India Intelligence Report

   Terrorists Strike Cong Rally on Anti-Terrorism Day


Two days before the arrival of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to continue his roundtable discussions with Kashmir separatists, two terrorists dressed as policemen attacked a youth Congress rally in Srinagar. The Congress rally was to commemorate the death of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorists. The LTTE accused Gandhi of anti-Sri Lankan Tamil policies and sending the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), which vastly decimated the LTTE at a huge cost. A suspected LTTE female bomber exploded herself killing Gandhi and many others near Chennai. From then, that day is normally observed as “ant-terrorism day” in India. The terrorists killed 5 people and injured 22 others.

Many times before, terrorists have been able to infiltrate the police, army, and paramilitary camps dressed in the right uniforms and this methodology has been very effective so far. Therefore, the security apparatus evolved a mechanism whereby the supervising officer has to know all the security personnel working under his control. However, as this incident show this system alone if not enough to deter the most ardent terrorist.

The Government is contemplating a system that will allow a password based authentication mechanism that will identify terrorists even if they are dressed as security men. Often, uniform which identifies someone as security personnel is mistakenly used as an authentication and worse an authorization mechanism. Therefore, the proposal from the Government to create a password based authentication mechanism is very valid.

While, the specifics of the proposal are unknown, it would be useful to design a system with the following issues in mind:

  • There needs to be a unique identifiers such as biometrics (thumb print or retina scan) in addition to unique number identifiers

  • Badges provided to an individual need to be embedded with a wireless mechanism (such as RFID) that can be monitored by sensors placed in a high security area

  • Badges with RFID need special passwords that need resetting and new entry triggers at frequent intervals. A keypad based or an attachment console can be used to change the password

  • Security personnel need to be trained not to reveal their badge identifier passwords to anyone

  • Password requirements must be strongly typed and must be strictly enforced

  • At any point in time, the biometric and valid badge must be used in combination to authenticate an individual and authorize zones or areas the individual is allowed to go

  • There must be a clear audit mechanism that can track movements of personnel to review security measures and keep increasing effectiveness

Analysts feel that this attack was aimed to stop the peace process and roundtable discussions with Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists. The terrorists always commit heinous crimes whenever there is a significant progress or event to not only remind Governments about their existence but also to provoke a response that will jeopardize the purpose of the event. This week, Singh will discuss the Kashmir issue with separatists (who still have not given an assent to attend) and India and Pakistan will continue their peace process to find ways to defuse Sir Creek and Siachen Glacier.

Recently, Singh said in coded but yet clear terms that India is willing to seriously engage Pakistan in resolving the Kashmir dispute and enter into a peace and friendship treaty. Radicals in Pakistan have often interpreted such language as a sign of weakness and their sponsors in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) often direct an attack on innocents. Thus, scores of Hindu villagers were rounded up early morning in Doda Province of Jammu & Kashmir and killed in cold blood. Another engineer from Andhra Pradesh was abducted and beheaded by the Taliban and recently a spokesman said that the killing was ordered by the ISI. Taliban, Pakistan, and the ISI have opposed Indian presence and involvement in fight against terror, rebuilding, aid effort, and security and the Taliban’s revelation only goes to increases suspicion in India about Pakistan’s real intention. While infiltration has come down, the threat perception is high and since there are no “iron-clad guarantees” from Pakistan, India has already declined to even consider troop reduction or pullout from Siachen.

Singh condemned this attack as “cowardly” and promised to continue with the peace process and the roundtable initiative.

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