Headley- First for the cash and then the ideology

A Pro Publica investigation termed David Headley as a double agent working for both the CIA and the ISI. While India’s National Investigating Agency continues to look for more information on Headley, the fact is that the information roll on the man has come to a stand still.

The question that India is trying to answer is whether Headley was serving both the CIA and the ISI simultaneously? The NIA’s version of this story is that Headley moved towards the ISI after being dumped by the CIA. Headley was always a rogue and enjoyed the high life and hence did all his work for money. The ideology which he has been talking about is not entirely true and even during the NIA interrogation of the man it was revealed that he was more into it for the money.

Headley started off by passing on information to the CIA regarding the happenings in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. However a couple of years later, the CIA decided to dump him since they felt he was turning rogue and did not have his loyalties in one place. He got in contact with the drug lords in Afghanistan and started working closely with them. At this point the CIA did not find him to be utility and dropped him.

However what Headley had possessed was a set of skills which attracted the ISI who were watching him all through. He managed to get away as he had the CIA tag with him and even the ISI was afraid to act against him. However once he was dumped by the CIA, the ISI was quick to swoop in and utilise his services.

The ISI used the services of Sajid Mir to rope in Headley into their fold. Mir was considered to be a specialist at roping in foreign agents and hence he was assigned the task of speaking with Headley. Headley’s role in the ISI did not commence immediately with big assignments. They tested him and continued to seek information about the US for which he was paid money. He continued to be an informant. However the ISI was cautious and kept a tab on him as they did not want him to turn rogue. They brainwashed him and made him believe that he was doing this for the community. This probably was the turning point for Headley and he decided to become a loyal soldier of both the ISI and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

By this time he had gone completely out of the CIA radar. He was never perceived as a threat to the US. The ISI was however cautious while dealing with Headley and had specifically told him not to rub the US agencies on the wrong side. They were aware that holding an American citizenship and also a passport from the same country gave him a great deal of immunity which helped in his travel to India. Investigators say that the US knew about the existence of this man, but did not perceive him as a big threat. What the US was unaware of was the ideological turn that Headley took. They never expected him to become a loyal servant and always believed that he would do anything for money.

Headley interacted a lot during these days with the likes of Mir and also Ilyas Kashmiri. The interest that he had with money had gradually reduced a great deal and he began speaking about the need of being a devout Muslim and attacking enemy nations particularly India. Even during the questioning by the NIA, he showed utter contempt towards India. He had also gone on to say that he had no problems with the Indians but thanks to incidents such as the Babri Masjid or the Godhra carnage he had begun to hate the system as a result of which he agreed to help Pakistan carry out the 26/11 attack.

After severing his ties with the US in the late 2004, he went completely out of the radar and all those who had dealt with him in the past thought he had become history. None of them even realised what threat this man posed and the kind of skills he had to lead a massive attack such as 26/11 which claimed over 150 lives.

Sources in the Indian investigating team say that today getting him for another round of questioning is next to an impossible task. The extent of information that we have managed to get out of him ends here and it looks like a distant possibility whether we would be able to question him once again. We have been depending on questioning Tawwahur Rana, but that it likely to take a lot of time as the matter is still pending before the court. There are a couple of unanswered questions such as the use of local help and the people Headley met in India and these answers could possibly be given by Tawwahur Rana.

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Guv seconds Justice Hegde for 2nd term

Governor of Karnataka, H R Bharadwaj sprung a surprise today when he said that he would immediately sign the papers if the government proposed the name of Justice Santhosh Hegde for the post of Lokayukta.
Speaking at a function today at Bangalore, the Governor said that he would have no problem in agreeing to the candidature of Justice Hegde if the government decided to appoint him as Lokayukta once again.
However he also added that he would also have no problem in approving anyother name provided the person was honest and a man of integrity. Justice Hegde was however unable for comment.
The government of Karnataka is however in no mood to re appoint Justice Hegde as the Lokayukta. The name of Justice Bannur Math which was suggested by the government was rejected by the governor. After this the post of Lokayukta has remained vacant ever since and it has also raised a debate as to whether the government wants to close down the Lokayukta office al together.

The Laskhkar today

It was three years back when India witnessed one of its worst attacks on its soil. Although every person in India knew that an outfit such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba was dangerous the 26/11 attack just went on to show how they could carry out such a perfectly coordinated attack.

