Saturday, April 17, 2010

POST-SANITISATION BLASTS IN BANGALORE: LOCAL INDIAN MUJAHIDEEN HAND?

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR--PAPER NO. 640

B.RAMAN


Unidentified elements had planted three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) of low sophistication outside a stadium in Bangalore where an IPL cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers, Bangalore, was played on the afternoon of April 17,2010 All the three IEDs would appear to have been planted in the open space outside the stadium after the anti-explosive sanitisation of the inside of the stadium as well as outside had been done thrice by the police.


2. Two of the IEDs exploded before the match was to start. According to some reports, they had been timed to explode after the start of the match, but both exploded prematurely. These reports do not carry adequate conviction because when an IED is planted outside a stadium it is timed to explode as the people are entering the stadium before the start of the match in order to cause casualties and panic. The fact that all the IEDs were planted outside the stadium would indicate that the perpetrators had timed them to explode as the spectators were entering the stadium and not after they had entered. While two of the IEDs exploded near two of the entrances, the the third failed to explode and was detected and defused.


3. It is likely that the IEDs were planted after the third anti-exoposive sanitisation of the day had been completed. This would indicate the possibility that the perpetrators had mingled with the spectators gathering outside before entering the stadium and evaded being noticed by the police as they planted the IEDs. The police would appear to have been confident of the effectiveness of the sanitisation inside the stadium. Moreover, all the spectators and others entering the stadium had to pass through IED detectors at the gates in order to prevent IEDs being smuggled in. The police were so confident that nobody would be able to smuggle in an IED inside the sanitised stadium that they allowed the match to go ahead as scheduled after a delay of one hour during which they did another sanitisation.


4. Sanitisation inside an enclosed space like a hall or a room or even a stadium can be effective, but there are problems in maintaining the effective state of sanitisation in an open space outside a hall or a room or a stadium. The terrorists had taken advantage of this to plant the IEDs unnoticed after the third sanitisation had been completed. The need for a tighter watch on people gathering outside the stadium after the final sanitisation has been done has to be kept in view during the remaining IPL matches. This would require much larger manpower. The Government should make this available to the police.


5. The two explosions injured 17 persons--- nine of them policemen. It would be unwise to presume that the perpetrators did not want to cause fatalities and that they wanted to cause only nervousness and panic among the foreign players and officials participating in the IPL tournament. The low casualties could be attributed to the lack of powerful explosive material with the terrorists and their inadequate expertise in assembling the devices.


6. Local Muslims belonging to the Indian Mujahideen ought to be the primary suspects. The IM had carried out serial explosions in Uttar Pradesh, Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi in 2007-08 and tried unsuccessfully to carry out explosions in Surat. While the explosions were quite lethal in UP, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi, they were not that lethal in Bangalore and Surat due to the inadequate assembling expertise of the perpetrators at these two places. This would indicate that the IM has well-trained experts in IEDs as well as untrained or inadequately trained perpetrators. Like the Bangalore blasts of July,2008, those of April 17,2010, would appear to have been carried out by inadequately trained perpetrators----most probably locals. ( 18-4-2010)


( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

2 comments:

Raghu said...

With such high profile IPL events scheduled, are there multiple cameras overlooking strategic areas or not?
Are we going to post security perennially AFTER an incident or at least catch a few in the process/ planning stage and make them an offer NOBODY can refuse?
By the way, what is meaning of allowing JNK politicos to meet Afzal Guru?

Icarus Invictus said...

1. The trend in terrorism and its perpetuators has been shifting. Foreign powers which intend to destabilize India have evolved away from directly fomenting trouble (except J&K) in the heart of India. Instead they finance the ‘trouble makers’ within India. Partly under international pressure, strengthening of borders and improved relations with neighbors.
2. Just like many countries in the world, including the United States, home grown terrorism is on the rise (shoe bomber, Jihad Jane). An interesting trend that came after 9/11 and as the so called war on terror progressed around the world was that Al-Qaeda ‘exported its ideology’.
3. Assembling a crude bomb is as simple as downloading a song from the internet. It’s simple, easy and accessible
4. With the spreading of internet, the reach of vicious ideology and methods of executing, sharing of intelligence and experience between various independent terrorists groups has increased. So, you and I are not the only ones exchanging information on face book. Till yesterday, Osama bin laden had a webpage.
5. Today’s terrorist does not come from the improvised backgrounds. But they are highly educated, intelligent and motivated coming from middle class or upper middle class of the society. They are professionals like doctors, engineers and students. So, the political rhetoric that terrorism (not to confuse with naxalism) is due to social and historical injustices done to a particular community do not hold true. This is just pursuing fatalistic policies of minority appeasement. Their motivation is beyond ‘correcting’ the social inequality prevalent in the Indian society. It is waging a war against India with intent to overthrow the rule of constitution of India. It’s not just a ‘law and order’ situation. And it should not be seen from that prism.
6. India is a country with a very vast population and ‘terrorism is here to stay’. The Indian state security apparatus is unable to handle such complex and modern terrorist threats. Co-ordination between India’s intelligence arms, (dealing with external and internal intelligence gathering), is mired by procedural handicaps, red tape and ‘domain issues- often between RAW, IB, CID and military intelligence’. Lack of co-ordination between these three important intelligence gathering institutions, weak counter intelligence (inability to penetrate terrorist groups), political apathy, engagement of IB and CID (state intelligence) in political intelligence, lack of professionals and so on contribute to failures. This was highlighted by the outgoing chief of Indian Army General Kapoor in his book about Kargil war. To start with a few examples of intelligence failures could be 1962 Sino-India conflict, the Kargil war, 26/11 (which is still being debated, if the local police did not act on intelligence from IB). Although the current HM has taken some steps in the right direction establishing the national intelligence grid, but there is a long way to go. What India need to watch for is the ‘capability’ and ‘reach’ of these home grown groups? Recently a bomb was discovered on a domestic flight. That needs to be contained. If they move from Ammonium nitrate to RDX, the results of Bangalore blasts would have been more devastating.
7. Further there is a lack of transparency in working of these intelligence agencies. The Government refuses to declassify old documents pertaining past counter intelligence missions, citing vague national security concerns. When such documents come in to public domain, an intelligent debate can be held and past failures analyzed. We often compare us to the United States, which declassifies intelligence reports every 30 years. Transparency establishes accountability, which strengthens democracy.
8. We are in the age of cyber wars; it’s not a figment of imagination from comic books, but the truth. India needs to step up its game, if it needs to counter the new, modern and improved terrorism. Spread the knowledge. It’s a war about knowledge and spreading awareness.