Terror in the Air   (23 Jan 2009)

The arrest of Lashkar-e-Toiba’s operative Faheem Ansari by UP Police is turning out to be a vital breakthrough in India’s fight against terrorism. Many of Faheem’s revelations bore chilling connections to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. He had already revealed that Mumbai hotels could be targets for attacks and that terrorists could come by the sea route. Ansari’s latest admission that the next terror attacks would be targeted at India’s airports that has shook up the security agencies, which took immediate steps to secure entry and exit route access to all major Indian airports.

However, the security agencies seem to have looked over a crucial security loophole. The boundary walls of several major airports, including the ones in Delhi and Mumbai, remain dangerously porous and pose a direct threat to all aircrafts landing and taking-off from these airports. In Mumbai for example, a huge slum cluster exists right next to the airport perimeter wall. Standing on the rooftop of a nearby house, it is possible for any terrorist to open sniper fire or to shoot a grenade on a aircraft inside the airport. Such an attack can be easily prevented by raising the height of the perimeter wall to several meters, or by taking away the nearby slum clusters.

The 26/11 attacks have had a profound impact on the functioning of security agencies. Hotels in India are impregnable now, but the security is too focused securing the front entrance and access control. We must not forget that terrorists are now wedded to their modus operandi and nothing stops them from sneaking up from any unsecured door or boundary wall.

Rajeev Shukla