Analysis: Mumbai attack differs from past terror strikes


Click image to view an interactive graphic showing the attacks in Mumbai. Created by The New York Times.

Almost two days after terrorists attacked the Indian financial hub of Mumbai, the Indian military is still working to root out the remnants of the assault teams at two hotels and a Jewish center. More than 125 people, including six foreigners, have been killed and 327 more have been wounded. The number is expected to go up, as Indian commandos have recovered an additional 30 dead at the Taj Mahal hotel as fighting has resumed.

The Mumbai attack is uniquely different from past terror strikes carried out by Islamic terrorists. Instead of one or more bombings at distinct sites, the Mumbai attackers struck throughout the city using military tactics. Instead of one or more bombings carried out over a short period of time, Mumbai is entering its third day of crisis.

An attack of this nature cannot be thrown together overnight. It requires planned, scouting, financing, training, and a support network to aid the fighters. Initial reports indicate the attacks originated from Pakistan, the hub of jihadi activity in South Asia. Few local terror groups have the capacity to pull of an attack such as this.

While it is early to know exactly what happened in Mumbai as the fog of war still blankets the city, multiple press reports from India allow for a general picture to be painted. An estimated 12 to 25 terrorists are believed to have entered Mumbai by sea. After landing, he attack teams initiated a battle at a police station, then fanned across the city to attack the soft underbelly of hotels, cafes, cinemas, and hospitals. Civilians were gunned down and taken hostage, while terrorists looked for people carrying foreign passports.

Preparation

While the exact size of the assault force and the support cells is still not known, police estimate about 25 gunmen were involved in the attack. The number of members of the supporting cells that provide financing, training, transportation, and other services could be two to four times this number. Operational security for such a large unit, or grouping of cells, is difficult to maintain and requires organization and discipline.

To pull off an attack of this magnitude, it requires months of training, planning, and on-site reconnaissance. Indian officials have stated that the terrorists set up "advance control rooms" at the Taj Mahal and Trident (Oberoi) hotels, and conducted a significant amount of reconnaissance prior to executing the attack. If the news about the "control rooms" is accurate, these rooms may also have served as weapons and ammunition caches for the assault teams to replenish after conducting the first half of the operation.

Mumbai-attacks-11262008.jpg

A terrorist outside the train station in Mumbai.

The planners of the Mumbai attack appear to have chosen able military-aged males. Witnesses have described the men as young and fit. Some of the gunmen appear to have been well trained; some have been credited with having good marksmanship and other military skills.

A witness who saw one of the teams land by sea described the gunmen as "in their 20s, fair-skinned and tall, clad in jeans and jackets." He saw "eight young men stepping out of the raft, two at a time. They jumped into the waters, and picked up a haversack. They bent down again, and came up carrying two more haversacks, one in each hand."

An Indian official claimed the attackers used "sophisticated weapons," however this may be an overstatement. Reports indicate the gunmen used automatic rifles, hand grenades, and some machineguns, as well as several car bombs. The terrorists did not have sophisticated weapons such as anti-aircraft missiles to attack helicopters supporting Indian counterterrorism forces.

Getting to Mumbai

One of the more intriguing aspects of the attack is how the teams entered Mumbai. Reports indicate at least two of the assault teams arrived from outside the city by sea around 9 p.m. local time. Indian officials believe most if not all of the attackers entered Mumbai via sea.

Indian Coast Guard, Navy, Mumbai maritime police, and customs units have scoured the waters off Mumbai in search of a "mother ship" that transported one or more smaller Gemini inflatable boats used by the attackers. A witness saw one of the craft land in Colaba in southern Mumbai and disgorge eight to 10 fighters.

Two ships that have been boarded are strongly suspected of being involved in the attacks: the Kuber, an Indian fishing boat, and the MV Alpha, a Vietnamese cargo ship. Both ships appear to have been directly involved. The Kuber was hijacked on Nov. 13, and its captain was found murdered. Four crewmen are reported to be still missing.

