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Google Earth gives first geography lesson to terrorists

Google Earth gives first geography lesson to terrorists
PTI
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First Published: Fri, Dec 19 2008. 06 44 PM IST
Updated: Fri, Dec 19 2008. 06 44 PM IST
Mumbai: Google Earth is the seventh popular Internet application tool but it is being growingly misused by terror groups to have the first glimpse of sensitive places to plot attacks without moving an inch.
Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Fahim Ahmed Ansari, arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police in Feburuary this year with maps and details of the spots hit during the recent terror attacks, in his statement had conceded that his masters showed him the maps on Google Earth to pin-point the specific targets.
The interrogation report of Fahim, who was trained at the Baitul Mujahideen camp in Pakistan in his statement said that a top Lashker commander ‘Kahasa´ asked him to show the spots in Mumbai on the Google Earth.
“I was shown the map of Mumbai in Googleearth.com. Kahasa asked me to point out places in Mumbai he noted down and marked those places in the map,” he told interrogators, adding, “I was first asked about my residence location and in-laws location in Mumbai.”
Sensitive places like offices of Commissioner of Police and DGP, Gateway of India, Navy Nagar, Colaba, Taj Mahal Hotel, Mantralaya, Wankhede Stadium, Race Course, Church Gate Railway Station, Stock Exchange Building, BARC, Kalina Army Gate and other such spots were located and marked on the Google Earth Map.
Fahim, along with Sabauddin, were brought to Mumbai and remanded to police custody till 31 December. They are being questioned to ascertain whether they had provided the minute details to Lashkar terrorists to help them plan the terror strike here on 26 November.
The Google Earth Map gives a birds eye view of the city providing detailed topography of the area in the forms of actual photographs. The details provided in the application can be useful for identifying buildings, roads, streets.
Fahim also said that Lashker top brass was interested in knowing the height of airport wall, wire fencing and location of aircraft runway from the nearest building.
“They also enquired about the possibility of striking an aircraft from the nearest building. Kahasa was also keen to know about the availability of taxis near DGP office,” he said in the statement given to UP Police.
The terrorists who attacked the Metropolis were well acquainted with the location of their targets and the streets leading to them. The lone terrorist arrested by Mumbai police, Kasab, reportedly told the investigators that their group was also given detailed location of spots using the software.
In the wake of the misuse of the Google software, a petition was also filed in the Bombay High Court after the Mumbai terror attack to blur the images of sensitive spots shown on the software till the case was decided.
Advocate Amit Karkhanis who filed the petition said that online satellite imaging was used in the satellite planning of the attacks and the online software does not have any control to prevent its misuse or give limited access.
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First Published: Fri, Dec 19 2008. 06 44 PM IST