Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sum of all fears: Terror threat puts Indian nuclear plants on alert

Islamic Terror is a real threat - now wake up already!

Terror threat puts Indian nuclear plants on alert
Nuclear power facilities in India have been put on high alert here after security forces determined that terrorists may target one of them.

Intelligence agencies beefed up security after analysing new information, some of which may have come from Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani-born Canadian citizen who is in FBI custody in Chicago.

The threat to India's nuclear installations comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper began a series of meetings Tuesday with high-level Indian political leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi.

Discussions about a Canada-India nuclear co-operation agreement and about combatting terrorism are widely expected to be among the topics at some of those meetings.

"It is my sincere hope that our two governments will complete our bilateral nuclear co-operation agreement soon," Harper said in a luncheon speech Monday in Mumbai. "When finalized, it will allow the development of nuclear power for civil use, while fully respecting our international commitments."

Officials with the prime minister's office declined to comment on the nuclear plant threat, saying that Harper never comments on issues of national security.

On Tuesday afternoon, Harper is leading a roundtable discussion with representatives of India's nuclear power sector. Hugh McDiarmid, the chief executive of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the Crown corporation keen to sell CANDU power reactors to India, also attended that meeting as did representatives of Canadian uranium miner Cameco Inc. and Montreal-based construction giant SNC-Lavalin.

Canada angrily suspended nuclear co-operation in 1974, after India used Canadian technology and nuclear materiel to make its first nuclear bomb.

Some countries though, notably Australia, continue to refuse to provide India with uranium and other nuclear materiel and technology for fear that it will be used for military purposes or could fall into the hands of terrorists.

Reports of increased security at India's nuclear installations made the front page of India's major papers on Tuesday.

One of those papers, The Hindu, reported that intelligence agencies here and in other countries, have determined that Rana was in Mumbai just before the 11/26 terror attacks in that city that left more than 190 dead in 2008, including two Canadians.

Rana and another terror suspect, Samraz Rana Akhtar, arrived in Mumbai on Nov. 12 last year and then travelled to Kochi and Kerala. The Hindu reported that the pair were allegedly looking for recruits for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the radical Muslim extremist group based in Pakistan.

The only suspect to survive the Mumbai terror attacks said they were carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The Times of India reported that Rana was able to receive multiple entry visas from the Indian consulate in Chicago ahead of his arrival here in October 2008.

Rana's recruitment scheme allegedly involved placing advertisements in Indian newspapers offering immigration services to the United States and Canada.

Those revelations are made by the FBI in court filings in Chicago.

"Rana is a rich businessman owning many businesses, including First World Immigration Services, which has offices on Devon Avenue in Chicago, New York and Toronto and also owns a farm in Kinsman and a grocery store in Chicago," the FBI said in a court filing opposing Rana's bail application.

"Rana is not a U.S. citizen and maintains a residence in Canada. He maintains a number of foreign bank accounts and is not a typical criminal who lacks the knowledge and means to travel internationally."

The allegations in the FBI documents have not been proven in court.

In my first visit to Chicago - I stumbled into Devon street. Little Pakistan. Was wondering if I was falling through a vortex and transported to Paki-hell. Nope. Paki-hell was imported and reimplemented at Chicago.

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