Awantipora suicide attack on CRPF convoy points to intelligence failure; Pakistan's ISI hand suspected

JeM claiming responsibility has raised questions over the role of the Pakistan spy agency, ISI, in the Awantipora attack.

Awantipora suicide attack on CRPF convoy points to intelligence failure; Pakistan's ISI hand suspected

JAMMU: Even as the Government blames Pakistan over its continuous covert support to terror operators, the investigation so far has pointed to a major intelligence failure in averting the deadly suicide attack on the CRPF convoy on Thursday in which at least 40 troopers were killed and many critically injured.

Though terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) has claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack on the CRPF troopers, it has raised suspicion over Pakistan's spy agency ISI's back-door involvement in the gruesome attack.

The JeM claiming responsibility has raised questions over the role of the Pakistan spy agency, ISI, in the gruesome strike, a former CIA analyst and South Asian expert claimed.

According to experts, the attack has direct footprints inside Pakistan as it has now emerged that ISI had provided training, logistic support and explosives to the mastermind of the Pulwama attack on the CRPF troopers.

The security experts also see this as a major intelligence failure on the part of Indian intelligence agencies in averting the incident. 

Though they were credible actionable intelligence inputs regarding possible terror attacks in J&K, there was a clear lack of coordination among various intelligence agencies which clearly failed to detect that a suicide attack of such a magnitude can take place.     

The failure to sensitise the Srinagar-Jammu national highway  - a favoured route for terrorists to target security forces – is also questionable.

Usually, about 1,000 personnel are part of a convoy but this time it was a total of 2,547 personnel. Hence, questions are also being asked as to why security personnel were permitted to travel in such large numbers on the route.Many see this as a possible violation of the Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) followed by the security forces in sensitive zones.

Security experts also see this attack as a well-thoughtout attack which would have required the terrorists to conduct a major recce of the area and concealing the explosive-laden truck from the eyes of the security agencies.

Further, the involvement of a local Kashmiri youth - Adil Ahmed - in the attack also points to a change in the strategy by the Pakistan-backed terror outfits and the unabated tactical support they had been receiving from the local Kashmiri residents.

Though has come out officially, experts of the National Security Guard (NSG) and investigators of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will arrive in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday to join the probe into the suicide terror attack in Pulwama suicide attack.

An NIA team with forensic experts is being sent to Srinagar to assist Jammu and Kashmir Police in forensic evaluation of the scene of the crime, a Home Ministry official said.

Explosive specialists of the Black Cat commando force NSG will also join in the investigation into the attack, another official said. 

In one of the deadliest terror attacks in JK's three decades of terrorism, a suicide bomber from Pakistan-based JeM terror group rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus in Pulwama district, killing at least 44 personnel and leaving many critically wounded. 

"The self-proclaimed involvement of JeM in the attack raises serious questions about the role of the ISI in supporting the masterminds of this operation," Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst, was quoted as saying by PTI.

The J&K Police had identified the suicide bomber as Adil Ahmed, who is believed to have joined the Jaish-e-Mohammed in 2018.

He was driving a vehicle packed with over 100 kg of explosives on the wrong side of the road and hit the bus in which several CRPF personnel were travelling, head-on.

JeM later claimed the terrorist drove the SUV carrying 350 kg of explosives. However, the army and other security agencies disputed the claim and said it was mere propaganda.

The powerful explosion, which reduced the bus to a mangled heap of iron, was heard many kilometres away, including in some parts of Srinagar adjoining Pulwama district.

The bus that was the focus of the attack belongs to the 76th battalion of the force. The convoy had started from Jammu around 3.30 AM and was supposed to reach Srinagar before sunset, officials said.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) will meet on Friday morning to discuss the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir against the backdrop of the attack, sources said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spoke to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and top officials after the attack, termed it despicable and asserted that the sacrifices of security personnel will not go in vain.