Friday, September 27, 2013

Israeli security units may be asked to protect Jewish hubs

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Besides increasing security at Jewish establishments in the city, the state ATS and the Mumbai police are now trying to rope in Israeli agencies to provide cover to the institutions facing terror threat. The police are also studying the methods adopted by Israeli agencies to foil terror attacks.
    “Israeli agencies have come up with several important defence strategies to combat attacks and abduction-like situation. We are also keenly studying their method of hostage negotiation. Though we have our own method, additional input always helps,” said a Mumbai police officer. The state police also plan to conduct a meeting with the Israeli security agencies soon.
    Safety at Jewish establishments such as synagogues, educational and business centres has become a matter of worry after arrested Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar told theNationalInvestigation Agency (NIA) that their men had surveyed at least four synagogues in the city last August. Bhatkal and Akhtar reportedly told the police that the IM planned to abduct some Jewish people and hold them hostage, demanding the release of top IM functionaries from Indian jails. At present, more than 100 suspected IM operatives are in various jails in India.
    In a bid to check the preparedness of the policemen posted at the earmarked establishments, the department sent some “suspicious-looking people on motorbikes near synagogues”. “We are happy that the police personnel posted there identified those people, who lurked around the spot posing as dummy terror suspects,” added a senior police officer.
    Following the attack on a Nairobi mall, security at malls here have also been stepped up. “We sent our teams to some malls and our officers checked the security gadgets and alertness of the staff. We will meet the mall authorities soon and brief them about the steps they must adopt,” an officer said.
Police comb trains, visit kin’s home but no news of Usmani 
 The state ATS, Mumbai crime branch, railway police and specialized agencies are putting in all efforts to trace the escaped IM operative, Afzal Usmani, but the trail seems to have gone cold. A state-wide search from Dharavi to Nashik, Jalgaon to Bhusawal and Bhopal to Khazrana has not yet yielded any result.
    On September 20, after being brought to court, Usmani (37) hoodwinked the escorting cop, assistant sub-inspector Sanjay Deshmukh, and fled. He was last seen at Sewree where he went to collect Rs 700 from a tea vendor. “Our teams are meeting Usmani’s contacts and informants have been promised rewards for tip-off on the IM operative. But despite all efforts, we are yet to get any information,” admitted a home department source. “Our team went to Usmani’s sister’s house in Dharavi. She said Usmani had not visited her but we have kept her house under surveillance. Importantly, Usmani’s nephew Javed has also been missing since Friday. Javed would visit him regularly in courts and jail. We don’t know if Javed visited him the day he fled,” said the officer. “His co-accused claim even they did not have any idea of his escape plan,” cops said. 
 The motor vehicles theft cell has been directed to alert the state police headquarters whenever they receive a complaint   about a stolen car. “Usmani may use a stolen vehicle to flee,” the police said.

    Suspecting that he has fled the city by now, the ATS and the state police have been searching

    trains in Mumbai, Nashik, Manmad, Jalgaon and Bhusawal. But they have had no luck. They also conducted a combing operation of all the lodges near Manmad station, an important junction, and of all trains to MP and UP. 

    The police have also sent out the image of his possible changed look, with his original photo to other states. “He may be waiting for financial help from his mentor, Riyaz Bhatkal,” a source said.
Mateen Hafeez 

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