Recently, an Indian-origin teenager has been found guilty of trying to buy a car bomb on the dark web.
While there is still a lot of speculation on how exactly the investigative agency, in this case the National Crime Agency of Britain, tracked the teenager, those using the dark web for any unlawful activity will have to realize that they may not be able to escape the law for too long.
The Present Case Explained
The legal case involves a 19-year-old Brit of Indian origin, Gurtej Randhawa, who searched for explosives on the dark web.
And he appears to have been particularly buying a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) which, in layman’s terms, is a car bomb.
He found one and ordered it in the month of May 2017. The teenager then gave his genuine address in Wolverhampton, U.K. He was apprehended by the police—as mentioned, the sleuths of the NCA—and booked.
The agency appears to have intercepted the packet, replaced the original bomb with a dummy one and let the consignment be delivered to Randhawa.
They then caught him in trying to test out what he had ordered.
Court Finds Randhawa to be Guilty
The charge the court found Randhawa guilty of, inter alia, involves possessing an explosive substance that could be used to endanger human life and the community in the U.K.
It was such an open-and-shut case that there was probably no option left with the accused but to plead guilty, hoping the judge would take a more lenient stance and lessen the punishment.
The exact sentence is still to be delivered; it is expected to come after the new year is born, on January 12.
For the record, Gurtej Randhawa did plead guilty of having imported explosives, which alone might not have amounted to a serious offense.
The investigating agency drove home the point that if Randhawa had succeeded in assembling the bomb and used it to remotely trigger an attack, then there was a possibility that such an incident would have resulted in the death of many innocent people.
There was no way the agency would have permitted that.
The only point of relief for the NCA was that the teenager did not have any links with groups involved in terrorist activities, nor has he been found to have committed any such serious crime in the past.
Was Randhawa Under Close Watch?
Now if Randhawa was using the Tor browser and the dark web to source this bomb, how come he fell into the net of the investigators? A few possibilities are being suggested.
One section feels that he must have been unlucky to land in one of the decoy sites run by law enforcement agencies and was immediately under the scanner.
There have been such cases in the past, particularly in the U.S., where people have fallen into the net spread by the agencies.
They pretend to be a genuine buyer, ordering drugs and then catching hold of the offenders.
If this was the method used in the Randhawa case, then it is indeed a warning sign for all Tor users and dark web traders, wherever they are operating from.
The other theory is that the parcel carrying the car bomb inside might have been detected on a scanner in transit, and someone could have sounded off the police in the U.K. since the parcel was destined there.
The last educated guess is that Randhawa had already been identified by the NCA, and they had kept a close watch on him even before he placed the order.
Whatever the modus operandi employed, the facts are very clear—someone trying to procure deadly explosives from within the dark web was apprehended before any damage could be caused by him to the community at large.
It is also possible that for every such crime prevented, there may be many that are slipping by undetected.
Often, there is a limit to the capabilities of the crime prevention agencies in staying one step ahead of the criminal.
But, in the case of Gurtej Randhawa, their foresight has seen a victory.
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