Multiple blasts rock New Delhi


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Aftermath of the bombings in New Delhi. Click to view more images at The Times of India.

A Pakistani-linked terror group took credit for a series of bombings in India's capital on Saturday. Five bombs were detonated within 45 minutes in three markets in New Delhi, causing multiple casualties. Eighteen civilians were killed and more than 90 were reported wounded in the coordinated attack.

The attack matches the profile of recent attacks in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, and Uttar Pradesh over the past year. The bombings are designed to maximize casualties, demonstrate the capacity to conduct multiple attacks at the same time, and maximize media coverage.

A group called the Indian Mujahideen sent e-mails to Indian media outlets just minutes before the attack, warning of the strike. "[The] Indian Mujahideen strikes back once more," the e-mail from the terrorist named "Arbi Hindi" read, according to DNA India. "Within 5 minutes from now ... This time with the Message of Death, dreadfully terrorizing you for your sins. And thus our promise will be fulfilled. Inshallah."

The terror group taunted the Indian security forces to stop them. "Do whatever you want and stop us if you can," the e-mail stated.

The Indian Mujahideen and recent attacks

The Indian Mujahideen has been behind multiple attacks in India this past year. The group claimed credit for the July 25 and 26 bombings in Ahmedabad and Bangalore. At least 36 Indians were killed and more than 120 were wounded in attacks.

The terror group also took credit for the May bombings in Jaipur and said the attacks were intended to disrupt the tourist economy. The group sent videos to the media using an e-mail address that is nearly identical to the one used to announce the attacks in Uttar Pradesh in November 2007. The Jaipur blasts killed more than 60 and wounded more than 200, while the Uttar Pradesh attacks killed 14 and wounded more than 50.

India's Intelligence Bureau denies that the Indian Mujahideen exists. Instead, the Bureau claims the terror group is a creation of the Bangladesh-based Harkat ul Jihad al Islami, or HuJI-B and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and operates with the support of the Students Islamic Movement of India. The group receives support from Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence and is an al Qaeda affiliate.

The Bangladeshi branch of HuJI was established in 1992 "with assistance from Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front," according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

HuJI-B fighters are recruited from madrassa, or religious schools, in Bangladesh and are trained in al Qaeda and Taliban camps Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Bangladeshi terror group plays a crucial role in training jihadists "from southern Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Brunei" and providing manpower for al Qaeda's affiliates in Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Chechnya.

HuJI-B created the Indian Mujahideen to confuse investigators and cover the tracks of the Students Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, Indian intelligence claims. SIMI provides logistical support for the attacks.

SIMI has been implicated in two other major attacks in India since 2006. SIMI is said to have helped the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba conduct the attack on the Samjhauta Express rail line to Pakistan in February 2007 and the Mumbai rail line bombings in July 2006. The attack on the Samjhauta Express resulted in more than 67 Indians killed and 15 wounded. The Mumbai rail bombings resulted in 63 civilians killed and more than 460 wounded.

Indian security forces have cracked down on SIMI over the past year, but police and intelligence officials believe the recent attack show the movement has regenerated its leadership.



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READER COMMENTS: "Multiple blasts rock New Delhi"

Posted by anand at September 13, 2008 3:32 PM ET:

Bill, let us know where the investigation of these attacks goes. I wonder about the role of the OBL linked groups such as Lashkar e Taiba, Jaish e Mohammed, or the anti Shia groups such as Laskar e Jhanvi. These groups seem to be closest to AQ central at the moment. They are also playing a big role in RC East, Afghanistan (including through the Haqqani Network and Hekmantyur)--as per the commanding major general of RC East.

As you know, these groups continually change names. I don't know what names the old members of these groups go under now.

Posted by KW64 at September 14, 2008 12:48 AM ET:

If the ISI is indeed promoting these things, they are playing with a fire they may not be able to put out before it burns them. India nearly went to war with Pakistan over Al Queda attacks in India not that long ago. Pakistan cannot win a war with India. It would seem that these kinds of attacks are more likely to provoke a conflict Pakistan cannot win than they are to destablize India and make it less of a threat to Pakistan.

