India is on heightened alert for new terrorist attacks by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Among the concerns, the Times of India reported, is that the LeT has acquired more than 50 hang-gliders, possibly for use in an air-borne terrorist attack. The information prompted Indian officials to impose tighter air security in the days leading up to Indian Republic Day. Although news of these plans surprised many in the Indian security services, such an attack would not be unprecedented.
The use of hang-gliders by terrorist groups, although sounding like something out of a James Bond film, is not completely unheard of. On November 15, 1987, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—General Command undertook a similar attack aimed at Israel. The attack, known as the "night of the gliders" was undertaken by two PFLP-GC guerrillas with AK-47 assault rifles, pistols, and hand grenades. The attackers hit at the Gibor army camp near Kiryat Shmona and resulted in the deaths of six soldiers and the wounding of many others.
Although the attackers were eventually shot and killed, the incident revealed a security gap that the Israel Defense Forces immediately closed. Similarly, upon identifying the potential for such an attack in India, a number of steps have been taken that will greatly reduce the likelihood of a potential attack by air.