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US aggressively probing attack on Indian consulate in San Francisco: FBI director tells NIA

The NIA director told the high-level visiting FBI delegation that the nexus of terrorists and gangsters was “spreading to the US as well”.

“Christopher A Wray, Director FBI, leading a high-level FBI delegation, visited the NIA headquarters on Tuesday and held extensive discussions with NIA DG, Dinkar Gupta, and senior officials…During the meeting, candid and wide-ranging discussions were held on a host of issues, including the acts and activities of Terrorist-Organised Criminal Networks, ongoing investigations in the US in the attack on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, investigation of cyber-terror and cyber-crimes of various kinds,” a NIA spokesperson said in a statement.

“Mr. Wray also informed the NIA that the FBI was aggressively investigating the attack on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco,” the spokesperson added.

It is important to note that some pro-Khalistan supporters attacked the Indian consulate in San Francisco on July 2. The attackers tried to set the diplomatic facility on fire following the killing of separatist Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada. 

Earlier too, a group of pro-Khalistan protesters attacked and damaged the Indian consulate in San Francisco on March 19 this year. The protesters broke open the makeshift security barriers raised by the local police and installed two so-called Khalistani flags inside the consulate premises, but soon the flags were removed by two consulate personnel.

The FBI chief is on a three-day visit to India to meet top security and intelligence officials for discussions on strengthening cooperation, sharing information, cybercrimes, extraditions etc. Wray emphasised the need to take the “partnership and cooperation” with NIA to the next level to deal with the constantly evolving challenges and threats of terrorism.

Wray said that both the agencies have a lot in common and the similarities are far greater than the differences, said the NIA in a statement, adding, “on the nexus between terror actors and organised crime syndicates, Wray said that a blending of lines between terrorists and criminals was now visible in the cyberspace as well.”

“Terror incidents like 9/11 and the Mumbai attacks have changed the way in which nations respond to terror threats,” observed the FBI Director, emphasising on the need to take the partnership and “cooperation between the FBI and the NIA to the next level to deal with the constantly evolving challenges and threats of terrorism.”

The visit comes against the backdrop of activities of pro-Khalistan elements operating from the US and Canada and an indictment filed by US prosecutors in a federal court in Manhattan last month, which alleged an Indian government employee who described himself as a “senior field officer” responsible for intelligence, ordered the assassination of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the NIA spokesperson said Gupta also “highlighted the active nexus between the terrorist outfits and terrorist elements with members of organised criminal syndicates, which was spreading to the US as well”.

During the meeting, the NIA director also pointed out that threats in the cyber domain were increasing. “Digital space was also being effectively exploited by terrorists and extremists for propagating radical views and recruitment”. He further added that NIA was seeing the use of cryptocurrency for terrorist financing, according to the spokesperson.

The NIA top brass and his US counterpart also discussed the use of cybercrimes to fund terrorism. “This evolution of the cyber-threat needs a joint response towards investigation of cyber-threat cases,” Wray stressed, according to the NIA statement.

The issue of obtaining data from encrypted apps was also part of discussion during the meeting. “The difficulties encountered by the law enforcement agencies across the world in obtaining data from encryption Apps also came up for discussion during the meeting”.

“Both the agencies recognised the challenges posed by organised crime networks, terror-related crimes, cyber-enabled terror attacks, ransomware threats, economic crimes and transnational terror crimes. Wray also remarked that newer challenges mean that there are new opportunities for law enforcement agencies (LEA) to cooperate in newer ways. He thanked the NIA for the enduring cooperation between the two agencies, and looked forward to exploration of new opportunities to collaborate further,” the spokesperson added.

Both agencies agreed to explore increasing their interactions and collaborative initiatives on the training track.

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Published: 12 Dec 2023, 11:08 PM IST

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