It would be hard to believe that Pakistani Army Chief Gilani would not know about support for such operations; so why does he not recognize the danger and cut them off or have them go inactive until a crises comes that makes them useful. Gilani's relationship to the ISI puzzles me.

Posted by anand at September 14, 2008 12:54 AM ET:

I wonder about the possible role of the Haqqani network in this. This networks has historically had links to Kashmiri militants and the ISI in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Some powerful members of the ISI and Pakistani army are probably still sympathetic to them, and many of the Takfiri groups in Pakistan seem to be rallying to them:
Haqqani links to the Pakistani establishment are discussed here:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/158861

The Haqqani group might now be a bigger threat globally than the Mullah Omar faction of the Taliban.

The greatest danger for Pakistan is a 9/11 or larger scale terrorist attack against a population center in Europe, Russia, North America or India (although there is also a possibility of such an attack on Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq if Laskhar e Jhanvi (anti-Shia AQ group, whose emir is OBL) is involved, or even an attack on China.) Such an attack could lead to the end of the Pakistani state. For Pakistan's sake, I pray this does not happen.

Posted by KnightHawk at September 14, 2008 2:45 AM ET:

Hmm.
(KW64 & anand)
Perhaps that is the desired result, having someone else take down the current state of Pakistan. In their warped way of thinking I'm sure they could find benefits in such.

Posted by Raj Kumar at September 14, 2008 2:14 PM ET:

The aim of the game is to provoke India so that the GoP can claim to the US that they are unable to release formations from the eastern border to the western border.

At the moment I am sure that the Government of India is unlikely to attack. I personally expect a greater level of attacks in India over the coming months & weeks. The trigger for this will be GI boots on the ground in NWF/FATA.

The Pakistani Generals will do anything to try and not have to send its formations to the western border. The problem they face is that for the first time since the inception of Pakistan, Pakistan find itself in having to take on its principal International backer namely the US.

I would be very surprised if any US admisntration allows the Pakistani Generals to wriggle out of this.

Posted by anand at September 14, 2008 5:06 PM ET:

"rogue RAW agents"? "There have been disciplinary problems within the Indian intelligence agencies over the past two years. Some hawks would like to incite India-Pakistan conflict?"

This sounds like KSA/Pakistani/Chinese propaganda through one of their many media assets inside India.

The Indian government might believe that Kayani, Gilandi, and Zardari are not personally involved, but that is very different from believing that there is no AQ linked, or rogue ISI linked involvement.

Posted by KW64 at September 15, 2008 10:19 PM ET:

Indira Patel above suggests senior intelligence officials rule out a role for Pakistan; but other news articles suggest India sees a Pakistani role in at least other bombings if not this one.

"Militants are getting support from across the border and it is a fact," Defense Minister A.K. Antony told reporters in New Delhi, responding to a question about possible Pakistani involvement in the blasts. "It is a matter of serious concern."

"India has routinely accused Pakistan of aiding groups believed to be behind dozens of attacks in India in the last three years. New Delhi also accused Pakistani intelligence agents of involvement in a suicide bombing at the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan"

I still do not understand what Kayani's relationship to the ISI is or why he would see such bombings as being in Pakistan's interest. (I meant Army Chief Kayani in my above post. Gilani is Prime Minister.)

Posted by anand at September 16, 2008 2:40 AM ET:

Kayani use to be the commanding general of the ISI. However, he may have limited influence over some powerful factions within the ISI, greater Pakistani Army, and parts of the Pakistani security establishment.

The question isn't whether Kayani wants terrorist attacks on Afghan, Indian or other civilians. The better question is how much is Kayani willing to sacrifice to stop attacks against Afghanistan, India, Thailand, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and other countries.

There are links between Pakistani extremists and terrorism in Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, and other countries.

7,000 Pakistani army and police have been killed by AQ linked networks and the Taliban. It will take much more pain than that to stop AQ linked networks.