Indian security officials found what they believe is evidence linking the boat to the attack, as well as linking the attackers to Pakistan. "A GPS map of south Mumbai was found along with a satellite phone on the ship, Coast Guard officials confirmed," The Times of India reported. "There were reports that this phone was used to make calls to Karachi immediately before the shootings began in Mumbai."

Indian police also detained three terrorists from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terror group closely allied with al Qaeda. The three men are said to be Pakistani nationals, and claimed to have been part of a 12-man team that launched from the MV Alpha. They said the MV Alpha departed from Karachi.

Another Indian official said that it is "suspected that the Pakistan Marine Agency helped the terrorists hijack the trawler (the Kuber)," although this has not been confirmed. Another unconfirmed report indicated the Kuber originated from Karachi, Pakistan.

The attack

After landing in Colaba, the terrorists moved north and attacked the Colaba police station, possibly as a single unit. The attack on the police command and control node disrupted the police response and pinned down police units.

The Mumbai police paid a heavy price. Early in the fight, the attackers killed the chief of Mumbai's Anti-terrorism Squad and two other senior officials. At least 14 police were reported to have been killed during fighting throughout the city.

From the Colaba police station, the assault force broke up into smaller teams and fanned out to hit secondary targets throughout Mumbai. At least one police van was hijacked and the terrorists drove around the city, firing automatic weapons from the truck at random targets.

In all, 10 locations, including the police station, were attacked. The assault teams struck at vital centers where foreigners were likely to congregate: the five-star Taj Mahal and Trident hotels, the Nariman House (an orthodox Jewish center), the Cama hospital, the CSP train station, a cinema, and a cafe were all struck almost simultaneously. Two Taxis were also blown up near the airport in the north and the docks in the southern part of the city.

At the Taj, Trident, and Nariman House, several bombs or hand grenades were tossed into the lobbies and in other areas. The Taj Mahal Hotel was set on fire due to the blasts.

Gunmen opened fire indiscriminately in the hotel lobbies and at the cafe, cinema, train station, and the Jewish center. At the hotels, gunmen then sought out foreigners holding American, British, and Israeli passports.

More than 200 hostages were reported to have been held at the Taj and scores more at the Trident and the Jewish center. Mumbai was under siege as police and counterterrorism officials struggled to regain control of the city.

The counterattack

Police appear to have regained control of the situation at the CSP train station, cafe, and cinema relatively quickly, however they were unable to handle the hostage situation at the hotels, the hospital, and the Jewish center. Police officials admitted they were "overwhelmed" by the attacks and unable to contain the fighting.

After a delay, more than 200 National Security Guards commandos and a number of elite Naval commandos, as well as an unknown number of Army forces were deployed to Mumbai. The hotels, the hospital, and the Jewish center were surrounded as the special operations forces prepared to assault the buildings.

Commandos are in the process of clearing the Taj and the Trident in room-by-room searches. Some of the rooms are reported to have been rigged with explosives. Several National Security Guards commandos have been reported to have been killed or wounded in the fighting. Indian forces are also storming the Jewish Center after air assaulting soldiers into the complex. Curiously, it does not appear the terrorists have executed hostages once they were taken.

At this time, police said seven terrorist have been killed and nine have been detained. Several more are still thought to be hiding in the Taj and Trident hotels, and the Jewish center.

Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility

In an e-mail to local news stations, a group called the Deccan Mujahideen, or Indian Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility for the Mumbai strike. While the Indian Mujahideen's role in the attack has yet to be confirmed, at least two of the terrorists fighting in Mumbai indicated they were linked to Islamic terrorists.

One of the terrorists phoned a news station demanding jihadis be released from jail in exchange for prisoners. "We want all Mujahideens held in India released and only after that we will release the people," a man named Sahadullah told a media outlet. "Release all the Mujahideens, and Muslims living in India should not be troubled."

Another terrorist named Imran phoned a TV station and spoke in Urdu in what is believed to be a Kashmiri accent. "Ask the government to talk to us and we will release the hostages," he said. "Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir? Are you aware how your army has killed Muslims? Are you aware how many of them have been killed in Kashmir this week?"

