Thursday, February 19, 2009

India: Is it the Big-Little Engine that Could?
The Boom From The Bottom - Isolated from world trends, India's aspiring middle will help it grow through the credit storm

By Jason Overdorf

Feb 14, 2009

From the magazine issue dated Feb 23, 2009

Though it may not look it on the ground at times, India is one of the few bright spots in a global economy with decidedly dim prospects in 2009. It is forecast to grow at 5 to 6 percent this year—which is more than it averaged in the 1990s. Yes, its stock market has crashed, unemployment is spiking, swaths of the real-estate market have more than a passing resemblance to Miami Beach and it now turns out that Satyam Computer Services—one of the country's top five IT companies—has been cooking its books. But a one-off incident of fraud in the flagship IT sector won't knock the country off the rails. India boasts an unlikely growth driver all its own: legions of poor whose incomes have risen just enough in recent years to create powerful demands for basic goods and services.

The rise of India's aspiring middle—a group that lives above the poverty line but hasn't yet attained true membership in modern consumer society—is hardly a new story. But what's surprising is the resilience of this cohort, and the extent to which it has counterbalanced the global credit crisis and the slump in the global export economy of which India is a key player. In part, this is a consequence of New Delhi's past failures; policymakers were never able to make India the export powerhouse that China has become over the past three decades, so now they don't rely nearly as heavily on growth driven by demand from foreign markets.

The idea that Indian backwardness is a plus may sound absurd. But it is always easier to grow from a poor base, so the fact that India is not yet a major economy is an advantage in a downturn. Such a large population subsisting at so low an economic base is a powerful economic driver if it can be mobilized—and for India this group is proving resilient to the prevailing headwinds in the global economy. "It's kind of a self-sustaining process," says Subir Gokarn, chief economist at Crisil, the Indian arm of Standard & Poor's. "There's a huge underpenetration of most commodities and services, and you have enough people at the bottom experiencing enough of an increase in income to sustain growth."

So even as middle-class consumption wanes in India—signified by a sharp drop in auto sales, airline travel and fine-restaurant dining since mid-2008—demand for basic goods and services remains strong thanks to aspiring consumers, many still tied to the farms, who spend their rupees on essentials like soap, medicine and the shoes and clothing that they wear to work. As Gokarn puts it: "If you go back to the economic textbooks, they will tell you that the poorer you are, the stronger your propensity to consume."
The contrast with China, Asia's other economic giant, is stark. Domestic demand makes up three quarters of the Indian economy, compared with less than half for China, which is "why, relative to East Asian economies, India is somewhat insulated from the global trade slowdown," says Shankar Acharya, a former chief economic adviser to the government. Another Indian mainstay—agricultural growth—should remain steady this year, and the services sector, which now accounts for about 55 percent of India's GDP, is expected to be "more resilient" than manufacturing, says Acharya. And despite the financial crisis, the nation's IT sector managed to grow some 20 percent in 2008, according to India's National Association of Software and Services Companies, and IT firms have already extended 100,000 job offers for 2009. "China has been highly focused on the export market, while Indian businesses have been highly focused on the domestic market, and their exports have been incidental," says Saumitra Chaudhuri, chief economist at ICRA, an Indian creditratings agency affiliated with Moody's. That makes India, more than China, a master of its own destiny.

The biggest risk to India in 2009 at this point may not be the global economy but domestic politics. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's United Progressive Alliance will see its term expire in May, and India's election rules mean that he can no longer enact any significant policies—a measure adopted to prevent incumbents from stacking the deck with populist sops. That means as much as five months of paralysis, precisely when speedy, creative action is the order of the day. Moreover, though the nemesis of Singh's Congress party—the Bharatiya Janata Party—mostly favors similar policies, a change in government would likely result in some further slowing of infrastructure projects that are already running behind schedule. And elections in India can be tricky. In the last one, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance lost despite rapid economic growth, because poor voters rejected the BJP's campaign claims of an "India Shining."

With the light bulb flickering, Singh's Congress may face an even bigger challenge winning them over. The poor don't care how much faster than other nations India is growing, only whether their lives are better than they were five years ago.


