Sunday, July 17, 2016

Arabic, no Latin and Greek for investing agencies

Wary of Islamic State, NIA sleuths take Arabic lessons


Lucknow: 17 Jul 2016
M Tariq Khan
tariq.khan@hindustantimes.com
Officers of the National Investigating Agency (NIA) in Lucknow are on a
new mission these days: learning Arabic.
Indeed, acquiring proficiency in this language has become necessary for
the officers dealing with terror cases and counter insurgency operations in the
country. The reason: several youths from India have either joined or are
suspected to have joined the Islamic State (IS) whose Arabic-speaking members
are behind a series of bomb blasts and terror attacks the world over.
Senior officers in the agency say the move to have people with in-house
proficiency in Arabic would reduce their dependence on relying on third-party
translators (a security risk also) in decoding documents or tapped
conversations.
“There have been instances when we had to rush in experts in the
language from our Hyderabad branch,” pointed out a senior officer. He, however,
refused to disclose the number of such training programmes being run across the
country citing security reasons.
So, for two hours every day, NIA sleuths take a break from their
investigative and operational duties to learn Arabic in the Uttar Pradesh
capital. 
They assemble in a hall, which serves as a classroom, as part of a
training programme to upgrade their linguistic skills.
The alarm bells were sounded early this year when ahead of the Republic
Day celebrations, the NIA arrested 13 suspected IS sympathisers from Bangalore,
Tumkur, Mangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Lucknow.
The arrested youths were said to be part of a group named
‘Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind’ (Army of Caliph of India), a terror group which has
almost similar ideologies that of the IS. Apart from electronic devices that
can be used in detonating explosives, sleuths of the investigating agency also
recovered jihadi literature, videos and plans to organise training camps.
“A couple of months ago, I got a call from the NIA office to appear for
an interview to teach Arabic to their staff,” said Murtuza Hussain Rizvi.  
A resident of Tehseen Ganj locality of Old Lucknow, Rizvi acquired
proficiency and a degree in the language from Damascus in Syria, apparently the
reason why he was shortlisted by the NIA.
For the past one month, he has been trying to teach the nuances of
Arabic script and help a group of 30 NIA sleuths, including its DIG and SP, in
a posh residential area of Gomti Nagar in Lucknow where a house serves as the
headquarters of the premier investigating agency for time being. A new, modern
office building will become operational early next year. A five-day-a-week
teaching schedule is followed. Rizvi says not all his students are quick on the
uptake. Some turn up grudgingly for lessons only when their bosses attend
class. “But I can assure you that with time and training, I would soon groom
them to speak the language like a native Arab,” he boasts.
“I just have a couple of years of service left. Hence, learning the
language is not a gateway to career for me but more of a compulsion fuelled by
desire to serve national security,” confided a junior rank officer.
“We have a staff strength of 56. But some of our teams are always on the
move as we also have operational jurisdiction in six adjoining states —Bihar,
Jharkand, Uttarakhandm Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh,” said a senior NIA
officer who did not want to be named.
He said apart from upgrading their language skills, the sleuths were
also acquainted with Islamic culture and history to give them a better
understanding of the region. 
“The Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) was the first one to take the
initiative to improve linguistic skills of their officers and now it has been
picked up by other investigative agencies,” he said.