December 2nd, 2011
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Chennai on terror radar

terror-attackChennai: The city is now on terror radar. In a timely crackdown, central and state intelligence units arrested members of an Indian Mujahideen (IM) cell in the city on Sunday and averted what could have been a major disaster. “It was a timely wake-up call. We are lucky to have busted the cell. The success came after strenuous tracking and shadowing of suspects over a considerable period. There could still be some more sleeper cells around, we have stepped up vigil,” a senior officer told a national daily.

He, however, refused to share details of the operation that led to the arrest of New Delhi’s Irshad Khan and his engineering student-nephew Abdul Rahman from suburban Selaiyur in the early hours of November 27. Imran alias Asif, a most-wanted member of IM who had come with Irshad from Delhi and was reportedly providing financial and logistical backup to IM modules, has vanished.

Three more engineering students were also picked up with the duo but were released after questioning, while the uncle and nephew were taken to Delhi for further interrogation. Another source revealed Irshad and accomplices visited “two or three very crowded areas of Chennai during peak hours” for a couple of days before they were nabbed. “They were not there for shopping, obviously, so what were they doing there? We suspect they were checking out possible targets,” the source said.

Intelligence sources are concerned at the development. Hitherto Bengaluru and Hyderabad were the only south Indian capitals on terror radar. Bengaluru because of its cosmopolitan nature and being an eyesore to foreign terror outfits due to its wealthy software industry and Hyderabad due to the ease with which LeT and other similar outfits could mingle with the local population.

“They [terrorists] had been keeping away from Tamil Nadu, particularly Chennai, because of efficient and experienced police networks, both state and central, and also because they would stand out in a Tamil crowd,” explained an officer, admitting ominously, “[But now] IM is scouting to set up bases here too.”


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