In a major success in combating terrorism, yesterday the National Investigative Agency (NIA) busted a new ISIS module named ‘Harkat ul Harb-e-Islam’. In a joint operation with Uttar Pradesh police, the agency conducted raids at 16 locations in Delhi and UP and arrested 10 suspected terrorists. A huge cache of arms and ammunition were recovered during the operations, which included a rocket launcher, 13 pistols, 25 kg of explosive chemicals like Potassium Nitrate, Ammonium Nitrate, Sulphur etc, 112 alarm clocks to be used as timer device for bombs, 134 mobile phone SIM cards, mobile phone circuits and batteries, pipes, remote control switches, steel containers which are used to pack explosives, and ammunition for firearms. Photographs of seized items were released by the NIA to media.
In the photographs it was seen that other than deadly weapons, there was a packet of sutli bombs, or firecrackers used during Diwali etc. And many people, including journalists, started mocking NIA for this, suggesting such sutli bombs are harmless and it can’t be a terrorist plot. Many people accused NIA of making up a fictitious terror module. They also mocked the recovery of handmade pistols, saying even local level gangs don’t use such weapons nowadays.
NIA raids matter: Lawyer of the accused says, “They're students. What NIA has recovered includes tractor’s power nozzle which they planted&called it rocket launcher. What they're calling explosives are actually ‘sutli bombs’ that're used in Diwali. There is a lot of fabrication.” pic.twitter.com/YesPw9WpVG
— ANI (@ANI) December 27, 2018
#NIA ने जिस #ISIS के भारत में बहुत बड़े आतंकी हमले की साज़िश का पर्दाफ़ाश किया है , उसमें जो कुछ बेहद ख़तरनाक चीज़ें बरामद हुई हैं , वो है – दिवाली के सुतली बम , देसी बम और देसी कट्टे ( तमंचे ) जिसका इस्तेमाल आज कल मेरठ की गलियों के बदमाश भी नहीं करते। pic.twitter.com/HQ5qcz7cdK
— Vinod Kapri (@vinodkapri) December 26, 2018
ISIS guys nabbed by NIA in Uttar Pradesh are so poor that they use deshi katta and sutli bombs for terror activities. They must be severely punished for lowering the status of criminals in UP.
— Kanchan Srivastava (@Ms_Aflatoon) December 27, 2018
Thank you Ajit Doval, I feel so much safer knowing the ISIS is armed with sutli bombs & local kattas. Less scary than the cow terrorists
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) December 27, 2018
There are two problems with this mocking NIA for recovery of sutli bombs. First, those were not the only things recovered during the raids. They also recovered pistols, which may be locally made, but still able to fire and kill, and a huge amount of raw material for making bombs, apart from a rocket launcher. Recovery of more than hundred each of alarm clocks and SIM cards, along with 25 kg of explosive chemical, prove that they were planning to detonate a large number of bombs with timer devices and remote controls. With the entire country coming under mobile phone coverage, now it is possible to detonate a bomb remotely from anywhere in the world if that bomb is rigged with a cell phone.
Now coming to firecrackers, at first glance it may look amusing to see it among other deadly weapons, but in bad hands, even firecrackers can be deadly. The term that we most often see with weapons used by terrorists is IED or improvised explosive device. This means that whatever material is available is improvised to make an explosive weapon, as opposed to a conventional military bomb.
As traditional explosives like RDX and TNT are not easy to obtain, terrorists often ‘improvise’ using other materials to obtain the chemical compounds needed to make a bomb. Several compounds of Nitrogen are used to make IEDs, and most of them are obtained from fertilizers and firecrackers. Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer is favourite with terrorists, due to its easy availability in large quantities.
The common firecracker or sutli bombs used during festivals and ceremonies are made of black powder, flash powder etc. These powders contain explosive compounds like potassium nitrate, sulphur, aluminium powder and several other chemicals. Such chemicals found in firecrackers are often used to make improvised bombs by terrorists. When enough powder from firecrackers is packed with shrapnel and connected with a detonator, it makes a deadly bomb.
The kind and amount of material recovered during the raids clearly indicate that the terrorists were planning to make dozens of bombs, which could be detonated either remotely or using timer devices. By mocking NIA, the journalists are essentially defending the terrorists by suggesting their bombs were not dangerous. The hatred for the Modi government and Ajit Doval is so much among these people that they chose to ignore the several incriminating items recovered and focus just on one item.
Several cases of bombs made using firecrackers have been reported in the past, including in India. In October this year, two persons were injured when a bomb they were making using black powder obtained from firecrackers exploded, they had added glass pieces and nails as shrapnel. In 2016, a pressure cooker bomb was detected on a railway track at Ghorasan in Bihar, which was made of material from firecrackers.
In the famous Times Square bomb scare in New York in 2010, the bomb found in a parked car was made using consumer-grade firecrackers, urea, petrol, propane gas, and alarm clocks, all commonly available items. The bombs ignition source had malfunctioned, hence it didn’t explode, else it would have cause causalities.
It is important to note that, anything can be a deadly weapon in the hands of motivated terrorists. Even vehicles have been used as weapons to kill people. The four planes in 9/11 attacks were hijacked by the terrorists using nothing more than box cutters. Therefore, it is important that such terrorists are apprehended, no matter what weapons they were planning to use to kill people.
NIA may have used the pack of firecrackers as a representative sample, but 25 kilograms of explosive chemicals is a huge amount. By mocking NIA for this, the journalists are exposing their ignorance and their hatred for the government.