Help Japan, but beware

Japan has witnessed its worst tragedy till date. As the world sets out to help those victims and their families, there are already some frauds online who are trying to make the best of the situation.

As the death and injury tolls continue to rise with each passing day, there are some malicious people who attempt to exploit such situations, under the guise of charitable institutions and governmental organizations. Emails marked URGENT, requesting for help by appealing to the humanity in every internet user, or urging consumers around the world to offer donations to those affected, are doing the rounds.

Click here to see the screen shot of one such fraud email

Symantec has observed that more than 50 domains with the names of either “Japan tsunami” or “Japan earthquake” within the first few hours of this unfortunate event. These domains are either parked, available for sale, or are linked to earthquake sites. Don’t be surprised if you see these domains been used in phishing and spam attacks. Below are a few of the samples:

3-11-2011-[removed].com

3-11[removed].com

earthquake-[removed].com

earthquaketsunami[removed].com

earthquakerelief[removed].com

It has also observed a classic 419 message targeting the Japanese disaster. The message is a bogus “next of kin” story that purports to settle millions of dollars owing to an earthquake and tsunami victim:

Previously, when such disasters occurred, it was observed a sudden surge in virus attacks in the form of nasty attachments and .zip files embedded in spam sent from such predatory attackers. Do not open them, especially if you don’t know the source. Use caution when opening forwarded messages related to the Japan earthquake and tsunami, and any other tragedy or event that stirs international news coverage, legitimate and otherwise. Nefarious attackers may be sending malicious Java scripts and other threats that could compromise both your personal data and your computer.

Other methods that the cyber mafia uses during such events include search engine poisoning. With several internet users searching for earthquake-related news and information online, cybercriminals can poison search results for malicious websites to appear at the top of the results. Users who click on these links assuming that the information will help them make sense of the tragedy, may end up downloading malware instead.

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A Lashkar divide is India’s nightmare

The United States of America has made it clear that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba is no longer a force that focuses only on India. America has also gone on to say the Lashkar will now target the US, Europe and also their troops in Afghanistan.
While it is a known fact that the Lashkar has been looking to expand and take it fight global, Indian Intelligence agencies point out that this sort of change is always a danger for India. They explain that there comes about this growing discontentment every now and then within the Lashkar and this is something that India needs to worry about.
For three years now, the Lashkar cadres have been pressurising their higher ups ie the ISI to battle American troops, but they have always been pulled back. Currently the Lashkar is the only outfit that is completely under the control of the ISI and the Pakistan spy agency would not want to let this go out of hand.
The last time around when the Lashkar forces had expressed their desire to battle the US in Afghanistan, the ISI had to plan a 26/11 in order to keep them quiet. Around five years back the Lashkar was on the verge of a split with several cadres threatening to leave the outfit and join hands with the Taliban which is fighting the US in Afghanistan. However the ISI did not want these cadres to join the fight at Afghanistan and had a tough time coaxing these cadres to stick to their mother outfit. This was around the same time that the Al-Qaeda’s 313 brigade was planning the 26/11 attack and the ISI hijacked the plan and the Lashkar to stage this attack. This kept these cadres quiet and they ultimately towed the line.
However the ISI today again is facing a similar situation that it did five years back. This time around the Lashkar cadres are even more aggressive in their demands. The ISI continues to beleive that the Lashkar should stay as one unit and battle only India. However it is to be seen whether the ISI would manage to pull it off this time around too.
The worry for India however is that the ISI may be planning something on a similar scale as the 26/11 attack in order to keep the Lashkar united. There have already been movements by ISI agents and intelligence reports trickling in would suggest that attacks are being planned on large a large scale. The immediate threat India faces is to the cricket world cup which is going on. There have been very specific alerts regarding an attack on this event and Indian security agencies are working round the clock to prevent any such attack. In addition this there have also been various other intecepts that go on suggest large scale planning by the ISI. The IB says that the Lashkar’s primary battle has been against India always and an attack on our nation is the only way that it can keep the Lashkar united.
However the Americans think otherwise and feel that the next attacks on their soil would be from the Lashkar itself. The Indian IB says that the ISI will do its best to keep the Lashkar out of any attack other than India. It would want the Al-Qaeda to focus on that job. There is no doubt that the Lashkar has emerged a major outfit and is spreading its tentacles world wide, but the Pakistan spy agency would want it only to give all the support to the Al-Qaeda and not be directly involved in any such international attack. Moreover the ISI also realises that its most important battle is in Kashmir and if the Lashkar starts to deviate into the US or into Afghanistan then the primary battle would suffer for them.
The ISI is doing everything under the sub to ensure that the Lashkar remains in India. If one notices the latest trends, then it is evident that they are trying to get the SIMI and the IM to re-group. Not only are they enhancing their bases in Kerala but have also shifted the counterfiet note market down South. They have realised that most of their modules up North have been busted and today they find states such as Kerala to be their safest hide out.
The IB says that this is one constant tussle which is on in the Pakistani terror circles and any conflict there always proves to be dangerous to India. The IB warns that India will need to be on guard especially at this time since there is discontent within the Lashkar and the ISI would be looking to launch a major attack to keep its favourite group united.