The Indian Mujahideen has taken credit for several recent mass-casualty attacks in India. 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 the attacks. The Indian Mujahideen took credit for the Sept. 13 attacks in New Delhi that resulted in 18 killed and more than 90 wounded. The group also claimed credit for the bombings in Jaipur last May (60 killed, more than 200 wounded), and bombings in Uttar Pradesh in November 2007 (14 killed, 50 wounded).

In several of those attacks, an Indian Mujahideen operative who calls himself Arbi Hindi e-mailed the media to claim responsibility. Arbi Hindi's real name is Abdul Subhan Qureshi, an Indian national who is believed to be behind many of the recent terror attacks inside India. Qureshi, a computer expert, is believed to have trained hundreds of recruits to conduct terror attacks in India. He is often called India's Osama bin Laden.

Indian intelligence believes the Indian Mujahideen is a front group created by the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Harkat ul Jihad al Islami. The Indian Mujahideen was created to confuse investigators and cover the tracks of the Students' Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, a radical Islamist movement, according to Indian intelligence.

The Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Harkat ul Jihad al Islami receive support from Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence to destabilize India and wage war in Kashmir. Both of these terror groups are local al Qaeda affiliates in Pakistan and conduct attacks in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The Indian "occupation" of Kashmir helped spawn these groups.

Reports indicate signals intelligence has linked the attackers back to Pakistan. Intelligence services are said to have intercepted the terrorists' conversations via satellite phone. The men spoke in Punjabi and used Pakistani phrases.

Indian politicians have been quick to point the finger at Pakistan. Gujarat state Chief Minister Narendra Modi accused Pakistan of allowing terrorists to use its soil as a terror launchpad. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed terror groups backed by India's "neighbors," a reference to Pakistan. Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said "elements in Pakistan" were behind the Mumbai attacks.

A unique attack

The Mumbai attack differs from previous terror attacks launched by Islamic terror groups. Al Qaeda and other terror groups have not used multiple assault teams to attack multiple targets simultaneously in a major city outside of a war zone.

Al Qaeda and allied groups have conducted complex military assaults on military and non-military targets in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia, Algeria, and Pakistan. But these are countries that are actively in a state of war or emerging from a recent war, where resources and established fighting units already exist.

Al Qaeda has also used the combination of a suicide attack to breach an outer wall followed by one or more assault teams on military bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as well as at the US embassy in Yemen. But again, these attacks are focused on a single target, and again occur where the resources and manpower is available.

Previous terror attacks in non-war zone countries such as India, London, Spain, the United States, Jordan, Morocco, and Egypt have consisted of suicide or conventional bombings on one or more critical soft targets such as hotels, resorts, cafes, rail stations, trains, and in the case of the Sept. 11 attack, planes used as suicide bombs.

The only attack similar to the Mumbai strike is the assault on the Indian Parliament by the Jaish-e-Mohammed, aided by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, in December 2001. A team of Jaish-e-Mohammed fighters attempted to storm the parliament building while in a session was held. A combination of mishaps by the terrorists and the quick reaction of security guards blunted the attack.

The Mumbai attack is something different. Foreign assault teams that likely trained and originated from outside the country infiltrated a major city to conduct multiple attacks on carefully chosen targets. The primary weapon was the gunman, not the suicide bomber. The attack itself has paralyzed a city of 18 million. And two days after the attack began, Indian forces are still working to root out the terror teams.



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READER COMMENTS: "Analysis: Mumbai attack differs from past terror strikes"

Posted by Aatif at November 28, 2008 6:15 AM ET:

Haha! "Pakistan is responsible".
Dear Indians, get a life, please come up with something new, the intelligence job in India seems to be the easiest, do nothing and blame Pakistan in the report, Simple.

Indian PM got loose motion and Indian intelligence got the clue to be rooted in Pakistan. How funny!

Posted by flyonthewall at November 28, 2008 7:06 AM ET:

The scope and capability of terrorists' strategy is evolving. Imagine 9/11 with this level of pre- and post- tactics? I sure HOPE the U.S. Pres Elect has creative plans to prepare for the next attack, for which Mumbai was probably just a practice drill. There may be great wisdom in owning a gun and spending more time at the firing range.