A lot has changed in terms of the world’s approach in fighting terrorism. But the bigger question has anything changed within the Lashkar-e-Tayiba? A latest dossier on the outfit shows that it is subdued, but speaking of its capabilities, there is really nothing that has changed. Top leaders of the groups such as Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi are behind bars, but they are very much operational. Even today they are viewed as freedom fighters in Pakistan and even the ISI will not let them down despite any pressure from any quarter of the world.

A lot has been spoken about the Lashkar going global, but the fact remains that India will be its biggest target always. The dossier further points out that this outfit does have the capabilities of staging an attack at any corner of the world, but has been intentionally told to lie low due to immense heat. However the bigger issue is the growing factionalism within the Lashkar which is being seen as a concern for India. Stephen Tankel, the author of the book, “Storming the World Stage- The Story of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba,” pointed out in an interview with rediff.com points out the same. He says that there is growing factionalism within the Lashkar today and this could be dangerous as it may spin out of control.

Indian intelligence agencies too raise a similar concern. They say that it is becoming difficult for the ISI to control its operatives in the Lashkar. The war in Afghanistan and also the death of Osama Bin Laden have raised the emotions a great deal. There are questions being asked about why they have been told to lie low when their brothers in Afghanistan need them. The ISI does support their cause, but are worried that if these operatives are allowed to function on their own then it would be doom for their blue eyed outfit.

Earlier when Lakhvi was arrested and kept in jail, he was told to lie low. While Saeed continues to remain the inspirational figure for the Lashkar cadres, it is Lakhvi with whom they have more of an attachment. In fact he is called chacha by all the cadres of the Lashkar. The growing factionalism did make the ISI desperate as they did realize that they were missing an inspirational figure. 8 months after the 26/11 attack the ISI did try to make a change in the leadership. However this temporary measure fell flat on their face as none of the cadres were even ready to fall in line. This is when the ISI decided to permit Lakhvi to operate the Lashkar from behind bars. A western intelligence report too confirmed that this man was operating with the help of a cell from behind bars.

This infact has helped the Lashkar a great deal and the problem of growing factionalism has reduced when compared to what it used to be a couple of months back.

The ISI does realize that a person like Lakhvi is more important for the Lashkar when compared to Saeed. Hafiz Saeed is a good speaker and he can motivate a crowd. However when it comes to hardcore operations, it would be Lakhvi would have to take the lead since he connects better with the cadres.

The IB points out that the top leadership of the Lashkar continues to remain intact and as long as this is the case, there is no problem what so ever for this outfit.

In so far as the Indian operation, the Lashkar will continue to support the concept of home grown terror. They would want destability in India constantly and would come into the picture only for a big operation such as 26/11. It was very evident what they did with the Indian Mujahideen a couple of years back when the outfit launched back to back attacks. This infact kept Indian agencies so busy dealing on their home turf that in the bargain they completely forgot about the external enemy which used this destability as a launch pad to stage the 26/11 attack.

