Indian intelligence Agencies : News & Updates

Ashwin

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IB issues alert that many refugees settled in northeast India are being paid and offered jobs by China in exchange for strategic information.

New Delhi: Amid rising India-China tensions along the Line of Actual Control, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has issued a string of alerts warning that Tibetan refugees settled in northeast India are being approached by China to provide strategic information about the area.

While China has reportedly managed to convince a number of young Tibetan refugees to work as its spies in exchange for money, it is aiming to recruit many more, IB sources told ThePrint.

According to the alert, based on which a detailed report will soon be submitted to the government, China had been eyeing disgruntled Tibetan refugees in the region for the past two years. Sources said that many of the refugees it has recruited have already left for China.

“We received an alert stating that young Tibetan refugees settled in areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and other parts of northeast India are moving to China. We learnt that China is trying to recruit the refugees as spies in the area,” a source said.

“It appears to be China’s strategy to make a base in India to create a channel, through which it can constantly receive relevant strategic information.”

The local police in the concerned states have also been sounded out about the alert. A report is being prepared and will be submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs, following which a scrutiny of Tibetan refugees in the area may start.

“The present generation of Tibetan refugees is very volatile and vulnerable. While they wish to have a good lifestyle, they do not have any job opportunities. This is what the Chinese took advantage of to plant their spies,” the source said.

“The Chinese reportedly not only promise them good money in exchange for information, but also a good job and education for their children in China. However, it is still not known as to how many refugees the Chinese have been able to mobilise.”

Asked about the IB alert, a Home ministry official said: “It may be a possibility. We will look into it.”

China luring Tibetan refugees in India to work as its spies, Intelligence Bureau warns
 

Shajida Khan

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Dec 27, 2017
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Well about time we slip few a double crossing moles. Like Brits did in WW2. The german secret service was so well beaten that many battles outcomes were changed.

Also, instead of targetting Balochistan, RAW needs to target East China. Few incidences in China's high speed trains will scare Chinese to their core.
 
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Ashwin

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We should remember 62 war. They had a very extensive HUMINT network. Party decided to teach India a lesson in 59 they prepared the intel for following years. During the war they entered through tawang and stopped somewhere in rupa. These places have one thing in common, language (Tibetan dialect ). They did not go forward because they had no intel after that.

CHINA'S INDIA WAR

@Hellfire @Arpit
 
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Ashwin

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New Delhi/Jabalpur: Days after an IAF group captain was arrested for leaking defence secrets allegedly to Pakistan after he was honeytrapped, an Army officer of a Lt Colonel rank was on Wednesday detained in Jabalpur in another honeytrap case.

The officer is working in the Jabalpur workshop and has been detained by the counter intelligence wing of the Army.

Sources have told Times of India that the officer's residence was raided by officials reportedly on the suspicion that he might have fallen prey to a honey trap set up by Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence (ISI).

The TOI report adds that the officer was questioned for a few hours at the Army Central Command Headquarters and was then taken to Lucknow for further investigation. Certain crucial intelligence documents were collected from the Lt Colonel’s office.

Delhi Police last week arrested Indian Air Force (IAF) Group Captain Arun Marwaha on charges of espionage for passing secret information to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

Marwaha, 51, was arrested by Special Cell's northern range on Wednesday after a case was registered against him under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). Marwaha was arrested after being interrogated for nearly 10 days by the counter intelligence wing of the IAF.

The IAF had detained Marwaha for investigation on January 31 after his activities were found "suspicious", said Delhi Police Special Cell's Special Commissioner MM Oberoi. The Air Force had then approached the Delhi Police to investigate the case. He was produced before a Delhi court on Thursday that sent him to police custody for five days.

Times Now
 

Butter Chicken

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New Delhi: Amid a global outcry over the Rohingya crisis, intelligence agencies have now warned of a conspiracy to settle down thousands of Rohingyas in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts respectively.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority group, are fleeing persecution in Myanmar's western Rakhine State, fuelling a historic migration crisis.

According to a report sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), nearly 40,000 thousand Rohingyas, who are currently staying in various parts of the country, have been reportedly instructed to settle down in Trinamool Congress-ruled state.

The intelligence report, accessed by Zee Media, claims that as many as 40 organisations have been identified, which are allegedly involved in the business of settling down these Rohingyas illegally, and are even collecting money from all over the country.

These 40 organisations, currently under the scanner, have organised more than 50 secret meetings in different parts of the country in the last few days, the report claimed.

It further stated that at least 29 Rohingyas have started living in the 24 Parganas, and in order to settle them, the construction of new homes have already begun.

These organisations, in question, have reportedly asked the people living in nearby villages to donate their land to Rohingyas so that they can be settled permanently in West Bengal.

In September last year, the Centre told the Supreme Court that Rohingyas posed a serious threat to national security with links to terror outfits, including the Islamic State.

The Centre’s affidavit, filed in the apex court registry said, "Many of the Rohingyas figure in the suspected sinister designs of ISI/ISIS and other extremists groups who want to achieve their ulterior motives in India including that of flaring up communal and sectarian violence in sensitive areas of the country."

