI after he turned down their request to join Jaish-e-Mohammad. Both ideologically and operationally he does constitute a potential threat as he is capable of mounting terrorist actions against India through his HUJI activists based in Bangladesh. In last few years he has come close to Al-Qaeda and undertaking operations on their behalf. As far as Brigade 313 is concerned, it is a loose coalition of five Jihadi outfits — Brigade 313 being one of them.

Speaking on the threat from foreign nationals, Doval points out that Lashkar has always maintained trans-national linkages with Jihadi organisations abroad and tried to raise recruits among people of Pakistani origin settled abroad, either as citizens or residents in those countries. It makes use of these foreign based human assets for many errands. Involvement of Lashkar activists have come to notice in many terrorist actions abroad including the London bombings of July 7, 2005. Its activists had been under scrutiny in many countries abroad — cases of David Hicks in Australia, Richard Reid and Dhiren Barot in UK are illustrative.

An Urdu poem keeps the terrorists going


The brutality with which the 26/11 operation was carried out by “ten” fidayeens could be attributed more to the training of the ‘mind’ compared to physical training.

According to experts, the training which is imparted to these men physically makes them tough fighters, it is the mental training and constant brainwashing that makes them brutal killers.

A dossier prepared by the Intelligence Bureau states in detail regarding the physical training of fidayeens. In the words of an IB officer, these men are trained to become complete commandos.

The IB officer told rediff.com that dreaded outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba give equal emphasis on mental training to ensure the boys who carry out the attack leave their hearts behind and “turn into monsters” while they are sent out on such a mission.

The training on the mental side is done in two phases — one during the recruitment process and second before the men set out on their mission.

The first part of the brainwashing is done by the handler. The handler picks and selects youth preferably in the age group of 20 and 30. The younger men are recruited for two reasons — one they are stronger and last longer in an attack and secondly these youth are easier to brainwash.

These youth are told about the wrong being committed on their religion and also that there is a need to stand up and fight injustice.

The handler also does a thorough study on the history of the youth and on most occasions they always see to it that youth who have been wronged by the system or have financial trouble are picked up.

Once these youth are recruited, they are sent to the camps in Pakistan where they are trained physically. The physical training process lasts for nearly six months.

After the physical training is complete, the crucial phase commences where these youth have to be readied to carry out the mission with a lot of brutality.

The last 10 days of the training programme only involves brainwashing the youth. The IB says that this part of the training is crucial. Documents collected on the mental training process suggest that the fidayeens are brainwashed to kill innocent people. It is specifically told to them that they fight a religious war and also brainwashed into believing that all people except those who believe in the path of Jihad are anti-Islam.

The LeT in particular which masters in fidayeen attacks have collected a lot of material to brainwash the youth. The material includes videos of Muslims being wronged, quotes and writings in which jihad is misinterpreted.

For the men who carried out the attack on Mumbai [ Images ], a particular poem was read out to them several times. The Urdu poem speaks extensively about the need for jihad and why it is important to fight. This poem served as an anthem for the men who carried out the Mumbai attack.

During the training programme, they were asked to rehearse this poem and during their mission these men kept reciting this poem which in turn gave them the strength and determination to carry out the attack non-stop for close to three days.

A few excerpts from the poem:

Jihad jari rahega ta qayamat, Jihad hargiz naheen rukega ( Jihad will continue till the day of judgment and will not stop).

Jihad farman hai khuda ka, Jihad rasta hai Mustafa ka ( Jihad is the path and order of God)
Zameen se fitno ka sar hamesha, Jihad hi se qualam huwa hai ( Jihad has cut of evil from this earth)

Jihad hi se zaban milti, Hai aan milti hai bekason ko (Jihad alone gives voice)

Jihad jhooti khudaion ko, ulat kar be abroo karega ( Jihad will make false God become naked)
Jihad se ijtniab hi ne, ghulamion ko janam diya hai ( Avoiding jihad has made us slaves)

Jihad dushman zaleel hoker, Athaah pasti mein ja girega ( enemies of Jihad will sink and will be dishonoured)

‘No tangible proof of Muslims’ involvement in terrorism’

Upset at what they consider the deliberate implication of the Muslim community in terror attacks, varoius Muslim organisations last week formed an umbrella body — Coordination Committee for Indian Muslims — to raise their voice against the development.
After a meeting at the Jamaat e Islami Hind in New Delhi, held in the wake of the Jamia Nagar encounter in which two youth were shot dead and a police inspector was killed, they formed a five-member panel to counter the campaign against the community.

Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, head of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, who is a member of this five-member committee, tells Special Correspondent Vicky Nanjappa that anger among the Muslim, especially among the youth, is building up over the continuing demonisation of the community.

All the organisations with you seem to completely disagree with the Delhi police on the Jamia Nagar encounter.

There are many question marks about this “encounter”. Three fact-finding reports to date have raised questions about the incident and the police narrative. All pointers indicate that it was a fake encounter. The police team did not go there to kill but to investigate and arrest. They bungled the operation; their officer was killed by his own men. As a result, in a fit of rage they killed two so-called “terrorists” and injured a third. To justify the killing, they invented this whole story making them “masterminds” and extending the conspiracy to their home district Azamgarh where dozens of youths have been picked up both from Azamgarh and Delhi on mere suspicion.

Outlandish stories are being churned out by the police and lapped up by a stenographic media like the claim that the slain youths had received crores of rupees in their accounts while bank managers in Azamgarh said on camera that these youths had paltry sums in their accounts; or the fantastic claim that these same youths had planted bombs in Varanasi, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad etc. This logically means that since all the masterminds have been now killed or arrested, India from now on will not witness a single terrorist attack.

Why do you think that those youth in particular were targeted?

According to the Mumbai police, they had passed on some information about these youths to the Gujarat police and asked them to observe them. The Gujarat police, highly discredited as it is for its communal bias and criminal role in the riots, jumped the gun and informed the Delhi police that these people were planning to carry out explosions. These youths must be one of many under observation in the country. It was their bad luck that a police officer was killed while trying to arrest them and they paid the price for this.

Subsequently, the entire Muslim community is made to pay the price of this khaki crime which is not new to Delhi. We have already experienced fake encounters at Ansal Plaza and Connaught Place in the past.

If the encounter was fake then what do you have to say about the death of M C Sharma?
It is pretty clear that Sharma was killed by his own men at very close range from behind. It was the mistake of the police to rush 2500 policemen into the narrow lanes of Batla House. They were deployed on various floors and rooftops of the same building as well as on the adjoining buildings. Such a mishap was bound to happen in such a situation.

Invariably, after every terror attack, Muslim youth are being accused of involvement. What does the community have to say about this?

It is true the finger is pointed at Muslims after each act of terror, but without proof in every single case. The same security and intelligence agencies which did not know anything about an impending attack a minute before it took place, suddenly and within minutes know every detail of the persons, organisations, funders etc behind the incident. They want to cover up their abject failure, and as the Muslims are the weakest section at this moment, the blame is safely pinned on them.

There are umpteen terrorist organisations in various parts of our country working for a variety of secessionist and political aims. It is possible that there may be a few Muslims too who are taking to terrorism, but till today we do not have tangible proof of this. There is no proof that the Students Islamic Movement of India, despite its extremist views, ever had any armed wing or imparted any armed training to its members. All we have is tall claims by various people and agencies which were trashed by their own hand-picked judge of the tribunal formed by the Union home ministry. Moreover, close to 50 SIMI activists have been acquitted to date by courts across the country.

It is natural that anger is building up among our youth for two reasons: justice is not done in cases of blatant pogroms, riots and demolition of Babri mosque, while Muslim youths are routinely killed in encounters or arrested on baseless charges which are not proved in a court of law.

Do you suspect the role of right-wing Hindu outfits in some of the blasts that have occurred in the country?

We do not only suspect. Rather, we firmly believe that many acts of terrorism blamed on Muslims are in fact the handiwork of Hindutva terrorist outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Shri Ram Sena, Hindu Munnani, Hindu Jagran Manch, Yuva Hindu Vahini, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and Durga Vahini etc. Members of these outfits have been caught red-handed in many places like Nanded, Tenkasi, Thane and more recently at Kanpur but these terrorist acts/explosions are hushed up. So much so that the government has conceded that the Hindu outfits are not under its scanner.

How do you think the community should handle such a situation?

There is a high sense of both anger and insecurity in the community in all parts of India. Our message is always that we should not take the law in our hands and that we must use all the legal and constitutional channels to get justice, but I am afraid that this continued victimisation and denial of justice will push many of our youths to the path they are unjustly blamed of today. Perhaps this is the gameplan of the Hindutva organisations in the first place.

