Friday, December 30, 2005

Terrorist attack was predicted

Terrorist attack was predicted

The Hindu

Architect of Lashkar's Akshardham temple attack had visited Bangalore

# Officials, institutions were slow to address vulnerabilities
# Bangalore has been on the Lashkar's list of targets for a while

NEW DELHI: The Karnataka Government received a warning of an imminent terrorist strike in Bangalore less than a fortnight before Wednesday's attack in the Indian Institute of Science.

Sources said the warning was based on an Intelligence Bureau operation that monitored communication between two Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives in New Delhi. Although intelligence sources admitted the warning did not contain information that could have enabled the Bangalore police to prevent the strike, they said officials and institutions had been slow to address their vulnerabilities.

Lashkar operatives had been attempting to execute a major strike in Bangalore since 2001, in the months preceding the Jaish-e-Mohammad attack on Parliament House. Mohammad Arif `Ashfaq,' the Lashkar operative who recently received a death sentence for his role in the attack on the Red Fort in New Delhi, told his interrogators that a separate terror cell had been ordered to blow up information technology baron Azim Premji's farmhouse. Investigators believe that the 2001 plan collapsed because of the Lashkar's inability to recruit locals.At the end of the year, the Lashkar's structure was dislocated by the elimination of its top commander for all-India operations, code-named Abu Adnan, in an encounter in New Delhi. Lashkar activities were then scaled down by Pakistan's covert services during the 2001-02 India-Pakistan crisis to prevent a war-provoking incident.

Lashkar's efforts

By mid-2002, with the crisis out of the way, the Lashkar's efforts to target Bangalore were renewed.

That summer, the BSF's General Branch — its cryptically-named intelligence wing — succeeded in eliminating the Lashkar's top leader in Jammu and Kashmir, Manzoor Zahid Chaudhuri, responsible for the 2002 attack on the Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar and an attempt to storm the makeshift temple at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

From a laptop discovered in Chaudhuri's hideout, Indian intelligence gained insights into the existence of a growing Lashkar network operating out of Bangalore. Chaudhuri, it turned out, held discussions on potential targets with an undercover Lashkar operative code-named `Imran' planted in Bangalore several years earlier. Using the alias Mohammad Wasim Bhat, Chaudhuri stayed at the Vardhaman Hotel for several days in May 2002, before returning to Jammu through Chennai.

The Lashkar continued to build its capability in Bangalore. Shahid Ahmad, a Pakistani national who took charge of all-India Lashkar operations in 2003, focussed on recruiting ethnic-Kashmiri students studying outside the State. Manzoor Chilloo, a Pune-based medical student, was tasked with facilitating an attack on the Mumbai Stock Exchange. Students in Bangalore were also approached, with some success.

Evidence emerged in recent months that the Lashkar felt it now had the resources it needed to strike.

In March, the Delhi police eliminated three Lashkar terrorists who had visited Bangalore in December 2004. Pakistani nationals Bilawal Ahmad and Mohammad Shahnawaz, along with a Patna resident Pervez Ahmed, are thought to have met local Lashkar contacts during their visit to their city. However, efforts to identify them again failed.

Despite the successes Indian counter-terrorism organisations have registered against the Lashkar, the Pakistan-based group has proved remarkably resilient to high-level penetration.


Post a Comment

<< Home