Paris Attack reminds me of my study during ‘Training on Investigation’ on ‘SLEEPER CELLS’, a Terrorist Cell whose secret agents work under cover in an area until sent into action These secret agents receive specialized training in and are then ‘assigned’ to assimilate themselves into the targeted country’s or area’s culture and society. These sleeper agents may spend years as faceless people, including as students or traders, till they suddenly receive orders from their overseas handlers to either commit an act of terrorism or provide aid to those carrying out the act. Individual members of a sleeper cell may not even be aware of each other – a vital way of protecting the identity of the others during police interrogations. It is only when a blast takes place that police come to know about the sleeper cell that was quietly providing the inputs over months, or maybe years. And, these Sleeper Cells are not restricted only to Islamic Terrorist Groups, these may be part of any Terrorist Groups, including the internal disgruntled group of Indian Citizens.
The recent attacks in several parts of the country are a pointer to the setting up of sleeper cells by terrorist groups. Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Kashmir-based terrorist group which was involved in the attack on the Indian parliament, had set up its sleeper cell in the city ahead of the attack. Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, who conspired with the Lashkar-e-Taiba to launch the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was a member of the LeT sleeper cell.
Headley had visited several parts of India and done a recce of the Mumbai targets and passed on the inputs to his LeT handlers in Pakistan ahead of the strike. The Nov 26, 2008, attack killed 166 people and injured over 300.
The September 2008 Delhi serial blasts were the handiwork of a sleeper cell that lay quietly gathering information before carrying out the bombings that killed 30 people and left 100 injured. The suspected terrorists who were killed in the Batla House gun-battle were part of a sleeper cell active in the capital to perform the bombings.
Any idea how many ‘Sleeper Cells’ of Terrorist in India? No idea? We can’t even imagine. They may be in the shape of student groups, labourers, artists involved in cultural activities etc. As per the reports, even our capital Delhi is the den of Terrorist Sleeper Cells of different groups; domestic as well as out shore groups. A recent intercept shared by Intelligence Bureau and other intelligence agencies with UP police says that terror groups are trying to activate sleeper cells in various cities to launch bomb attacks in the wake of the recent Dadri lynching and Mainpuri-like instances of violence. The intercept, which has been circulated among the state’s senior police officials, including DIGs, IGs and SSPs, two men are found exchanging details about sleeper cells in the state and are continuously referring to a man based in Allahabad who is known to provide assistance to people associated with terror groups. During the conversation, one man assures the other that “a few women cops honey-trapped by the outfits’ men will also provide assistance” in their mission. Several communally-sensitive locations across the state, including Kashi Vishwanath temple and Ramlala temple in Ayodhya, feature as targets in the intercept.
Recently, according to an internal recruitment document of a Terrorist Group, which also seeks to unite the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban into a single army of terror, had reportedly said that the ISIS is preparing to attack India to provoke an Armageddon-like confrontation with the US. The investigative story published by the USA reported by American Media Institute referred to a 32-page Urdu document obtained from a Pakistani citizen with connections inside the Pakistani Taliban. Reportedly, the ISIS could use the PAK SLEEPER CELLS already present in different parts of India to organise terrorist attacks.
Though, I do believe that we are safe only because our locations are not in the hit-list of terrorists; otherwise once they decide nobody can stop them. But, still, let’s be alert and prepared to face Sleeper Cells which may be around you.