Muslim to head India’s domestic spy agency in historic first

Asif IbrahimBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
For the first time in the history of India, a Muslim officer has been selected to head the country’s domestic intelligence agency. The Intelligence Bureau (IB), one of India’s most powerful intelligence organizations, will be led by Syed Asif Ibrahim, one of relatively few Muslim senior officers serving in the country’s predominantly Hindu security and intelligence apparatus. It will be the first time that the IB, which was formed in 1877 under British colonial rule, and today operates under the Ministry of Home Affairs, will be led by a Muslim. Formerly a senior officer in the Indian Police Service, Ibrahim, 59, has served for years in the IB’s Directorate of Operations, and recently served as the Bureau’s Chief of Station at the Indian High Commission in London, United Kingdom. His supervisory experience includes roles in the IB’s counter-cyberespionage and counterterrorism units. IntelNews hears that Ibrahim is widely seen by Indian intelligence officers as someone with a “crystal-clear understanding” of Islamic-inspired militancy inside the country. Ibrahim’s appointment was announced late last week by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, a senior government body lead by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Following the announcement, observers noted that at least four IB officials, who had been tipped for the job of director and were above Ibrahim in terms of seniority, were assigned to positions outside the Bureau, ostensibly to clear the way for Ibrahim’s appointment. Read more of this post

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►►Indian army accused of spying on government officials. The Indian army is accused of using two surveillance vehicles to snoop near the offices and houses of senior Indian Defense Ministry officials. The vehicles with “off the air interceptors” were alleged to be parked in various localities in the New Delhi. Similar equipment is said to be used by the National Technical Research Organisation to listen to conversations without bugging the premises. The Defense Ministry has reportedly ordered a probe by the country’s Intelligence Bureau.

Analysis: India’s spies keep tabs on political opponents, not terrorism

IB seal

IB seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
She is America’s rising ally in South Asia and is widely regarded as the world’s largest democracy. But India’s political system is highly chaotic and often repressive. This is aptly reflected in the operations of the Intelligence Bureau, India’s foremost domestic intelligence agency. One would think that the IB has its hands full with India’s countless domestic security concerns, which include increasingly popular and active Maoist insurgents, as well as mounting religious and political tensions in the predominantly Muslim states of Jammu and Kashmir, located in the country’s north. But one of India’s most respected English-language newspapers, The Hindu, cites “highly placed intelligence sources” who allege that most of the IB’s intelligence collection activities are targeted against the Indian government’s political opponents, not terrorism. According to the unnamed sources, “less than a third of the IB’s estimated 25,000-strong manpower [sic] is dedicated to what might be described as national security tasks”. Conversely, over two-thirds of the organization’s staff is reportedly tasked with “providing the government raw information and assessments on its increasingly bleak political prospects”, claims the paper. Examples of political policing by the IB include monitoring public meetings led by Rahul Gandhi, parliamentarian and leader of the National Congress, which is India’s main political opposition group. Another target of the IB’s alleged political policing campaign is anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare, who has become internationally known for spearheading popular protests against government sleaze in New Delhi and elsewhere. According to The Hindu, intelligence on political figures is collected by the IB’s state-of-the-art communications interception systems, which were purchased from Western hardware manufacturers following the sophisticated 2009 Mumbai Attacks by the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Read more of this post

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