Fake currency-the narcotic connection

The drug cartel in Tamil Nadu and the radical change in Kerala have prompted terror groups from the across the border pump in fake currency from down south. Recently there were reports which stated that groups such as the Al-Qeda were routing a lot of money for terror based operations through India.

It was pretty obvious that these groups would move down South due to the very high security presence in the Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh borders. These borders were the safest routes for these groups to pump in fake currency and their operations continued unabated until recently. It took a while for security agencies to bust this network and although they have not entirely succeeded they have managed to curb operations from the above mentioned borders to a large extent.
Today reports by the intelligence bureau suggest that the fake currency will be pumped in through the southern corridors. While it was pretty obvious that Kerala would be a favored destination since almost all terror groups have managed to set up base over there, the case of Tamil Nadu was slightly different.
Very recently two drug peddlers had been arrested in Bangalore. On interrogation, the police got to know that they had been peddling drugs from Chennai which today is considered to be the hub for the date rape drug. During the interrogation of these two men it came to light that they were small players but a larger investigation was conducted which brought to light the dirty side of this business which is being headquartered in Chennai.

Further investigations also went on to show that this drug mafia was controlled from Goa and a hand of the Russian mafia was not ruled out. In addition to this there was also this angle pertaining to the Dawood Ibrahim gang which came out very strongly during this investigation. It went on to show that the drug cartel had moved down south and it was time for security agencies to wake up.

For the mafia from Goa this is purely business, but for the others from Pakistan, it is the creation of a route for the supply of arms and also more importantly fake currency. It is the same practice which was adopted when drugs were being smuggled through the Nepal border, an officer involved in the investigation says. There was already an existing route and the same peddlers are asked to carry in fake currency.
With this new phenomenon it became clear that the landing point for fake currency in India was Kerala and Tamil Nadu. All other aspects pertaining to the ratio remain the same. Another change that has been witnessed in this new route is that the peddlers are all educated persons unlike the previous times when labor and other workers were used as mules.

Till date from South India, officers have managed to seize fake currency to the tune of nearly Rs 18 crore. There has been an increase in this number from Rs 8 crore in 2009 to Rs 10 crore in 2010. This is only an indication of how the market for this business is on the rise.
Investigations have also shown that these notes which are printed in Pakistan are first moved directly to the Gulf nations and Dubai and then pumped into this market. This is the exact route used by the drug mafia which operates out of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The ISI today finds the need to increase the fake currency racket and constantly innovate since there has been a major crack down where black money was concerned. It is a known fact that 1.5 trillion dollars worth of black money has been stashed away by Indians abroad and the Indian government is making efforts to bring it back. A large part of this money was used for terror operations, but at the moment there has been a freeze. No one connected to this money appears to be touching it and the last thing that they would do now is hand it over for terror operations as they would risk a double jeopardy. This has consistently slowed down terror financing to a large extent which has made the ISI put on its thinking cap.
The fake currency racket down South was first exposed when a person by the name K M Abdullah was arrested. He had on him Rs 2.5 crore of fake currency and had told the police that he hailed originally from Dubai. This was just a tip of the ice berg and agencies did not probe much at that time as they were busy with the main routes ie Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Now with these routes almost shut the racket has moved down South. The currency is being circulated out of Tamil Nadu and Kerala into Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The money is picked up from these places who have agents and then distributed to the rest of the country, Intelligence bureau officials also add. The IB further adds that this would require the cooperation of the police officials from all these states. Goa in particular will have to play a more important role since the drug cartel emerges out of there and there is a need to keep a tab on the drug mafia over there for possible links with terror operatives.

