61 killed in multiple bombings in India

India-Assam-blasts-1202038.jpg

Aftermath of one of the 13 bombings in Assam.

India has been hit with another coordinated bombing attack, this time in four districts in the eastern state of Assam. Sixty-one Indians were killed and more than 470 were wounded in the multiple blasts.

The bombs were detonated almost simultaneously around 11:30 local time today. Thirteen bombs were detonated in markets, a court office, and near the Assam state capital. The attacks, like previous attacks in India the past several years, were designed to maximize casualties.

Indian officials first pointed the finger at the United Liberation Front of Assam, a separatist movement in the state. UFLA has denied any involvement in the attack.

Police accused “jihadi” groups of conducting the strike. “The needle of suspicion points to jihadi outfits who are behind subversive activities in the state,” a police official told The Hindu. Police have detected the explosive RDX in at least two of the bombs. RDX has been used by Islamist terror groups in past attacks in India.

The primary suspect in the attacks is the Bangladesh-based Harkat ul Jihad al Islami, or HuJI-B. This terror group has been behind multiple bombings in India over the past several years. Police have sealed the border with Bangladesh. Troops on the border have been “put on maximum alert,” The Hindu reported.

Background on the HUJI-B and allied Indian terror groups

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.

Indian intelligence claims HuJI-B created a front group called the Indian Mujahideen to confuse investigators and cover the tracks of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, a radical Islamist movement. The group receives support from Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence and is an al Qaeda affiliate. SIMI provides logistical support for attacks in India.

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.

The Indian Mujahideen took credit for multiple attacks in India this past year. An e-mail from an Indian Mujahideen operative said the group was responsible for the Sept. 13 attacks in New Delhi. Eighteen civilians were killed and more than 90 were reported wounded in the coordinated attack. 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 Indian Mujahideen 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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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16 Comments

  • anand says:

    Why was Assam chosen for this attack?

  • anand says:

    What is the best way to stop attacks like this?
    If a terrorist attacks kills over 10,000 in India, Russia, Europe, America or China . . . and it is proven to be AQ linked . . . the consequences would be unpredictable and very ugly.

  • Jim says:

    Bill, I don’t know if you are aware but longwarjournal.com got a mention on Fox News regarding this story.

  • NS says:

    Anand,
    “If a terrorist attacks kills over 10,000 in India, Russia, Europe, America or China . . . and it is proven to be AQ linked . . . the consequences would be unpredictable and very ugly.”
    After Iraq, India has been the target of the most terrorist attacks in the last 6 years – what exactly where the consequences that confronted the terrorists ? nothing really.
    India is a soft target and a weak nation state when it comes to responding to Islamic terrorism. National security is not even an issue among most Indian voters.
    Feel terrible for the victims and their families – but this terror attack does not come as a surprise to any one in India.

  • anand says:

    India has given Afghanistan $1 billion dollars in grants, and is considering more grants. India has on offered troops to help the Afghan government and ANSF. India has some trainers to help train the ANSF, and is considering doing more.
    America pressured India “NOT” to respond to terrorist attacks against it. India has done as asked.
    India has suggested a free trade agreement with Pakistan, and billions of dollars in grants to Pakistan, to help stabilize Pakistan. India could help Pakistan through it current financial crisis, alongside China, America, the IMF and World Bank.
    What specific policies do you think India should implement?
    I think it was a mistake to completely turn down India’s offer of peace keeper troops in late 2001 and 2002. India should have been asked to send thousands of its best officers and NCOs to train and equip the ANSF. {Indian peacekeepers, in my view, should not have been deployed, except maybe to Herat and Mazar e Sharif, and perhaps not even there, to avoid Pakistani paranoia.} Turing down India’s offer of help also left a sour taste in Indian mouths.
    India should also have been asked to play a much larger role in the Afghan education system (K-12 and College.) Had India been engaged in this way, India might have given Afghanistan $3 billion in grants instead of $1 billion.
    India could also have been given greater responsibility for Afghanistan’s health care system.
    In my view, China should have been engaged in exactly the same way.
    The ANSF and Afghanistan’s education system would be much farther along today, if this policy had been followed.
    NS, what is the best way to respond to terrorism?