Atif,
Who could be laughing during a time of such tragic loss and horror? When will Muslims separate themselves from radical Islamofacists?

Bill,
Thanks for working on Thanksgiving. Great coverage and discussion / comments.

Posted by NS at November 28, 2008 9:08 AM ET:

Aatif,
I dont know how your comments were allowed on this site. Taking glee of a vey difficult situation shows something about you that is unflattering to put it mildly.

Your beloved ISI is a terrorist organization - its difficult for you Pakistanis to come to grips with that. Well trained and armed Terrorists came from Karachi - this has now proven to be a fact.

3 pakis have been arrested in the NSG operations , one of them is from faridkot. And in other interesting news, the ISI chief has been "summoned" to India.

There is US/Indian intel that reveals ISI involvement in the Kabul bombing of the Indian embassy this summer.

There is a pattern here - the ISI is trying to get India and Pakistan into a war - if you were not so blind, you would see it.

Posted by Victor at November 28, 2008 10:24 AM ET:

Aatif,

Keep laughing, ghoul. When Pakistan is utterly destroyed, we'll all be listening for your laughter then.

Posted by draka at November 28, 2008 12:05 PM ET:

Aatif,
Keep in mind that the PM did not blame Pakistan, he just said that that the "perpetrators were based outside the country".

Your comments just strengthen my belief that a majority of Muslim hardliners give the minority of moderates a rap. If there are any moderate Muslims who condemn this, I challenge them to come forward and denounce Aatif's statements and the attacks.

Posted by Bill Roggio at November 28, 2008 12:07 PM ET:

Atif's comment stood only because occasionally DJ and I must sleep. At this point it would be counterproductive to remove it. And it serves as an example of what is wrong in certain quarters.

Posted by ajacksonian at November 28, 2008 1:34 PM ET:

The act they committed was piracy... and continues to be piracy. They use terrorism to intimidate, threaten, kill and those are things being done by those waging private war. Private war is waged by terrorists and pirates - they have no backing by any Nation and do this for their own reasons. Treat their organizations as such - outlaws and enemies of mankind. There is no difference between using the means of war to gain cash or power, no distinction between the two when people take up the law of nature to themselves.

We have chosen to ignore both and that is decadence, a high state of decay in civilization.

Posted by Solomon2 at November 28, 2008 3:14 PM ET:

Something smells here. It doesn't feel like an Al Qaeda attack because the groups were small and no big bombs went off. It doesn't feel like a Taliban or pirate attack because no targets-of-opportunity were engaged.

This feels like a Spetsnaz-style diversionary assault: a platoon of men divided into groups of two to four dispersed to attack fixed targets in an economically or politically sensitive area, thus tying down police and military forces that otherwise might be free to engage in conventional warfare.

No, I don't think the Russians did it. However, it does strike me that an attack like this is just what Pakistan would have prepared to undertake in the event of a general war to liberate Kashmir. An operation pre-planned, with operators pre-trained and ready to go with a single phone call. Something that would be part of a larger operation, but with a diversionary element that would be the responsibility of the ISI.

But now the new Pakistani government has been trying to reign in the ISI. Perhaps some rogue decided to set his group in motion as revenge. He might even have thought that he could keep his power and influence by doing so.

No wonder Pakistan promised full cooperation. Let's see how they live up to that promise.

Posted by Jerry at November 28, 2008 4:17 PM ET:

Solomon 2

"...However, it does strike me that an attack like this is just what Pakistan would have prepared to undertake in the event of a general war to liberate Kashmir. An operation pre-planned, with operators pre-trained and ready to go with a single phone call. Something that would be part of a larger operation, but with a diversionary element that would be the responsibility of the ISI."


Thanks, Solomon -very insightful. Sounds like a rogue element in the ISI that punched a "operations-go" button that's going to explode a lot more things than orginally intended. Hopefully, this is a wakeup call to the Pakistanis to reign in those rogue whackjobs.

Today we are all Indians.

