Changing strategy and innovating on the go is the way terrorist groups survive. The recent arrests and interrogation of the 11 terror suspects arrested from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh reveal a terrifying new terror plan to create instability in urban India. The questioning of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen operatives headed by Shoaib Ahmed Mirza alias Chotu, an MCA student, reveal a major shift in strategy: targeting high profile individual targets instead of just going in for mass destruction.
Some police officers who handle terror-related cases have expressed concern that if individuals are targeted, the department will have a tough task ahead.
“It’s a new phenomenon as international terror outfits usually plan and execute attacks to kill maximum number of people so that they could spread terror in the minds of the people. But now, as they are targeting individuals, it leads to the suspicion that they have changed their strategy,” sources said.
US President Barack Obama’s former adviser and anti-terrorism expert Bruce Riedel feels this. “Targeted killing and assassinations are LeT’s long standing terrorist objectives.”He sees LeT’s signature in the Karnataka terror plot. “The case looks to be an LeT plot. Recruiting Muslims, especially scientists, is a long-standing LeT goal and their funding comes from Saudi sources,” Riedel, a Senior Fellow at Saban Centre for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution and author of books on international terror, told The Sunday Standard.
Meanwhile, information obtained during interrogation has also prompted the police and the central intelligence agencies to take up a major crackdown on various sleeper cells in Karnataka. The number of sleeper cells is said to be higher in North Karnataka—particularly in Belgaum, Gulbarga, Hubli-Dharwad and Bjiapur—and in Dakshina Kananda district. Bangalore and Kolar are also said to have a few sleeper cells.
Cops say earlier only SIMI and other local extremist organisations were known to target individuals like leaders of Hindu organisations or prominent personalities. “But if international outfits begin to go after individuals, they could easily eliminate them,” the officer said.