Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bomb hoax at Powai complex result of gay love gone wrong

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into February’s ‘terror’ emails which contained ‘information’ about a plot to blow up the plush Hiranandani complex in Powai and hinted at the person who was ‘colluding with terrorists’ have led police to a gay love triangle. Investigators say the emails were sent by a small-time gay film actor who was spurned in love and wanted to get back at his former partner and the latter’s new flame.

Police officials identified the actor as Anand, a 33-year-old from Thrissur, Kerala. “Our officials are likely to arrest him and bring him to Mumbai on Sunday,’’ additional commissioner of police Parambir Singh of the Anti-Terrorism Squad said early on Saturday. Anand was arrested later.


The person who spurned Anand’s love was the vice-president of a multinational firm, and his new partner was a human resources executive with one of the country’s biggest tech companies.

“Two emails were sent to info@hiranandani.net, the official email address of the group’s administration department, on February 14 and 15. Both came from karmavisva@yahoo.com. They
prompted cops to beef up the security in and around the complex,’’ a Powai police official said.

The messages claimed that a person staying in the complex was colluding with terrorists and was assisting them in plotting more attacks. “A person who goes by the name JJ stays as a paying guest in one of the buildings in Hiranandani Gardens,’’ one of the emails stated. This person and the terror
ists had sussed out Powai before deciding on the target, the message disclosed, adding, “This person has provided terrorists blueprints of several buildings in the complex.’’

The Powai police registered an FIR on April 18, and the cyber unit of the ATS traced the internet protocol (IP) address of the email to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


It took almost two months of sleuthing for police to figure out the story behind the emails that purportedly warned about a terror threat to the Hiranandani complex in Powai. An Anti-Terrorism Squad team comprising inspector N T Kadam, assistant inspector Nasir Kulkarni, constables Arvind Kashikar and Vikas More, along with inspector Prakash Patil of Powai police station, worked for weeks before zeroing in on the ‘terror suspect’.

As the emails had referred to a Hiranandani resident with the initials ‘JJ’ as a co-conspirator, the police were on the lookout for such a person. “We started searching for a JJ and questioned at least four dozen people with the same initials. We finally hit on the right person only a week ago,’’ an officer said.

‘JJ’ and his partner were brought to the police station and, after sustained interrogation, the cops realized that the case had more to do with a relationship gone awry than with terrorism.

Officials said Anand, a
small-time actor from Thrissur, Kerala, and the former partner of ‘JJ’, had lived in Mumbai for the past two years and had been in a relationship with an MNC vice-president. The latter, however, drifted away after getting to know another gay man employed with a leading tech firm. The two moved in together and Anand, taking the hint, moved out of the area. As the police learned all this from the ‘terror suspects’, their probe changed tack and focused on nabbing Anand.

“We found that the ID from which the emails were sent had been accessed several times from a cyber cafe in Vashi between November 2008 and January 2009. The cyber cafe owner identified Anand when shown his photograph,’’ an officer said.

The cops then asked one of the two hoax victims to contact Anand and convince him to return from Saudi Arabia, where he was working. Anand bit the bait—he flew to India, and after a visit to his Thrissur home came to Mumbai thinking he would renew his broken relationship. That was how the cops nabbed him.

The Times of India, April 26, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Email warns of 5 blasts during elections

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: A city-based private news channel has received a threat email, warning of at least five bomb blasts during the Lok Sabha elections in the country. The email, which was sent on Friday afternoon, has been traced to Lahore in Pakistan, said officials.

“The email has been traced to the same person who had earlier threatened to blow up a five-star hotel in
south Mumbai and one of its properties in Chennai,’’ said an investigator.

The email was sent from indian.agentshubham@yahoo.com. “It could be a prank. However, we can’t take such emails lightly. It is our job to investigate each and every threat email thoroughly,’’ said an officer.

The earlier emails were received by the south Mumbai hotel on March 30 and March
31. Following the emails, security was beefed up across all hotels in the city.

While investigating the threat email received by the hotel, the officials discovered that the sender, on March 31, also sent a threat email to the Islamabad international airport on its official address, infoiiap@caapakistan.com.pk.

The sender claimed to be an “officer’’ of the terrorist group that had attacked the
Lahore Police Academy on March 30. At least 20 policemen were killed in the attack.

The Internet Service Provider (ISP) of the ID is Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL). The sender, through another ID, indian.agentshubham@rocketmail.com, had sent a threat email on April 5, threatening to blow up the Mumbai airport, police said.

