India’s anti-terror intelligence hub cleared


    New Delhi, (IANS) An ambitious plan of Home Minister P. Chidambaram to set up an intelligence hub that will integrate and analyse inputs on terror threats in India was finally accorded government approval Thursday after hanging fire for almost two years.

    “The government has granted in principle approval for the MHA’s (ministry of home affairs) proposal to set up (the National Counter-Terrorism Centre),” Chidambaram told reporters here.

    The plan to set up the terror-related intelligence hub, which had been opposed by many ministries, was given the go-ahead in a Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here.

    The agency, worked out on the model of the US’s National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), is aimed at combating terrorism by collecting and analysing threats, sharing the inputs and information with other agencies and converting these into actionable data.

    The counter-terrorism agency will be a separate body under the control of the ministry of home affairs.

    Chidambaram said the government will soon appoint its head, an additional director general-level police officer, and other officials who will form the core team of the agency. The NCTC will report to the union home secretary.

    The full NCTC team consisting of officers drawn from intelligence, security agencies and state police would be formed after getting clearance for funds, the home ministry said.

    He said the NCTC would be the nodal agency for all counter-terrorism activities of the government and the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) of the Intelligence Bureau will be subsumed into it.

    It would have to coordinate with agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and state intelligence agencies, the sources said.

    Chidambaram had floated the idea to set up the NCTC after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in 2008.

    Intelligence agencies and state police had complained in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks that sharing of information among them was one of the biggest worries.

    Despite intelligence inputs given prior to the attack, the Mumbai police had said the information was not good enough for them to act upon.

    In the wake of this complaint and also because there was no agency to integrate the inputs, the home minister had proposed a centre aimed at putting the intelligence in the right place at the right time.

    The main job of this agency would be to warn and also pre-empt terror strikes after all other agencies dealing with counter-terror measures provide their information to the NCTC.

    A panel of experts at the centre would then analyse the inputs with the help of a data base about suspected terrorists and terror outfits.

    The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), approved by the government in June last year with a data bank of nearly 20 types of database, will work separately. But it will also provide terror inputs to the NCTC.

    The agency will be set up through an executive order to be issued soon.