Mir remains a mystery

It has been three years since the horrific 26/11 attacks took place. Although the entire plot has become more or less clear today, there still remain some mysteries surrounding this case. The most important of them all is a name called Sajid Mir.
Although several theories regarding Mir have come up in the past, there is not a single agency barring the ISI which can tell definitively as to who exactly this man is. The National Investigating Agency is yet to file its chargesheet in this case and if one looks at the case as a whole Sajid Mir is a very important person in this entire plot.
There are contrasting reports regarding Mir. Some officials say that he is still in Pakistan under the shelter of the ISI while others say that he could have been picked up by the CIA already.
According to Indian agencies the case of David Headley will never come out fully in the open since he was an agent of the USA who turned rogue. Now these are aspects well known to Mir and if he is brought to public glare then the information that he could reveal could be extremely embarrassing.
Pakistan has done a lot to shelter Mir and have at times put out fake identities of the man and today they claim that the only Mir that they know of is a hardcore cleric in Pakistan and has nothing to do with the plot.
However the recent statements by Jean-Louis Bruguière one of France’s powerful investigative judges to Sabastin Rotella of Pro Publica makes it clear that Mir is not a fictitious character. During his questioning of Willie Brigitte, a French Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative he was told that Mir was not only a Lashkar operative, but also an ISI agent. The French court had even convicted Mir, but that did not deter him from orchestrating the 26/11 attack over phone from Pakistan exactly a year later.
The NIA’s charge sheet regarding Mir will be more on the testimonies given before the French court and also the ones that have been made out by David Headley. Headley too speaks about the role played by Mir and says that he was his handler who guided him all through the operation. However Headley stops short of any further description of Mir and Indian agencies believe this is a deliberate ploy in order to avoid any sort of embarrassment.
Mir’s luck with the police has been exceptionally good. He was convicted in France, but there was no action taken against him. Prior to this he was even arrested in Dubai, but had mysteriously managed a get away. The Indian agencies point out that this was done at the behest of the ISI. India further points out that losing Mir is fatal for the ISI since he is considered to be a global terrorist capable of staging operations anywhere in the world.
He was part of the ISI and then roped into the Lashkar to carry out a global operation. He has been doing so since the past 8 years now and his specialties will continue to be used in global operations. He not only specializes in arranging for operatives such as Willie Briggite and David Headley, but has managed to travel the globe arranging for operatives with much ease. It was evident when he came to India as a cricket fan prior to the 26/11 attack. This visit helped him set the ball rolling for one of the most horrific attacks of all times.
For India, the Mir angle will continue to remain a mystery. They did try their luck at securing information on him through David Headley. The next attempt would be made if at all they get access to Tawwahur Rana. Several attempts to get more information from both the US and Pakistan have failed and hence in the charge sheet and also the trial he would always remain an absconder who stage managed the 26/11 attack.
NIA sources say that there is plenty of information regarding Mir, but all that is on paper. The only country capable of giving out more information is Pakistan, but they deny the very fact that he even exists.
Mir, according to the Intelligence Bureau may not be in Pakistan today. They have shifted his base several times in the past three years. He has been sent to Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Dubai a couple of times in the past couple of years. They would not want his location to be known as they are aware he is too important a person to lose.
While not getting through to a man like Mir would be a set back for Indian investigators, the bigger problem is what the rest of the world faces due to him. It has been spoken in length that this man is one of the deadliest global terrorists and he could have passed on all information regarding what he has set up world wide to the ISI and the Lashkar. He is well connected in France, United Kingdom, India, USA and all the Gulf countries. Over the years he has picked and chosen operatives who are capable of carrying out 26/11 type operations. What Indian agencies believe is that if a man like Mir is allowed to get away scot free then it is only trouble. The 26/11 attack was staged after his conviction in France and this incident is what the world has to learn from.

Coastal security, 3 yrs later

26/11 showed India how vulnerable the seas were. It also taught terrorist groups a new way in carrying out attacks as they too believe that the sea is one of the toughest areas to secure and launching attacks from the seas could always mean that the operation would be a successful one.
Today several reports put out by both the Home Ministry and also the Intelligence Bureau show that the seas continue to be the biggest cause for concern and there is a long way to go before they are secure completely. Security review meetings held in Delhi discuss a lot of issues pertaining to terrorism, but every meeting ends with a discussion about coastal security.
Although Indian agencies have managed to step up the vigil along the coasts, the problem that they find is regarding the intelligence along the coasts. There are around 1200 fisher men who have been roped in for the task, but it cannot be said with conviction that it has worked properly since many lapses have been found.
Take for instance the Panama registered vessel M T Pavit which drifted towards the Indian shores without authorization on July 30. There was a similar incident on the shores of Gujarat as well. While these incidents caused a scare although there was nothing really in it, it still went on to show that India had absolutely no information about what was going on. This clearly showed the lack of intelligence along the coasts.
An officer in Mangalore pointed out that the plan to hire fisher men to form part of the human intelligence chain is a good one, but they have their limitations as well. Tracking of enemy ships or trawlers requires expertise and one cannot completely depend on human intelligence for the same. They could only provide tip offs, but the real job needs to be undertaken by experts.
The problem for India is that all measures pertaining to security look good on paper. There are various think tanks shooting in their suggestions every now and then and in reality these never are implemented. The report by the CAG clearly states that in this era the coastal security still remains a concern as it is ill equipped.
Manning the Indian coast is however not an easy job according to security experts. There is a need for proper coordination from both the Union and State Governments in order to prevent any untoward incident that may emerge from the seas.
Post 26/11 some of the state governments have set up coastal police stations. However there again there is a complaint regarding man power. A recent meeting at New Delhi decided that more resources will be pumped in and there would be more emphasis on human intelligence along the coasts as it is impossible to appoint too many people officially for the job.
On the ground the reality however remains that terror groups will continue to use the seas to launch attacks. Over the past three years there has been a lot of movement on part of groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba to set up bases on islands. This is one of the primary reasons why they have been targeting countries such as Maldives and even linking it to coastal areas such as Kerala. An entry and exit point is what they are looking for and they do believe that the sea route continues to be the easiest as it is very difficult to man the coast.
A senior police officer pointed out that it is one thing to control a terrorist infiltration through the seas. However the bigger challenge is the smuggling that continues to unabated along the coasts the most notorious of them being the Raigad coast. This is one of the primary areas which the Indian government needs to address since most of these smugglers work hand in glove with the security agencies. It would require just one slip up and this could spell terror. It has been spoken several times that terrorists and the underworld are working in tandem and hence there is no reason to make light of fact that terrorists would not be using the boats used by smugglers to gain entry through the seas. The officer goes on to add that many high profile projects such as Operation Swan which has been in existence since the past 18 years and also the Coastal Scheme of 2005 have not yielded any results. There was ample time to study the security infrastructure over the years, but unfortunately the response has always been reactive and continues to remain the same even today. India continues to make the same mistakes even today. Despite so many projects which look brilliant on paper there are issues such as man power, coordination, lack of proper equipments among others which continue to haunt agencies managing the coast.
However the situation is not all that grim and the agencies are slowly but surely making up for all that they had lost. One could say that the survellience has improved and the coordination is slightly better between the agencies. There are around 150 coastal police stations apart from 183 interceptor boats in the country. However the biggest issue that continues to haunt these agencies is the manpower. A Home Ministry official pointed out that there is emphasis on this particular point, but the challenge will always remain the coordination which should be sorted out very soon as it is a continuing process.