Telangana stir delays CM’s salary

Even as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Kiran Kumar Reddy waits for his salary for the month of February, the government has jumped into panic mode and taken the representatives of the government employees association to New Delhi for talks. While the movement continues unabated and the violence escalating with each passing day, the government of Andhra Pradesh has found itself to be in an embarrassing position after the CM did not get his salary.

The government decided that it would be better if the employees met with the union ministers in New Delhi directly and took an assurance from them. There have been various attempts made by the state government but nothing seems to have coaxed these employees. However it appears that the government employees from the Telangana region may go slow in their agitation at least till the end of March. They would give the government time till the end of March and then resume their agitation.
As a result of this agitation by the Government employees, salaries had not been disbursed to all the cabinet colleagues of the Chief Minister and also several officials in the state. The state treasury employs persons from the Telangana region and as they were all on strike salaries could not be given.
The next few days would however not witness much protests in the Telangana region. Although the leaders say that they are giving time to the Union Government, the fact is that the students are busy with their final exams. The exams would conclude by the end of the month following which the agitation would resume. Student leaders say that the protests will intensify after March end and it would be in the interest of the government that a decision is taken quickly.
The students leaders have however listed out a long list of complaints against the Chief of the Telangana Rastriya Samithi, K Chandrashekhara Rao. They feel that he is not serious about the movement. A member of the Political Joint Action Committee speaking on condition of anonymity says that cracks appear within the movement due to these rising complaints against KCR.
The first allegation against him was that he came late for the protest yesterday. He had initially opposed this mass protest and this led to the allegation that he was intentionally delaying the solution. They feel that he will remain in circulation only if the Telangana struggle is on and once that is over he could become a non entity. Moreover they also question as to why he is in Hyderabad when the Parliament is in session. He has no work here and he should be protesting at the parliament, they also allege.
These are a couple of issues that will be discussed in the Telangana circles over the next couple of days and is likely to come up before the Joint Action Committee as well.
Meanwhile the MLAs from the Telangana region continued to boycott proceedings in the assembly and they say that they would continue doing this until the union government gives them a concrete assurance. The Congress MLAs who had threatened to resign have also put on hold this programme until the completion of the assembly elections to four states and one union territory. This was decided at a meeting they held with Veerappa Moily, recently.

New online laws are a blogger’s nightmare

The draft rules drawn up by the government of India aimed at policing blogs has not gone down too well with a large section of people. The draft rules, drawn up by the government under the Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008, deal with due diligence to be observed by an intermediary.

Under the draft rules, an ‘intermediary’ is defined as any entity which on behalf of another receives, stores or transmits any electronic record. This would effectively mean that telecom networks, web-hosting and internet service providers, search engines, online payment and auction sites and cyber cafes would fall under the definition of an intermediary.

While this is one part of the story, the rules also propose to include the bloggers under the same category.

Pavan Duggal, an expert on IT laws and an advocate in the Supreme Court, explains that the proposed rules are secondary legislation which is being sought to be implemented by the Union government.

“The proposed rules are worded in largely generic terms which will require a subjective interpretation. This means that an intermediary would be subject to the discretionary interpretation of the said rules by the law enforcement agencies and hence will have no clarity of how to ensure full compliance with the law. There are huge problems since the inherent nature and scope of businesses of various businesses that fall under the same definition, get the same medicine. We are giving the same medicine to all kinds of fruits which are different in nature.

“There lies a fundamentally flawed recognition of the reality of the internet today. There is no way a blogger can be equated to a telecom company. Neither can a cyber café be equated to a search engine. Nor can an online market place be equated to an ISP. If one reads these rules then it only achieves at doing this.”

