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Examining Who May Be Behind Mumbai Attacks

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Examining Who May Be Behind Mumbai Attacks


Examining Who May Be Behind Mumbai Attacks

Examining Who May Be Behind Mumbai Attacks

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The scale and sophistication of the attacks in Mumbai, India, have taken many intelligence analysts by surprise. The only claim of responsibility so far is from a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen. But analysts believe it took a well-established and organized group with plenty of resources and training to mount this type of attack.


The scale and sophistication of the attacks in Mumbai have taken many analysts by surprise. The only claim of responsibility so far came from a previously unknown group. It called itself the Deccan Mujahedin. But analysts believe the attacks carry the signs of a well-established group with plenty of resources and training. NPR's Jackie Northam explores the question of who did it?

JACKIE NORTHAM: Over the past few years, India has seen an increasing number of small-scale terror attacks on its soil. For the most part, they're blamed on Kashmir separatists or on neighboring Pakistan. India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, was quick to suggest that this was the case with the Mumbai attacks.

In a televised address to the country, he said it was evident the attacks were carried out by a group based outside the country. But Nigel Inkster with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London says, while attacks in the past were often driven by external forces, this time, India may need to look inward.

Mr. NIGEL INKSTER (Director of Transnational Threats and Political Risk, Institute for Strategic Studies): Latterly, the problem seems to have been coming more from indigenous Indian groups who have become radicalized and mobilizing themselves. The degree to which they enjoy external support isn't altogether clear.

NORTHAM: Rita Barlow(ph) with Stratfor, a global intelligence company, says the little-known Deccan Mujahedin which claimed responsibility is named after a region covering much of south India. Barlow says that group is likely affiliated with the larger, better known India Mujahedin. She says it's important to note the groups include references to India in their names.

Ms. RITA BARLOW (Director, Stratfor): They are showing that they're recruiting, they're coordinating, they're planning, and they're carrying out these attacks within India's borders, which is a very different threat for India to deal with because they can't just go right away and say, you know, this is all Pakistan's fault like they used to.

NORTHAM: But the Mumbai attacks don't bear the clear indisputable signature of any extremist group, Indian or otherwise. Xenia Dormandy, a South Asia expert at Harvard University's Belfer Center, said this attack was unlike others in India.

Ms. XENIA DORMANDY (South Asia Expert, Belfer Center, Harvard University): The recent attacks in India have very much been targeting normal Indians going about their everyday business. This specifically targeted Westerners - attacks to five-star hotels, attacks at a Western bar, a Jewish center, so in this respect, it is quite unusual. We haven't seen this before in India.

NORTHAM: The types of targets, Western and economic symbols, certainly bear the hallmarks of al-Qaeda, so too does the style. The Mumbai attacks were well-planned and highly orchestrated, hitting a number of targets at the same time, says Nigel Inkster.

Mr. INKSTER: That suggests that a lot of careful preparation and training went into this. That doesn't necessarily prove an al-Qaeda link.

NORTHAM: Inkster says al-Qaeda leans towards more suicide bombings, not fighters indiscriminately spraying gunfire or holding hostages. He says those behind the Mumbai attacks may just have some lose operational or ideological affiliation with al-Qaeda. The Belfer Center's Dormandy says its unclear how the attackers were financed, where they were based, or where they trained. Dormandy says the Indian security forces have not had much success in keeping ahead of the curve when it comes to homegrown terrorism.

Ms. DORMANDY: Unfortunately, the Indian Intelligence Services and the Indian Policing Services have not found, not been able to really track and capture many of these people.

NORTHAM: Dormandy says Indian intelligence and security forces are going to have to take the threat of terrorism up to a whole new level in the wake of these attacks. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.

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Indian Commandos Still Battling Mumbai Gunmen

Government commandos in the Indian financial hub of Mumbai were still battling to wrest control of buildings and hotels seized by teams of gunmen in bloody attacks on Wednesday.

Indian sharpshooters opened fire early Friday at the site of a besieged Jewish center in Mumbai. Suspected militants were believed to be holed up — possibly with hostages — inside the headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch. Snipers in buildings opposite the center began shooting as a helicopter circled overhead.

Earlier, an Israeli embassy official had said at least 10 Israeli nationals were trapped in buildings or held hostage in Mumbai.

At least 119 people had been killed and 288 wounded in a series of attacks that began Wednesday evening when the gunmen stormed at least 10 sites frequented by Western tourists and wealthy Indians — including the Jewish center, two luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, a train station, hospitals and a police station that controls security in the sector where the attacks were carried out.

'Still Not Under Control'

Officials said Thursday that the death toll from the attacks could rise.

"The situation is still not under control and we are trying to flush out any more terrorists hiding inside the two hotels," said Vilasrao Deshmukh, chief minister of Maharashtra state where Mumbai is located.

The Maharashtra state home ministry said dozens of hostages had been freed from the Trident-Oberoi hotel and dozens more were still trapped inside. More than 400 people were brought out of the Taj Mahal hotel, and army forces were still scouring the building for survivors Friday morning.

Late Thursday night, authorities said they had killed three gunmen at the Taj and were sweeping the Oberoi in search of hostages and trapped people. It remained unclear just how many people had been taken hostage, how many were hiding inside the hotels and how many dead still lay uncounted.

Fears Of Renewed Tension With Pakistan

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed militant groups based in neighboring countries, usually meaning Pakistan, raising fears of renewed tension between the nuclear-armed rivals.

"It is evident that the group which carried out these attacks, based outside the country, had come with single-minded determination to create havoc in the commercial capital of the country," he said in a televised address.

Pakistani authorities were quick to condemn the attacks, but Pakistan's defense minister warned Singh not to accuse Pakistan of links to the attacks.

"This will destroy all the goodwill we created together after years of bitterness," he told The Associated Press. "I will say in very categoric terms that Pakistan is not involved in these gory incidents."

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department warned U.S. citizens not to travel to Mumbai for 48 to 72 hours.

From NPR and wire reports.