Posted by Amit at November 28, 2008 5:25 PM ET:

Bill,
I lived in Bombay before coming to the US more than a decade ago. I had never heard of Nariman house or the jewish center. Also, I couldn't find the my way from the area around Nariman house to the taj/oberoi if my life depended on it. These guys had to have been planning this for a long time.
There was a report in the Times of India that said some of the terrorists had checked into the hotel as guests a few days before the attacks. They had stashed away a lot of ammo in their rooms and had familiarized themselves with the layout of the taj.

Posted by KW64 at November 28, 2008 6:26 PM ET:

NS -- While I readily believe that the leadership of the ISI and the Pakistani military do not want India to have a significant presence in Afghanistan and may have had involvement in the embassy bombing there, I seriously doubt, for reasons in comment 1 above, that the new ISI chief or Kayani would think they can bring down the Indian Government via terrorism without serious consequences for Pakistan. While groups that received aid from ISI in the past, or from unauthorized elements of ISI currently, may be responsible for this attack, I doubt the current ISI or Pakistani army heads knew what was coming let alone ordered it.

Al Queda, the Taliban and Indian domestic radicals all have reason to see India and Pakistan at sword's point. I would expect those to be the perpetrators of this crime not authorized Pakistani authorities.

Posted by KW64 at November 28, 2008 7:16 PM ET:

Sorry, the comment 1 I was referring to was in the November 26 article not the number 1 comment in this posting. I have no sympathy for the attitude expressed by Aatif here. India deserves every support possible in resolving this problem and their comments should be given great deference at the present time until all the evidence is clearly in.

Posted by NS at November 28, 2008 7:20 PM ET:

KW64,
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. You have to understand that all these attacks have been planned in such a way so as to give ISI plausible deniability. No organization let alone the ISI can be overt about their objectives or operations.

As far as the Kabul Embassy bombings go, you may want to read the following NYT article

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/world/asia/01pstan.html?ref=todayspaper

Bill referred to this attack and the ISI involvement
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/08/analysis_reports_of.php

As far as the consequences go, what consequences has the ISI faced exactly? AFAIK, NONE. In fact their impunity arises from the fact that India does not want to escalate the situation. Unfortunately asymmetric warfare kills you with a thousand cuts - dealing with it is tough.

Its not every day that you have an intelligence agency so directly undermining a civilian Govt - real power in Pakistan has always been held by the military. Not to mention these are the same guys who...gulp.. are "guardians" of Paki nuke weapons.

The ISI holds a lot of cards and is using its leverage to the hilt.

I am getting tired of hearing the "rogue elements of the ISI". An intelligence agency that cannot run a tight ship is not worth much. You would nt have Walmart putting up with "rogue" employees, would you ?

There is a war going on here - the ISI has to decide on which side it is. If their top leadership is not up to it, they should quit and make way for some one who sincerely wants to fight terror and clean out the "rogue" elements.

This is exactly why it is very hard to trust the ISI or give it the benefit of the doubt. They have been asked to clean house since 9/11 - and where exactly are they ? They have just been accused of attacking the biggest attack since 9/11.

India's patience is wearing thin and is not going to stand by idly till Kayani & Co get their act together and clean out the so called rogue elements. In fact if you asked me their top leadership has cynically used this "rogue element" excuse to give themselves the air of plausible deniability.

The attackers who came in were well armed and well trained. The question is, who the hell trained them ? And where exactly did they receive weapons training.?

The Pakistan military let AQ Khan proliferate nuclear weapons technology right under their noses - does any one think that Khan did this operation on his OWN? Without the military or political establishment knowing nothing about it?

There are just waaay too many uncomfortable questions for the ISI to answer.

I am not holding out much hope here - these attacks were the news of this month - by this time next month, most people would be busy shopping for the New Year, the terror attacks all but forgotten.

Also, I dont deny that there are radical Islamist elements in India - that would be pretty blind of me.

At the same time, these radicals need weapons and training - idealogical and military. There has not been a single terror training camp that was ever discovered in India. Given the lameness of our intelligence services, it is quite possible that these camps exist and we have no clue about it.

