Thursday, May 22, 2014

`Pak bomber' in terror alert with pic turns out to be Khar developer

Intel Forwarded Input, Didn't Bother To Verify

Mumbai: The quality of our `terror alerts' and the callousness of our security agencies in dealing with them were exposed in a recent case when a person was cleared of trying to set off blasts in the city by the police and the AntiTerrorism Squad.
The Intelligence Bureau (IB), the country's premier internal intelligence agency , received a letter in New Delhi about a “Pakistani spy“ in Mumbai who, along with his associate, was planning to carry out blasts on Lok Sabha election results day (May 16) at targets like the Siddhivinayak temple, Mantralaya, the NSE building, Haji Ali dargah, etc.

The letter said Pakistani national M Ansari (TOI is withholding the real name), who has an office on Khar Link Road, has close connections with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and meets Pakistani agents in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. A photograph, purporting to be Ansari's, was enclosed (TOIhas a copy).

The IB promptly forwarded the letter to the city police (see box), which in turn dispatched the `terror alert'. The Delhi IB headquarters also shared the information with the state IB.
Strangely , despite the details included in the letter, no IB official or even state IB official try to verify the allegations.

In the meantime, some of the “targets“ received similar letters and approached the local police. An official from a “target“ in BKC said in a letter to the senior inspector of the local police station that they had received a letter on May 9 addressed to chief officer, IB. The letter was signed by one Ahmed Sh aikh, a resident of Nayanagar in Mira Road, and gave the same details about Ansari.
“After receiving the letter, we appointed a special officer from the anti-terror cell to inquire. He found Ansari was a developer and had nothing to do with terrorism. Some business rival might have tried to defame him,” a senior BKC police officer told TOI. The police could not trace the Nayanagar address of the sender.

On May 13, the joint commissioner of police (law and order) forwarded the ‘intelligence input’ from IB; the police and ATS swung into action. “We verified the allegations in the letter. They turned out to be false,” said a senior ATS official, adding that forwarding such unverified ‘intelligence inputs’ is a general practice of IB which mostly embarrass the local police.

“Senior intelligence officials do not want to take responsibility of failure. Whatever input they get, they forward. In most cases, the alerts are either vague or non-actionable,” said a security official who did want to be named. In 2013, Maharashtra police got/shared around 200 alerts; around 170 were nonactionable, he added.

The Times of India, May 22, 2014

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