`CWG athletes most vulnerable in transit`

New Delhi: With less than 90 days left for
the Commonwealth Games, a leading US-based strategic think
tank has warned that athletes will be most vulnerable to
terrorist attacks while in transit to and from the venues.

These experts cite the example of the Sri Lankan cricket
team which was attacked by terrorists in Lahore in Pakistan on
March 3, 2009 when the team was travelling by bus to the
stadium. Providing security amid Delhi`s chaotic traffic could
prove difficult, they said.

"After the March 2009 attack on the Sri Lankans, the
Indian authorities will try to secure the teams during
transit, but securing travel routes is more difficult than
securing hotels and venues -- especially with the heavy
traffic in India.”

"This means that the athletes will be slightly more
vulnerable during transit than at their hotels or sporting
venues. The athletes could also be vulnerable should they
choose to leave the protective cordon around them," Vice-
President of Tactical Intelligence, Stratfor, Scott Stewart
told reporters.

Possibly because of such fears the authorities in Delhi
have already ordered markets, schools and colleges to remain
shut during the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games to
keep traffic on the roads to the minimum.

Besides, Stratfor said, anti-national elements may also
eye malls, markets and other crowded places as `soft targets`
during the Games apart from venues and hotels.

"The Indian government has had a couple of years now to
think about this event, plan for it and watch how security has
been conducted at other high-profile events like the World Cup
and Olympics.”

"Given this tight security environment, it is possible
that any militant group planning an attack would choose to go
after soft targets including shopping malls, bars and clubs,
or even crowds outside of the main venues waiting to enter the
facility. So our assessment is that soft targets and crowds
are more at risk than the athletes," he said in response to a

Over 70 countries will participate in the mega sporting
event scheduled here from October 3-14 this year. Delhi Police
and Central security agencies are striving to ensure adequate
security for the event, which is being hosted by the country
for the first time.

According to Stratfor, the Commonwealth Games face a
threat from Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba and
other militant outfits which may be planning an attack.

"There are many different militant outfits (such as the
LeT) that have an interest in hitting India and it is possible
that one of them may be planning something," Stewart said.

He, however, added, "...we would not expect to hear a
threat from a group that was planning an attack, especially
the closer we edge to the event they want to attack. They
would be very quiet. Publicised threat statements made by
militants are not a reliable way to judge the true threat to
an event."

"There is no such thing as fool-proof security. It is
simply impossible to protect everything. The Indian government
will work hard to protect the athletes and VIP visitors, but
it will be impossible to protect all of the crowds and the
businesses outside of the heaviest layers of security.”

"Think of the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta. If a
militant group wants to conduct an attack, they will be able
to find a target," the Stratfor analyst said.

"Because of this, there is a very great need to focus on
intelligence gathering and protective intelligence operations
so that any potential attacks can be thwarted while they are
in the planning stages," he said.


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