40,000 Rohingyas trying to settle down in West Bengal, warn intelligence agencies
 

Ashwin

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Enforcement Directorate's Defence Of Rajeshwar Singh Officer Exposes Rift With R&AW

The Enforcement Directorate's unusual, public rebuttal to the country's external spy R&AWin defence of its officer Rajeshwar Singh exposes intense bickering for months between two central agencies.

The Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW, had reported the officer to the government for his phone conversation with a Dubai-based Indian businessman, Danish Shah. A R&AW report, also placed by the central government before the Supreme Court yesterday, says Shah appeared to be working for Pakistan's spy agency ISI and is believed to have reported the visit of Indian dignitaries.

It was this report that contributed to the court okaying Rajeshwar Singh's removal from a special team probing former finance minister P Chidambaram in the Aircel Maxis case.

The Enforcement Directorate responded to a battery of allegations and counter-allegations that had been bandied around through the day with a public statement backing its investigator Rajeshwar Singh.

The statement confirmed a 2016 phone call made from Dubai to Rajeshwar Singh. Alluding to Danish Shah, the ED said the person based out of Dubai "gave important information regarding a case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate".

It also described Rajeshwar Singh as "a responsible officer with outstanding career record", seen as a rejoinder to the RAW note that is also alleged to have triggered the corruption investigation against Mr Singh.

Top ED officials suspect that the note was a ploy to block Rajeshwar Singh's promotion as additional director that would place him next only to the ED's chief Karnal Singh.

When the note was brought to Karnal Singh's notice, he told the RAW boss that it was probably motivated.

"I may mention that this surfaces at a time when the officer is due for promotion. It is therefore important that in the light of above facts matter may be re-examined and records may be set right," Karnal Singh wrote to his counterpart in R&AW in November 2017. The ED chief's letter, accessed by NDTV, said Rajeshwar Singh had kept him in the loop about his conversation with Danish Shah.

"Danish contacted the officer claiming familiarity with him and passed on some important information to the officer relating to one of the important case. The officer immediately passed in the information to the undersigned and the same information was used in developing case," Mr Singh said in the letter to RAW chief Anil Kumar Dhasmana.

Officials said the ED's stance was influenced by suspicions that the intelligence input may have been manufactured.

"A senior CBI officer and a R&AW officer who worked had under this CBI officer generated complaint after ED started investigating a corruption case against the top CBI officer," said a senior ED official.

When NDTV contacted CBI Director Alok Verma, he refused to say anything on the row. "You have to ask officers concerned about this. I would not be able to say anything," he told NDTV.

A senior police officer in a central probe agency said the squabbling among agencies didn't augur well and could adversely impact investigations. It is not clear if a probe had been ordered into the leak of the RAW note against Rajeshwar Singh on social media.

"Rather than going after fugitives like Nirav Modi and Vijay Malaya these agencies are fighting among themselves. This is a bad precedent and will affect investigations," discloses a senior intelligence officer.

Enforcement Directorate's Defence Of Officer Exposes Rift With R&AW
 

Butter Chicken

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In an audacious counter-intelligence operation, unprecedented in its scale and scope, Indian security agencies infiltrated an Islamic State ring to thwart a bid by an IS Afghan suicide bomber to strike New Delhi.

The operation included the Indian “plant” supplying the IS operative with explosives — without triggers — and even arranging for his accommodation in the capital.

The arrest by Indian agencies happened in New Delhi around September 2017 but it’s only now that top diplomatic and intelligence sources have confirmed details to The Indian Express.

The IS operative, who lived in New Delhi in the guise of an engineering student, was flown to Afghanistan days after he was arrested and is, at present, understood to be in custody at a key US military base in Afghanistan.

In fact, so “high value” is this Afghan bomber that his confessions and interrogations are seen as one of the possible reasons behind the string of successes achieved recently by US forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan, sources said.


The arrest by Indian agencies happened in New Delhi around September 2017 but it’s only now that top diplomatic and intelligence sources have confirmed details to The Indian Express.
Sources have told The Indian Express that an 18-month-long surveillance operation in Afghanistan, Dubai and New Delhi yielded intelligence that a group of 12 IS operatives were being sent after training in Pakistan to carry out bomb attacks in the region.

One of them, an Afghan national in his mid-twenties and the “son of a wealthy businessman,” was given New Delhi as his target for a suicide attack.

Sources said that as part of his undercover “mission,” he got himself admitted to a private engineering college on the outskirts of the capital, along the Delhi-Faridabad highway. Initially, he lived in the college hostel but, sources said, he subsequently rented a ground-floor apartment in Lajpat Nagar,

As many as 80 Indian investigators and security personnel had to be deployed for “physical surveillance” during the peak one-month period of the operation to ensure that the target was never out of sight and did not slip away, sources said.

There is an indication, from his questioning, that the suicide bomb attack in the Manchester arena in UK on May 22, 2017, killing 23 people, could have been triggered by a member of the same IS group which included the Afghan picked up from New Delhi.

Sources said that the type of explosives he demanded in New Delhi were similar to the ones used in the Manchester blast.

There is information that the IS operation began with sleuths of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) tracking a suspicious transfer of $50,000 by individuals under their watch from Dubai to a location in Afghanistan and then linking the dots with intelligence shared by US about New Delhi being a possible target in the near future for an IS strike.

