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Human intel helped crack A'bad blasts case

Human intel helped crack A'bad blasts case

Author: Vishwa Mohan & Pradeep Thakur
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 17, 2008

Sleuths Sift Through 5 SIM Cards Details To Track Ultras

Had it not been for 'human intelligence' (the most basic aspect of intelligence gathering mechanism) at work, the Ahmedabad-Surat terror cases would not have been solved. It was through this painstaking method of keeping an eye on unusual details-unlike technical intelligence using interception-that the police managed to track down the mastermind and his entire group by tracing their mobile phones.

Five prepaid mobile cards-all purchased 15 days before the blasts from the same shop in Ahmedabad-getting only incoming calls from different PCOs before suddenly being switched off on the day of the Ahmedabad serial blasts (July 26) presented a vital clue to the cops. Alerted by a source, the sleuths sifted through details to reach the perpetrators who had taken care not to leave clues behind-either in Ahmedabad or Surat in July, Jaipur in May or even in the UP serial blasts (Faizabad, Lucknow and Varanasi) in November last year. Gujarat DGP P C Pande, while giving details of the success story in Ahmedabad on Saturday, rightly mentioned the role of "human intelligence" which helped the cops in cracking the case.

The technological intelligence provided on the basis of the tip-off from their source helped the police complete the loop. Experts who hold techint to be crucial in an age where terrorists are increasingly using the latest in technology too have warned against excessive reliance on it to the exclusion of the task of developing and keeping sources.

Investigations into the Hyderbad Mecca mosque blast case remain at a dead-end despite cops having the mobile phone and SIM card-used in the unexploded bomb-in their possession. The phone could take them only to the vendors from whom the terrorists had, using fictitious details and photographs, procured the SIM and handsets. Details of calls made from the phone prior to the blasts also could not throw any clue.

Officials in the investigating agencies admit that there is no substitute for 'human intelligence' during a probe. The Ahmedabad case showed how effective it can be, giving credence to the experts' repeated pleas of strengthening "beat policing"-the old-fashioned way of keeping details on the unusual people as well as activities -in a mohalla/locality.

Interestingly, the Ahmedabad case also showed how a mundane and irritating exercise - traffic checking - can yield leads for investigation into major terrorist strikes. It was the arrest of one SIMI activist, Riyazuddin Nasir at Honnali in Davangere district of Karnataka, during a routine check by cops in Karnataka, which landed the cops a cache of information on the network of terrorists. Nasir, who had his terrorist training in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), was an active member of SIMI. His father, Moulana Naseruddin, who was earlier arrested by the Gujarat Police, has been in a Gujarat jail for his involvement in other terror-related cases.

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