Darknet is a major challenge: ATS chief

Mubarak Ansari
Saturday, 15 December 2018

Atulchandra Kulkanri said, “We may think that ISIS is no longer a problem. Though the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has lost geographical control, it has huge stock of lethal explosive materials."

PUNE: Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Atulchandra Kulkanri, on Friday, said that Islamic terrorists and Maoists joining hands will be a major cause of worry for the security agencies. He also pointed out ISIS's presence on internet and said identifying a radicalised person getting instructions about bomb making and targets online through 'darknet', is a major challenge.

Kulkarni was speaking at the 1st National Workshop on Explosive Detection organised at High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL).

He said, “We may think that ISIS is no longer a problem. Though the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has lost geographical control, it has huge stock of lethal explosive materials. Its internet presence will continue to haunt us for decades to come. ISIS has also got colonies in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Philippines. Also, there are number of collaborations between different organisations, which will be a major worry for us. Maoists joining hands with Islamic terrorists etc. Sikh militancy is also on the rise. Recently, there was the arrest of a Sikh militant in Pune.”

The ATS chief, who has also served with the Intelligence Bureau (IB) for over a decade, further stated, "The current worry is about the lone wolf attacks in crowded places. The person, who is going to get radicalised online, is getting instructions through chat groups in darknet. He is getting all the instructions, manuals on how to make IEDs online and he is preparing himself to carry out the attacks in the crowd.'

A person, who was radicalised online, had bought everything from the local market and prepared IED, which he got approved from his handlers sitting abroad, who were giving him instructions through darknet. "But we were fortunate that despite taking two chances, the IED did not blast...so the point is that the person is getting all the technology and information online and preparing something, which is an explosive material and can cause maximum damage to human life," he said.

He said that it is difficult to identify such a lone wolf and trail his activities because he may not share his plans with anyone and he lives a normal life 'outwardly'.

Expressing concerns over terrorist attacks and how terrorist organisations are raising the bar in bringing more sophistication in their attacks, Kulkarni said that there is a need to find more technological solutions to counter these attacks really hard.

He stressed that development of technology is needed to respond to these threats. "When the 26/11 attack took place, the terrorist organisations spent few crores to create mayhem in the country but we will have to spend hundreds and thousand of crores to find the technology to counter their design. As far as our requirement is concerned, the detection of explosives should be quick, efficient, accurate with minimum danger to the person who is handling it," he said.

He also said that there is need to develop indigenous technology to counter terrorism. "We will have to stand on own feet and develop our own technology and do it in an expeditious manner so as to face the changing dimensions of terrorism. No country is going to give us their best product. If they do, it comes with some riders," he added.

Kulkarni, while urging the researchers and academia, said that the elections are scheduled next year and there will be rallies and road shows. "Since we have stream of cars and people coming in for such rallies, can we have some technology where we can scan these vehicles in real time to avert any situation," he said.

The seized documents of CPI (Maoist), Kulkarni said, reveal that they have presence in cities since 2007 but we have realised it now. “Their documents state that they will go from jungle to urban areas. They have been present in cities since 2006-7,” he added.

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