Gross domestic product 2007, PPP (millions of Ranking Economy international dollars)

1 United States 13,811,200
2 China 7,055,079
3 Japan 4,283,529
4 India 3,092,126
5 Germany 2,727,514
6 Russian Federation 2,088,207
7 France 2,061,884
8 United Kingdom 2,046,780
9 Brazil 1,833,601
10 Italy 1,777,353
11 Spain 1,405,262
12 Mexico 1,345,530
13 Korea, Rep. 1,199,270
14 Canada 1,178,205
15 Turkey 922,189
16 Indonesia 841,140
17 Iran, Islamic Rep. 776,538
18 Australia 733,120
19 Netherlands 621,830
20 Poland 601,776
21 Saudi Arabia 554,250
22 Argentina 523,169
23 Thailand 519,439
24 South Africa 463,331
25 Pakistan 409,973
26 Egypt, Arab Rep. 403,865
27 Greece 370,202
28 Belgium 366,148
29 Malaysia 355,225
30 Venezuela, RB 334,212
31 Sweden 332,669
32 Colombia 320,884
33 Ukraine 320,762
34 Austria 317,261
35 Switzerland 301,718
36 Philippines 299,678
37 Hong Kong, China 293,115
38 Nigeria 292,595
39 Algeria 262,119 a
40 Norway 251,151
41 Romania 245,508
42 Czech Republic 239,689
43 Singapore 230,824
44 Portugal 230,776
45 Chile 230,423
46 Vietnam 221,346
47 Peru 218,777
48 Bangladesh 196,975
49 Denmark 195,396
50 United Arab Emirates 195,364 a
51 Ireland 187,890
52 Hungary 187,837
53 Israel 185,883
54 Finland 181,999
55 Kazakhstan 167,647
56 Morocco 125,392
57 Kuwait 114,597
58 New Zealand 110,391
59 Slovak Republic 109,030

World Development Indicators database, World Bank, revised 17 October 2008

PPP is purchasing power parity; an international dollar has the same purchasing power over GDP as a U.S. dollar has in the United States. Note: Rankings include only those economies with confirmed PPP GDP estimates.

Gross national income per capita 2007, Atlas method and PPP

World Development Indicators database, World Bank, revised 17 October 2008

Atlas power parity (int'l methodology)

Ranking Economy (US dollars)
1 Liechtenstein a
2 Bermuda a
3 Norway 76,450
4 Luxembourg 75,880
5 Qatar .. a
6 Switzerland 59,880
7 Denmark 54,910
8 Iceland 54,100
9 Channel Islands .. a
10 Andorra .. a
11 Cayman Islands .. a
12 Ireland 48,140
13 San Marino 45,130 a
14 Sweden 46,060
15 United States 46,040
16 Netherlands 45,820
17 Finland 44,400
18 Isle of Man 40,600 a
19 United Kingdom 42,740
20 Austria 42,700
21 Belgium 40,710
22 Canada 39,420
23 Germany 38,860
24 France 38,500 c
25 Japan 37,670

132 China 2,360
133 Tonga 2,320
134 Morocco 2,250
135 Georgia 2,120
136 Vanuatu 1,840
137 Bhutan 1,770
138 Syrian Arab Rep. 1,760
140 Paraguay 1,670
141 Indonesia 1,650
142 Philippines 1,620
143 Honduras 1,600
144 Egypt, Arab Rep. 1,580
145 Congo, Rep. 1,540
145 Sri Lanka 1,540
147 Timor-Leste 1,510
148 West Bank/Gaza 1,230 a
149 Guyana 1,300
150 Mongolia 1,290
152 Bolivia 1,260
152 Moldova 1,260 e
154 Kiribati 1,170
155 Djibouti 1,090
156 Cameroon 1,050
157 Lesotho 1,000
158 Nicaragua 980
159 Sudan 960
160 India 950
161 Nigeria 930
162 Côte d'Ivoire 910
Purchasing Power (int'l methodology) Parity
Ranking Economy (US dollars)
1 Luxembourg 63,590
4 Kuwait 49,970 a
5 Norway 53,320
6 Brunei Darussalam 49,900 a
9 Singapore 48,520
10 United States 45,850
12 Hong Kong, China 44,050
13 Switzerland 43,870
17 Netherlands 39,310
18 Austria 38,140
19 Ireland 37,090
20 Bahrain 34,310 a
23 Sweden 36,590
24 Denmark 36,300
26 Canada 35,310
27 Belgium 34,790
28 Japan 34,600
29 Finland 34,550
30 Iceland 33,960
31 United Kingdom 33,800
32 France 33,600
33 Germany 33,530
34 Australia 33,340
36 Greece 32,330
38 Spain 30,820

