‘Sticky bomb’ exposes serious fault-line in security architecture

NIA, NSG are out of investigation; Delhi Police does a solo act


Prasanna Mohanty | February 14, 2012

If any evidence is required to show that our security mechanism is in complete disarray in spite of home minister P Chidambaram’s best efforts, look at the post- terror act scenario.

We have two specialized agencies to investigate such the highly unusual attack on the Israeli diplomat’s wife - the National Investigation Agency (NIA), specifically set up in 2008 to tackle terror cases, and NSG’s National Bomb Detection Centre, which is known for its expertise in dealing with explosive devices.

Both are not in the picture. When Governance Now contacted these agencies, they said they are not in a position to shed any light on it because they are “not involved” with the investigation. Delhi Police alone is doing the work.

The reason is not known but anyone who has dealt with our security and intelligence agencies knows “turf guarding” is their prime obsession. They hate to share information or cooperate, even if it involves national security.

Chidambaram tried to overcome this problem by setting up first MAC (multi-agency centre), then NCTC (national counter terrorism centre) and NATGRID. The results are not encouraging.

Look at the ongoing fight between Delhi Police and the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) of Mumbai police. The Delhi Police officially protested against the Mumbai ATS for arresting what it claimed to be an informer, Naqi Ahmed, a few weeks ago. This arrested dried up the trail of Yasin Bhatkal, the prime accused in the 13/7 Mumbai terror attack, it said. But the Mumbai ATS justified Naqi Ahmed’s arrest, saying that he was a suspect. Chidambaram intervened and sent a strong message not to mess up again, but it fell on deaf ears.

On Monday, a Mumbai ATS team arrived in Delhi to arrest Naqi Ahmed’s brother, Mohammad Taqi Ahmed, from his house in Jamia Nagar. The Delhi Police rushed to the spot to foiled it and claimed that the man was their informer.

The attack on the Israeli diplomat’s wife presents a few new challenges. Consider the following:

·  For the first time in India, ‘sticky bomb’ was being used. Outside Hollywood films, such bombs have been used in Iraq since 2004/5 and Iran (where Israeli intelligence agencies killed Iraqi nuclear scientist in January). This has serious implication. It indicates the possible involvement of an outside agency (terror group) the existence of which is not known to our security agencies. The foot soldier who tried to kill the diplomat’s wife could very well be a local resident and a member of the known terror groups active in India.

·  The skills and explosives required to rustle up a ‘sticky bomb’ may not be much (it can be a simple IED with a magnet or adhesive device), but it is innovative, and easy to carry and implant. All it requires is a remarkable dare-devilry the motorcycle-borne assailant displayed. The dare-devilry is a cause of worry.

If the practice catches on, it can be pretty disruptive, given our poor intelligence, the nature of our electoral politics on display over the Batla House encounter and poor security preparedness. A sticky bomb close to a vehicle’s fuel tank can turn the vehicle into a car bomb.

The need of the hour, therefore, is for the security agencies to bury their differences and join forces. And that is the challenge before Chidambaram.



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