The arrest of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallah's has yet again brought to light the fact that terror groups prefer recruiting techies for their operations. Intelligence Bureau reports and a study by two European sociologists have shown that the recruitment of techies into terror outfits are on the rise.
Indian security agencies say the recruitment of techies was maximum in 2009 when recession hit the world.
At a recent seminar in New Delhi on counter-terrorism, several experts on internal security explained that 2009 saw the most number of techies being recruited by Al Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. Many lost their jobs or were not finding jobs and such ones were easy targets for terror groups. The techies, who were targeted by two outfits, were mainly mechanical engineers. Such professionals are preferred for bombing operations since they are well versed with the subject and no additional time is spent to train.
European sociologists Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, who researched over 400 terrorists, including 25 men involved in the 9/11 attack, have found that 44 per cent were engineers. Researchers say in an article in the New Scientist that engineering as the most popular field; the percentage of terrorists who had pursued it was more than twice as high as the second place field, Islamic Studies.
The IB says that recruiting techies for terror operations has become quite a common phenomenon world over. It was first started by the Al Qaeda when it undertook the 9/11 attack. However, the Lashkar was quick to pick up this plan and gradually the Students Islamic Movement of India and the Indian Mujahideen, too, followed suit.
The tech cell of the Lashkar and the Al Qaeda is probably the most important wing in a terror outfit. The recruited are mainly used for bombing, hijacking and also hacking operations. Al Qaeda tops the list with over 400 techies while the Lashkar has nearly 200.
IB sources say last year, the Lashkar with the help of IM operatives has picked up nearly 60 techies. Cadres in the sleeper cells have worked round the clock last year to pick up techies who were desperate and looking for jobs. Security experts say that the recruiters wait a long time until the person becomes desperate for a job.
They take advantage of the financial commitments that these techies have and later with a blend of religious brainwashing they manage to attract them into the fold. However in the case of both Abdul Subhan and Mansoor Pheerbhoy, the recruiters did not have to adopt such a strategy since the two were well placed and they were convinced solely on the basis of misconstrued ideology.
India security agencies say that while terror groups prefer techies in their outfit, they had found it hard to recruit them all these years. The salaries that they were being paid was sufficient for them and they had no other reason to look out.
However, they did manage to brainwash a couple of them and recruit. It was sort of a bonanza for outfits last year though with several techies finding it hard to sustain themselves without a job. The recruitment of techies is a worrying factor not only for Indian security agencies, but for agencies across the world.
Techies usually do not go wrong when they plan out attacks, having had the ability to outsmart security agencies when they carry out a task.
The bigger worry is that the outfits may use them to launch a cyber war which is deadlier than any other form of an attack since it can cripple the entire economy.