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My article in Hindustan Times, Wed 22 Sept 2004

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  • Ravi VS Prasad
    by Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad Published in the Hindustan Times on Wednesday, 22 September 2004 Copyright Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, 2004 Rust Never Sleeps The
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 10, 2004
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      by Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      Published in the Hindustan Times on Wednesday, 22
      September 2004

      Copyright Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, 2004

      Rust Never Sleeps

      The Beslan school siege has created panic among Indian

      officials who fear that a terrorist group could carry
      out a copycat

      attack in India. It is noteworthy that the Chechen
      separatists had

      planned their attack meticulously months in advance.
      They came to know

      that the gymnasium�s floor was to be relaid during the
      school�s summer

      holidays. They disguised themselves as construction
      workers, and hidden

      within supplies of planks and cement, stashed vast
      quantities of arms

      and ammunition, explosives, food supplies, medical
      kits, gas masks, and

      communications sets under the wooden floor. When they
      assaulted the

      school on September 1, they pried open the wooden
      floor to retrieve

      their stash of arms and explosives, which had remained
      undetected for

      weeks. A similar procedure of smuggling in supplies
      for a long siege

      while disguised as construction workers had been
      followed by the Chechen

      separatists who had seized a Moscow theatre in October

      The assassination of then Chechen president Akhmad
      Kadyrov on 09 May

      2004 in Grozny spread consternation among those
      responsible for VIP

      security. The bomb was hidden deep inside the concrete
      of Grozny's

      Dynamo Stadium. It was not detected even after several

      operations conducted for over a week. Dynamo Stadium
      was constructed

      only three months earlier. The bomb had been planted
      in the wet concrete

      while the stadium was being constructed, to be
      triggered months later

      when Kadyrov would be the chief guest at the Victory
      Day celebrations.

      With all the refurbishing of bungalows going on in
      Delhi for both new

      and outgoing ministers, as well as construction of
      flyovers and the

      Metro, hundreds of similar bombs could be laid
      unobtrusively now, deep

      under bungalow floors, road surfaces, or inside the
      Metro's columns or

      tunnels, for detonation months later.

      The explosive used in Kadyrov�s assassination was an

      shell, easily available from any Indian munitions
      depot or firing range.

      Significantly, even Deep Search Metal Detectors (of
      the kind used to

      sanitize the routes of Indian VIPs) did not detect it
      since it had been

      buried so far deep inside the concrete during

      But terrorist groups within India use explosives far
      more advanced than

      the artillery shell used in Grozny. The latest
      generation of plastic

      explosives, such as

      cyclo-tetra-methylene-tetra-amine, and

      are almost impossible to detect. They look and feel
      like children's

      plasticine and can be easily moulded into any shape.

      workers refurbishing ministerial bungalows could
      unobtrusively place

      them deep within fittings and furnishings or walls and

      Any reasonably competent chemist could manufacture
      these plastic

      explosives in a makeshift laboratory by reacting
      vegetable oils or fruit

      essences with nitric acid. They only need a small
      electric current to

      detonate them. This current was supplied in the Grozny
      stadium by having

      the wires going into the concrete block disguised as
      ordinary lighting

      or telecom wires. The assassins had embedded long-life

      together with a timer, in the concrete since the exact
      moment when

      Kadyrov would view the Victory Day celebrations was
      publicly available

      information months in advance (just as we know the
      exact time and

      seating arrangements each year when the prime minister
      or governor

      attends various Independence Day or Republic Day
      functions). The use of

      physical wires also circumvented the electromagnetic
      jammers that are

      usually used nowadays to protect VIPs from remotely
      detonated bombs,

      such as those triggered by cellular phones.

      The attack on Chandrababu Naidu by Peoples War Group
      at Tirupati on 1

      October 2003 is a prime example of precise long-term
      planning. PWG used

      World War II-vintage low-technology appropriately -
      actually physically

      laying tripwires to gelatin Claymore mines packed with
      metal shrapnel,

      and then detonating seventeen of them manually using
      ordinary dry-cell

      batteries and a camera flashbulb (available in any
      ordinary store for a

      few rupees) when Naidu's convoy passed by.

      PWG did not use either remote-triggers which could be
      jammed by

      electromagnetic jammers, nor timers which would
      require precise

      forecasting of the exact second when Naidu's convoy
      would pass by.

