31 12 2008

Source: India today

AK-47 and variants

The terrorist operation in Mumbai was a confluence of time-tested tactics, ruthless ingenuity and accessories

The terrorist operation in Mumbai was a confluence of time-tested tactics, ruthless ingenuity and accessories

The weapon,patented by Mikhail Kalashnikov in the year of India’s independence is available for as little as Rs 5,000, or the cost of a midlevel mobile phone, in Peshawar.

The AK-47 and its variants—the largest produced weapon in history—are the weapons of choice for terrorists.

It is rugged, compact and effective and boasts of a very high rate of fire. Can fire after being dragged through mud or soaked in water. The Chinese clone, the Type-56 which in an Indianism is called the AK-56, varies only slightly from the Russian original.

This is one of the most proliferated weapons. It takes months of training and thousand of rounds of practice to be able to wield this weapon with ease. A seasoned terrorist, for a speedy reload, always tapes a spare magazine to his AK-47.


From the four fidayeen who attacked Parliament to Kasab and his group, the ubiquitous haversack—stuffed with arms, ammunition and yes, dry fruits—has been the carrier of choice.


Rapid advances in technology have given terrorists secure communication.

Satellite Phone
For close to a decade the satellite phone has been di rigueur for terrorists operating in India. It is similar to a cellular telephone, except that it bounces its signal off orbiting satellites and offers users hassle-free communication across the globe. After Indian intelligence agencies started monitoring satphones—remember General Musharraf’s self-congratulatory conversation with his deputy—terrorists kept scaling the technology ladder. First, the senior brass, now the lower ranks too, of the Lashkare-Toiba (LeT) use Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) phones—the equivalent of 3G mobile phones which India cannot intercept. BGAN service provider Inmarsat’s gateway is located in the UK which again makes it difficult to access intercepts.

Terrorists at the Taj kept in touch with their Karachi handlers through Blackberries just because it uses 256-bit encryption technology, which is difficult to crack. Even its Canadabased makers claim they cannot decode mails sent using their technology.

Grameen phone
Bangladesh’s Grameen phone made technology accessible to the common man. Based on a non-standard GSM technology which cannot be monitored, the poor man’s phone is in use by the ULFA and NSCN, becoming a major headache for Indian agencies.

Internet telephony
The voice over internet protocol (VOIP) phone which too cannot be monitored uses technology like Skype and allows internet telephony.


ARGES 84 grenades
During the 1979-88 Afghan war, the CIA and ISI concealed the origin of weaponry used against the Soviets by hand-filing ordnance factory stamps off millions of cartridges. But terrorists who operate in India blithely carry ARGES 84 grenades bearing the stamp of Pakistan Ordnance Factories, Wah. Can be thrown up to 50 m and has a kill radius of 5 m.

Improvised Explosive Devices
The Devil’s Seed is slang for landmines but could be used for the IEDs used in blasts recently in India as well. The IEDs used by the Indian Mujahideen resemble Claymore mines used by the military. Packed with RDX, ammonium nitrate and steel ball bearings, these can cause mayhem in marketplaces and commuter transport. Can be fitted into cars or pipes and triggered using phones.


Global Positioning System
Through a network of 32 satellites, a user can tell his exact location on the surface of the earth. Invaluable for the terrorist who wants to navigate undetected over the sea using ‘way points’—a series of fixed coordinates—or by land across the Line of Control.Amobilephone sized GPS receiver costs only around Rs 10,000.

Google Earth
Most places on earth,especially cities are rendered in fine detail by commercial satellite imagery that makes up the Google Earth library.Used routinely by terrorists, including the Mumbai killers, to study the ‘lay of the land’, recce targets and study approaches to them.

Messages hidden in pictures which can be deciphered only by a person who has the key. India does not have the capability to decipher these.Just two weeks before 26/11, intelligence agencies had come across a picture of Iqbal, the poet-philosopher of Pakistan, with a hidden message. Till date, they have not been able to decipher it.