We will find out soon - but some thing tells me that the dark clouds of ISI involvement is going to keep hanging for some time.

Posted by NS at November 28, 2008 7:41 PM ET:

I would also like to make it clear that i am open minded to the prospect of this operation having no ISI involvement at all - I might be one of the very few Indians who can even think along these lines, given what I know to be factual about them and not some Halloween scare stories.

It is possible that Indian intel may uncover terrorist training camp(s) right in India - We have had SIMI - we have always had rogue Islamist elements who routinely carry out small scale attacks, but we have never seen an operation of this scale, precision and planning. Just the scouting along for this attack should have taken them a long time.

Obviously there are some raw feelings here - this is the third terrorist attack on Bombay in the last 15 years and each time we have had significant involvement of organizations ( either Dawood Ibrahim or LeT) that are patronized by the ISI - so the finger pointing for me comes rather easily.

I will gladly eat crow if this had no ISI involvement - rogue or otherwise. We need to get to the bottom of these attacks - every single detail about it.

Posted by Marlin at November 28, 2008 7:42 PM ET:

It's probably too early to know for sure if this is true or not, but it makes for interesting reading.

In a sensational disclosure made by Ajmal, the jihadi nabbed alive by Mumbai cops, the group had planned to sail out on Thursday. Their recruiters had even charted out the return route for them and stored it on the GPS device which they had used to navigate their way to the Mumbai shoreline.

This suggests that the terrorists were willing to undertake a mission which they knew would be very risky, but not necessarily suicidal.

[...]

Ajmal made another important disclosure: that all terrorists were trained in marine warfare along with the special course Daura-e-Shifa conducted by the Lashkar-e-Toiba in what at once transforms the nature of the planning from a routine terror strike and into a specialized raid by commandos.

Times of India: Arrested terrorist says gang hoped to get away

Posted by Scott Kirwin at November 28, 2008 9:59 PM ET:

Bill
Aren't these attacks similar to that conducted by al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya in Luxor Egypt in '97?

Posted by Marlin at November 28, 2008 10:43 PM ET:

Here's an article that makes many of same points that Bill does in his analysis.

With the capture of a terrorist, the actual authors were revealed. It wasn't the al-Qaida. But the jihadi credentials were not much less impressive with Lashkar-e-Taiba named as the suspect. Given the operation's obvious planning, few doubted it was the deadly firm of LeT-ISI in action yet again.

Yet the difference between LeT and al-Qaida is not so significant as might have once been the case. In recent years, Lashkar has emerged as not only the single largest pan-Indian terror threat, but also a partner with al-Qaida in jihadi battlegrounds like Iraq, Chechnya and Afghanistan. It has shared training camps and cadre and used al-Qaida-Taliban facilities for a "jihad" against India.

Times of India: Qaida in partnership with Lashkar in India

Posted by Huan at November 28, 2008 11:17 PM ET:

what are the chance that ALL of the attacks were diversions for something not yet revealed in Mumbai or elsewhere in India?

Posted by Neo at November 28, 2008 11:26 PM ET:

"al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya in Luxor Egypt in '97?"

In the case of Luxor attack, I don't remember information about the attackers being compartmentalized and divided into discrete cells that didn't know each other. The attackers were Egyptian and could be fairly easily traced back to the source. To my knowledge outside state players were not a factor. The only common factor is the targeting of westerners and the attempt to disrupt commercial relationships. This attack is much more complex, it seems.

Posted by Austin at November 28, 2008 11:28 PM ET:

This attack looks more like the Hatshpeshut Temple attack in Egypt in the 90s that got Zawahiri kicked out of Egypt. It used gunmen on tourists as well.

Posted by Neo at November 28, 2008 11:43 PM ET:

"what are the chance that ALL of the attacks were diversions for something not yet revealed in Mumbai or elsewhere in India?"

If this a diversion for something bigger, I would hate to imagine what. No one has given any indication that a conventional military play is in the works. There are no troop movements of significance reported along the India Pakistan border. This is an act of terrorism.

