Washington: The Indian Premier League (IPL), which has now been shifted to South Africa, was the prime target of a large scale terrorist strike by Islamic militants, on the lines of 26/11, targeting a host of foreign cricket players, a leading American think-tank has said.
Games being played in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were more on the terrorist hit list, it said.
“The Indian intelligence apparatus is thought to have warned the central government of a flood of specific threats against both Indian and foreign cricket players,” said Stratfor.
Based on the intelligence information it has from various sources, Stratfor in its latest analysis said it received indications early on from Indian security sources that the IPL tournament was a prime target for another large-scale Islamist militant operation following the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.
“Warnings of specific threats against the players came from the governments of the states hosting matches, including Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
“Given that these two states respectively are home to the information technology hubs of Hyderabad and Bangalore, both of which have a heavy foreign presence, and are where multinational corporations doing business in India are concentrated, these states are at a particularly high risk of attack,” it said.
The decision to sacrifice the IPL tournament for the sake of security was made after security agencies carried out a detailed threat scenario for the event and national elections.
The IP was shifted to South Africa on Tuesday.
Stratfor said the 3 March attack in Lahore against the Sri Lankan cricket team was a stark warning that the array of Islamist militants in the region have an agenda to internationalise their cause through bold and attention- grabbing attacks.
Though no group claimed the Lahore attack, there is ample reason to suspect Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) created and nurtured the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group to pressure India, but LeT has gradually loosened itself from Islamabad’s grip.
The Lahore attack bore a number of similarities to the November 2008 Mumbai attack and given LeT’s primary focus on India, the IPL tournament would have made another prime target, it said.