Jail calls to Pak- 1st Kerala now Kar.

There is a very unhealthy trend that is being noticed in the jails in India. Earlier it was Kerala and today it is Karnataka. A team of the National Investigating Agency has detained two persons from the Parapana Agrahara Jail in Bangalore for making calls to Pakistan.

A month back the Kerala jail officials too had put out a report stating that calls were being made by the inmates to Pakistan and investigators believe that these are calls being made in connection with terrorism.

A couple of days back a team of the NIA had visited the Bangalore jail also known as the Parapana Agrahara jail and detained two persons for questioning. There was an alert from the Home Ministry regarding such calls and on investigation the tower was traced to the Bangalore jail. Investigators however do not reveal much details regarding the nature of the calls but also point out that these calls are not being made for any ordinary purpose.

In the Bangalore jail there are 20 persons arrested in connection with terrorism charges. There are two Pakistani nationals too who belong to the Al-Badr faction apart from which there are persons arrested in connection with the Bangalore IISC attack and also the Bangalore serial and Chinnaswamy stadium blasts. Investigators say that they would like to probe further before revealing the names of the two persons involved in this incident.

The bigger concern is how inmates are managing to take cell phones into the jail. Police say that it is an in house job and can be possible only with the help of the jail staff. Very recently a jail warden was arrested for supplying sim cards to the inmates. This is not an un common trend and is found to be taking place in almost all jails in India. Very unfortunately terrorism suspects too access this service and they continue to run their business from behind bars too.

The Kerala and Karnataka incidents do not appear to be connected. They are two separate incidents and the NIA has been told to look into that probe as well. The Kerala case was more related to hawala transactions that terrorists continued from within jail too. The investigation into the Kerala incident is expected to be tougher since there are at least 500 hawala operators languishing in the jails and moreover there are records of nearly 2400 calls.

These are all seasoned operatives and know how to flaunt the system and hence terror groups continue to depend on them to further their business. They have a set of contacts and despite being in jail they manage to get access to them and continue doing their business.

The NIA says that it is a serious matter and needs thorough investigation. We would be looking into similar incidents in other jails too and are sure that it may be taking place there as well.

Through these calls, terror operatives not only manage hawala transactions, but also give out crucial information about recruitments and modules which were set up prior to their arrest. In addition to this they would also reveal what they have spoken during their investigation. This acts as a tip off to their handlers who will change their strategy according to what the accused person has spoken with the police. This hampers the probe to a large extent and whatever leads picked up during the interrogation prove to be useless as information is being leaked out from within the jail premises, police sources also pointed out. Inquiries against jail staff and tighter security measures will be in place to ensure that such incidents do not take place.