The Times of India, April 20, 2009

ATS to seek Sadiq’s discharge next week

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: This may come as a jolt for the city crime branch. The ATS will be filing an application next week in the court, seeking the discharge of Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Sadiq Shaikh from the 7/11 Mumbai train bombing case.

The ATS had arrested Sadiq (32) in the blast case on February 28. ATS officials said they questioned Sadiq thoroughly and even subjected him to brain mapping and polygraph tests but did not find his involvement in the train blast case. “We will be filing the application in the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court to discharge Sadiq from the train blast case. This application will be filed before April 28,’’ said ATS additional commissioner of police, Param Bir Singh.

The ATS’ statement comes a week after Sadiq’s confessional statement (given in a crime branch case) was opened in the court in an another case. Sadiq, a Trombay resident, along with 20 others was caught by the city crime branch last year for sending threat emails to news channels and claiming responsibility of a series of blasts across the country.

The crime branch had said
the IM had engineered the 7/11 train blasts and Sadiq had helped in assembling and planting the bombs in the trains. However, Sadiq told the ATS that he was in Azamgarh at the time of the train blasts, which his family members had also confirmed earlier.

The crime branch probe indicating IM’s hand in the train blasts had come as a shock to the ATS as it had already arrested 13 suspected SIMI members in the case and filed an 11,000-page chargesheet against them. “We had interrogated Sadiq from all angles and found that he was not involved in the 7/11 train blasts case. Even the forensic test re
ports, including the brain mapping test, which is an admissible evidence in the court, did not suggest Sadiq’s involvement in the case,’’ said an ATS officer.

The crime branch had claimed that the bombs for the blasts were manufactured in a Sewree flat and the RDX was procured by a wanted accused, Riyaz Bhatkal. On the other hand, the ATS is sticking to its old theory that the bombs were assembled at Govandi and not at Sewree. Moreover, the ATS said the RDX was procured by a Pakistani, Ehsanullah, who had illegally entered India along with 10 other Pakistani accomplices.

The Times of India, April 20, 2009

12 cops grilled over 26/11 leak

Info On Log Book & Conversation In Control Room Given To Media

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Twelve policemen, including two IPS officers, have been questioned in connection with the leakage of the details of a log book and a police control room conversation that took place on the night of 26/11. The interrogation was conducted by the crime branch under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Following the leak, three private news channels aired the conversation between the police officers on the field and those sitting and monitoring the main control room activities on the midnight of November 26, 2008. A group of 10 Pakistani terrorists killed over 170 people including, anti-terrorism squad chief
Hemant Karkare.

Inspector Dattatrey Bhargude of the city crime branch lodged an FIR with the Azad Maidan police on March 2 against unidentified person for stealing the details of the conversation and the log book. The case was registered under Sections 3 (penalties for spying), 5 (wrongful communication, etc, of information) and 7 (interfering with officers of the police or members of the Armed Forces of Union) of the Official Secrets Act, 1923. The Official Secrets Act is India’s anti-espionage act held over from British colonisation.

“The process of questioning is still on. So far, we have questioned 12 police personnel, including two IPS officers, and
trying to establish the source from where the information was leaked. We are zeroing in on the person who could be responsible for giving out such a sensitive information,’’ said crime branch chief Rakesh Maria, who is supervising the investigation. One more IPS officer is likely to be questioned. Some of the statements were recorded by additional commissioner of police (detection) Deven Bharti.

Besides, 15 correspondents and four heads of the departments in different news channels have also been called in for questioning. “We have recorded their statements and the matter is subject to verification and corroboration. Once the motive is ascertained, the reason for leaking the information will
also come to light. We are sure to reach the person responsible,’’ added Maria. The log book contained details of senior policemen’s movements on 26/11.

When asked if there was any chance of some policemen themselves being responsible for leaking the info, Maria said, “We will arrest the culprit irrespective of who they are. You will get to see the result soon.’’

WHAT THE OSA SAYS:
Section 3 Penalties for spying: Offence may invite jail term up to 14 years
Section 5 Wrongful communication, etc., of information: Offence may invite jail term up to three years or fine or both
Section 7 Interfering with officers of the police or members of the Armed Forces of Union: Offence may invite jail term up to three years or fine or both
The Times of India, April 20, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

A’bad boy 1st juvenile cyber crime convict

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: In the first-ever web crime conviction involving a juvenile in Mumbai, a child court held that a 16-year-old student from Ahmedabad who threatened to blow up Andheri railway station in an email message last year, was guilty. The boy said he sent the email for the fun of having his prank flashed as “breaking news’’ on television.