It was at this stage that a decision was taken to infiltrate the IS circuit. With a flow of telephone intercepts giving away details of the arrival of the bomber in New Delhi, a suitable candidate was picked for befriending the Afghan.

Sources said that the Indian operative was the one who located the Lajpat Nagar safehouse for the Afghan, though initially a third-floor place was arranged, this was later changed to a ground-floor apartment.

This Indian agent was finally tasked by the IS to arrange for explosives for the New Delhi strike at which stage, a multi-agency surveillance ring was thrown around the Lajpat Nagar house, sources said.

It is now known that the IS saboteur visited the Delhi Airport, Ansal Plaza mall, a Vasant Kunj mall as well as the South Extension market, may be among other places in New Delhi, as reconnaissance for the strike.

Constant feedback was being given by him to his handlers in Afghanistan.

Another twist to the dramatic early-morning swoop was the fact that the consignment of explosives and improvised devices was delivered to the Afghan by the Indian without any triggers as the ultimate subterfuge.

Those in the know of the ensuing interrogation of the IS bomber picked up from New Delhi say that besides Indian counter-intelligence experts, US agents also joined the interrogation. Sources said his confessions have helped US forces strike at many Taliban targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Indian intelligence infiltrated Islamic State ring to track, arrest Afghan suicide bomber sent to hit Delhi
 

BlackOpsIndia

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Interesting thing is some IS operative disclosed position of Taliban high value of targets! Seriously!

Taliban and IS are fighting each other how come IS operative have Taliban handlers location or info? And since when did suicide bombers are informed about hierarchy and important people of organization? Sucide bombers are expendables, they barely know anything about a person handling him forget knowing about enemy organization.

Could have been more credible if author knew something very basic about these groups and their functioning.
 

Milspec

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IS operative reporting to Taliban handler? Since when did they start getting along. I thought a healthy competition was going on between them.
Different tree same wood.
 

Ashwin

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R&AW is at the centre of massive overhaul of intelligence apparatus

As he enters the last lap of his first term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is undertaking a quiet overhaul of the top echelons of India’s security establishment. In a series of moves that could change the character of governance, he is packing the security establishment with former and serving spymasters and generals.

The National Security Council Secretariat, a fief of former diplomats even when headed by former Intelligence Bureau chief M.K. Narayanan, is now packed with former and serving spymasters. Its budget has been upped 10 times from a paltry Rs33 crore in 2016-17 to Rs334 crore in 2017-18, and rules have been eased so as to make import of security equipment exempt from item-wise licence.

In a signalling gesture, the Sardar Patel Bhavan on Parliament Street has been allotted to the exclusive use of the NSC Secretariat. Other offices in the building—such as part of the cabinet secretariat, and the panchayati raj and statistics and programme implementation ministries—are moving out. In the new security regime, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, a former Intelligence Bureau chief, will be a virtual security czar with all security agencies and advisers reporting to him. He will be aided by four (earlier there was only one) deputy NSAs—most of them former spymasters—plus a military adviser.

Former R&AW chief Rajinder Khanna and Joint Intelligence Committee chairman R.N. Ravi, who is also the interlocutor for the Naga talks, have been made deputy NSAs. These posts were hitherto held by diplomats whenever the NSA was from the police. The other deputy NSA is Pankaj Saran, a former diplomat. Former Defence Intelligence Agency chief Lt Gen V.G. Khandare will be the new military adviser. With this, the JIC, which analyses intelligence data flowing from the R&AW, IB, Military Intelligence, Naval Intelligence and Air Intelligence, gets subsumed under the NSCS.

The Strategic Policy Group, which had been non-functional since the early days of Manmohan Singh’s second term, is being revived. It will have the chiefs of the armed forces, R&AW and IB, to make recommendations to the National Security Council. Its head will no longer be the cabinet secretary as had been the practice, but the NSA—who also heads the newly set up Defence Planning Committee and the refurbished National Security Advisory Board. The board has been pruned to four members, with P.S. Raghavan, former ambassador to Russia, as its chairman. He is aided by Lt Gen S.L. Narasimhan, a China expert who had commanded a corps on the Tibet border, former R&AW hand A.B. Mathur, and Bimal Patel, an academic.





The next in line to go thus subsumed, sources say, will be the office of the principal scientific adviser, currently held by K. Vijay Raghavan under the cabinet secretariat. Another reform has been the creation of the post of the national cyber security coordinator—currently held by former Computer Emergency Response Team head Gulshan Rai—who reports to the prime minister. This office will also be made part of the NSCS.

Former R&AW hand A.B. Mathur has been made the interlocutor with the ULFA; former IB chief Dineshwar Sharma is interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir, and another ex-IB boss, Syed Asif Ibrahim, had been special envoy on counter-terrorism in the NSCS till lately. Former R&AW chief Alok Joshi (see interview) recently retired as head of the technical intelligence gathering agency National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO); he has been succeeded by another spymaster S.C. Jha. A former IB special director, Jha was Joshi’s deputy. “It is beneficial to have a specialist on the job,” said Ajit Lal, former JIC chief. “As R&AW chief, Joshi was a consumer of intel gathered by the NTRO. When he became its chairman, he knew exactly what is expected of the NTRO by the IB or R&AW.”

