REVEALED: Terror strikes not the only forte of LeT
Vicky Nanjappa finds answers to the big question: What do terror groups, such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, do during periods of lull and calm?
Barring the triple blasts that rocked Mumbai on July 13, things have been relatively peaceful in India. Indian intelligence agencies are busy figuring out the terror menace being caused by fringe groups. However, the big question is: what are the bigger groups, such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, doing during these periods of lull and calm?
Patience is the biggest weapon which these groups have.
Sources in the Intelligence Bureau say that while they are not carrying out terror attacks, there is a lot of activity that such groups carry out.
"The 'war' is always on, but it is different in nature. There is no doubt that the terror groups are planning larger attacks on Indian soil, but in the meantime what they continue to do is circulate fake currency, smuggle arms and ammunition, carry out recruitments and build up terror modules across the country," intelligence sources point out.
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Image: An investigator surveys the site of a bomb blast at Opera House in Mumbai
Fake currency circulation reaches unimaginable levels
The year 2010 alone saw fake currency worth Rs 3,200 crore circulate in India, while the overall amount since past ten years is a stunning Rs 1,200,000 crore.
The Union home ministry says that every fifth Rs 1,000 currency note is fake.
The Lashkar, which is the biggest beneficiary of this fake currency racket, pumps in these notes through the Dawood Ibrahim network and it has now been established that notes of very fine quality are being printed in Pakistan.
What has been worrying the Indian agencies is that the number of routes to smuggle in fake currency has increased and also the printing units in Pakistan have gone up.
Tough task ahead of Indian agencies
This only means that the number of notes will rise and Indian agencies will have a tough task ahead.
The earlier routes that were being used to pump in fake currency into India were through Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. However, the reliance on countries like Thailand and Dubai has also increased.
In the future one would get to see this racket emerging more from these two countries since the heat on the operatives are lower compared to the ones operating from Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Moreover, within India too there have been changes, and the fake currency that is pumped in through Dubai has been landing in Thiruvananthapuram and then circulated into other parts of the country.
Hyderabad also continues to be a hub for such a racket, Indian agencies point out.
The India government claims that it is doing its bit to counter this menace in every possible way. Sourcing of paper to print the notes from London continues to be a contentious issue.
The Pakistani agencies have adopted the same route to source their papers which has made the entire exercise very difficult for Indian agencies. India will raise this issue with the Financial Action Task Force in October since it has decided that it would need the help of the international community to fight this menace.
Smuggling of weapons: The terror fund-raiser
While studying this aspect of terror it becomes extremely crucial to understand why the closure of the D-gang is very important to India.
As infiltration into India through the borders of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal continues unabashedly, the other problem that comes along with it is the smuggling of arms and ammunition.
While these are the normal transit points, there is a chunk of this coming in from Thailand as well which has led agencies to believe that recruits of the D-gang have been aiding this menace.
Although these arms that are smuggled in are not always used for terror activities, they continue to be in circulation in the market and are being supplied to gangs. Further, the money being raised out of this is used to fund terrorism.
Recruitments: More activity down south
This is one of the most important aspects for any terror organisation. With the Indian Mujahideen down in the dumps and their modules in re-grouping mode, Pakistan-based terror outfits have had to rely largely on their independent networks to carry out a recruitment process.
The Lashkar in particular has been looking more into their Kerala connections through the Gulf and are carrying out recruitments.
There has also been an increase in activity in Hyderabad and the ongoing problems in the area (like the Telangana crisis) have only helped these groups go about their job without being noticed.
The entire focus of the police is on this agitation for a separate state and this has given terror groups a safe path to go about their recruitment.
When looking at this issue on a national level, sources in the IB say that most of the recruitment activity has been down south. However, these recruits would focus more on carrying on the fake currency trade and also bringing in more youth into the outfit.
There have been no instances in the past couple of months to show that recruits have been sent outside the country for terror training. They are taking it slow deliberately to avoid the heat and would try to ensure that nothing is done on a large scale.
Terror modules: Playing the slow game
Realistically speaking, Lashkar alone has around 500 modules across India. While the big bosses are headquartered at Pakistan, the Gulf modules have been put in charge of setting up terror modules in India.
The IB explains that the money is pumped in from the Gulf which lands up either in Andhra Pradesh or Kerala. This in turn is passed on to the recruits in these areas who carry it around the country and help set up modules.
Most of the modules which are operated are not as active as they may have been a couple of years back. Sources in the IB say that this lack of activity cannot be misunderstood as them being down.
These persons apart from increasing the number of modules continue to aide the circulation of fake currency and also the arms trade.