The boy, a Class XII science student, was arrested on March 22 last year for
claiming to be a member of the Dawood Ibrahim gang in his email to a private news channel. “The boy created an account, dgang4blast@yahoo.com, in a cyber cafe in Ahmedabad on March 18, and sent the mail at 5.28 pm on the same day. The email said a bomb would be planted on an unspecified train to blow it up,’’ said inspector Mukund Pawar of the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC).

Following the receipt of the email, a case of criminal intimidation under Section 506 (ii) was registered with the Andheri police. It was transferred to the CCIC
the next day for further investigation. “We traced the Internet Protocol (IP) address to a cyber cafe in Ahmedabad,’’ said Pawar, and added that although the cybercafe had seven or eight computers, the one used for sending the email was used by only one customer on March 18, 2008. The cyber cafe owner told the police that his friends had come on that day and one of them may have used the computer. “We summoned seven or eight people who had visited the cybercafe on March 18.

Juvenile court lets 16-yr-old off with a stern warning
Mumbai: A juveline court in the city has held a 16-ye a r- o l d Ahmedabad student of guilty in a cyber crime case for sending a threatening email to blow up Andheri station but the court allowed him to go home with a “warning’’.

“During questioning, we zeroed in on the suspect and later he admitted his crime,’’ said inspector Mukund Pawar of Cyber Crime Investigatio Cell. The computer was then examined, and its hard disk put through forensic analysis.

The CCIC examined the email header to trace the IP address. A search at whoisdomaintools.com revealed the identity of the internet service provider, which was then contacted for details about the owner of the IP address. That was how the police traced the email to the cyber cafe in Ahmedabad.

The boy, whose father is a class I officer in the Gujarat state government, was arrested on March 22 and held at the Dongri remand home for two days before being granted bail by the magistrate. The police filed the chargesheet on November 28, after which the trial began in the juvenile court. “The boy confessed to having sent the email, and apologized. While convicting the boy, the judge said that he was a minor and should not commit such a crime in future and allowed him to go home.

The Times of India, April 13, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Blast at mosque in Beed


Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Mumbai: A blast took place at Fatima mosque in Beed district on Saturday morning, two hours before the morning prayers. An antiterrorism squad (ATS) team visited the site and sent the debris for forensic analysis to ascertain the explosives used in the blast. No arrests have been made so far.

According to police sources, the blast took place around 3 am. “There were no casualties. The main portion of the Fatima mosque was damaged,” said an officer. The blast took place at Ghatsavli village, which has a population of around 1,500 people including around 80 Muslims.

It is learnt that some gelatine sticks were found near the blast site. “Our teams examined the blast site and are making parallel inquiries into it. The forensic report is yet to come, so it will be difficult for us to reach a conclusion right now. We are also trying to ascertain whether it was done by some group to disrupt the law and order or it was just a mischief,’’ said anti-terrorism squad chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi.


The Times of India, April 6, 2009 (Times Nation)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

City set to get its first cyber crime police station

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The much-awaited cyber crime police station in the state is set to be inaugurated. Assignment of posts have begun and computer-savvy officers are being selected and interviewed by the crime branch, which will head the police station.

“Earlier, the Information Technology Act stated that only an assistant commissioner of police or an officer of a higher rank could investigate cyber crimes. Now the Section has been modified and an inspector will be eligible to probe such cases,’’ said crime branch chief Rakesh Maria. He added that officers are being hand-picked and the procedure would be over by next week.


The e-police station’s location—above the Bandra-Kurla police station—was decided oneand-a-half years ago. According to an official, the facility, which has been equipped with modern technology and advanced software, can be inaugurated by the Mumbai Police commissioner or the state’s director-general of police.

The rising number of cyber crimes, including threat e-mails, as well as the need to protect the growing Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry has made it imperative for the state to get its own dedicated cyber crime-fighting unit with access to state-of-the-art technology. It will be the third such police sta
tion in the country after the ones in IT meccas of Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Last year, when Indian Mujahideen suspects hacked into the WiFi networks of US national Ken Haywood, Khalsa College and Kamran Akmal Powers Control Pvt Ltd and used them to send threat e-mails warning against terror strikes, the crime branch had to register these cases with local police stations before getting into the investigation. Now, the cyber crime po
lice station will have the power to register FIRs in such cases and make arrests.

