India has put several international airports on "red alert" following
repeated e-mailed threats to target air facilities in New Delhi, Bangalore and
Chennai and hijack airliners. From New Delhi, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman
reports the increased security comes in wake of last week's terror attack in
Mumbai, which killed about 175 people, and the anniversary of the destruction of
an Indian mosque.
Although some security experts are
casting doubt on the authenticity of e-mailed messages warning of more terror
attacks in India, authorities are taking no chances. They have put all civil
airports on alert and are making closer and repeated inspections of passengers'
Threatening e-mails sent to media organizations (including the
Voice of America) have been traced to a computer relay server in Saudi Arabia.
But analysts say they do not match the pattern and language of previous credible
communications received from the obscure group known as "Deccan Mujahideen."
E-mails in that name were sent immediately surrounding several bombings, earlier
this year, in Indian cities.
Indian officials contend last week's attack
on Mumbai was carried out by gunmen who came from Pakistan and who are linked to
the terrorist organization Laskhar-e-Taiba.
Contributing to the
apprehension is the anniversary of the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Uttar
Pradesh. The mosque - constructed by the first Mughal emperor - was demolished
by Hindu activists on December Sixth, 1992. The act inflamed Muslim
The latest e-mail threats specifically mention the
international airports at Bangalore, Chennai and New Delhi.
newspapers and television stations quote sources as saying that, in addition to
the e-mails, specific intelligence has been received that terrorists are
planning an assault at airports or hijackings.
India's air chief marshal,
Fali Homi Major acknowledges warnings of a 9/11 type aerial attack have been
discussed by military service heads.
"This is based on little warning
which has been received, that's all. Nothing else," he said. "We are prepared,
When asked whether airport security would ber stregthened
further, Major stated that he "can't reveal that."
India media say sky
marshals have been put on some flights and dogs able to sniff explosives are
being deployed at airports. Passengers are going through an additional layer of
body frisking and hand-baggge inspections before they board aircraft.
a result of the Civil Aviation Bureau's "anti-hijacking alert," domestic
passengers are being asked to arrive at affected airports two hours, in advance,
and those taking international flights should check in four hours before
India's military and intelligence agencies have been stung by
allegations that they had information - including relayed telecommunications
intercepts from the U.S. government - which, if acted upon, could have prevented
the Mumbai attacks.