Both R&AW and IB will have new chiefs in two months—K. Ilango, who was station chief in Colombo and was accused by Mahinda Rajapaksa of having managed the 2015 presidential polls in favour of Maithripala Sirisena, is being tipped to head R&AW. All the same, the name of R&AW officer Samant Goel, who has been named in the FIR in the tussle within the CBI, has also been making rounds, as also of Subodh Jaiswal, who is currently Mumbai Police chief. Jaiswal had done a stint in R&AW and had got empanelled to hold a director-general post. In the IB, the front-runners are Arvind Kumar, a 1984 batch Assam cadre IPS officer currently posted as special director, and Maharashtra Police chief Dattatray Padsalgikar. Padsalgikar, who had a long stint in the IB, was to retire in August, but has been given a three-month extension which may be extended till December, when the incumbent Rajiv Jain retires.

MEANWHILE within R&AW, which is celebrating its 50th year, the deadwood are being removed, and young and fresh minds hired. In the largest clean-up drive since the days of Morarji Desai, who sacked a third of his spies, the Modi regime has marked more than 70 senior and mid-level officers for “compulsory retirement.”

The exercise, personally supervised by R&AW chief Anil Dhasmana since last year, will involve giving pink slips on grounds of “non-performance” and “doubtful integrity”. A dozen of those marked, four holding joint secretary rank, have been shown the secret door. If the sack of the 1970s was undertaken with a view to blunting R&AW’s effectiveness by a prime minister who hated covert operations, the present exercise is being undertaken by a gung-ho prime minister who wants to make the agency leaner and sharper. As former R&AW special secretary Pratap Heblikar told THE WEEK, “The years 2007-14 were the agency’s worst with mediocre chiefs, political interference, nepotism and corruption ruling the roost. The period witnessed the demise of R&AW at the hands of a mafia.”

The period also witnessed a most shameful sex scandal when senior officer Nisha Priya Bhatia, who was working in R&AW’s training pad in Gurugram, went to court seeking prosecution of the officers in R&AW’s sexual harassment committee, which, in 2008, found “no proof” for her complaints. The government declared her a person of unsound mind, after she tried to immolate herself in front of the prime minister’s office, but withdrew the statement after a court order. The Supreme Court recently issued notices to the R&AW chief and others.

The Bhatia case was followed by former R&AW hand Major General V.K. Singh’s revelation in a book about misuse of secret funds and corruption in equipment buys—he is now facing prosecution for revealing secrets. Then came former officer R.K. Yadav’s book Mission R&AW which raised corruption and misconduct charges against several former chiefs—particularly Ashok Chaturvedi (2007-2009), who is alleged to have tormented Nisha Bhatia, and S.K. Tripathi (2011-2012) who, Yadav alleges, “eroded the working culture of R&AW and made it an agency of municipality level”.





There was also the case of Brig Ujjal Dasgupta being linked to American spy Rosanna Minchew, and the recall of the Colombo station head who had been honey-trapped by a Chinese woman. The worst stink raised by Yadav is about two officers caught on spy camera in 2013, having sex in the office.

The period also witnessed a series of setbacks and gaffes. The worst was when Pakistan pointed out that the R&AW-made list of wanted terrorists that India had handed over to it contained names of three men who were in Indian custody. India had to eat the humble pie when Pakistanis played the gracious victim—they played it down, apparently in return for an old favour. R&AW had earlier saved the life of president Pervez Musharraf with a timely warning about an assassination plot. Such courtesies are common in the world of spies (see story on page 58).

There are those who argue that during the down period, R&AW’s attention was on the east. As the 2009 fiasco over the Indo-Pak statement in Sharm-el Sheikh revealed, India had, as a matter of policy, scaled down operations in Pakistan. “But, we got ULFA chief Arabinda Rajkhowa during this period,” pointed out an Army officer who had liaised with R&AW in the east. “Our boys [R&AW operatives] in Bangladesh worked on Rajkhowa to surrender to the Bangladesh Police, who handed him over to India.”

THE MAIN PROBLEM that is causing failures or setbacks in the western theatre, R&AW hands admit, is one of legacy. R&AW is facing a shortage of personnel; it needs 9,000 hands, but has only 7,500 to 8,000. The shortage is at the level of joint secretaries, directors and deputy secretaries—about 40 posts at these levels are vacant. There are few on the rolls who can speak Pashto, Khowar or Kohistani, the tribal tongues of Pakistan’s northwest.

Moreover, an Islamophobic mindset that had gripped the security establishment has led to recruitment of too few Muslims. (Asif Ibrahim, who retired as IB chief last year, is India’s first Muslim spymaster.) The result is there are few who can be sent to Pakistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or Afghanistan. Pointed out former R&AW chief A.S. Dulat: “I am a man from the IB, and I feel that nothing can replace human intelligence. The more, the better.’’ Dulat had tried to recruit Muslims—especially after the 1999 Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijack which took place during his term—but found a deep distrust even among instructors. They found it easier to teach Urdu to Sikhs and Hindus, groom them into Muslim aliases and launch them into Pakistan and PoK. “The agency needs experts in Persian, Arabic, Dari, Pashto, Urdu and Kashmiri,” said Dulat.

Islamophobia has also led to a mindset that discourages making use of double agents, a practice that all spy agencies have been following even through the years of classic Russo-American Cold War. “I have seen officers reject the idea of a double agent, saying he works for the ISI or another hostile agency,” said Dulat. “I used to tell them that this was exactly why we needed him. We are not looking for angels.”

