South India a bed of sleeper cells, say….

published on July 15, 2007



Author: By: J Dey
   July 15, 2007

KASARGOD: The emergence of Bangalore links in the Glasgow bombing has virtually caught the Indian intelligence napping.

Central intelligence agencies are now suspecting there could still be dozens of ‘sleeper cells’ hibernating in the southern states of the country.
Yet, what the central intelligence officials have failed to unearth are the ‘hawala’ syndicates that fund these terrorist activities. This despite the fact that some of the networks were identified and discussed during a recent intelligence meeting here.

Obviously, some of the networks are under surveillance, but action is yet to be initiated. Intelligence agencies like the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Intelligence Bureau are finding it difficult to break down the almost full-proof syndicates.

“It is surprising that these sleeper cells have not struck so far,” remarked a senior police officer from Kasargod in North Kerala, who does not want to be named. The Southern states are buzzing with activities favourable for the terrorists, said the policeman.

The officer’s fear was evident from the fact that he ensured that the Sunday MiD DAY team was not trailed by terrorist watchers.

“I hope you understand, the situation is very bad here. They (terrorists) might even kill me for disclosing facts,” the officer pointed out.

It is said that the local police are either conniving or that there is not enough information to act upon.

Kasargod hawala hub

According to the officer, Kasargod is one of the main hubs of financial activities for terrorist organisations in recent years. The money, mostly counterfeit notes from Pakistan, Bangkok and a Gulf country, finds its way into India.

Incidentally, there were three separate seizures of fake currencies since Monday. This could only be an eyewash, as sources indicate that the network runs deep and a few thousand crore have already been pumped into places like Uppala, Kahangad, Hosadurg and Kozhikode. Many use gold business as a front.

Investigations indicate that the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence has been routing largesse through their fronts in Gulf countries. Thousands of acres of land have been bought along the wind swept shore. There is not much space left along the national highway either. It is an overnight rags to riches for many. A glaring case is a supplier of school bags who suddenly owns a few hundred acres of land.

Among the swaying palms and sylvan landscape, everything seems normal, but deep inside the picturesque creeks, fake currencies are smuggled by powerful boats. The coasts are virtually unguarded and the gangs are often armed with automatic weapons, sources confirm.

Corrupt police to be pulled up

Carriers use women pillion riders to smuggle in fake notes from Batkal in Karnataka, a four-hour ride. Batkal, like Kasargod, has attained notoriety for links with hawala syndicates.

A posting at airports like Kozhikode, Karipur, Nedubaserry could fetch around Rs 2 lakh a week, insiders disclosed. It is said the money is paid for looking the other way.

In fact, in a news report just yesterday, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is planning to scale up vigilance activities to expose corrupt practices within the police department in Kerala. “To ensure effective functioning of government agencies, the state should have an effective intelligence system which should be entrusted with efficient police personnel,” he said inaugurating the CID’s Special Branch and Crime Branch offices here.

Help from hawala

How does the money from hawala help the terrorists? Firstly, the recipients are recruited as sympathisers. Secondly, part of the counterfeit currencies which are exchanged for genuine notes are wired to sleeper cells across the country as funds. An overseas cell also needs money for carrying out their activities.

“It will not be surprising if the money from Kasargod can be wired to several sleeper cells in Bangalore and Hyderabad,” informed an intelligence officer. 

It is said that huge bribes from terrorist front organisations have corroded the police network. Local officials would rather opt for a huge ‘hafta’ than taking on the organisations.

The operative is to follow the code of silence. Different tasks are assigned to separate groups in isolation and the entire plot is never unearthed.

Smuggling networks in Batkal are also exploited by the terrorists. At least, the trail from the Mumbai blasts lead to one of the operatives here.

An honest intelligence officer pointed out that it is almost impossible to smash a terrorist network without busting their source of funds.

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