What about the ban on SIMI for terrorist activities?

The Muslim community believes that though these people were extremists, they were not terrorists and did not actually commit terrorist crimes, though it an unproven possibility that a few former members of SIMI may have indulged in acts of terrorism, but for this the whole organisation or the whole Muslim community cannot be blamed just as for crimes of the BJP and Congress, all members of the party cannot be blamed.

What you think about the government’s handling of the SIMI issue?

The Bharatiya Janata Party government which clamped the first ban on SIMI in September 2001 did so because it found SIMI to be the weakest point in the chain of a weak community. At the time SIMI was a marginalised group which had little sympathy or following in the community. Now it has sympathy in the community because it is perceived as a victim of State terrorism.

The United Progressive Alliance government had a good opportunity to get rid of this problem by accepting the Geeta Mittal tribunal’s verdict which threw out the home ministry case as it was based not on facts and evidence but on mere claims. But the government chose to appeal to the Supreme Court which acted fast to continue the ban. The same Supreme Court is sitting on three appeals by SIMI since 2002 against judgments by three earlier tribunals and did not find a few minutes to look into them.

With SIMI in the dock, which youth outfit do the Muslim youth look up to?

The Students Islamic Organisation is very strong. The Muslim youth can always join this organisation.

Will SIO too go the same road as SIMI?

What happened with SIMI will never happen with SIO. SIMI never had the supervision and guidance of elders. However, with SIO that is not the case and elders in the community are constantly monitoring and guiding it.

SIMI prior to being banned used to act on its own and somewhere things went haywire. SIMI never had the sympathy of the community prior to being banned, but now we do sympathise since we feel the outfit is being (falsely) implicated.

The nation’s focus has now shifted to the Indian Mujahideen. What are your views on this outfit?

No one knows what this Indian Mujahideen is. All we have is three emails sent to some media organisations. Curiously the first email was sent from the computer of an American evangelist based in Mumbai who was later allowed to flee the country. Under some bargain he was allowed to come back later perhaps to clear his name and that of the security agencies too that allowed him to flee. Before he fled he had claimed that the police were asking him a bribe in order to close his case. It is anybody’s guess why this American was never arrested and why no charges were levelled against him. Is there is an international dimension to what is happening in India?

You say several innocent youth are being targeted by the police in the name of terror. What role are you going to play in securing the release of these persons?

We are highlighting cases where we have reason to believe that injustice is being done. We issue statements, we write to the highest officials, we hold dharnas and conferences and we approach the courts. All these are within the laws and liberties granted to Indian citizens.

Lastly, your views on Saturday’s Mehrauli blast.

I condemn it and my heartfelt condolences to those victims and their families. But I would like to ask the following question. According the Delhi police following the Jamia Nagar incident, all the dreaded masterminds had either been killed or arrested. If this was the case no blast should have taken place. But the fact remains that such attacks continue to take place in the very capital. What happened to the claims by the Delhi police?

‘The Mumbai ATS is a brand new force today’

The Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad came in for a lot of flak post 26/11 since many believe this high profile police unit was caught napping by the attacks. The ATS also lost its chief Hemant Karkare in the terror assault.
ATS Chief K P S Raghuvanshi tells rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa that the Squad is now fully equipped to take on any eventuality.

Is there a difference in the ATS post 26/11?

There is a huge difference. A lot of thought went into upgrading the force following the Mumbai attacks. I would say that today we are a brand new force fully equipped to fight any aggression.

What makes the ATS different?

The Force One team has given the ATS a big boost. There are several commandos who are trained to fight terrorist groups and equipped with state-of-the-art arms and ammunition. We do not want this force to be lacking in anything. They are being constantly trained.

How will this force operate?

This is a force exclusively dedicated to fighting terrorism. The commandos are specifically trained to fight terrorists. However, I would not like to go into further details. There are certain technical details which are confidential in nature. Revealing such details would not be in the best interest of internal security.

Can you provide Mumbaikars an assurance that a 26/11 type attack will never occur thanks to all these measures that you have undertaken?

We are doing everything under the sun to prevent such attacks. But we must never underestimate the opponent. I am not aware of the strength of the opponent and we don’t want to take any chances. All I want to say is that we are in a much better position to take on the enemy.