Indeed, there are bright boys and girls wanting to serve in intelligence jobs on short-term basis, but they are hampered by the fact that after serving the contract period, they cannot get even an experience certificate. Thus, the agency is forced to recruit, even for short terms, from the armed forces, police, post and telecom. “There is a need to tap the talent which exists in the outside world and create some kind of a certification process for those hired on contract basis,” said Joshi. “Other countries have found ways of employing youngsters. We should look into them.”

The successes in the east also highlight the importance of humint. The agency has enough speakers (Hindus, Buddhists and Christians) of Bengali and the northeastern hill tongues who can penetrate the underground groups. But there are too few Muslims to do the same in the western theatre.





WRANGLES over postings are another problem. Trying to be fair to all, bosses often post techies and crypto-experts to overseas action stations where they prove to be flops, while general duty operatives while away their time pushing files in the office. The foreign service, too, resists R&AW hands coming and occupying posts which they think are theirs, especially in friendly capitals. “They ask what intelligence is to be gathered in Paris or Brussels,” pointed out a R&AW officer. “But we get critical intelligence about what the Chinese or Pakistanis are up to from these stations.”

The best example is how R&AW learnt of Pakistan’s Siachen plans in 1984 when it heard about a bulk order for snow-boots placed by Pakistan with a European manufacturer (see story on page 58). Moreover, stations like Vienna, Paris, London and Brussels are hubs of agents and double agents from all over the world who exchange tips for money or as favour.

Broader policies followed by changing regimes also affect operations. “What is required is a foreign policy that supports and takes forward the organisation, instead of tying its hands,” said Sanjiv Tripathi, the longest serving R&AW chief. “The MEA is handling that part of Kashmir which is occupied by Pakistan, and the home ministry is handling the part which is under India. But is it not a reality that the entire J&K, including PoK, is part of India? The population in PoK is also ours. R&AW should carry out psychological operations to expose this discrepancy through seminars, articles and discussions.” Tripathi believes that Pakistan’s step-motherly treatment of its minorities, particularly the Pashtuns, Sindhis, Baluchis and Baltis, offers excellent ground for hosting Indian agents. However, very little is being done, except in PoK.

There has been some energisation of the western theatre in the recent months. Though the Taliban and its myriad branches are still beyond its reach, R&AW is learnt to have penetrated the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. This has led to the recent successes in getting Indian hostages released, and even foiling of a major terror hit in Delhi last September. R&AW stumbled on the plot when it spotted a suspicious transfer of $50,000 from Dubai to Afghanistan. It tracked the recipient and nabbed him when he landed in Delhi.

The dominance of the police service is a problem that has been plaguing the agency for decades. Non-police officers point out that due to their training and mannerisms, the police types stand out in crowds of diplomats and would be detected. “R.N. Kao’s idea was to make the R&AW a multi-disciplinary body with intake from various services, and not just police,’’ said R. Banerji, former special secretary who headed a task force on intelligence reform in the IDSA, a think tank of the defence ministry.

The exposure of financial and other scams in recent years has made many officers think that the agency needs parliamentary oversight, like in other democracies. “This will ensure that they are covering all the charter of duties assigned to them,” said Tripathi. “It would also ensure proper coordination and prevent corruption from seeping in.”

Parliamentary oversight by no means would entail disclosure of operational details, assured Banerji. “It would be only administrative oversight, making the agency answerable on fulfilling their charter of duties and utilising the resources in the right manner,” he said. Heblikar agrees: “There is need to remove the police leadership. R&AW should have parliamentary approval and be subject to parliamentary oversight.” In 2011, Manish Tewari of the Congress had moved a private member’s bill for providing legal status to IB, R&AW and NTRO. The bill lapsed in 2012.

All are agreed that R&AW has had more successes than setbacks. Dulat proudly recalled how ISI chief Asad Durrani told him: “You people are better than us, you are more professional.’’ Durrani also told him about how G.S. Bajpai, who was R&AW chief in 1991-92, had impressed him. “‘I could sense this man was superior to me,’ Durrani told me,” Dulat told THE WEEK..

As former chief Hormis Tharakan, who attempted the first clean-up after the Rabinder Singh and Ujjal Dasgupta episodes, pointed out, “R&AW was created from scratch and went on to reach rare heights. An important factor in that rapid rise was the personality of the founding fathers and the rapport they enjoyed with the political leadership. I think R&AW has adapted itself to changing ground realities admirably.”

Spies rule the roost
 

Ashwin

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Indian intelligence infiltrated Islamic State ring to track, arrest Afghan suicide bomber sent to hit Delhi

In an audacious counter-intelligence operation, unprecedented in its scale and scope, Indian security agencies infiltrated an Islamic State ring to thwart a bid by an IS Afghan suicide bomber to strike New Delhi.

The operation included the Indian “plant” supplying the IS operative with explosives — without triggers — and even arranging for his accommodation in the capital.

The arrest by Indian agencies happened in New Delhi around September 2017 but it’s only now that top diplomatic and intelligence sources have confirmed details to The Indian Express.

