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Investigators work to join Afzal,Bhullar,death row,ISI dots

Delhi HC blast: Suspicion on new modules working under the radar,raking up clemency issues.

Written by PranabDhalSamanta | New Delhi |
September 8, 2011 2:34:28 am

With no specific leads from the explosion site at the Delhi High Court today,intelligence and investigative agencies were reluctant to point the finger of suspicion at any particular terror group despite an email from one “Harkat-ul-jihadi” claiming responsibility for the attack.

But security agencies agree that fresh terror modules are active even if their handlers are the same. There seems to be a strong effort this time,sources said,to not leave any trace and to link the claim to a politically sensitive and potentially destabilising issue like death sentence and clemency.

While the email demanded that the death sentence to Afzal Guru — convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack — be withdrawn,intelligence agencies are looking at this in conjunction with the specific security alert against Delhi courts they sent out in July. That alert spoke about a possible plot by extremist Sikh groups — Babbar Khalsa International and Khalistan Zindabad Force.

The case in question in that July alert was that of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar,on Death Row,whose clemency petition was turned down by President Pratibha Patil. The alert had warned,based on “credible” inputs,that these groups were in touch with certain ISI “handlers” and a plot to carry out blasts in Delhi had been hatched in Pakistan.

According to security agencies,there has been significant interaction between anti-India groups of late regardless of their primary motivation. The mention of Afzal Guru,whose clemency petition is lying with the President,in the email brings the main group behind the Parliament attack — Jaish-e-Mohammed — into the equation.

Jaish is known to have close links with the Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami but the email does not put out HUJI’s name in full. JeM is also on the revival path in Pakistan but experts feel that the blast does not carry an explicit Jaish signature.

The explosive device,a key piece of evidence when it comes to joining the dots,has left fewer clues. It is common knowledge that all three — the Mumbai blasts on July 13,first attempt at Delhi High Court on May 25 and this one — were nitrate-based explosives. PETN,used in today’s blast,was also present in traces in the explosives that did not go off properly in May.

Not just that,today’s blast occurred just outside the reception where there was no CCTV coverage. There are cameras on the court premises within but many of them were also said to be on the blink. The point underlined by investigators is that the place could have been surveyed to avoid plausible detection by cameras.

As in the recent Mumbai case,there’s no clarity on the detonator used even though NIA teams are combing the spot. Unlike the Mumbai case,sources added,this was a targeted attack on Delhi High Court and not serial blasts of the kind usually associated with the Indian Mujahideen. The use of the briefcase was clearly meant to make it easier to “melt into the crowd coming to court,” sources said.

Incidentally,an email had landed even after the July 13 attack in Mumbai which highlighted the Telangana cause — another issue challenging the government. Incidentally,that email had its origins in the Middle-East and investigations are still under way on that front.

While investigators try to locate the attackers,sources said,fresh modules have come up in major cities which could be planning a spate of low-intensity attacks with high impact around politically sensitive issues of the day. Government authorities feel this could be a planned effort to destabilise the situation without exposing the external link,much like the phase after the Parliament attack.

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