122 China 5,370
142 Tonga 3,650 b
143 Honduras 3,620 b
144 Indonesia 3,580
145 Vanuatu 3,410 b
146 Micronesia, Fed. Sts. 3,270 b
147 Mongolia 3,160
148 Timor-Leste 3,080 b
149 Cape Verde 2,940
150 Moldova 2,930
151 Guyana 2,880 b
153 Congo, Rep. 2,750 a
154 India 2,740
155 Pakistan 2,570
156 Vietnam 2,550
157 Nicaragua 2,520 b
158 Uzbekistan 2,430 b
159 Djibouti 2,260
160 Kiribati 2,240 b
161 Yemen, Rep. 2,200
162 Cameroon 2,120
163 Mauritania 2,010
164 Kyrgyz Republic 1,950
165 Lao PDR 1,940
166 Lesotho 1,890
167 Sudan 1,880
168 Papua New Guinea 1,870 b
169 Nigeria 1,770
170 Tajikistan 1,710
171 Cambodia 1,690

PPP is purchasing power parity; an international dollar has the same purchasing power over GNI as a U.S. dollar has in the United States. Note: Rankings include all 209 World Bank Atlas economies, but only those with confirmed GNI per capita estimates or those that rank among the top twenty for the Atlas method are shown in rank order. Figures in italics are for 2006 or 2005. a. 2007 data not available; ranking is approximate. b. Estimate is based on regression; other PPP figures are extrapolated from the 2005 International Comparison Program benchmark estimates. c. Data include the French overseas departments of French Guiana,
Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion. e. Data exclude Transnistria.

India Enters the Top 10

By Reuben Abraham

Indian Economy Blog

July 16, 2005

The World Bank has recently updated its development indicators. Among the indicators updated are the GDP figures and the per-capita figures. According to the updated numbers, India’s $691 billion economy has just overtaken South Korea to become the 10th largest economy in the world (and the 3rd largest in Asia). China has moved into 7th place now with its $1.6 trillion economy. India’s share of the world economy has gone up to about 1.7%, while China’s has gone up to about 4%. The U.S. still dominates the world economy with a 29% share. A look at the top 10 also reveals why the G8 is an anachronism. Russia is not in there. China will probably overtake Italy in the next couple of months. Spain has a larger economy than Canada. And India ought to enter the top 8 in the next couple of years. Among developing countries, Mexico, Russia, Brazil and Turkey also feature in the top 20.

You can also check out where these countries stand if you used PPP to compute GDP. Also online are the per-capita income figures using U.S dollars and PPP methodologies. India does abysmally in both cases with rankings of 159 and 146 respectively, while China ranks at 132 and 119.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mumbai Mayhem Reveals Indian & Pakistani Socio-Economic, Political and Security Vulnerabilities: A Prescription for Collaboration or Conflict?

In outcry over siege, two Indias emerge : The poor question new level of protest after attacks on affluent

By Emily Wax

The Washington Post

Dec. 9, 2008

MUMBAI, India - In a dilapidated neighborhood along Tulsi Pipe Road, a shoe store proprietor, David Ronel, recalled the series of seven train bombings in 2006, one of them at the Mahim Junction station, just across from his shop. He and other merchants along the dusty street rushed to carry out the injured and the dead.

The attacks, which occurred on a weekday in July at the peak of evening rush hour, killed 209 people and wounded more than 700. The bombings were thought to have been carried out by the same Pakistan-based group, Lashkar-i-Taiba, that authorities suspect organized the recent siege of Mumbai.

But Ronel, 34, said he did not recall the train bombings eliciting the kind of street protests, political resignations, candlelight vigils and procession of talk show personalities expressing fury and analysis that followed last month's attacks.

"For the train bombings, the outrage was there, but it was never really heard," Ronel said, his hands black from shoe polish. "More people died in the train bombings, but they were ordinary Indians, not high-society industrialists or foreigners or film industry people. Where were the protest marches after the train attacks?"

The recent siege brought terrorism to the doorstep of India's affluent and struck at the symbols of their prosperity. India's expanding elite, which has felt somewhat insulated from the heat, traffic, sporadic electricity outages and overall commotion in this fast-paced city, suddenly felt vulnerable.

In India, terrorists have usually targeted crowded markets and trains, seldom frequented by the wealthy. Typically, the victims have been the poor, including taxi drivers, deliverymen, shopkeepers and street sweepers. But the gunmen who struck several sites in Mumbai late last month focused much of their rage on the city's two most luxurious hotels and its most likely guests: business executives, socialites, Bollywood film directors and political bigwigs.

