Threat from sea looms large: IB Vicky Nanjappa

9 01 2009

January 09, 2009 14:46 IST
Source: Rediff.com

The threat from the sea continues to loom large over the country and the attacks on Mumbai, where the terrorists arrived in the city on a boat, is just a beginning.

According to intelligence agencies, nearly 1,200 islands surrounding the country are vulnerable to terrorists.

This has been confirmed by two suspected militants in the Karnataka police’s custody. Tausif and Firoze — picked up recently for their alleged connection with Riyaz Bhatkal, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images] terrorist — told the police that Bhatkal had told them that the Lashkar wants to convert the coastal belts into terror bastions.

The islands, which are said to be on the radar of the Lashkar and its terror twin, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, are located around Kerala [Images], some of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, Purbasha island near Bangladesh, the Lakshwadeep islands and the coastal belts of Karnataka.

Intelligence Bureau officers told rediff.com that the idea to convert the islands into terror nodes is a plan currently being executed both by the Lashkar and the Jaish.

“There are nearly 1,200 uninhabited islands surrounding India and the Lashkar and Jaish are aware of this. They are recruiting more and more youth to take over such islands so that it could be used as terror bases,” an IB officer, speaking on condition that he would not be identified for this report, said.

Both the Lashkar and Jaish are said to have begun training would-be terrorists in deep sea diving and maritime operations; the Mumbai [Images] attackers had sophisticated maritime skills, one retired Indian admiral noted at a recent conference in Washington, DC.

The home ministry has asked all states with a coastline to remain vigilant at all times.

Sources in the Karnataka police say they, along with other state police forces, have been directed to set up coastal police stations.

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