Goa beaches were targets for Lashkar in 2008: Wikileaks

Panaji, April 19 (IANS) Goa’s beaches were in the cross hairs of suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba terror suspect Nasir Raizuddin, being tried for the 2008 Bangalore serial blasts, Wikileaks has claimed citing a recently declassified US diplomatic cable.

The cable, dated February 2008, was drafted by David T. Hopper, then consul general at the US consulate in Chennai.

Hopper quotes top police officials about other areas identified by Riazuddin before his arrest in Karnataka.

According to Hopper, Raziuddin told the police that along with accomplices from the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), he had identified sites across the country for a series of bomb blasts.

And “beaches in Goa frequented by foreigners” were one of those specifically identified as targets, according to the diplomatic communique.

Goa has been put on high alert since the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai, mainly because the state’s beaches attract over 2.6 million tourists annually, of whom half a million are foreign nationals. The sizeable number of Israeli tourists to the state is another reason why security agencies believe Goa is on the terror radar.

The Goa government has, however, consistently denied receiving any specific intelligence inputs of a potential terror strike.

Among other targets on Raziuddin’s list were the Andhra Pradesh Police headquarters, and Infosys campuses in Bangalore and Mangalore, says the confidential cable numbered 08CHENNAI55.

Then Karnataka additional director general of police Shankar Bidari, superintendent of police of Davangare district in Karnataka Ravendra Prasad, and state home secretary Vatsala Watsa have been quoted in the cable.

Hopper also said that the Karnataka Police had shared intelligence with US officials.

“Shankar Bidari, Karnataka’s Additional Director General of Police for Law and Order, gave us on February 8 two reports on this case. The first is the arrest report, the second covers the interrogation of both suspects,” Hopper said, adding that the documents helped them to create a “bio-data” of the suspects.

Raziuddin’s father, Mohammad Nasiruddin, a Muslim cleric from Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, had been arrested in 2004 by Gujarat Police for being part of the conspiracy to murder Gujarat home minister Hiren Pandya.

The cable also says that Indian police believed that Nasiruddin had links to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

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