Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NO ANSWERS YET IN NAVI MUMBAI

Two Days After Ahmedabad Serial Blasts, City Police Are Still Grappling For Leads On Terror Email, Missing Surat Cars American tenants’ PCs sent for cyber analysis

Times News Network
Mumbai: After more than a day of questioning, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Monday night had not yet given a clean chit to the American couple residing in the Sanpada flat from where Saturday’s terror e-mail originated.

An officer said, “We have scanned the computers in the flat and did not find anything incriminating. However, we are waiting for a cyber analysis report.’’

Five minutes before the Ahmedabad blasts, the media received an e-mail that was sent from an IP address in the Navi Mumbai flat. The sender of the e-mail claimed to be the Indian Al-Mujahideen and claimed responsibility for the serial blasts in Ahmedabad.


The ATS raided the flat at 2am on Sunday, but the occupants said their computer had been hacked into by the real sender of the email. A police team was still camping at the flat on Monday night questioning Kenneth Haywood and a second person the police identified as Kens. Police said Haywood is the general manager of a multinational communications company called Campbell White. The couple, along with two teenaged daughters, shifted to the flat in Gunina apartment in January this year, while another son and a younger daughter are in the US.

While police teams were busy examining the computers, the couple was allowed to roam freely in the flat. They were even allowed to make phone calls. “The soft-spoken couple is cooperative and the wife is an accent teacher at a call centre,’’ said an officer who was part of the probe team.


The couple offered the police tea several times and said they wanted to help the probe, police said.

Two laptops and a desktop were on Monday taken
i n t o custody and sent to the Kalina
Forensic Laboratory for cyber analysis. “We have taken the computers into custody and will be sending them for analysis to the lab. We cannot comment anything about the involvement of the couple until we get the report,’’ said an ATS officer. The couple, which was being questioned since Satur
day night, has not been allowed to step out of their flat. The police are now probing whether a mobile phone was used to send the e-mail using a parallel internet line. However, the ATS is yet to come to a conclusion. ATS teams on Monday questioned some usual suspects, but could not get useful information from them and they were allowed to go. An ATS team will leave for Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

Second-hand car sales under scanner
Mumbai: Police stations all over Mumbai have been asked to keep an eye on second-hand car sales and to tell all car dealers to maintain sales records. The move follows the serial blasts in Ahemdabad.

Cops suspect the terrorist groups use second-hand or stolen cars for their operations. This makes it difficult for investigative agencies to hunt for clues after the crime.

A senior police officer said on Monday that wireless instructions had been issued to all police stations and it was now up to them to implement the directives. Cops are also laying stress on nakabandis and monitoring the activities of anti-social elements. An Oshiwara police inspector said: “We have asked garage owners in our area to keep an eye on second-hand cars that come to them for repairs.’’

Joint commissioner of police K L Prasad said: “We are adopting all the precautionary measures required.’’

The Times of India, July 29, 2008

State’s anti-terror squad has only one cyber-crime buster

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: When Maharashtra’s anti-terrorism squad (ATS) began probing the terror email sent by the Indian Mujahideen on Friday night, assistant police inspector Nasir Kulkarni settled down to a long innings. He is the only officer in the 450-strong ATS who knows a thing or two about cyber crime.

Tech-savvy Kulkarni (43) traced
the internet protocol (IP) address of the mail to a Navi Mumbai flat and spent almost a day with experts from Nasscom, grappling with three computers for clues that could lead them to the sender.

Anti-terror experts are appalled at this state of affairs in today’s scenario where terrorists routinely use the internet to communicate. “We should invest more in training officers to detect cyber crime,’’ ad
mits a senior intelligence officer.

Kulkarni is the only officer in the five-year-old ATS who everyone turns to when they come across terms like cryptography, encryption, steganography or voice-overinternet protocol. He learnt computers on his own and refined his skills during his three-year stint in the cyber crime cell of the Mumbai police. But Kulkarni too had a tough time tracing a prank email sent by
a Bhopal teenager posing as a member of the Lashkar-e-Qahar after the 7/11 train blasts in Mumbai.

Computer expert Vijay Mukhi said the police force has no choice but to train its personnel since cyber crime is changing. “Training should be a continuous process and you have to keep upgrading yourself,’’ he noted. Terrorists now use computers in most of their acts. “According to research conducted by
the US government, it’s criminals and terrorists who first use technology to commit a crime,’’ Mukhi added. “The police must follow the same technology to nab them. Terrorists are more tech-savvy than computer professionals.’’