The IS operative, who lived in New Delhi in the guise of an engineering student, was flown to Afghanistan days after he was arrested and is, at present, understood to be in custody at a key US military base in Afghanistan.



In fact, so “high value” is this Afghan bomber that his confessions and interrogations are seen as one of the possible reasons behind the string of successes achieved recently by US forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan, sources said.

The arrest by Indian agencies happened in New Delhi around September 2017 but it’s only now that top diplomatic and intelligence sources have confirmed details to The Indian Express.
Sources have told The Indian Express that an 18-month-long surveillance operation in Afghanistan, Dubai and New Delhi yielded intelligence that a group of 12 IS operatives were being sent after training in Pakistan to carry out bomb attacks in the region.

One of them, an Afghan national in his mid-twenties and the “son of a wealthy businessman,” was given New Delhi as his target for a suicide attack.

Sources said that as part of his undercover “mission,” he got himself admitted to a private engineering college on the outskirts of the capital, along the Delhi-Faridabad highway. Initially, he lived in the college hostel but, sources said, he subsequently rented a ground-floor apartment in Lajpat Nagar,

As many as 80 Indian investigators and security personnel had to be deployed for “physical surveillance” during the peak one-month period of the operation to ensure that the target was never out of sight and did not slip away, sources said.

There is an indication, from his questioning, that the suicide bomb attack in the Manchester arena in UK on May 22, 2017, killing 23 people, could have been triggered by a member of the same IS group which included the Afghan picked up from New Delhi.

Sources said that the type of explosives he demanded in New Delhi were similar to the ones used in the Manchester blast.

There is information that the IS operation began with sleuths of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) tracking a suspicious transfer of $50,000 by individuals under their watch from Dubai to a location in Afghanistan and then linking the dots with intelligence shared by US about New Delhi being a possible target in the near future for an IS strike.

It was at this stage that a decision was taken to infiltrate the IS circuit. With a flow of telephone intercepts giving away details of the arrival of the bomber in New Delhi, a suitable candidate was picked for befriending the Afghan.

Sources said that the Indian operative was the one who located the Lajpat Nagar safehouse for the Afghan, though initially a third-floor place was arranged, this was later changed to a ground-floor apartment.

This Indian agent was finally tasked by the IS to arrange for explosives for the New Delhi strike at which stage, a multi-agency surveillance ring was thrown around the Lajpat Nagar house, sources said.

It is now known that the IS saboteur visited the Delhi Airport, Ansal Plaza mall, a Vasant Kunj mall as well as the South Extension market, may be among other places in New Delhi, as reconnaissance for the strike.

Constant feedback was being given by him to his handlers in Afghanistan.

Another twist to the dramatic early-morning swoop was the fact that the consignment of explosives and improvised devices was delivered to the Afghan by the Indian without any triggers as the ultimate subterfuge.

Those in the know of the ensuing interrogation of the IS bomber picked up from New Delhi say that besides Indian counter-intelligence experts, US agents also joined the interrogation. Sources said his confessions have helped US forces strike at many Taliban targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Indian intelligence infiltrated Islamic State ring to track, arrest Afghan suicide bomber sent to hit Delhi
 

zarvan

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Why Do Our Spies Fail Us? Because They Are Not Accountable

Should Indian Intelligence agencies be made accountable? Should the National Security Council (NSC), which advises the Prime Minister and the National Security Advisor (NSA), who heads it, be made statutory or bodies created by law? Should they be made accountable to parliament? Well, these are some of the talking points among the top bureaucracy these days.

In foreign countries, intelligence agencies are defined and created by acts or laws which clearly outline their powers and functions. This is not the case in India, where both the Intelligence Bureau and RAW were created through executive orders. Even the office of the NSA does not have legislative backing. And parliamentary oversight is a very sensitive, almost taboo, subject amongst the intelligence fraternity in India.

But change is inevitable, so while netas are busy with election campaigns, babus are busy discussing their future.

If the BJP comes back to power, more discretionary powers would be given to agencies, while the Congress has promised to make the system more transparent. Both scenarios and possible pitfalls are topics of discussions.

Babudom is most scared of the word "accountability". And so, it is the most discussed word which draws mixed reactions from people who take serious decisions regarding "national security".

"Limited scrutiny should be allowed and why not? Operational details can be left out. All over the world, agencies are accountable, we cannot buck the trend," states one serving bureaucrat who further acknowledges that accountability among Indian intelligence agencies is very low.

"Sri Lanka took strict action (after the Easter Sunday) terror attacks, but we have failed to do so not once, but many a times," he regrets.

After 26/11, no security officials were penalized. The officers in charge of Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) in 2008 claim that inputs provided by USA were not enough to be acted upon.

Some old-timers recall that after Kargil in 1999, the serving Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) Secretary Arvind Dave was made a Lieutenant Governor.

In Pulwama too, intelligence agencies failed to provide meaningful actionable inputs. Almost two and a half months after the attack which left more than 40 jawans dead, reports sent to the Home Ministry have failed to fix accountability for any organisation or officer.

Interestingly, the national security plan released by the Congress and based on the report by Northern Army Commander Lt Gen (retd) DS Hooda stresses on a parliamentary standing committee on intelligence to regularly audit the standards and performance of our agencies and further making recommendations for improvement.