This seems to be the main event. It is quite enough at that!

Posted by Trey at November 29, 2008 12:47 AM ET:

Good analysis overall. Be careful on overemphasizing AQ link (or AQ-LeT link) lest you sound like CNN alarmists...err "analysts".

AQ doesn't do hostages or sieges. Although most likely sympathetic with AQ ideology, there is no proof that militants' main political goal is anything but domestic. American's and Brits could have been targeted simply for their symbolic value - to elevate attention.

My best guess: NOT intl. terror group. most likely Indo-Paki group affiliated with LeT with domestic political goals ie Kashmir...perhaps minor AQ and ISA relationships

Posted by Neo at November 29, 2008 12:56 AM ET:

On a bit of a side note, that doesn't play directly into the Mumbai attack. Those of you who like wild conspiracy theories really need look no further than what is going on in the Arabia Sea with the now famous Somalian pirates. How many people really think that Somalian's from a half dozen poor fishing villages along the coast can account for the largest scale piracy since the late 17th century. Frankly, I think it is all cover for moving arms, men, materials, intelligence assets, and resources of all sorts around the Arabian Sea. Where are the Somali's getting all their mother ships and large speed boats? Does anyone other than me think they have seized an inordinate number of arms shipments. What are the chances that among the thousands of shipments that go through the area, so many of the seized shipments would happen to be arms. There are so many ships getting hijacked within sight of the Yemen coast that one might suspect that local fishermen and port workers were getting paid as informants. Also, I notice there is a cluster of ships seized off the coast of Tanzania. That doesn't look good either.


Once again, I don't think the Mumbai attack has a direct connection and I am not trying to hint at it. The "Piracy" in the waters around Somalia has demonstrated though, that extremists can move armed men and material around the Arabian Sea without any sort of hindrance. Why just harass the west coast of Africa. With a little imagination they could work out of Bangladesh or stretch this sort of activity across the Indonesian archipelago. Well, That was my moment of paranoia for the week. I'm done.

Thank God, the UN is acting decisively to keep sea lanes safe!

Posted by Neo at November 29, 2008 2:07 AM ET:

West side of Arabian SEA = East Coast Of Africa

Excuse Me

Posted by Cris at November 29, 2008 6:25 AM ET:

Many of the more thoughtful posts above recall or imagine tactics that demonstrate one vital aspect of this ongoing conflict:
The enemy has the initiative in these matters. Operating in secret on a world-wide battlefield, they count on staying inside the West's decision loop when the action starts.
AQ is what it says it is-not a central command, but an advisory and support group to untolled local groups/cells of varying sophistication and/or size. In countries with constitutions guaranteeing fewer human rights, more aggressive intel methods may yield more prohibitive results. The US and others will be vulnerable, and reactive.
That said, one thinks that should a Mumbai event occur on our soil, our reaction might be fearsome on many fronts. And that makes us somewhat safer. One should also keep in mind that our efforts thus far have left us unscathed from major attack since 9-11. We may be doing something right.

Posted by Cordell at November 29, 2008 1:59 PM ET:

Basically, this attack appears to be an effort to embarrass and discredit Pakistani President Zardari and his peace overtures toward India over Kashmir. Shortly after taking office, he stated that he hoped to resolve the Kashmir dispute and improve trade relations with India during the coming year.

From this perspective, LeT has borrowed the tactics of Hamas: whenever Israeli-Palestinian talks seem to be making progress, create an incident to sour relations. To help prevent future attacks, India and Pakistan should recognize the ultimate objective of the terrorists and redouble their efforts toward expanded trade relations and a peaceful settlement of the longstanding Kashmir dispute.
Terrorist groups thrive on ignorance, poverty and resentment.

Posted by Terry at November 29, 2008 3:25 PM ET:

Tet Offensive, but much smaller in scale and sophistication.