This unit will also tackle financial terrorism, which involves money-laundering or hawala and online flesh trade. The police station, with state-wide jurisdiction, will get money from the budget set aside for modernisation plans. The 18-member Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC) in the Mumbai Police force could be absorbed by the 61-strong cyber crime police station, officials said.

The Times of India, April 5, 2009

Police forward threat mail to CBI

Sender Claims To Be ‘Officer’ In Group That Attacked Lahore Police Academy

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Investigations into one of the emails sent to a five-star hotel in Mumbai have revealed that the sender had also sent another email threatening to blow up the Islamabad International Airport. The mail was sent on March 31 to infoiiap@caapakistan.com.pkthe airport’s official email address.

The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) and the crime branch, which investigated these emails, have sent separate reports on the investigation to the central agencies. “We have sent the report to the CBI and are
planning to register an FIR at the Colaba police station under the Information Technology Act. Once the FIR is registered, the details will be sent to Interpol through CBI,’’ said crime branch chief Rakesh Maria.

ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi said he believed that the email could be a prank. “At the same time, we cannot take a chance and have submitted our findings,’’ he said.

The Mumbai hotel had received two threat e-mails on March 30 and March 31. The first email to the hotel was received from an ID, saniashfq@yahoo.com, which originated in Pakistan. “We have
not made much progress in the investigations related to this email,’’ a police officer said.

The second mail came from indian.agentarvin@yahoo.com and it was created on March 31. The Internet Protocol (IP) address of the ID was traced to Islamabad and not Rawalpindi as the police had earlier claimed. The Internet Service
Provider (ISP) of the ID is Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL). While scanning the sender’s mail box, the police came across the threat email sent to the airport.

The sender has mentioned in the same mail that he was an “officer’’ of the terrorists’ group that attacked the Lahore Police Academy on March 30.
At least 20 policemen were killed in the attack.

The mail box of this ID contains a total of 16 emails. The sender had also sent an email to service provider PTCL, and another to one Assem Mehmood challenging to locate him.

“From the mail, it appears that Mehmood is an employee of PTCL. The sender, in his mail to Mehmood, said he stayed close to the PTCL’s office,’’ said an investigating officer. One of the emails was sent to a private news channel in India in which the sender said, “I like your channel.’’

The Times of India, April 5, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pak emails threaten to blow up 2 Taj hotels

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Security has been beefed up across all prominent hotels in the city after Taj Mahal Palace and Tower in south Mumbai and the group’s Fisherman’s Cove, a seaside resort on the outskirts of Chennai, received two threat emails each on Monday afternoon. The Internet Protocol (IP) address of the emails, all of them in English, was traced to Rawalpindi in Pakistan by the state’s antiterrorism squad (ATS). All Taj Group hotels across the country are also said to have been placed on high alert.

The first threat mail was sent simultaneously to Mumbai and Chennai from saniashfq@yahoo.com at about 1.15 pm. The ID was created in 2006, Mumbai police sources said. “The email was sent to the group’s web address for reservations,’’ said a police officer.

A second set of emails was sent soon thereafter, but unlike the first, they weren’t identical. The email sent to Fisherman’s Cove contained a digital thumb impression and a few cartoon images while the one to Taj Mumbai in Mumbai didn’t.

Police sources said the emails threatened to blow up
the hotels. Sources in the police said that this was the first time that threat emails had been sent to the Taj after the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai. Months before the attack, the intelligence bureau had got information about possible attacks on some five-star hotels in the city, including the Taj Palace and Tower hotel. Last year, the ATS had arrested a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative, Fahim Ansari, for doing a recce of the hotel, among other city landmarks.

“The sender threatened to kill people. The IP address has been traced and we have informed higher authorities,’’ said a police officer. “The sender had also mentioned an Airtel number, but it was incomplete. The person claimed to be in Shimla and wrote to wait until tomorrow evening (Tuesday),’’ an ATS officer said.


A Taj spokesperson said, “We continually review our security position and are maintaining a position of high security preparedness.’’ The ATS in Mumbai is also probing whether the sender of the email hacked into someone’s IP address.
(With inputs from TOI Chennai)

The Times of India, April 1, 2009