The racket of calls being made from jail and running the business from behind bars was witnessed during the Abdul Karim Telgi case. He had access to a cell phone and continued to run his racket from behind bars. Although there was a jammer in the jail one of the prison staff taught him how to disconnect the same. Each time he needed to make a call, he got one of the inmates to disconnect the jammer and once he was done with the call, he connected it back. However this was later discovered by the Stamp Paper Investigating Team following which an end to such calls was put.

Is Yeddy looking for a weak BJP?

B S Yeddyurappa has promised the Bharatiya Janata Party that he will deliver Bellary to the party. The former Chief Minister will start campaigning for the BJP against Sriramulu from Tuesday onwards and the question being asked is how important is this election for the BJP and Yeddyurappa.

One may think that this election is a battle for pride for Yeddyurappa, but his aides make it clear that this result would have no bearing on his political career. Yeddyurappa however has given a very confident statement to the media in which he says that he will deliver Bellary 101 per cent to the BJP.

While Bellary is one issue, for Yeddyurappa and his camp they would want a weak BJP government in Karnataka. This has become a battle between Yeddyurappa and the rest of the BJP and the man himself would want a bit of destability in the government so that he emerges as the main leader.

All trends according to the Yeddyurappa faction show that the sympathy wave in Karnataka is very much in his favour. According to them he has been sidelined by the party despite single handedly building it and it is also felt that he has been given a raw deal.

Although everything looks peaceful within the party today, there is a constant tussle on thanks to Yeddyurappa seeking the post of party president. He has been telling the central leadership to appoint him as the party’s leader. In the aftermath of the same he would like to tour the entire state and rebuild the party.

A strong BJP would prove fatal for Yeddyurappa today. The party is clear that it would like to continue in this manner and project either Sadananda Gowda or K S Eshwarappa as the next leader. However Yeddyurappa would like to destablise the BJP within the next 6 months. His idea would be to go to polls in the next 6 months. Even the BJP is aware that he is riding the sympathy wave and any election immediately would mean that they would have to depend only on him to face the public. Currently the BJP does not have any leader whom they could project and hence would require over a year to prepare an alternate to Yeddyurappa.

Bellary is being considered as the acid test for Yeddyurappa and many feel that a loss here would dent his image as a star campaigner. However the Yeddyurappa camp is very clear and would take advantage of the situation even if they win or lose. He would surely capitalise in case the BJP were to win in Bellary. He also has an answer ready for his party in case they lose. In Bellary rural there are 60 per cent of the people from the BC while the remaning 40 per cent comprises Lingayats. In case the BJP would lose that would mean that the Lingayats have not voted in favour of the BJP. In such an event Yeddyurappa would say that the Lingayats were upset that he has not been made the party leader and hence they lost the poll.

Although Yeddyurappa would want an election in the state in the next 6 months, he is not making any loud noises about the same. He would want it to be a quiet affair since he would not want the blame for an fall of the party. He would like the government to fall on its own and then expect that the party fights the election under his leadership.

Although Yeddyurappa may just have his way at the end of it, the biggest danger for him are the cases against him in the court. They appears to be a quietus on all his cases for now and this has put him in an advantageous position for now. However the entire scenario may change if the courts were to play truant with him.

Coming back to the issue of destablising the BJP in Karnataka, the Yeddyurappa camp would secretly hope that Sriramulu wins this election. This win would put them in a very aggressive mood and they would think of floating a new party. This would also depend largely on the release of Janardhan Reddy from jail and a decision to float a new party would be taken only then. In case they decide to launch a new party then they would automatically pull out a couple of MLAs from the BJP which would mean the government in the state would weaken much to the liking of Yeddyurappa.

However the Yeddyurappa camp has made it very clear that they would never enter into any tie up with Sriramulu and would prefer to battle from within the BJP itself. Moving out of the BJP would dent Yeddyurappa’s image a great deal and he would like to project himself as a fighter rather than a person who has dumped the party and run away.

While Yeddyurappa would want an election in the next 6 months, the BJP would like to wait at least one year. In Karnataka, the BJP can today afford to take all such decisions on its own thanks to the fact both the Congress and the JD(S) are just not ready for an election.

