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Thursday, July 7, 2011

NATIONAL GRID (NATGRID): When spies connect the dots!

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When spies connect the dots

Bin Laden is dead, Pakistan is going after terrorists, howsoever reluctantly, there hasn’t been a major terrorist attack in India since 26/11, and India is talking peace with its perfidious neighbour. Is terrorism dead, or has it at least lost its deadly sting?
No, says Raghu Raman, an ex-Army captain. In fact, we must reconcile ourselves to an intensification of terrorist activity over the next several years. There is a simple reason for this, he says: Resources are decreasing, contenders are increasing; and, between the contenders, there are strong ones and there are weak ones. It is natural that the weak will use terror as an instrument against the strong. “Terrorism and terrorists aren’t going away any time soon.”
Raman’s is an important voice. He is the CEO of NatGrid, Home minister P. Chidambaram’s project to ensure better information-sharing between intelligence agencies in the fight against terrorism. It’s a project “to assure terrorists and their associates that they can no longer get away, that they can be certain they will be caught”. That, Raman says, would be a big deterrent.
So, what exactly is NatGrid?
Pakistan-sponsored anti-India terrorism started around 1989. Since then, thousands of Indian civilians and security forces have died in terrorist attacks. The November 2008 Mumbai attacks were only the most recent and biggest of them all. Yet, through these years, all that India has done is to deploy ever more conventional army troops in J&K to fight an unconventional enemy. This did not change even through the 1990s and 2000s when the terrorists marched ahead in using sophisticated methods and technologies such as satellite phones, mobile phones, email and Internet chat rooms to reconnoiter prize targets (think the Parliament building, the Akshardham temple, the Taj and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai), meticulously plan ever bigger attacks, draw funding electronically from around the world and carry out their dastardly acts. They did leave trails, but there was no one looking, at least not at the whole trail. India and Indian intelligence agencies continued to view terrorism as a hail of bullets or bombs going off somewhere. Needless to say, Indian Intelligence became a saga of failure, once too often.

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