  • NS says:

    Anand,
    My post was regarding terrorism directed at India domestically – this is not really connected to what is happening in Afghanistan – the only thing in common is that the perpetrators are Islamic terrorists. Granted there is a lot of co-ordination between AQ and local terrorist groups like SIMI and bangladeshi groups like HUJI – but the terrorism that India faces is mostly from brainwashed Indian Muslim youth.
    Pakistan has been exporting terrorism to India for the last two decades -it is state policy. AND YET to this day, we do not even have a national database of terrorists and terror suspects and their associated networks – co-ordination between states on terror related issues is negligible and most times non existent.
    But more importantly we have show an attitude that we can get along with terrorism – there is no urgency to stand up and fight it. After 9/11, the United States has shown that it takes terrorism very very seriously. You may or may not agree with some of the tactics used in this war, but make no mistake the US has sent a clear and strong message that it will NOT be messed around with.
    India on the other hand is an open killing field for terrorists – we are no where close to recognizing that terrorism is a problem that you have deal with head on. We are still pussy footing around 20 years later. No policy formulations, no strategies. Terror strikes happen – a week later, no one even remembers that it happened.
    It has been 7 years since 9/11 happened and very few people here have forgotten that day – the mantra here is “NEVER AGAIN”.
    I dont want to ramble any more, but the first step to confronting terrorism is to be serious about it. India lacks the seriousness and domestic/political will to do so. Otherwise, we may over take Iraq,Afghanistan soon in being the number 1 target.
    India still does

  • anand says:

    Do you think America takes terrorism very seriously? Interesting.
    Afghanistan is intimately linked to terrorism against India. The largest problem in Afghanistan is the Haqqani Network. Most of the militants that would otherwise attack India have gone to Afghanistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Region. Their largest vehicle for attacking Afghanistan is the Haqqani Network. It probably has perhaps 10,000 non Pashtu Pakistanis fighting in its ranks. The Haqqani network fighters are by far the best quality fighters fighting NATO, ANA and ANP.
    Without a doubt, terrorism against India would be several times worse if not for the fight in Afghanistan.
    “Pakistan has been exporting terrorism to India for the last two decades -it is state policy.” Is it state policy for Pakistan to support the Taliban and AQ against Afghanistan, AQ militants against Thailand, Chechan AQ linked fighters against Russia, and AQ against Indonesia? “Pakistani State policy” has been supporting anti American AQ linked networks since at least 1996, maybe since 1993. Many Americans have been killed by “Pakistani State policy.” Has America taken on Pakistan any more than India has? If not, then why not? Neither India or America want to fight with Pakistan. Why is this?
    “to this day, we do not even have a national database of terrorists and terror suspects and their associated networks – co-ordination between states on terror related issues is negligible and most times non existent.” Is there evidence that this is true. If so, that would be completely unacceptable.

  • anand says:

    There is more of a foreign link to terrorism against Indian population centers than your comment implies NS. All these “brainwashed youths” were brainwashed by somebody and supported by somebody. It is extremely difficult to conduct complex and sophisticated terrorist attacks. These “brainwashed youths” had substantial foreign help.

  • TS Alfabet says:

    Taking a slightly wider perspective here, it seems that the largest, common denominator for the U.S. and India is Pakistan and its policy of turning a blind eye to the training camps in the NWFP and FATA.
    Presumably, if these attacks on India keep coming, it would make sense for the U.S. and India to form some type of coordinated strategy as to P-stan’s tribal areas in order to shut down those training camps. Perhaps this is too cynical, but at some point the U.S. would have to lay it on the line with P-stan govt and let them know that if it will not decisively go after those camps then the U.S. will look to partner with India in eradicating the camps.
    When does a state become so paralyzed that it can no longer be considered, notwithstanding its rhetoric, a partner in the war against hirabis?

  • TS Alfabet says:

