The South India terror plot- Going beyond ideology

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Why South India is on terrorists' radar?
The National Investigating Agency last week picked up a Sri Lankan native, Arun Selvarajan on the allegation that he was spying in Chennai at the behest of the ISI. With this arrest, the NIA has so far managed to corner three operatives including Thameem Ansari and Sakir Hassan, from Tamil Nadu working on the same project.

The officials of the NIA who are questioning these three men inform that the plan was to survey high profile installations in South India and carry out a series of attacks which includes a 26/11 styled attack in a crowded area in Chennai. However while giving a close look at this modus operandi it becomes evident that this operation carried out by the ISI goes beyond ideology and focuses more on economics and also make South India a dumping ground for arms and ammunition.

All the three operatives have revealed similar details and the most important one being that they were reporting to the same persons whose name is Amir Zubair Siddiqui, incidentally a consular officer in the Pakistan's High Commission in Colombo. After these arrests he was however airlifted from Colombo and taken away to Pakistan in order to avoid an extradition bid by India.

This operation undertaken by Siddiqui reveals details that suggests that this module wanted to go beyond the run of the mill terror attacks. The target was South India and the intention was to create a passage to infiltrate terrorists. This option was considered by the ISI after the borders up North became tougher to infiltrate through.

Terror in India through the seas:

Also on the agenda of the ISI was to target the Kodikarrai port in Tamil Nadu which has been a smuggling route since the past 60 years. First it was the Sri Lankan opium smugglers who used it to come into India. Over the past three years, Intelligence Agencies have reported the sighting of the Chinese. Now it is the turn of Pakistan to use this route to enter into India via South.

Arun Selvarajan, Thameem Ansari and Sakir Hassan tell the NIA that while their handlers in Colombo were planning on sending in a huge cache of arms through the Kodikarrai port, there was also a plan of setting up at least 15 modules in South India which would in turn target cities such as Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. There also planned on ensuring the infiltration of a few operatives and keep them on standby in Kerala to be used when an attack was ready to be launched.

Taking terror slow in South India:

The ISI has planned this operation meticulously and wanted to take things slow. They did not wish to rush into this operation immediately and wanted to gather as much information as possible before they could launch a major strike. They set up a module in Colombo to create fake accounts with the names and photographs of women. This was mainly intended at honey trapping officers in the army and other important establishments. They did manage to honey trap a person in Hyderabad who is alleged to have revealed some information. Such traps were also set on officers working in the NSG hubs as well.

Arun Selvarajan who was working in Chennai since the past three years as an event manager used this to meet with people and gain access to important locations. He confesses to have shooting pictures and videos of several locations including the army units and NSG hubs and sharing it with his handlers in Colombo. Sakir Hassan too was given a similar job.

Thameem Ansari on the other hand speaks about an operation which was aimed at just recruitments. He claims to have spoken to 20 different youth and tells the NIA that all of them had shown interest in being part of this plan.

Radicalising South India:

The Indian agencies are viewing this development very seriously. They say that terror has arrived in a big way in South India which was considered to be by and large peaceful. The fact that none focused on this part of the country gave the ISI the upper hand. Moreover there are several instances to show that South India is becoming radicalized gradually.

South India's radicalization does not stop with the ISI alone. In fact the maximum number of recruits into the ISIS in Iraq and Syria too have been from South India particularly Tamil Nadu. Haja Fakkruddin from Tamil Nadu was one of the first to have joined the ISIS. In fact he still is in Syria, according to the Intelligence Bureau. Another instance to show the radicalization process when a couple of youth from Tamil Nadu were seen posing with ISIS T-shirts.

Here are some points to be noted:

  • Stage set in Colombo by the ISI to hit South India
  • Plot goes beyond ideology
  • Pakistan's consular officer headed operations
  • Kodikarrai port the favoured landing point
  • NIA questioning three operatives who were into recruitments and survey
  • Infiltrating to Kerala by the sea
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