Sunday, February 14, 2010

Police suspect terror angle to call routing cases

The Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CBCID) suspects a terror angle to several cases involving the routing of international calls through illegal voice over internet protocol (VoIP), a service that allows the transmission of voice through the Internet.

The police are investigating at least four cases in the city after the Vigilance Telecom Monitoring Cell, Chennai, detected that a grey market call centre had been functioning in the city since 2005. Some persons were arrested but the kingpins are at large, sources said.

The apparent loss to the Government of India and telecom operators amount to nearly Rs.1 crore. More than the monetary gains, the accused could have employed the technology for anti-national activities, sources told The Hindu here on Sunday. The illegal routing of international calls assumes significance in the light of emerging evidence that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba controllers had guided the team involved in the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008 through VoIP phones.

Usually, an international call comes with a local Calling Line Identification (CLI). But the grey market call has a ‘bad CLI’ or ‘no CLI’ at all.

Sources said illegal operators had used the services of private telecom providers in routing these international calls from various places including a building complex opposite the Kerala State Road Transport Cooperation (KSRTC) bus station on Mavoor Road.

It was found that the accused had used a broadband cable box linked to an optical fibre terminating box or ‘black box’ from which the optical fibre cable was extended using a media converter to an 8-port Ethernet switch. This Ethernet cable was finally traced to a nearby house that functioned as an illegal telecom system, sources said.

This illegally system had an Internet connection with 1024 kbps bandwidth of a private telecom service provider, a bridge converter, de-link 8-port Ethernet switch, personal computer and peripherals and a Quintum Technologies VoIP gateway imported from Singapore. Sources said one P.P. Abdul Gafoor and his brother Abdul Nazer are involved in more than two cases. One of the five accused, Shafeeq, involved the Mavoor illegal call routing case is reportedly in the in Gulf. Also, there are six accused in a call routing case traced to Valiyangadi. Six of the nine accused had been arrested by the police.

Likewise, four of the five accused had been arrested in a case traced to a building on the Railway Station Link Road, sources said.

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