Indian intelligence agencies had detected an increase in “white faces” in the jihadi-training camps on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, national security adviser M K Narayanan told two key US senators in 2008, according to yet another secret diplomatic cable sent from the US embassy at New Delhi and sent to the media by whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.
Narayanan also tells US senators Russ Feingold and Bob Casey during a meeting on May 30, 2008, that these fundamentalist groups had “attempted to acquire fissile material and have the technical competence to manufacture an explosive device beyond a mere dirty bomb.”
He also warned that these groups have “enough physics to fabricate a crude bomb beyond a dirty bomb.”
Dispatched to Washington by the US embassy after two days, the contents of the leaked memo acquire significance in the backdrop of reports about Al-Qaeda’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons technology.
A separate cable also warned of how Al-Qaeda besides trying to procure nuclear material had been trying to recruit rogue scientists to make dirty radioactive improvised explosive devices.
A radioactive weapon that basically combines radioactive material with conventional explosives, the ‘dirty’ bomb is so called because of its purpose and capacity to contaminate the area around the explosion for years to come. While it is unlikely to cause many fatalities, it can be instrumental in spreading terror and triggering mass panic.
The former NSA also reveals in the memo that Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami was being identified as the group behind the Jaipur bombings.
On May 13, 2008, nine synchronized bombings in Rajasthan’s capital had claimed 63 lives besides injuring hundreds.
The senators were also told that the Indian jihadi no longer came from the poor sections of Muslim society but from the upper crust.
The leaked cable also has Narayanan lamenting that Indian intelligence agencies lacked a common understanding at a time when an incident such as the 2006 blasts in Mumbai showed that the planning and fundraising was done in as many as 11 different countries.
He also viewed the lack of “adequate understanding” among intelligence agencies as the greatest weakness in the war on terror.