Friday, January 22, 2010

Hijack- LeT's next plan?

The central government has put all Air India planes operating in the country's neighbourhood on high security alert following intelligence inputs from Western agencies that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayiba and other terror groups were planning to hijack a flight.

"The alerts have been issued by us and it is based on some intelligence inputs that we have received. We suspect that there can be an attempt to target one of our airlines, especially those that fly abroad. We have alerted our agencies to be careful on anti-hijacking measures," U K Bansal, Secretary (Internal Security), said.

He said the Civil Aviation Ministry and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) have been alerted to tighten security in all airports in the country.

A directive has been issued to all Indian missions abroad to sensitise the staff of the airlines, he said. "These are anti-India terrorist outfits whose objectives are to carry out attacks in India or harm Indian interests," he said.

Intelligence Bureau inputs suggest that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba has been planning to undertake such an operation since the past few months and has been training their cadres in this direction.

It is believed that the Lashkar intended to target a flight operating between India and SAARC nation (Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri-Lanka). The outfit believes the security in these countries is slack, sources said.

It does not appear that the hijack would be carried out to release any prisoner, but would be undertaken to effect a hostage crisis, sources pointed out.

Barring Sri-Lanka, the Lashkar is very strong in the rest of the countries mentioned and it is not difficult for them activate their cadres in those countries.

Carrying out a fidayeen (suicide) strike would involve the issue of infiltration and that is tougher compared to what it was before 26/11. There was an urgent need for the Lashkar to cause some problem in India after the Mumbai attack. Hence, the hijack plot was drawn.

The Lashkar has a special unit for such operations. While a major part of their training operations revolves around fidayeens, some of them are sent to specialise in hijacking, the IB says.

There could be at least 50 fidayeens within the camps of the Lashkar, who specialise in such operations. These persons are being trained constantly and kept on standby for operations of this nature. Off late, the Lashkar has been training with the Al-Qaeda, which is considered to be an expert in such operations.

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