A senior police official said although there were a dozen people working with the ATS who could be trained, they had been assigned the job of data collection and analysis.
These tasks mainly comprise coordination with other agencies, gathering details of terror-related cases and suchlike to build a databank.

However, when it comes to cracking cases, the ATS has to take the help of professionals. “Although several lectures on cyber crime have been organised for ATS officers, there is hardly any training given except for a basic computer course,’’ said an Intelligence Bureau official.

The Times of India, July 29, 2008

State’s anti-terror squad has only one cyber-crime buster

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: When Maharashtra’s anti-terrorism squad (ATS) began probing the terror email sent by the Indian Mujahideen on Friday night, assistant police inspector Nasir Kulkarni settled down to a long innings. He is the only officer in the 450-strong ATS who knows a thing or two about cyber crime.

Tech-savvy Kulkarni (43) traced
the internet protocol (IP) address of the mail to a Navi Mumbai flat and spent almost a day with experts from Nasscom, grappling with three computers for clues that could lead them to the sender.

Anti-terror experts are appalled at this state of affairs in today’s scenario where terrorists routinely use the internet to communicate. “We should invest more in training officers to detect cyber crime,’’ ad
mits a senior intelligence officer.

Kulkarni is the only officer in the five-year-old ATS who everyone turns to when they come across terms like cryptography, encryption, steganography or voice-overinternet protocol. He learnt computers on his own and refined his skills during his three-year stint in the cyber crime cell of the Mumbai police. But Kulkarni too had a tough time tracing a prank email sent by
a Bhopal teenager posing as a member of the Lashkar-e-Qahar after the 7/11 train blasts in Mumbai.

Computer expert Vijay Mukhi said the police force has no choice but to train its personnel since cyber crime is changing. “Training should be a continuous process and you have to keep upgrading yourself,’’ he noted. Terrorists now use computers in most of their acts. “According to research conducted by
the US government, it’s criminals and terrorists who first use technology to commit a crime,’’ Mukhi added. “The police must follow the same technology to nab them. Terrorists are more tech-savvy than computer professionals.’’

A senior police official said although there were a dozen people working with the ATS who could be trained, they had been assigned the job of data collection and analysis.
These tasks mainly comprise coordination with other agencies, gathering details of terror-related cases and suchlike to build a databank.

However, when it comes to cracking cases, the ATS has to take the help of professionals. “Although several lectures on cyber crime have been organised for ATS officers, there is hardly any training given except for a basic computer course,’’ said an Intelligence Bureau official.

The Times of India, July 29, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No security cover for I-T dept: Cops

BATTLE ROYAL: Citing manpower shortage, the police has asked the Income Tax department to arrange for private security

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The straight-faced, safari-clad Income Tax officials are suddenly feeling insecure. The city police has turned down the I-T department’s request for security at its several offices. Citing manpower shortage as the reason, the police has asked the department to arrange for private security.

But the employees’ unions within the I-T department are opposed to the idea of private guards. “There are people who were supposed to be employed on compassionate grounds. They have been asked to wait saying there are no vacancies. Why can’t some of them be hired as security guards?’’ asked a union member.

The department, after a recent security threat to the LIC headquarters at Mantralay, had requested the police to provide security. Two notices have been put up at the main entrance of the Ayakar Bhavan at Marine Lines, seeking cooperation from the employees for hiring private guards. The notice mentions that the building was under threat since October last year when four
live AK-47 bullets were found there. However, the mystery behind the seizure of the bullets is yet to be solved by the police.

According to the notice, signed by Mala Ramkrishnan, chief commissioner of Income Tax, the income tax authorities met the joint commissioner of police (law and order), K L Prasad, and discussed the issue with him. The joint commissioner told them that “the police force was under
staffed and that they should hire private security guards to man the building’’.

Further, the notice also asked visitors to cooperate with the employees if their luggage was checked or if they were frisked. Besides this, the Ayakar Bhavan authorities have installed door frame metal detectors as an additional measure. The department, in the past, had to discontinue with private security guards at Ayakar Bhavan following protests. A month ago, the department tried to have private security guards deployed at its Piramal Chambers office at Lalbaug but was forced to withdraw after its employees boycotted work.

“We are already under-staffed. There are well-trained personnel in private companies so we have asked the department to hire them,’’ said K L Prasad, adding, “This is not a new thing. Several government buildings including the Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai Port Trust etc have their own security system. If the IT department needs any suggestion on security, we will definitely help them.’’