      Significantly, even the Deep Search Metal Detectors
      used to survey Naidu's

      route failed to detect the Claymores. Nor did sniffer
      dogs, who had

      searched Naidu's entire route for several hours,
      manage to detect the

      Claymore mines.

      An indicator of PWG's meticulousness was that the
      Claymores had been

      planted at least two months prior to the attack, and
      thick grass had

      grown over them. PWG managed to dig up the earth from
      behind without

      disturbing the stone formation on the embankment at
      all and place the

      mines inside. Again, PWG knew months in advance that
      Naidu would be

      travelling on that road on 1 October in order to
      attend an annual

      religious function at Tirupati.

      Naidu survived only because the Claymores were planted

      perpendicular to the road on embankments, and his
      Level-3 bulletproof

      Ambassador withstood the sideways blasts. But whereas
      the shells of such

      cars are heavily armoured with steel plates, their
      undersides continue

      to be practically unprotected. If PWG had used a mine
      or explosive

      planted underneath the road surface, as the militants
      in Kashmir do,

      Naidu would have been killed instantly. PWG units in
      tribal areas of

      Orissa, Jharkand and Chattisgarh also possess similar
      expertise in land

      mines. Tamil Nadu�s ban on PWG could instigate it into
      carrying out

      further attacks.

      It would be almost impossible for Delhi�s police to
      monitor the

      movements of every construction worker in ministerial
      buildings, or

      flyovers or the Metro. The Beslan terrorists succeeded
      in sneaking in

      their arms only 200 metres from police headquarters.
      The attack on

      Pervez Musharraf at a bridge in Rawalpindi on 14
      December 2003 clearly

      proved that terrorists could plant bombs in full
      public view on busy

      streets without arousing suspicion, since the public
      would assume them

      to be legitimate construction workers. The tripwires
      can be disguised as

      power or telephone cables. In the Musharraf instance,
      an intelligence

      official stated: "The sophisticated laying of 350
      kilos of explosives at

      five different points under the bridge would have
      taken at least an

      hour, yet the terrorists did that without being

      Another likely threat is that Islamic militant groups
      inspired by Jemaah

      Islamiah�s bombings in Indonesia may carry out copycat
      bombings in

      discotheques and pubs frequented by westerners. Since
      hotels rarely

      frisk their visitors, it would be easy for a suicide
      bomber wearing a

      belt of plastic explosives to enter such pubs and
      discotheques and

      trigger off an explosion using cellular phones.

      Often, terrorists can cause greater disruption by
      making VIPs ill and

      unable to attend to their duties rather than by
      assassinating them

      outright. Workers refurbishing ministerial bungalows
      could unobtrusively

      place radioactive substances like Cobalt 60 or Cesium
      137 within beds

      or sofasets. These could cause the VIPs to develop
      cancer within a few

      weeks. Security agencies would have to frequently
      sweep the offices and

      homes of VIPs with Geiger Mueller counters to detect
      such radioactive


      The Chechen attacks have driven home to Indian
      security officials

      that they will now have to continuously monitor the
      construction and

      electrical and telecom wiring of all buildings and
      roads and bridges

      which are likely to be inaugurated or used by VIPs.
      Merely combing the

      building a few days before the VIP's visit will not be
      sufficient since

      explosives could be embedded deep within the flooring
      or foundation or

      walls or ceiling. Architects and interior decorators
      will have to invent

      new designs and construction methods to take into
      account such

      assassination techniques.

      by Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      Published in the Hindustan Times on Wednesday, 22
      September 2004, titled "Rust Never Sleeps"

      Copyright Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, 2004


      Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      CellPhone: 98 117 56789 Fax: (011) 25 26 68 68

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      Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      19 Maitri Apts, CIS Off Society # 19

      A - 3, Paschim Vihar

      New Delhi 110 063

      CellPhone: 98 117 56789 Fax: (011) 25 26 68 68

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    • Mandeep Singh Bajwa
      We ve all read it. ... From: Ravi VS Prasad To: ; ; ;
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 10, 2004
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        We've all read it.

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Ravi VS Prasad <r_v_p@...>
        To: <c4i@yahoogroups.com>; <c4isrt@yahoogroups.com>; <4gw@yahoogroups.com>;
        Sent: Sunday, October 10, 2004 10:44 PM
        Subject: [iwar] My article in Hindustan Times, Wed 22 Sept 2004

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