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Monday, 6 October 2008

IB to go hi-tech, get more manpower to fight terror

NEW DELHI: Intelligence Bureau — which has come under flak for its failure to keep tabs on tech savvy jihadis — is set for major revamp with the government recruiting 6,000 more spies to strengthen its existing cadre of nearly 25,000 personnel. The IB will also get modern gadgets to monitor cyber communication.

The idea is to turn the internal spy agency into a potent force to fight terrorists through effective intelligence in the age of modern communication systems. While new-age gadgets will give IB an edge through technology, the increased manpower will widen the scope for human intelligence (humint) — which played an important role in cracking recent terror attack cases.

The home ministry also plans to set up an exclusive "research & technology centre" within IB to keep a complete databank of terrorists and suspicious persons under one umbrella. The job of the new centre will also be to "research and analyse" the technological aspects of threats which have, of late, multiplied due to extensive use of the Internet by the new breed of educated terrorists.

"Widespread use of cyber technology — like Wi-Fi system — in the recent terror attacks, where terrorists of Indian Mujahideen (IM) had not only used it for sending emails but also for networking among their cadres for planning and execution of their operations, has forced us to rethink our strategy," said a senior home ministry official.

The plan for modernisation and increasing the strength of IB — which has already got Cabinet nod — came up for review recently when home minister Shivraj Patil asked the agency to complete the recruitment process of 6,000 additional spies, including technical and cyber experts, by next year. The emphasis in the meeting — attended by IB chief P C Haldar and home secretary Madhukar Gupta among others — was on impressing upon states to strengthen their special branches (intelligence wing) with the Centre helping them out with funds and expertise.

Referring to how new technologies were increasingly being used by jihadis for assembling bombs (using integrated chips for the first time in Bangalore and Surat operations) and networking among themselves through Internet, the official said, "Since terrorists the world over are using new communication technologies as 'weapon of mass influence' for the warfare, we cannot afford to function in the traditional way — even though it has its own importance."

Though the official did not disclose the kind of methodology being adopted to fight tech savvy jihadis, he mentioned the possibility of bringing certain changes in the Information & Technology Act to widen the scope of cyber intercepts, including snooping on text messages.

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