Posted by Rosario at November 29, 2008 4:18 PM ET:

Bill,

Thanks for the well written synopsis and historical perspective on this incident. There is an op ed piece written by a Gautam Adhikari of the TOI I found particularly appropriate and might be of interest to your readers:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Editorial/COMMENT_Save_Pakistan_To_Save_All/articleshow/3770216.cms

People in India have been dealing with Pakistan a lot longer that the rest of the world. Gautam seems to speak plainly what the larger strategic problem is, namely all symptoms of a disintegrating Pakistan. He goe on to propose a solution that seems to make a great of sense to me.

rds,

RJC

Posted by Solomon2 at November 29, 2008 6:07 PM ET:

"I lived in Bombay before coming to the US more than a decade ago. I had never heard of Nariman house or the jewish center."

The Chabad Center at Nariman House is new, only a few years old.

"I am getting tired of hearing the "rogue elements of the ISI". An intelligence agency that cannot run a tight ship is not worth much. You would nt have Walmart putting up with "rogue" employees, would you ?"

On the contrary, "rogue elements" can easily flourish in many intelligence agencies. The secret opposition to Hitler, for example, had at its heart the leader of the Abwehr, the intelligence service of the Wehrmacht.

Posted by My2cents at November 30, 2008 2:11 PM ET:

I think that there is a "Save the Taliban" element to this operation.

That the operation would increased tension between Pakistan and India leading to a need for Pakistan to respond by moving troops from the Pushtun areas in the west to the Indian border in the east, taking pressure off the Taliban and al-Queda seems pretty obvious.

Posted by Mike at November 30, 2008 2:58 PM ET:

An attack like this could occur in any city in America tomorrow.

As a Police Officer, I have no idea how we could respond to this.

Our Americanized 911 (as in dialing 911 for emergency) type response would mean certain death or serious injury for initial responding police units.

The US police community needs to get more serious about tactical training with a military mindset.

Posted by Bharat at December 1, 2008 1:56 AM ET:

There was no so called "Hostage crisis" as widely reported in the western and Indian media.

10 Pakistani rats came to kill and got killed in the end by the indian commandos.

200 people paid the price. Indian commandos were asked to go slow in their approach, so that the people inside the hotels and Nariman house don't get killed by friendly fire.

Indian commandos then brought the nariman house down once they realised that pakistani rats killed the jewish residents way before NSG commandos arrived.

so, the intention of pakistanis were to kill. Yes, there was delay in deploying NSG commandos because of Indian bureaucracy.

One pakistani rat was caught alive but other rats were burned alive by the NSG commandos.

In Trident-oberoi hotel, pakistani rats were cornered inside 18th floor washroom and shot dead.

Posted by Tom in Delaware at December 1, 2008 11:15 AM ET:

It seems to me that whoever comitted these acts sought to achieve two goals.
1. Increase tension between India and Pakistan to alleviate the hammer and anvil pressure being exerted in Warizistan against the Taliban. The Taliban now want to disavow themselves of any relationship with Al-Qeada, not because they've seen the light, but because they're feeling the heat.
2. Counter any movement in the direction of arming merchant vessels to protect themselves against piracy. Having the Horn of Africa in chaos serves the terrorists well.

If India responded by sending military units into Afghanistan to work with the US and NATO forces to crush the Taliban, that would be a coup.

That's the way to take back the initiative in the War on Terror and reduce tension between India and Pakistan.

The Indian and Pakistani Navies could then start giving the pirates of Somalia a taste of their own medicine.

Anyway-that my two cents.

Posted by mubashar ahmed ch at December 1, 2008 6:07 PM ET:

i telling to indian gov dont blame pakistan this is a indian game ...pakistani never accept terrorist 200 peoples die in mumbai all over the world peoples feelings bad my self also....but think how many muslims pakistan die a day?in pakistan,kashmir?iraq?afghanistan?and phalastian think we r also human not animal why indians never feel sad about us ?200 peoples die india make big issue and blame pakistan

Posted by Solomon2 at December 1, 2008 6:18 PM ET:

My guess is that in a country where dozens die every day from organized criminal violence, war with India is seen in terms of, "How dare they? Don't they realize we have our own problems? We'll stop fighting with ourselves now and beat them up instead."

Which may have been the motivation for the attack in the first place.