By Arun Rajnath
NEW DELHI, October 25: Fugitive Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been spotted in the Tibet-Laddakh region, close to the North-Eastern tip of Pakistan, bordering India and China, Indian and US officials believe.
A high-ranking official of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) flew from Islamabad on Sunday to meet top Indian officials here in Delhi after reports of Bin Laden’s presence in the region.
According to sources, following the meeting between Indian security bosses and the FBI, the New Delhi Government has put its security forces in the North Western region, specially the Kashmir Valley, on ‘red alert.’
Vigilance on the Kargil-Leh Highway and area along the Tibetan border has also been increased. Security forces are likely to undertake combing operations in the Laddakh region before the start of snowfall.
These sources in the Indian Home Ministry told this correspondent that intelligence agencies had received information that Bin Laden has been spotted traveling. Some such reports were also published in a section of the Pakistan media.
Sources say the FBI official flew into Delhi from Pakistan to hold talks with Indian officials in New Delhi. At their meeting, chiefs of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), intelligence units of the Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Indian Army officers were present.
Indian officials believe Bin Laden may have reached Laddakh from the Pak administrated Kashmir where they think he may have been helped by some Jihadi or even sympathetic elements in the Pakistani forces.
Officials are also expressing concern over increased activity of foreign nationals along the LoC. Though there are no concrete reports on Pak Army’s support to these foreign nationals, Indian Home Ministry officials feel that some supporters in the ISI may be providing help. An ISI official, Ejaz Khan, has already been identified by the Indian security agencies for helping militants to cross over into the Indian territory.
Officials working with different security agencies said though the border fence along the LoC, which was expected to be completed this year, had raised hurdles for the infiltrators, militants manage to sneak into the Indian territory from across Poonch and Rajauri.
Meanwhile, five additional battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Force (BSF) have been called in to fortify all spots of tourist interest besides camps and bases of the Army. Multi-tier anti-infiltration arrangements have been made. The ITBP has also been put on full alert.
Security officials feel the militants have once again succeeded in scaring away outsiders from the Valley, and foreign nationals’ presence on the other side of Kashmir could aim at fortifying the bases of militants to facilitate them to launch fresh attacks on army establishments and other sensitive targets.
Sources in the Home Ministry say Indian Border Security Force deployed in the Valley had intercepted Jihadi leader Syed Salahuddin’s message and a speech a few days back which revealed that various militant outfits were gearing up to launch major attacks before the snow starts falling. They have also been directed to intensify their activities in Jammu region, Doda, Bhadrawah and Kishtwar.
Sources told this correspondent that Salahuddin’s speeches were being transmitted on wireless sets available with the militants. This information was immediately passed on to all concerned to make pre-emptive arrangements.
The length of taped speeches transmitted on wireless is said to be 10-15 minutes, and these broadcasts were being repeated several times a day. Militants keep changing the frequencies to dodge Indian army interceptors.
The message called for carrying out attacks on security causes as well as soft civilian targets hampering economic activity and tourism in Kashmir.