The Times of India, July 16, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

City Muslim girl takes Urdu route to IAS

THE LAST LAUGH: TOI caught up with Sarah at Burhani College

HARD WORK PAYS

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Sarah Rizvi has done her bit to issue a blow to the stereotype of the Muslim woman, moderately educated and socially subjugated, ensconced in hijab. She has cleared the IAS exam, ranking 86th among 734 successful candidates. More remarkably perhaps, she has achieved the feat with Urdu literature as one of her optional subjects.

“Urdu is my mothertongue. I learnt Urdu and Persian from my late grandfather, Khalid Hussain Khan, who was a lawyer in Uttar Pradesh. I have read Urdu poems and novels since childhood. My Urdu writing speed was bad but I wrote a page a day and that improved my pace of writing,’’ Sarah said. Mohammed Iqbal was, for her, the most difficult poet to understand. “But his shayeri is fabulous,’’ she said of the Kashmiri poet who wrote Sare Jahan se achchha, Hindustan
hamara.

After finishing BCom from MMK College in 2003, Sarah attended a lecture on competitive exams by K M Arif, educationist and chairman of Alliance Foundation. That inspired her to go for the IAS. “I tried twice but could not clear even the preliminary stage. This was my third attempt and, masha Allah, I passed,’’ the 25-year-old said, adding that her success was the outcome of 10-12 hours of study a day.

While doing her BCom, Sarah also completed her foundation course in chartered accountancy. “I wanted to become a CA but Dr Arif suggested I study for the IAS exam instead. I was clueless about the exam procedure and the requisite study material
but my family supported me,’’ she said. Sarah was also awarded a scholarship by MESCO, an NGO.

Sarah is now posted as section officer in the Haryana Accountant-General’s office.

Sarah’s father, Afzal Ahmed, a science graduate, and mother Nigar, an arts graduate from Aligarh Muslim University, run a small garments business. Her elder brother, Wasif, a civil engineer, is working for a compa
ny in Dubai and Sarah’s twin sister, Sameera, a graduate in computer applications, from National College, is married and lives in Bahrain. “I feel more Mulims, especially women, should go for the competitive exams. Many women don’t even know what these exams are about but awareness is spreading,’’ Sarah said.

“This subject gives us an inside knowledge of government administration. And the topics are similar to the business administration course matter I read in college,” Sarah said, explaining why she chose public administration over accountancy as one of the optionals.

Sarah did her schooling from Canossa Convent School and St. Louis Convent High School in Andheri. She later joined CWC College for Commerce and Economics and eventually graduated from MMK College with 75.7 per cent marks.
mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.co

The Times of India, July 8, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rohini Salian appointed in theatre bomb case

WITH A BLAST: Seven persons were injured when a bomb went off at a theatre in Thane

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Former state public prosecutor Rohni Salian will be appointed as the special public prosecutor in the Thane, Vashi and Panvel bomb blast cases. The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) officials on Monday invoked the stringent sections of the Unalwful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against the six accused arrested in mid-June.

Six accused, four of whom were sevaks of Hindu revialist group, Santan Sanstha, run by Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, were arrested for planting bombs at Cineraj cinema in Panvel, Vishnudas Bhave auditorium in Vashi and Gadkari theatre in Thane. They were booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and Explsove Act. The accused are likely to be subjected to lie-detector and narco analysis tests next week.

“We have spoken to Rohini Salian and she has agreed to present the case as special public prosecutor in the court,’’ said additional commissioner of police, Param Bir Singh. Salian, now a defence lawyer in several cases, had worked with the law and judiciary department till last year before she resigned.

The newly invoked sections of the UAPA are in connection with punishment for terror act (section 16) and punishment for conspiracy for a terror act (section 18). The six accused, two of whom stayed at Santan’s ashram, had conspired to “avenge the insult of Hindu god and goddesses’’ who were, according to them, shown in poor light in a play, Amhi Pachpute. They assembled detonators, gelatin sticks, batteries, timers, circuits, ammonium nitrate and manufactured bombs. The
police seized large numbers of detonators, gelatin sticks, timers and circuits during two raids in Pen and Satara. A police patil has also been arrested for destruction of evidence.

“It seems they wanted to conduct more blasts. We are not buying their theory and our probe is on,’’ added Singh.

The identification parade (IP) will be conducted for the four accused on the premises of the Arthur Road jail on Wednesday. Those subjected to the parade include Ramesh Gadkari, Mangesh Nikam, Santosh Angre and Vikram Bhave. The ATS is working to find out if the accused had conducted more blasts in the state.

The Times of India, July 2, 2008