Maybe that's one of the reason why a lot of "chai par charcha" is taking place in Raisina Hills and Sardar Patel Bhavan on issues like practical boundaries of intrusive inspection and accountability of intelligence agencies on invasion of privacy or human rights violations under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

Some officers state that there is reluctance from the political class because it sees the agencies as instruments for partisan exploitation and not for defending national interests. Then there is reluctance also from sections of the intelligence officers themselves because they think that unchecked secrecy gives them an aura of power and influence which they do not want to lose.


But the fact is absence of legislative cover can be a serious lacuna as all intelligence work is carried out under executive instructions. And often, intelligence agencies can be forced to turn on each other. Last year, during CBI vs CBI, two officers of Intelligence Bureau personnel were detained by the staff of former CBI Director Alok Verma near his home. Later, it was alleged they were spying on him. In the same case, allegations were made by senior officials of phones being tapped, including that of NSA.

"If you have a Minister telling the DIB (Director, Intelligence Bureau) to go and do something, and for him to say I will not do it, he should have a piece of paper to say this is what the law says," points out a former DIB.

"Accountability already exits, if you want to fine tune it further it should be done with deliberations," states a serving senior officer in an intelligence setup.

Another major accountability in the existing intelligence apparatus which needs to be addressed is financial though the idea of Secret Service Funds (SSF) being audited even if in camera does not have many takers in the government.

Not many know that contrary to popular perception, SSFs have remained outside the purview of any audit - so far. Only a bland annual certificate of full use has to be given by the head of the organisation.

And strangely, though the SSF has been steadily increasing every year in the government's annual budget but its unutilized component never gets surrendered, whereas other funds lapse if the project for which they are sanctioned remains unimplemented. This understandably encourages a suggestion of misuse and emphasises the need for change and some better form of regulation without compromising secrecy.

From purchase of capital equipment like cars in violation of standard prescribed norms of the Government, or the indiscriminate hiring of Safe-Houses, which more often than not are properties belonging almost exclusively to in-house employees at different levels of seniority.

Another recent practice has been to routinely engage retired employees, even in non-specialised categories and keep them employed indefinitely on hefty salaries paid from the SSF, totally by-passing the laid down government rules and regulations.

Babus do concede that if a Home Minister is seen as very powerful, no one jostles to control agencies. "LK Advani was an all-powerful Home Minister. He had sole control over IB and R&AW. All decisions relating security were taken by him. Vajpayee-ji had no issues in letting Deputy PM run the show," explains an old timer.

About P Chidambaram, says an officer, "He was a hard task-master but he never blocked communication of intelligence chiefs with the PM, but in the present regime, all communication which reaches PM is mostly through NSA, and it is not healthy in a democracy."

"Earlier also, we had strong NSAs. Vajpayee-ji used to depend on Brajesh Mishra a lot, the only difference between the two is that of personalities. Mishra-ji was also as assertive but Ajit Doval Sahab is very visible and that's why he is always in news," smilingly states a babu who also reports to the NSA.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.


https://www.ndtv.com/blog/why-do-ou...re-not-accountable-2035420?pfrom=home-opinion
 
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Ashwin

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No IPS officer should head RAW, chief should be PM’s choice — Indira Gandhi told RN Kao



Having RN Kao set up ARC [Aviation Research Centre] and headed it until 1966, R.N. Kao [RNK] was also the head of external intelligence in the IB [Intelligence Bureau].

[Lal Bahadur] Shastri had died in January 1966 and Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter, became India’s third Prime Minister. At that point in time, she was considered a political lightweight and the Congress Party stalwarts, who helped her ascend to the top post, had hoped to control her from the shadows. Within a couple of years, however, she outwitted most of her seniors in the party to rule India for over a decade. She had the ability to pick the right team and then leave implementation of her policies to them.
One key appointment she made in 1967 was P.N. Haksar. A Kashmiri Pandit, who had never lived in Kashmir, Haksar, along with RNK, was to play a seminal role in most of Indira Gandhi’s momentous decisions between 1967 and 1975. Haksar, in his capacity as secretary to the prime minister, in fact helped RNK to create R&AW.
There are many reasons cited in public domain why R&AW was created. However, in absence of any official document in public domain on the subject, we will never know the exact reasoning given by RNK in a detailed note to Mrs Gandhi in late 1967 or early 1968. That background note is still classified.
Sankaran Nair, RNK’s closest friend and colleague, has, however, written a longish passage in his book as to why and how R&AW came into being. Nair’s contention in his book is based on his personal knowledge and memory. He wrote, ‘As often happens with bureaucracy, the right hand does not know what the left hand does. Sometimes it cuts its nose to spite the rivals’ face, in the course of turf wars.’ Nair was referring to what he calls a minor conflict that had erupted in 1965 between the army and the Bureau over intelligence turf immediately after the war with Pakistan.
Apparently, Army Chief General J.N. Choudhry sent a strong paper to the minister of defence, Y.B. Chavan. His main point was that the Army could not land a decisive blow on Pakistan because precise intelligence was not available since collection of intelligence was entrusted to ‘flat-footed Çlouseaus of the IB’. The paper argued that military intelligence should be the preserve of military men who should be posted abroad in Indian missions abroad to collect information, replacing the IB representatives. Defence Minister Chavan agreed with these views but the cabinet did not pursue the matter at that time.
When Mrs Gandhi took over as the prime minister, there were many seniors in her cabinet who had longer administrative and political experience. To stamp her authority, Mrs Gandhi had to take many steps to rein in many Congress stalwarts. Nair said that one of those leaders who was cut to size by Mrs Gandhi was Chavan, the strongman from Bombay. Chavan had moved from defence to the home ministry in Mrs Gandhi’s cabinet. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was the controlling authority of the IB then, as it is now.

