As Lashkar, Jaish plan sea borne attacks, how equipped is India to fight the maritime threat
New Delhi, July 19: An Intelligence Bureau report suggests that terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are planning an attack from the seas. This means that the terror groups would try and hit the Indian Navy.
The input which has been considered as an actionable one has prompted the Indian Navy to be on high alert. In addition to this the IB has also warned that a group of terrorists are waiting near the Leepa Valley, Dudhnihal and Kel to infiltrate into India.
The attack from the seas was witnessed during the 26/11 attack. This time around the alert suggests that the terrorists of both the groups are training hard in a bid to launch an attack on the Indian Navy. The threat looms large in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, an IB officer told OneIndia.
How equipped are these terror groups?
Several intelligence reports available with OneIndia state that the naval wing of these groups is handled by the Musa Company, which is the special services group of the Pakistan Army.
The naval wing of these terrorist groups is not often used by terror groups. It is part of the surprise element, the reports state. Since 2004, it had become mandatory for every Lashkar-e-Tayiba recruit to undergo a certain amount of maritime training. This apart, the terrorists also take part in classes on elementary flying.
As part of the training programme, the first class is held in Thakot and then at Murdike. The training programme comes to a close at Karachi and each of these sessions is conducted by officers of the Musa company.
Why the maritime threat needs to be taken seriously?
In the days to come the sea route would be the most preferred for terrorists. It is impossible to man the entire sea and hence in this regard, intelligence and coordination becomes the key. In addition to this there is also a dire need to introduce hi-tech technology to aid the Intelligence Bureau.
The reason why Intelligence, technology and coordination becomes crucial is because 90 per cent of the world trade is sea based and it is impossible to man each and every vessel on the sea. The smaller ones in particular pose the maximum danger.
The al-Shahbab- Lashkar-e-Tayiba bonhomie:
In a bid to boost up the maritime capabilities, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the al-Shahbab came together in 2011. The coming together of these two outfits was specifically to spruce up their maritime capabilities.
Investigations conducted have revealed that the pirates from Somalia who are dominant on Indian waters were sponsored by the al-Shahbab group which is linked to the al-Qaeda.
It was the ISI that had suggested that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the al-Shahbab come together and carry out strikes. The idea was to send out the terrorists along with some of the pirates in a bid to carry out strikes.
Since manning all vessels is an impossible task for India alone, it became necessary to seek the cooperation of other nations such as Africa. The Lashkar-e-Tayiba on the other hand entered into several alliances in a bid to spruce up its maritime capabilities. An operative by the name Abu Yakub was tasked with coordinating with the al-Shahbab.
A plan hatched back in 2011 indicated that these groups would send out several pirates into the sea in a bid to keep the Indian Navy busy. On the other hand they would take advantage of the situation and then get their terrorists to launch an attack on the Navy.
Post the 26/11 attack, maritime security had been increased. There are over 400 warships which are on guard. In addition to this several more coastal police stations were set up and the fishermen were roped in to provide human intelligence.
Maritime capabilities of terror groups:
Lashkar-e-Tayiba: High speed recreational boats, scuba diving equipment, water scooters.
Al Qaeda: Capable of underwater strikes by its suicide squad. Heavily dependant on Lashkar-e-Tayiba for equipment.
Jaish-e-Mohammad: Armed with 600 sea specialists, coordinates with Lashkar-e-Tayiba for equipment.
Jemmah Islamiah: Attempted an attack on a US vessel in Singapore, the groups is equipped with speed boats also known as suicide boats.
Abu Sayaaf: Bombed the Super Ferry in 2004 that killed 100. High level of experience on sea, but still uses wooden boats loaded with machine guns.