Terrorist Threats Worry India Ahead of Obama’s Visit
NEW DELHI—Almost a month ahead of President Obama’s visit to India, U.S. and Indian security agencies are putting their heads together to figure out how to protect two leaders high on the hit list of several terrorist organizations.
Security precautions include monitoring the web and certain telephonic communications, installing security cameras and placing snipers on roof tops among other measures, according to local Indian media.
President Obama is scheduled to visit New Delhi as the chief guest of India’s Republic Day on Jan. 26., which marks the day India adopted its constitution and thus it’s democracy.
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Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are both targets for terrorist organizations like the Islamic State for Iraq and Levant (ISIL), Al Qaeda, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Muslim militant group operating around the Pakistan-India border.
“Obama and Modi are among the most secured people in the world,” said Bibhu Prasad Routray, a New Delhi-based security analyst.
The Times of India newspaper quoted a senior Indian official as saying there would be almost double the security personnel this year for the celebrations compared to previous years.
Increased Threat in Sub-Continent
According to Routray India has long been susceptible to terrorist attacks, and the recent developments in the Indian sub-continent have increased this threat.
On Tuesday, Taliban gunmen stormed a school in the city of Peshawar and gunned down 132 children and 10 teachers.
On Wednesday, Hafiz Saeed, the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the man India believes masterminded the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, blamed India for the massacre of the children at the Pakistan school and threatened to unleash terror attacks in India.
An advisory issued to security agencies in India after the attack recommended reinforcing security for landmarks and vulnerable places, including public transport, and schools.
Saeed’s statement follows Al Qaeda’s announcement in September that it was opening a wing in the Indian sub-continent. Shortly after, the group claimed responsibility for a failed attack on an American naval ship at a Karachi seaport.
There have been no more than ten cases of radicalized Indian youth trying to join ISIL, India’s national security advisor Ajit Doval said on Nov. 22.
But potentially more harmful would be a lone wolf attack with no traceable link to terrorist organizations,
such as the radicalized gunman who killed a soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Oct. 22 and the man who took 18 hostages in a Lindt chocolate shop in Sidney Dec. 15.
Obama, who will be in India for two days, plans to visit the Taj Majal in Agra, a visit his security personnel are also preparing for.
This trip will make Obama the the first U.S. president to attend India’s Republic Day and the only sitting U.S. president to visit India twice.