Duggal says that with these broad diverse components of stake holders which come under the term intermediary, the prudent approach would be to come out with sectoral guidelines which keep in mind the customised lines of business of various sectors.

It will be asking for much to expect a normal blogger to conduct an ISO 27001 certification. Further these rules are likely to act as impediments to the further growth of electronic eco-system in India. The need of the hour is to come across a legislation or a secondary legislation that is not only benevolent but enables and facilitates inclusive growth.

The draft rules further go on to speak about protecting minors. The parameters are too huge for minors. It talks about harming minors. If a nonsensical false page of a child is created it would be considered as harmful from all perspectives.

In that stretch, most of the websites, blogs and other online platforms will be in breach of these guidelines from the moment they are implemented. The moment these rules come in to force, they will have a very damning impact on the growth of blogging since it exposes them to high levels of compliance. This will have a negative impact in the long run.

If these rules come into being, a bloger or a tweeter would have to work as a diligent, extremely-observant policeman. To some extent it would have an impact on freedom of speech. Bloggers cannot write anything which is a violation of the IT act. It is possible that a criticism of the government could be perceived to be coming within the prohibited category depending on the peculiar nature of each case. The potential for abuse of these rules in their current form is highly probable. To a large extent, the rules possibly overreach the main legislation.

The draft rules suffer from a major flaw of the one size fits all approach. It is basically valuating intermediaries based on their compliance or non compliance of draft rules. There needs to be a more pro-active approach to recognise the inherent differences of various categories.

Pranesh Prakash, programme manager at the Centre for Internet and Society, says that the draft rules relate to intermediaries, cyber cafes and security practices.

“The laws on intermediaries and the law on cybercafés have been issued under Section 79 (Liability of Intermediaries) of the IT Act. The one on reasonable security practices has been issued under Section 43A.

“These rules do not affect bloggers alone. They affect everyone online and not just Indians.

“The IT act applies to both Indians and persons abroad. Everyone who has been classified as an intermediary including people who blog or use social networking sites could come under this law.

“Each one of them will have to display a notice and every intermediary from websites to other sites are covered under the law.

“Everyone who is classified as an intermediary is affected by the rules because intermediaries are required not to host or publish content that violates Rule 3(2).of the IT Act. This would mean that all internet users are also affected. One wouldn’t apply the same rules and regulations on the kind of diligence required to be observed by a newspaper as on the postal department, as related to the content they deliver.

“Similarly, one shouldn’t apply the same rules to a blogging service provider as one would with with an e-mail provider.

“Since the application of the IT Act and these rules isn’t limited to India, these rules might well mean that a popular website like amazon.com would have to carry a notice that nothing that “threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India” can be sold via their website, and must enforce that notice. How would we like it if American law were to  be made applicable to Indian companies?

“Sub rule 3 of the act says we can’t host anything that contravenes sub rule 2. The rule is made under the act. If someone contacts you then you have to remove the content. How on earth are we supposed to know if something violates the law. It is the judges who have to decide this. How can one find out whether the content is defamatory or not?

“These rules contradictory to the freedom of speech as mandated in the Constitution of India. The amendments need to be debated properly before they can come into force. If it is introduced in their existing form they would be disastrous,” Prakash said

25% MLA’s have criminal records

As the country gears up to witness the assembly elections at four states and one Union Territory, it would be pertinent to note that 25% MLAs in the outgoing assemblies have pending criminal cases against them.

Out of the 140 candidates analysed from the Kerala legislative assembly, 69 have pending criminal cases while 18 have very serious charges against them. In the case of Tamil Nadu, 234 candidates have been analysed of which 77 have pending cases of which 25 have serious charges pending against them. At Puducherry 30 have been analysed of which 5 out of the 6 have serious charges pending against them. In West Bengal 30 have serious charges while 40 have criminal cases pending against them. The NEW has managed to scrutinize the records of 283 MLAs from this state. In the case of Assam, 126 candidates have been analysed of which 5 have serious charges and 7 criminal charges pending against them.

The overall figure for these states and one union territory is- out of the 813 candidates analysed 204 have pending charges against them while 83 have serious charges.