You have spoken a lot about the might of the Mumbai police. But you must be aware that there was a lack of coordination where intelligence was concerned. You had once said that the ATS would have a separate intelligence wing. What is the status of this?

I had said earlier that the ATS would have a separate intelligence wing. This wing will become a reality very soon. It has been approved by the government. I feel a separate intelligence gathering wing is very essential for the force to work better.

A dedicated intelligence wing would mean that this team reports to us directly. There would not be any lack of coordination or misinformation.

However, I would like to add that there is a great deal of improvement as far as sharing intelligence is concerned. We are in constant touch with the Intelligence Bureau which keeps us updated and informed about developments.

What about the terror modules in Mumbai?

I would not be able to share information on this. But there is a steep decline in the number of terror modules and cells in Mumbai. We are constantly being updated about the situation and anyone who tries to create any disturbance on our soil will not be spared or dealt with lightly.

How Headley used Rahul as a ‘cover’ for his terror plots

Vicky Nanjappa provides a glimpse of what Rahul Bhatt, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s son and a ‘witness’ in the case against David Headley, revealed during questioning.
The questioning of Rahul Bhatt, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s son, regarding his connection to American national and arrested Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative David Headley has revealed several interesting details.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau, who were part of the team that spoke to Rahul, told rediff.com that according to Rahul’s statements it appears Headley used the celebrity child as a cover for his activities.

The IB sources said Rahul mentioned he never followed clearly what Headley was trying to say each time he made a phone call. The Lashkar suspect used words like ‘jannat’, ‘Allah,’ baraf’, ‘Mickey Mouse’ and ‘maal in his telephone conversations.’

‘I never understood what he was trying to say and I didn’t suspect that there may have been something wrong,’ Rahul told the investigators.

On several occasions, Rahul revealed that Headley had insisted he come along to both the Taj Mahal and Trident hotels. The IB sources feel that by taking along a celebrity’s son to these hotels would have allayed suspicion about Headley’s activities since the staff may have been familiar with Bhatt junior.

Rahul told the investigators that at no point did he suspect that Headley could have been into terror activities.

‘He behaved normally with me and sought help. Although he kept insisting that he wanted to spend as much time as possible at the Taj and Trident, I never went with him,’ Rahul pointed out. ‘I never realised what he was up to and neither did he discuss any of those plans with me.’

Another interesting point Rahul made is that Headley often spoken about Gregory David Roberts’s popular book on Mumbai, Shantaram. He said he was a big fan of Roberts’ and was extremely keen on visiting all the places mentioned in the book.

Headley, Rahul said, was on the phone most of the time. ‘I thought he was talking business,’ Bhatt added.

Rahul came into contact with Headley through Vilas Warak, the American’s gym instructor in Mumbai. Once that contact was made, Headley ignored Warak, the sources said.

“We are going to question the actors who were also seen with Headley and get their version so that we have a water tight case,” the sources said.

Meanwhile, investgators believe ‘Mickey Mouse’ could be code for sleeper cells.

Baraf, which means ice in Urdu, could have meant that all was well.

The targets (Taj and Trident) may have been jannat, which means ‘heaven’ in Urdu.

David Headley’s terror mission in Mumbai

David Headley, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative who was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in October, is proving to be an important link in unraveling the terror network.

Intelligence Bureau agents have informed the Mumbai police that Headley made several visits to the city. The police are now probing Headley’s links with the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, IB sources told rediff.com

According to information available with the IB, Headley visited Mumbai in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He changed his name to David Headley from Daood Gilani around 2006.

Sources say Headley traveled on a business visa; he got in touch with a US firm which specialised in creating fake visas and passports. He located a similar firm in Tardeo, central Mumbai, which helped him procure fake travel documents.

With the help of these fake documents, Headley traveled to India at least five times. During each visit, he made it a point to visit the visa agency.

Headley was present in India when the terror attacks on Mumbai was being planned and he may have been aware of such a plan, the IB sources say.

If investigations reveal that Headley activated a local module to assist the 26/11 attacks, the Mumbai police may file an additional charge-sheet detailing this link, the sources added.

IB agents suspect Headley’s brief in Mumbai was to establish a network of sleeper cells to assist terror attacks.

Headley also traveled to other states including Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, using his business visa. The FBI has revealed that Headley had conducted a reconnaissance of the National Defence College in New Delhi where he planned a terror attack.