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India plans counterintelligence

"There has been a decline of 40 percent in Maoists violence activities since the formation of Greyhounds by the Andhra Pradesh government," federal Interior Minister Shivraj Patil informed Parliament Monday while replying to an adjournment motion on the issue of Hyderabad blasts.
by Kushal Jeena
New Delhi (UPI) Aug 29, 2007
India has directed all its state governments to put in place a results-oriented counter intelligence mechanism to avert growing terror strikes. The anti-terror strategy that India has formulated so far lacks a nationwide actionable counterintelligence mechanism, as most of the Indian states do not have a proper counterintelligence wing in their police departments to get prior information of a possible attack and prevent the possible incident.

"The strength and credibility of counterintelligence is the key to the success of any anti-terrorism strategy. The government needs to ensure that such a wing exists in all states," said A B Mahapatra, a security expert and executive director of the Center of Asian Strategic Studies, a non-governmental think tank that focuses on issues relating to security, intelligence and terrorism.

He said wherever a counterintelligence mechanism existed it has made remarkable achievements in foiling terror strikes and arresting the militants even before they could execute their plans.

India's Interior Ministry reviewed the security and intelligence arrangements at the federal and state levels following twin terror strikes in southern Hyderabad this past Saturday, in which at least 42 people were killed and 54 injured. The Andhra Pradesh state government held Pakistan and Bangladesh-based terrorist outfits responsible for the attacks.

The attacks rocked the Parliament Monday, as lawmakers belonging to opposition National Democratic Alliance and Left Parties, the outside supporters of the ruling United Progressive Alliance government, accused the state government of failing to act on the intelligence inputs, which the police had received much before the strikes took place.

While condemning the attack, the Parliament mourned the loss of lives. "We strongly condemn these cowardly, inhuman and diabolic acts and reiterate our resolve to maintain peace and communal harmony and defeat the divisive forces with courage, fortitude and unity," said Somnath Chatterjee, speaker of the Lower House of Parliament.

Following the missive from the federal Interior Ministry, the government of Andhra Pradesh decided to create a special intelligence wing in the state police. The new wing, the government said, would be set up on the lines of the elite Greyhounds to deal with terrorism and prevent such attacks.

"The new intelligence wing will be a world class one and will be on par if not above the standards of Research and Analysis Wing," said Y S Rajshekhar Reddy after a review meeting on the law and order situation in the state. He said the government would hold special meetings on a regular basis.

The state government founded the Greyhounds team to tackle the growing Maoists violence. The team had succeeded in tackling the problem to a large extent. The similar team that is being set up to deal with terrorism would be granted more teeth.

"There has been a decline of 40 percent in Maoists violence activities since the formation of Greyhounds by the Andhra Pradesh government," federal Interior Minister Shivraj Patil informed Parliament Monday while replying to an adjournment motion on the issue of Hyderabad blasts.

The Interior Department has set up a committee headed by J Harinarayan, senior police official M A Basith, K Arvind Rao and Balwinder Singh. This committee would study the various counterintelligence wings across the globe and make recommendations on the structure of the proposed new body. The committee has been given one month to submit its report.

The twin bomb blasts in Hyderabad that had taken place exactly three months after a similar blast at Mecca mosque in the same city, have once again exposed not only the lack of local intelligence, but also the woeful inadequacy of such a mechanism, if it existed at all, to handle tragedies and disasters on so massive scale.

Meanwhile, the federal Interior Ministry has asked Chief Minister Reddy to focus on revamping the state's intelligence machinery, strengthen the counterintelligence unit and appoint a right person who has the expertise in handling such elite departments.

The state government has been accused of ignoring the specific alerts the federal Intelligence Bureau had sent to it about the possibility of a terror strike in the state capital. The state police department argued that the intelligence inputs were ignored, as they were "too vague" and not apparently considered an actionable intelligence inputs.

The IB alerts were based on telephone surveillance of suspects. The intelligence sleuths have warned that the Pakistani spy agency Inter State Intelligence-backed fundamentalist modules could take up some sensational terrorist acts in Bombay, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

In the alert, IB had also indicated that the modules were waiting for two or three people to come from Bangladesh to organize the blasts. The top police officials of the state government ignored the alerts even as these were brought to their notice. "The state police department could have contacted the federal Interior Ministry or the Intelligence Bureau if the alerts were vague," a senior federal Interior Ministry official said.

Almost all the Indian states do not have the wherewithal to track Web-based communications when the terrorists have changed their modus operandi, discarding the use of mobile phones and depending on the Internet to execute terror strikes. The parliamentary standing committee attached to the Interior Ministry has in its recent report asked the Interior Ministry to advise all the state police departments to put in place a mechanism that can monitor and trace the Internet communications.

More than 12,000 security personnel have lost their lives so far in the fight against terrorism in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country. "What we should do to stop terrorists from spreading to southern parts of the country. We must enact a new law, which has teeth to deal with terrorism sternly," said Nikhil Kumar, former police commissioner of Delhi.

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Analysis: CIA bungled pre-9/11 resources
Washington (UPI) Aug 22, 2007
Leading CIA officials, and in particular Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, did not develop a strategy or make effective use of U.S. intelligence resources to combat the terrorist threat from al-Qaida before Sept. 11, 2001, a report by the agency's inspector general found.

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