Meet the logic bomb

A week ago, three techies who work in Bangalore created quite a scare when they disabled the Common Use Passenger processing system which led to delays in the flights at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Three techies who are residents of Delhi, but working at Bangalore crippled the system with a technique known as logic bombing. The three techies one of who is a woman are today out on bail even as the Central Bureau of Investigation continues to probe the matter.

At first it was being construed as a terrorist attack, but today investigations have made it clear that these persons were demanding higher wages and when they were refused they adopted to this attack known as logic bombing.

This basically is an embrassing case for the Central agencies since all the employees work in an IT firm which is sponsored by the Central Government. Moreover these persons were also involved in the project to set up the Common Use Passengers Processing System which was installed at Terminal 3 of the airport in New Delhi. They had been demanding higher wages and when they were denied they decided to disable the CUPPS as a result of which all passengers had to be manually checked in instead of an automated check in which was possible with the help of CUPPS.

At first there was panic in the airport and it was believed that the attack was carried out by some terrorist groups. However after throrough investigation and also raiding the houses of the three accused the truth came out.

Although not a terrorist attack per se, investigators say that this amounts to cyber terrorism and as per the provisions available under the IT act of 2008, they could face up to 7 years of imprisonment if proven guilty.

An investigating officer pointed out that this was done on a very personal level but did cause a lot of hardship for passengers. It needs to be taken very seriously since it does send out a wrong precedent as terror groups would surely try and attempt something similar. A delay in the flights would mean a hit on the economy, something that terrorist groups would always want to do. However if terrorists were to use a logic bomb in a particular situation, they would ideally require an employee to trigger off a logic bomb.

Also known as the slag code this bomb can be triggered off mainly by insiders in a company. Basically one would have to be first involved with the programming and only if he has proper access and knows how a particular programme works can he trigger off a logic  bomb.

Although it does not classify as a virus, it still does something similar. Basically a logic bomb comprises a computer code which carries out a deadly activity to destroy a hard drive. Apart from wiping out the hard drive it could also be programmed to carry out specific tasks and the investigations into the Delhi case would show that it was meant only to hit the CUPPS as it would cause delays due to manual check ins.

History of the logic bomb would go on to show that it is something that is used only by disgruntled employees. It is a concept that has been deviced in the IT world and normally employees use this concept to wipe out data. In most of the cases the logic bomb has been used to cause negative triggers.

The Delhi incident clearly points to an inside job considering the history of the slag code and the manner in which it has been used in the past. Moreover the security system at Delhi too was found lacking thanks to lack of checks and balances. In bigger set ups it is often recommended that there is constant monitoring so as to check whether there are newer objects entering into the system. Investigations would show that there was no proper check and balance which made the job of the trio much easier.

Maldives+Kerala=Terror

An agreement with Maldives to permit its residents to stay on in India without a visa for 90 days has been proving to be a headache for investigating agencies especially in Kerala. Very recently Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh spoke about the challenges the two countries faced in fighting a common enemy called as terrorism.

Post 26/11, every attempt was made by Pakistan based militant groups to float more modules in Maldives and the message was clear that attacks would be more sea borne in future. Off late Intelligence Bureau reports show that there is a lot of influx of Maldives based terror operatives and they have been frequenting states such as Kerala.

The fact that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba has been setting up modules in Maldives to launch terror attacks is nothing new. However the state in India that they would depend on the most would be Kerala according to reports put out by security agencies. Groups such as the Lashkar have been tapping the modules in Kerala to keep their Maldivian operations afloat. Signs of a Kerala-Maldives link began to show in the year 2007 itself with the arrest of a key operative by the name Asif Ibrahim.

Till date the Lashkar has been using the modules in Kerala to carry out operations in the Maldives, but soon it could be vice versa when the outfit decides to target India. There is a steady growth of the Maldivian modules according to Intelligence reports. Not only are these groups strong ideologically, but they have the capabilities of launching sea borne attacks as well which is probably the toughest form of terror which India can fight.

The Male Sultan park blast was the first time that the India-Maldives terror link cropped up. Executed by an Islamic cell connected with the Lashkar, this attack made Indian agencies sit up and take notice of what was going on.

In this case the police managed to gather a lot of information through the interrogation of Asif Ibrahim who was also connected with the attack. This man who is a Maldivian national was arrested in Kerala and during his interrogation spoke in great detail about the links between the state and the groups in Maldives. The two regions are directly bound by the finance factor and most of the operations that are carried out in Maldives are funded through the modules in Kerala which are hawala experts.