M Vijay Kumar of the CPI(M) from Kerala tops the list with 13 cases while K U Narayan Chaudhary of the Indian National Congress in West Bengal comes in second with 12 cases. Ranganatha N B of the DMK is third with nine cases against him.

NEW has also found that about 50% of the MLAs analysed (403 MLAs out of 813) did not declare their PAN card details in their previous affidavits. The current format of the affidavit, where candidates have to declare date and other details of their last income tax filed, will make it easy to catch tax deafulters.

The report also states that despite public statements by the presidents of various political parties that they are strongly in favour of increasing the representation of women in the assemblies, the number of women MLAs is very low. It is barely 9.5% (i.e. 77) across these assemblies. In fact, Puducherry has no women MLAs and Kerala has only 7% women MLAs.

In terms of crorepati MLAs c has the lead with 57. Assam comes in at two with 16 while Puducherry and Kerala have nine and 8 respectively. West Bengal has the least number of these MLAs at 7 according to the report.

The richest MLA in the list is Vasanth Kumar of the Indian National Congress from Tamil Nadu whi is worth around 36.13 crore while Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M Karunanidhi is second with Rs 26.5 crore.

What NIA seeks from the pirates?

It has been proven that the sea is most preferred route for terrorists to stage an attack. In fact the Lashkar-e-Tayiba even went on to prove the same during the horrific 26/11 attack two years back. While the debate rages on regarding the attacks that are being planned using the sea route, the National Investigating Agency has decided to probe 43 Somali pirates who were arrested by the Coast Guard and the Indian Navy near the Lakshwadeep coast nearly a month ago.
The decision to probe these pirates was taken by the Home Ministry after it was found that they had on them sophisticated weapons such as the Kalashnikovs. NIA sources say that they are awaiting an official communication and would go ahead with the probe once this comes through.
The National Investigating Agency being roped in for this probe means that there is a terror angle to this entire episode. Although pirates and terrorists operate in a completely different manner and their ideologies are poles apart, it would still be interesting to find out what the link between the two is or would be.
Post 26/11 the likes of Al-Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba have realised that the best way to stage an attack is through the sea. However as of today there is unprecedented security on the coasts which does not make the job any easier for these terrorists. Post 26/11, the intelligence bureau drew out a list of terror operatives and this list was shared with the coast guard as well as the Indian Navy. This has made the job of the security agencies relatively easier since they were able to keep a tab on the movement of these terrorists.
The intelligence bureau says that it is a known fact that terror groups will try to innovate and will finds various methods to infiltrate into enemy nations. Hence is not a bad idea to look into this angle where the pirates are concerned.
It is a known fact that pirates do not have any particular ideology. All they are looking for is wealth and are ready to do anything until their ultimate monetary objective is taken care of. There have been intercepts in the recent past which suggest that terror groups may try and use the services of these pirates to further their cause. They may not be used to launch attacks, but could well utilized to pump in arms and ammunition to their preferred destinations.
While this remains one part of the problem, the whole other issue is that these pirates can cause immense damage to national security. Statistics would reveal that in the year 2010 alone nearly 1000 persons have been taken hostage by pirates and in the Indian Ocean alone there have been 30 different instances of pirates creating a ruckus.
Navy officials who have been fighting these pirates say that they have seen an increase in the level of sophistication by these pirates. They have state of the art equipments like the AK-47s, speed boats and even rocket lauchers. This high level of sophistication has foxed security agencies who are finding it harder to battle them.
When the NIA probes these pirates this would be one of the crucial points for investigation. The Indian government is keen to know how these pirates have been procuring such state of the art machinery and the suspicion leads to the terror networks who are cash rich.
The intelligence says that for terror outfits there are two benefits. One they could push in their supplies and secondly they can fire from the shoulders of these pirates in order to weaken the Indian forces. Moreover it is expected that the number of pirate strikes will increase in the years to come and this would mean that a whole lot of focus is diverted towards fighting these people. This in turn would mean that the attention towards these terror forces would go down and they would seize any such opportunity.
The IB says that be it the naxals or the pirates, terror groups have always had a role to play. For them the end goal is not to launch an attack on their own, but it would be to weaken the Indian system. They have found that pirates have shown keen interest in the Indian waters as they sense there is a lot of money riding on it. Groups such as the Lashkar would seize such opportunities and provide them with all financial assistance to carry out the job.
The Indian navy however says that they are geared up for attacks by pirates and have already deployed forces and also fast attack crafts to counter this problem. There are also choppers and marine commandos on the job full time to wade away this threat.
However security experts say that this problem cannot be taken lightly since it threatens to destabilise Indian forces on the water which eventually lead up to the land. Terror groups would be looking to give all possible financial and logistic assistance to these pirates in order to help them fight their battle. Moreover these pirates have no ideology and would grab any such opportunity with open arms.
The NIAs probe of these pirates will be very important. Till date there is nothing concrete on the supply of funds and equipments for these pirates. But the probe would give them a fair idea as to how they manage to operate with such ease and sophisticated armoury.

