Possible attacks by Al-Qaeda cited
Civil Aviation Ministry reviews security measuresKin of VVIPs to get Z category security
NEW DELHI: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is understood to have alerted Indian security agencies about possible attacks on airports and vital installations across the country by Al-Qaeda terrorists. The alert comes close on the heels of an anonymous letter received in Tiruchi warning of similar strikes.
The letter, addressed to the Tiruchi Airport Director, warned that "Al-Qaeda terrorists have infiltrated Chennai airport and are going to blow it up using sophisticated explosive devices. Suicide-bombers have penetrated Chennai airport and placed powerful bombs there."
Written in Tamil, it warned of possible attacks on other airports such as Coimbatore and Madurai, besides Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram airports in Kerala.
The Civil Aviation Ministry held meetings with top officials of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, the Home Ministry and the Central Industrial Security Force. Security has been stepped up and various measures put in place. Passengers have been advised to report early.
Sharing the details, the FBI asked Indian authorities for a thorough profiling of passengers bound for the U.S. besides providing extra Apron security (when aircraft is on the tarmac) to the plane, official sources in Delhi said.
The Ministry has asked all the States to further enhance the security around the airports, especially in the southern States.
In the wake of the abduction threat from the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Centre will provide maximum security for the kin of VVIPs, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
A decision to this effect, taken at a meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil last month, was implemented recently after a security review, official sources said. Among others, the grandchildren of Dr. Singh, Ms. Gandhi and Mr. Vajpayee would be provided with "Z" category security.
The meeting was called after security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir intercepted a wireless message of Jaish, suggesting that militants were planning to kidnap the kin of the VVIPs to secure the release of militants in jail. The family members, including daughters, their husbands and the grandchildren of the Prime Minister, would be put under the security net, the sources said.
Sources said the security establishment was examining new threats. A decision was taken to frame a new strategy for Ms. Gandhi and Rahul, who would be campaigning in Uttar Pradesh, Uttranchal and Punjab for the Assembly elections. Uttar Pradesh was of greater concern for the security agencies in view of the presence of sleeper cells of terror groups such as the Lashker-e-Taiba and Jaish.