Oz CWG contingent warned of terror threat in Delhi

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2010, 12:03 PM IST

Melbourne: Australia`s Delhi-bound
Commonwealth Games contingent has been warned that there is an
80 per cent risk of terror attacks in the Indian capital but
the country remained committed to participating in the event.

A new security risk assessment report prepared by private
counter-terrorism and security consultants Homeland Security
Asia-Pacific has warned that the 550 Aussie athletes and
officials are putting their safety at risk by travelling to
Delhi later this week for the October 3 to 14 event.

"...an analysis of the risks found the Federal Government
and sports administrators had played down the threat," a newspaper reported.

Listing the security risks, the report said that the
"screening machines at major Delhi hotels were often switched
off or faulty and public transport infrastructure was
vulnerable to attack because of the large numbers of
travellers and little security surveillance."

"The city`s international airport had weak perimeter
security and staff were yet to be trained properly to use
security scanning technology and key Games Family Hotel, where
sports officials and referees will stay, had no proper
defensive perimeter, making it vulnerable to a large vehicular
bomb."

The report claimed that there were "30 known terror
groups active in the Delhi area, some responsible for past
terror outrages and training facilities and foreign diplomatic
missions also were potential targets."

"After preliminary examination of the layout of Delhi
Games venues and facilities, it would still be easier and more
likely for an attack to be staged in an area close to, but not
in, the actual Games precinct," it said.

"Such a bombing, using an IED or VIED, would generate the
same massive propaganda results worldwide as bombing a venue,
or the Games Family Hotel," the report added.

One of the report`s authors and counter-terrorism expert
and security consultant Roger Henning said the biggest threat
to Aussie athletes was while travelling by road "from the
airport to the village and from the village to the venues".

"This is when they will be at their most vulnerable
outside the security nets that have been set up," he said.

"Delhi is a densely populated city and the opportunity
for a terrorist strike in the city`s choking traffic and among
homogeneous crowds is obvious. The mere mass of humanity makes
it extremely difficult to protect an event of this size," he
added.

Henning said the Australian government has underestimated
the threat in India.

"There is a lack of understanding on the part of
politicians and sports officials of the ongoing risks in India
and this is a real concern of ours," Mr Henning said.

But Australian Commonwealth Games Association CEO Perry
Crosswhite said the security risks in Delhi have been
over-analysed by the media.

"The Indian authorities have done an immense amount of
work on security at the Games and I have a lot of confidence
in the steps they have taken," he said.

Sports Minister Mark Arbib echoed Crosswhite`s views.

"We are confident the Indian Government is putting in
every effort into ensuring a safe Games," he said.

PTI