During his interrogation he also goes on to say that they have launched a shadow outfit called the Jammat-e-Muslimeen which is a cover for the Lashkar. All operations connecting Maldives and Kerala are carried out in the name of this outfit. The Kerala police point out that this is nothing but a shadow outfit for the Lashkar and in the name of the JeM a lot of activites have been carried out. The problem is serious and under the guise of a 90 day no visa policy many operatives have managed to come in and go with no problem what so ever. Although there is this glitch, the police say they are taking all efforts to verify the details of those who come into Kerala from Maldives.

However Ibrahim’s interrogation went on to prove that the police were caught napping. They managed to procure arms and also funds with much ease from Kerala when compared to Maldives. Due to various factors in Kerala, the Lashkar has found it easier to stock weapons and also cash in Kerala and have also managed to smuggle it out with much ease, once again using the sea route.

The last of the operations connecting these two modules was the Sultan park bombing. The JeM which is still very much active has remained to remain low key for the moment. Although there has been no major incident, there is still a lot of activity that goes on and hence it becomes extremely important to monitor movements into Kerala, the police feel.

The other interesting aspect is the visit made by another man called Inas Moosa to Kerala before the Sultan Park bombing. His visit is part of the record in Indian circles, but there is no trace of the man today. All the police know through their investigations is that Moosa had come down to Thiruvananthapuram and met with a couple of operatives before the attack.

Although India, Maldives and Pakistan have been speaking of curbing terror activities in Maldives, it does not appear that the Lashkar has let go easily. They have roped their best operatives including the D Gang to carry out operations in the Maldives. The D Gang has in fact set up three front companies in Maldives through which operations go on.

The IB says that all eyes are on Thiruvananthapuram where the JeM is headquartered. This front is a direct link to the Maldives operation. There is an attempt that is being made by the Lashkar to move out of Pakistan and make Maldives a big base and there is a lot of dependancy on the Indian modules for the same.

Apart from records available even the interrogations of various other operatives would show that Maldives is becoming a major hub for the Lashkar. Sarfaraz Nawaz, Sabahuddin among others have spoken about the Lashkar’s plans for Maldives. Nawaz even goes on to say that apart from Kerala they were also planning on linking the Tamil Nadu based modules for operations in Maldives.

5-years of horror and back

The big news in Malegaon is the return of the youth who were accused in the 2006 blasts case. After a long battle for five years it was a happy reunion for the family members who got to see their dear ones after almost half a decade.

Some of the youth took time off to speak about their ordeal, but it was clear that they did not want to reminded about the situation that they had faced. Their voices were shaky as they spoke and it would take a long time before they get over what they faced.

Dr Salman Farsi had to cut short his career due to this case. A medical practioneer by profession was the sole bread winner for his family. The family which also comprised his twin daughters had a tough time making two ends meet while he was away in jail. However none of them lost hope as they knew that he was innocent. Dr Farsi says that he was shattered. I really do not want to speak much about this as I believe that it was a nightmare. It is going to take sometime before these bad memories are erased, but I am hopeful that with the support of my family and friends I will be able to forget about it as a bad dream. Now I want to focus on commencing my medical practice.

For Noorulhoda Shamsuddoha is even more tragic there could not have been anything worse than being arrested a couple of days after his marriage. How could the police say that the entire Malegaon conspiracy was hatched at my marriage. I have been under the eye of the police since the age of 16. All I did was take part in a march against the US attack on Afghanistan. Ever since then for any incident anywhere in the country, I was called for questioning. Where is the time to concentrate on building a career, leave alone studying when I have only faced questioning? However I had learnt to cope with it and just when thinks were a bit better this Malegaon incident took place which dashed all my hopes. Today he does not have much words and hopes that normalcy would return into his life.

In the case of Shabbir the situation is the same. There is pain and anger in his voice. He owes a great deal to his nephew Afzal who changed his career to fight his case. Afzal who had completed his Chartered Accountant (CA) Foundation did not pursue his career in this direction. Instead he did his LLB. This was largely because no lawyer was willing to take up Shabir’s case. We did approach a lot of lawyers, but none of them were ready. This made his do his law to fight the case of his uncle.

Shabir however says that he did not wish to speak about the incidents in the aftermath of his arrest. It was a bad experience and I do not want to be reminded of it ever again, he points out.