The thing that really pisses me off is that there are a load of Taliban fighters holed up in Afghanistan somewhere reading about me on the internet, probably pissing themselves laughing at my expense. I now have a heightened awareness of the things I do and have done which could be used in evidence against me at my Kafka-esque terror trial.
- Wear sandals (a heinous crime in and of itself)
- Grow a beard (an equally unforgivable misdemeanour)
- Visit Pakistan and the Afghan border region (usually only terrorists or opium smugglers, but actually it’s the only way to drive to India)
- Drive a heavy truck full of fuel (You say “Truck Bomb”, I say “Biotruck”. Let’s call the whole thing off)
- Carry multiple passports (I have dual nationality, it’s not a crime)
- Have a passport full of stamps from Muslim countries in North Africa (its full of stamps from Christian countries too, doesn’t make me a KKK supporter)
- Hang out near the a town where a contentious neighbouring country’s president is visiting (It was 20km away and how should I know where the hell the Bangladeshi president is going next week)
- Go to Pushkar and say I’m a tourist (Lots of tourists do that too)
- Carry a sat phone (So do many overlanders, mountaineers, sailors, foreign journalists and the British Ambassadors in India, but actually not me any more)
- Take photographs of tourist sites (Lots of tourists do that too)
- Buy local PAYG SIM cards when I am abroad, and then call people with it (cheapest way to stay in touch)
- Take pictures with Mumbai hotels in the background (I hadn’t noticed the hotels until I got stopped by beach security for taking pictures of people who happened to be in front of them – seem Mumbai Romance in the Gallery)
- Speak with Muslims (I worry about this every time I ask a hajji with a beard for directions – will they be photographed and rounded up for questioning later just cos I’m looking for a shop that sells milk? And in 2 months time how will it look when I the police show me this picture and I tell them I don’t have any recollection of this person.)
- Have a laptop with Aircrack, software that theoretically allows me to log on to secure Wifi networks so I can upload a video declaring responsibility for my latest blog entry (Sadly I’ve never got Aircrack to work and had forgotten it was installed until talking about it with a friend tonight. I should really delete it cos it is a pretty dodgy bit of software any way you look at it [Ed – now deleted])
- Receive support from Iran (OK tenuous here: but my regime-hating Iranian friends helped me find veg oil for the truck bomb, er I mean Biotruck.)
- Go to hear a hard-line Muslim leader address a rally of supporters. (In Esfahan I took pictures of Ahmedinejad when he declared they would step up their nuclear enrichment programme, but even though I was surrounded by his supporters, I resisted joining in the chants of “Allah Uakbar” on cue, so I’m obviously not quite ready for my suicide mission yet)
- Speak Arabic (not much, and Hassania is a dialect from the far west of the Arab world which is so corrupted no one outside Mauritania really understands me)
- Go to the desert with Muslim men and learn new things while I am there (paragliding in Iran, 2-wheel-drive off-roading in Mauritania, panning for gold in Algeria, horse riding in Egypt)
- Fly a paraglider (There’s a terror group in India that were, allegedly, planning on using them for an aerial attack – Oh please, do me a favour! If the winds are wrong they’ll end up blowing up the local bingo hall instead of the parliament building. They banned paragliders over Mumbai for the National holiday, despite the fact that the laws of physics have already banned it permenantly)
Reading this back, it looks like an application CV to Al Queda. Can you imagine the covering letter; “Dear Mr Laden, I know you have regular vacancies in the suicide bombing department. Others have commented that my skill set would be a good fit with your team...Salary expectations; not so bothered about the virgins, but a pension with eternity in paradise... Happy to work abroad...References available from Captain Jatinder of the Indian Military Intelligence and Superintendent Tak of Ajmer Police, they’ll tell you I’m a terrorist alright.”
I appreciate that for a country which saw violent terrorist shootings less than 18 months ago, [Ed – and the Pune bombing since I wrote this] this is a raw nerve and my comments will seem in very bad taste. Well if there are any Indians that are offended, don’t think I am unsympathetic to the shock of those events and the losses. But don’t be angry at this blog entry written from my rage at being imprisoned for a week and deprived of the money to fulfil the dream I worked hard to make possible. Instead be angry at the fact you have an incompetent police force and illiterate Military Intelligence officers who shouldn’t be put in charge of a train set let alone terrorist investigations. Alarmingly for you, these people are responsible for protecting you but have no clue how to use their resources effectively, missing the real terrorists and wasting the time of 150 officers to investigate someone who is clearly innocent.
For the 3rd time (twice with David Coleman Headley, and once with me) SP Tak and Captain Jatinder of MI have let India down. If you want to investigate risks to Indian National Security start with them.