    I am struck by NS’s remarks about how India does not take these attacks seriously. What does that say about democracies?
    It is ironic that 65 years ago, when the U.S. was a relatively weak power, we were on the forefront of multi-front wars against fascism, committed to the unconditional defeat of the enemy.
    Today, when the U.S. is unrivaled in military and economic power, we are afraid to take decisive steps against states like Syria and Iran that openly support, propagate and host fascist movements. Is it because, like India, we simply do not take the threats seriously?
    It is a clever game that the hirabis now play where they attack only so much as to weaken and injure their targets but never so much as to provoke an overwhelming response. It could be characterized as killing ‘with a thousand cuts.’
    That is the lesson they learned from the 9/11 attacks. They seriously believed in 2001 that the U.S. was already so weak and lethargic (based on the lack of response to attacks in the 1990’s) that the 9/11 attacks would bring the U.S. to despair and further retreat. But they were wrong. They learned that the U.S. at that time was not yet so weak that such a brazen and high-casualty attack would go unpunished. They learned that the 9/11 attacks crossed a kind of invisible line of American will which called forth an overwhelming response. AQ’s attack was simply too big a ‘cut.’ And they are still recovering.
    But they have learned. And that may be why we have not seen any attacks against the homeland since 9/11/01. Not because the hirabis aren’t capable of doing so but because they are waiting for U.S. resolve to further erode. They do not want to risk a second, perhaps even more devastating response from the U.S. They are willing to take their time and let the U.S. bleed and weaken.
    Even though we have beaten them to dust in Iraq and killed many of their best leaders in A-stan and P-stan, they see that these fights took a decided toll on American resolve, on the American public’s will to continue or escalate the fight. They can hear the clamor to precipitately withdraw from Iraq. They hear the growing murmur that A-stan is “lost” or “unwinnable.” They see the lack of response to support Lebanese democracy. They are watching this U.S. election very closely. Depending upon the outcome, they may decide that the time is right for more attacks, calibrated to discourage and frighten and drive us to despair but not to any real response.
    So these attacks on India are a very good lesson for the U.S. It shows the hirabis testing how India will or will not respond. They will keep escalating the attacks until India does respond or India elects, like P-stan, to try to negotiate their way out. And the hirabis will likely start testing the U.S. again in 2009, to see if and how we will respond.

  • anand says:

    “They will keep escalating the attacks until India does respond or India elects, like P-stan, to try to negotiate their way out.”
    How can a country negotiate their way out? Do AQ linked networks or the Takfiri have any negotiable demands?

  • TS Alfabet says:

    “How can a country negotiate their way out? Do AQ linked networks or the Takfiri have any negotiable demands?”
    Exactly! The operative word there is “try.” We have all seen how that has worked out for P-stan so far.
    It is a useless endeavor but for some reason — perhaps it is a deeply ingrained human instinct– we often project on our enemies the same sort of rational thinking that we possess. We want to believe that they can be reasoned with, that they have the same, human desires that we have. Take our approach to Iran, for example. The pundits and Europeans have been telling us for years that we just needed to find the right language and carrot-stick and the Iranians would play nice and give up their nuclear ambitions. Same mistake made with Hitler and Stalin. There is a certain percentage of the population that prefers to live under what they must know is a delusion that there are no evil people in the world, that all war and terrorism is just a misunderstanding. That’s how we chose to deal with bin Laden throughout the 1990’s. And there are strong indications that the U.S. may be about to revert to that deranged approach come January 2009.

  • anand says:

    TS Alfabet, AQ and Takfiris do not believe they are evil. They believe that global righteousness should be defined, interpreted and implemented (by force if necessary) by them. They see theselves as implementing God’s will on earth . . . as implementing His will.
    All the possible joys and pleasures of the materialistic world we live in are insignificant compared to the infinite bliss of heaven.
    This is what the AQ linked networks believe . . . you can’t negotiate with someone who believes that.
    However, there has been considerable success with knowledgeable orthodox Imams gradually persuading AQ memers that Allah might not want them to do the things that they think Allah wants them to do.
    Many AQ members have reformed and turned against the movement for this reason.
    This has to be a focus for information operations. The leaders of AQ need to be revealed for the immoral muslims that they are, but even more important . . . AQ members must be convinced that Allah might not approve of their mission.
    Combined with this, some tangential parts of AQ networks can be picked off with negotiations.

  • NS says:

    TS Alfabet,
    One of the main reasons a majority of the US public has shown such disinterest/faint heartedness in the WOT is that they are tired of it. Dont ask me how they are tired of a war that is happening half the way around the world when those fighting it themselves have not given up and have shown remarkable resilience.
    I guess most of it is because the MSM has basically slanted the war coverage – i dont want to go more into this for fear of violating LWJ forum policy.
    The US has been a sort of victim of its own high standards – there has been no other attack since 9/11 and people have become very conplacent and are now thinking that there is no GWOT as such.
    .

  • Jose says:

    Bill missed the major difference between this attack and previous ones.
    //www.naxaliterage.com has it though.

  • Matt says:

    Assam was chosen cause it’s near the Muslim nation of Bangladesh (fmrly known as East Pakistan)
    //www.worldthreats.com/?p=245

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis