May 2, 2018: Beheading of pastor in India

On May 2, 2018 suspected operatives of the People’s Liberation Guerilla Army, beheaded an Indian pastor they thought was acting as an informant

RANCHI, INDIA – Agreeing to be a spy/police informant is a dangerous job: on occasion human sources pay with their lives!

There are many ways to gather intelligence on someone or something of interest. You can follow that person: what we call surveillance. You can take pictures – either with a camera or with a satellite: we call that imagery. You can tap someone’s phone or otherwise drop in on their communications: we call that SIGINT.

Or you can recruit someone to be the person of interest’s best buddy. This is in many ways the best form of intelligence as it allows you to not only get to know what the ‘target‘ is up to but a good human source (or ‘agent‘) can be directed to find out more, ask questions, and even misdirect a bad guy.

Psst! Don’t be a terrorist! (Photo: Aqua Mechanical on Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

In many cases I worked on at CSIS human sources were critical to stopping terrorist acts from happening and to getting convictions in court. But it is a dangerous thing to do. If the terrorists find out what you are up to your life is on the line.

As happened in India.

On this day in 2018

Suspected operatives of a banned left-wing extremist organisation in India, the People’s Liberation Guerilla Army, beheaded a man they thought was acting as an informant. The mutilated body of a local pastor, Abraham Topno, was found near the village of Vijaygiri in India’s northeastern Jharkand state.

It was late in the evening, as they entered the thick forests surrounding the state capital, Ranchi. They pulled the pastor and the driver out, blindfolded them and tied their hands with a stiff rope. Then they cut his throat.

Inspector Gimal Kumar

A note was found in red ink in the Hindi language that said, “Death to police spy. Long live PLGA” and signed “Your Maoists”. Whether or not the pastor was indeed a police informant is irrelevant. Beheading anyone is beyond human.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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