Dealing with black money

The Parliament was recently informed that three institutes selected by the government will conduct a study on the black money that has been stashed away by Indians. The parliament was also informed that these three agencies will conduct a study and submit a report in the next 18 months.
What would be the meaning of such a study and will it help India at the end of it. Experts feel that this is not an exercise that would be of much help since a lot of facts are already known.
Reports go on to suggest that Indians have stashed away anything between 500 billion to 1.5 trillion dollars outside India. Most of this money has been stashed away in Switzerland, reports also suggest.
The biggest worry for India is that this money is being extensively used for terror related activities. The Peruvian Financial Intelligence had recently warned that the Al-Qaeda was routing money through India and Intelligence agencies believe that there could be a great deal of black money owned by Indians involved in this.
Reports by the intelligence bureau suggest that a lot of this black money owned by certain people is being used for terror related activities. It could be used for the purchase of arms and ammunition, real estate and also betting. All this money is in circulation and this is indirectly helping terror groups carry out their activities.
The Supreme Court of India today while dealing with the Hasan Ali case made an important point when it said that terror charges should be slapped in this case. Security agencies say that there is a major drive across the country to bring back money stashed away illegally in other countries. While this is a good sign, there also is a danger that most persons may try and withdraw the money and keep it in circulation else where. This is where the danger begins since their safest bet would be to park with hawala operators who are notorious for reporting to terror outfits. They will surely demand something in return and when the favour is done that would mean that the money is being parked with terror operatives.
Reports from the IB also have shown that black money is also being used for the purchase of arms and ammunition which is also being sent into India illegally. The official word on black money is that most of it has been stashed away in the Swiss Bank. However there is a lot that is in circulation and this is the worrying part for India. While the money that is stashed away in financial institutions can be brought back through diplomatic channels, it is the other part which is out in the open that will pose a challenge for India to recover. There is a need to coordinate with the security and intelligence agencies of these countries, the IB in India says.
The government has proposed a 5 point strategy to deal with the issue of black money. Joining Global crusade against black money, creating an appropriate legislative framework, setting up institutions for dealing with illicit funds, developing systems for implementation and imparting skills to the manpower for effective action. In addition to this three institutions would also conduct a study and submit its report on this issue.
Professor R Vaidyanathan, Professor of Finance at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore points out that there is no detail that is not available with the government on black money. Bringing out new rules and regulations is not the point here. We have the best in the world to deal with this problem. The issue with India is the last mile problem. We need to implement the existing laws and proceed. We have concrete cases on hand. Take the Hassan Ali, CWG or the IPL case. There is enough evidence and action must be initiated in these cases in the severest possible manner in the shortest possible time. This would set a precedent and act as a deterrent in future.
There is close to 500 billion to 1.5 trillion dollars of black money that is stashed away by Indians. This is not the time to worry about the double taxation treaties. The need of the hour is to close down all tax havens. We need to coordinate with countries such as France and Germany which are serious about this problem. There is a need to act urgently since there is a good deal of this money which is being used for terror related activities. M K Narayanan, our former NSA had also mentioned that India is affected since money from the tax havens are being used for terror related activities.
India needs to work to change the global financial architecture by abolishing all these tax havens. Moreover one must also remember that all double taxation treaties will be prospective in nature and not in the retrospective. We have a treaty round the corner in December 2011 with Switzerland. However I must say that this treaty will not be signed in the retrospect. So what meaning does this have for money that has been stashed prior to December 2011.