Nair wrote that Indira Gandhi strongly suspected him (Chavan) of conspiring against her and in 1968, she ordered the Department of Personnel, which was in charge of the administration of the superior civil services like the IAS, the IPS, along with its junior minister of state, should be removed from the home ministry and placed under the prime minister. She then moved the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a powerful police organisation for the investigation of corruption, which could and has been also misused to his political opponents, from the home minister to the Prime Minister. She moved on to weaken the IB by stripping it of its foreign posts, which, among other things, collected important military information abroad.
Nair added, ‘The defence ministry’s 1965 paper on the need to separate foreign intelligence which included military intelligence, from the IB which Chavan had supported, was effectively used to strip the IB of this duty. The prospect of posting abroad was an attraction which had brought good IPS officers from the states to the IB. So this separation of foreign intelligence was meant to impair the efficiency of the IB and therefore its utility to Chavan as home minister.’
Incidentally, nearly 20 years later, during Prime Minister V.P. Singh’s tenure, the army once again raised the issue of allowing it to run clandestine operations from the Indian diplomatic missions abroad, says B. Raman, a senior R&AW officer. ‘After carefully examining the matter, he reiterated the original decision of Indira Gandhi that the army should collect only tactical military intelligence through trans-border sources and should not run any clandestine operation outside the country. However, V.P. Singh removed the restrictions imposed by his predecessors on the depth up to which it could run the trans-border source operations from the Indian territory.’
Nair remembers that Mrs Gandhi commissioned RNK to produce a paper delineating the structure of the new foreign intelligence agency. He added, ‘Kao, now a Joint Director in the IB, was rated as a top-notch officer. Having worked as the personal security officer to Pandit Nehru, he was known to the family. Being a Kashmiri Pandit was no disqualification either.’ Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had given him a free hand except for two conditions.
Firstly, the new organisation should be a multidisciplinary one and should not draw its higher personnel exclusively from the IPS. Secondly, the top two posts would be filled at the discretion of the prime minister from within the organisation or from outside. Nair, who many old timers of R&AW describe as RNK’s alter ego, wrote, ‘Within a few months, Ramji produced his magnum opus, defining the proposed structure of India’s CIA. The designation of the personnel was to be in secretariat terms. The Chief was to be a Secretary and the junior ranks were to run down the line to the rank of Under Secretary.’
Nair claimed that the then Cabinet Secretary, D.S. Joshi, suggested that the organisation be called R&AW in order to camouflage it and be attached as a wing of the Cabinet Secretariat. Vappala Balachandran, who worked with RNK from 1975 but had a closer association with him in his post-retirement years, says the raison d’être of R&AW was to be different from the Central Police Organisation.
‘R&AW was always clear about the need to keep the organisation away from the police culture. I am extremely proud to be an IPS officer but when I joined R&AW and stayed on, I realised why Mrs Gandhi had emphasised to Kao the need to recruit R&AW officers from the market, if necessary. Intelligence collection, especially foreign intelligence collection, is a completely different cup of tea. Unlike the police or the IB, there is no support system abroad. One has to live by one’s wit and be as inconspicuous as possible,’ said Balachandran, who had several key foreign postings abroad.
Raman, one of the rare R&AW officers to have written extensively about the organisation’s functioning, its successes as well as failures, notes, ‘When the organisation came into being, Indira Gandhi gave it many special dispensations, such as exempting it from the purview of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in matters of recruitment and promotions, powers of sanction of foreign tours, etc. The head of the R&AW wore two hats. As the head of the organisation, he used to send proposals for director recruitment, sanction of posts, foreign travel, etc. to the Cabinet Secretariat. As a Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, he had these proposals examined and sanctioned. The idea was that if the R&AW was to be effective as an external intelligence agency, it should not be subjected to the usual red tape.
The grant of these special dispensations demanded that the head of the R&AW exercised these powers objectively with a deep sense of responsibility.’
Nair, who had worked very closely with RNK and had, in fact, succeeded him in Ghana, was asked by Kao if he would join him in building a new organisation that Indira Gandhi had sanctioned. He describes the circumstances under which he agreed to join R&AW. ‘The Prime Minister had accepted Ramji’s paper and asked him to help the new organization which he had started building. He invited me for lunch one day, explained the developments in the matter and said, “Shanks, will you join me in this task? I know the new boss of the IB has denied you your rightful promotion. I’ve not got an equivalent rank in the organization, but I shall try my best to get it for you.” I replied yes. I would love to join you in the pioneering job as a close friend and colleague. To hell with the rank.’ It was, perhaps, one of the most important the two old friends and colleagues would have had over lunch.

RNK and Nair made a formidable combination and nurtured the R&AW in its formative years to make it one of the best intelligence outfits in the world. However, from very early of its existence, the R&AW was a victim of bureaucratic apathy and peer jealousy.