In an unprecedented success of India’s counter-intelligence, the country’s security agencies managed to foil a bid by suicide bomber trained by dreaded terrorist group Islamic State (IS) to carry out blasts in New Delhi. As part of the operation, which was quite similar to those we see in action flicks, Indian security agencies deployed a “plant” who not only provided accommodation for an Afghan attacker in Lajpat Nagar but even supplied explosives without triggers, agency and diplomatic officials confirmed to The Indian Express.
The operation involved the Indian plant befriending the attacker, an Afghan national who arrived in New Delhi and began living here under the guise of being an engineering student, arranging for an accommodation for him and even providing him with explosives. The surveillance ring thrown around that led to his eventual arrest not just resulted in the agencies managing to avert a potentially devastating attack, inputs received from him following his arrest are also believed to be behind the success of US forces in crucial installations on the militant outfit. The militant, who conducted a recee of popular Delhi spots was arrested from the national capital around September 2017, but the information has been revealed by top diplomatic and intelligence sources only now, the IE reported.
IS operative – An engineering student
To outsmart the security agencies here, the attacker, who is in his mid-twenties, was living in the guise of an engineering student. He took admission at a private engineering college along the Delhi-Faridabad highway and was initially staying in the college hostel. Subsequently, he rented a ground-floor apartment in Lajpat Nagar in South Delhi, a house that the Indian “plant” found for him. The IS operative is currently lodged in custody at a key US military base in Afghanistan.
A cat-and-mouse game
It was a game of chess for the security agency officials as the operation involved a tremendous amount of patience, hawk-like surveillance and was carried out in a strict hush-hush manner. It was an 18-month-long surveillance operation covering Afghanistan, Dubai and New Delhi that revealed that a group of 12 IS operatives were being sent after training in Pakistan to carry out bomb attacks in the region. Officials ascertained that one of them — an Afghan national and the “son of a wealthy businessman” — was given New Delhi as his target for a suicide attack. After his arrival in Delhi, a strong contingent of 80 investigators and security personnel were deployed for “physical surveillance” during the peak one-month period of the operation to ensure that the target could not manage to give a slip, according to IE report.
A suspicious transfer of $50,000
The audacious planning to infiltrate the IS circuit began when the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) tracked the suspicious transfer of $50,000 by individuals under their watch from Dubai to a location in Afghanistan. With the help of US intelligence, our security officials perceived that New Delhi would be a possible target for IS, the report says. Through a series of telephone intercepts, officials got the details of the arrival of the bomber in New Delhi. The agencies also picked a suitable candidate for befriending the Afghan national.
The security agencies’ “plant” was the one who located the accommodation in Lajpat Nagar and was entrusted by the IS with the responsibility to provide explosives. The IS bomber had done recces at Delhi Airport, Ansal Plaza mall, a Vasant Kunj mall as well as the South Extension market.
Why is this a big success?
According to the IE report, the confessions he made during interrogation after being flown to Afghanistan following his arrest have helped US forces counter Taliban in Afghanistan recently. There is also a hint that a fellow member of his IS gang may have carried out the bomb attack in the Manchester arena in UK on May 22, 2017, which killed 23 people. The explosives he had demanded in New Delhi were similar to the ones used in the Manchester blast.