SIMI’s own playground

There is no doubt that Kerala which is known as God’s own country is emerging out to be a favourite destination for subversive activities. Very recently there was a specific alert regarding the re-grouping of the Students Islamic Movement of India and it also went on the say that Kerala was the destination to look out since the movement had its strongest routes over here.
Sources in the Intelligence Bureau had always pointed out that Kerala was the hub to watch out for since any terror group would find it easy to set up base in this state for various reasons. There has been a major change in the social fabric mainly started off due to political reasons and this has today turned out to be a dangerous phenomenon. The deadly mix of political and the communal factor which is becoming stronger than even has made this state a heaven for terror groups to set up their base over here.
Security agencies point out that the vast coastline only adds to the head ache and this route has been used very often for subversive activities. The Malabar coast in particular is well connected to the international waters and a poor vigil has ensured that terrorists manage to push in their arms and ammunition with much ease.
The police go on to add that the headache zones within the state are Binanipuram, Malapuram and Kozhikode. These are the primary hubs for groups such as the SIMI and also the Islamic Sevak Sangh which have by now set up over 100 modules in these areas. These organizations have been banned, but they continue to flourish under different names. Among the three places mentioned Kozhikode continues to be the major centre for the SIMI in particular since it has even gone up to the extent of starting up a women’s wing in this area.
Sources say that these areas have always been communally sensitive which in turn has prompted the ISI to nurture its forces in these belts. There have been various incidents in these belts since the 1990s which only indicate the sensitive nature of these areas which in turn help terror groups thrive. Both communities are always at each other and in the year 1993, a scholar by the name Maulavi Abul Hassan was abducted which sparked communal clashes in the region. This incident sparked off a major reaction from the Muslim community. This was more or less a turning point in the social fabric in Kerala and following this incident a section of the Muslim youth decided to hit back.
The IB says that several youth went missing following this incident and they believe that they had left the country to participate in a programme which eventually led to the setting up terror modules in Kerala. After 1993, the police did make many seizures in the Malapuram area and found material which was being used to prepare bombs. It was around this time that the ISS was also formed which was set up with a specific purpose to resist Hindu forces, the security agencies point out.
While smaller groups kept brewing there was the major Coimbatore blasts which was engineered by modules from Kerala which made all security agencies stand up and take notice. During the investigations it was found that the controversial Abdul Nasar Madani had joined hands with the Al-Umma from Tamil Nadui to carry out this incident. Further the probe also found that most of the cadres used for this attack were from Kerala which only gave the indication that this state had become a force to reckon with.
The IB has hoardes of dossiers on these activities in Kerala. There is a constant probe on both by the state and the central IB on these issues, but the problem that they face is that these groups are in some way or the other connected politically and eventually manage to get away. The ISI was quick to take advantage of this situation and it began funding operations as though there was no tomorrow. For the ISI it was about setting up a very strong launching pad and it believed that once Kerala was taken care of then all operations in South would continue unabated. At first they did try to tap Andhra Pradesh, but eventually they did realize that the political and social fabric in that state would not take them too far. They however did not find this problem in Kerala. The association between the ISI and the Kerala module was so good that for the first time forces from this state were used to fight the Kashmir battle.
Police officials say that the problem only intensifies when elections are round the corner. It is a known fact that every political group uses these forces to further their political cause. When this is the case, groups such as the SIMI go on the offensive. As a result of this today, the SIMI has managed to re-group well and little does everyone realize that this will turn into a full fledged problem.
SIMI today has an upper hand and it has already opened up all its channels in Kerala. One thing for sure is that they are not operating under the banner of SIMI and they have several front organizations to carry out this job. The funding which had become a bit of a concern for them is back on track and there are several groups in Kuwait and Riyadh which help SIMI with funds. SIMI further has managed to activate the Jamayyatul Ansar in Saudi Arabia which has started pumping in funds into Kerala.
Security agencies also point out that they have witnessed a lot of activity in Kozhikode in particular. The women’s wing of the outfit has been set up in this area and the women numbering around 30 of them have been working undercover to further the cause of terrorism. They have set up centres which they call as counseling centres as well as social service centres and it is through this they manage to rope in youth into the outfit.
Apart from this the security forces are also keeping a close tab on the recruitment which is being done through the education system in Kerala. Sometime back it was witnessed that distance education centres were being set up only for the Muslim youth in Kerala. This was in turn used as a platform to lure youth into terrorism. Although this menace is not that full fledged as of now, the police believe that it may be continuing in certain pockets of the state.

What Nadapuram blasts means to Kerala?

The bomb blast at Nadapuram in Kerala a month back which killed 5 persons throws open many questions. Chief Minister of Kerala V S Achuthanandan had alleged after the blasts that it was the handiwork of the UDF which was planning to launch a series of violent attacks in the wake of the forthcoming elections.

While the police continued to probe this angle as mentioned by the Chief Minister, the CPI(M) alleged that the role of the Indian Union Muslim League should not be ruled out in this attack.

Preliminary investigations into this case have shown that the bombs were being prepared to satisfy political gains and create communal disharmony during the elections. However the worrying part of this entire exercise is the procurement of the material which the Intelligence Bureau feels is linked directly to extremist outfits.

Over the past few years groups such as the IUML and the Islamic Popular Front of India have been under the scanner of the Intelligence agencies. Sources say that there is a dedicated probe by central and state agencies into the antecedents of these groups and at the moment it appears that a section of these outfits have decided to take up the extremist path.

Police sources say that some of these groups have intentionally turned a blind eye to some of their cadres taking the extremist route. They believe that before each election there is a need to needle the communal feelings and sentiments of the people so that it becomes a huge election issue.

Security agencies and intelligence bureau officials have always maintained that Kerala has is notoriously sensitive where communal issues are concerned. Political battles are won on these issues and in the years to come such incidents would continue unless they are checked. The blame game between the Congress makes it very clear. The CPI(M) blames the IUML which incidentally is an ally of the Congress for these incidents. The Congress on the other hand says it is the UDF which is behind these incidents and this group is close to the CPI(M).

Security agencies say that such incidents are political in nature, but there has been a movement of other extremist forces such as the Indian Mujahideen and the Students Islamic Movement of India which are taking advantage of the situation.

The arrest and the subsequent interrogation of both Abdul Nasar Madani and T Nasir have also proved this point as to how extremist groups are clinging on to political outfits to further their cause. The IB says it does not matter for these groups whether the war is political or not, they are achieving their ultimate goal of dividing the community through extreme methods.

Another interesting aspect of the Nadapuram blast was that the police had found several Rs 500 notes and also a cheque for Rs 9 lakh. Although investigations into this aspect are being carried out, it has become clear that the entire operation was politically motivated and some political party had paid off these people to carry out this attack. Kerala police officials are however tight lipped about this aspect and say that any revealation at this point of time would hamper investigations.

The biggest gainer in this battle is however the SIMI and the IM which have spread its tentacles deep and wide into parts of Kerala.

A recent home ministry alert too had pointed out that there were 80 activists of the Safdar Nagori faction of the SIMI who were on the lose and were looking to re-group. Based on this police agencies had stepped up operations across the country and were particularly focusing on Kerala. There has been specific information that the SIMI would headquarter itself at Kerala since at the moment it is the easiest state for them to set up base. Some of these extremist political outfits would use them for political gains and a probe into the procurements of weapons for such major blasts can be supplied only by these cadres from either the SIMI or the Indian Mujahideen. It is a known fact that SIMI operates under 12 different names from Kerala alone. The question that the police agencies would need to answer is if any of these 12 different front organizations are part of any political outfit. The IB says more likely than so some have affiliations to major political parties. A majority of these front organizations however operate under the guise of charity organizations, but the fact remains that all this has been set up to further the larger goal of creating an Islamist Kerala from where major operations across the country can be launched. This according to intelligence agencies was the goal that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba had aimed at and unless quick measures are taken the scenario can get only worse.