Never before has a terrorist attack in India brought such raw outrage and calls for sweeping changes in government. A public interest lawsuit was filed against the government over the failure to protect citizens. It was backed by some of Mumbai's richest, including stock analysts, lawyers and real estate tycoons. Billboards bearing the words "Jago, Mumbai, Jago," or "Wake up, Mumbai," went up in upper-class neighborhoods.

"The hard reality of this country is that we are living in two Indias. One is for the rich, who matter, and one is for the poor, who are invisible," said Ashok Agarwal, a lawyer who runs Social Jurist, a group that litigates education cases on behalf of the marginalized sections of society. "In India, you can use the poor for your benefit. He should cook your meals, wash your utensils, scrub your clothes, but when it comes to doing justice for the victims of other bombings, there wasn't this level of outrage. When poor people were attacked, the country wasn't suddenly insecure. This is a fundamental injustice, and it has led to authorities ignoring attacks."

Mumbai, with more than 14 million people, is India's most populous city and has often suffered tragedy. In 2005, monsoon flooding killed more than 400 people in the city in one day, and the main victims were the poor. One Indian media study found that a fashion event got more local coverage than the flooding, which affected many slum dwellers. Mumbai is home to Asia's largest slums.

Although India's economy is booming, poverty runs deep. Nearly half of all Indian children are clinically malnourished or underweight, on par with the rate in Bangladesh and worse than in Ethiopia, according to UNICEF. Even as the economy has grown by up to 8 percent, child malnutrition has declined only one percentage point, to 46 percent, in seven years, according to a 2007 National Family Health Survey, part of a government report.

A December government study found that the majority in India live on 50 cents a day. At the same time, the number of dollar millionaires has increased to 100,000, according to government data.

India's rigid caste system, a centuries-old social order under which status is inherited at birth, has long affected societal attitudes, Agarwal said. Lower castes, along with Muslims and other tribal groups, make up nearly 70 percent of India's 1.1 billion people.

After the recent attacks, the elite feel "there is no safe haven. There is no place to run and hide," said Uday Shankar, chief executive of Star India, which runs a string of entertainment and news television channels. "They cannot go behind the Taj hotel's double doors and feel shielded from the chaos and insecurity outside. That shield has been shattered. The terrorists struck South Mumbai, the most desirable address in India."

Across the city, wealthy youths paraded with "Enough Is Enough" banners. Hundreds of middle- and upper-class residents of the ritzy Colaba neighborhood gathered outside the terrorist-hit Chabad House, a Jewish center, to perform yogic sun salutations and deep-breathing techniques.

"There was no such protest or activities for us. Now everyone is feeling vulnerable, not just us, the common people," said Madhuri Jayprakash Sawant, 49, whose 29-year-old son is in a coma from brain damage suffered in the 2006 train attacks. "The first-class people are the ones now running the national outrage. But the common man is usually the one who suffers, alone."

Those contrasts were highlighted in this year's hit film "Slumdog Millionaire," about a scrappy 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai who is able to answer tough questions in the Indian version of the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" But police arrest him on suspicion of cheating. They wonder how a street kid knew so much.

"They are all lighting candles in front of these temples of affluence, the five-stars, for the people who were engaged in an aggressive pursuit of pleasure. It is not the first time terror has hit Mumbai. When the trains blew up in 2006, there was unimaginable anguish," said Mahesh Bhatt, a well-known filmmaker. "Why did we not see this hysteric candle-lighting then? At that time, I did not witness this great sense of gloom and doom in the city. Because the local Mumbai trains are not a pretty wallpaper against which you can perform your scenes of urban middle-class activism. These are the kind of people who don't even look at the working class. The train bombing was not part of their tragedy; the Taj siege is."

While dozens of TV cameras were focused on the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Oberoi Trident hotels, some of the victims elsewhere in the city said few media outlets came to see them.

"They only care about Taj," said Irshad Khan, 26, one of the managers at the bullet-marked Re-Fresh restaurant inside Mumbai's main railway station, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, where gunmen mowed down as many as 48 people during the siege. "We are just common people, not worth their mind."

Correspondent Rama Lakshmi and special correspondent Ria Sen in New Delhi contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company

India's Muslims hope to avoid backlash: Try to show solidarity with Hindu majority in wake of Mumbai attacks

The Associated Press

updated 6:44 p.m. ET, Mon., Dec. 8, 2008

MUMBAI, India - The cleric stood before dozens of bearded men who had gathered on a crowded Mumbai street corner to honor the 171 people killed by Islamic militants.

"Many innocents were killed by these terrorists," said Ibrahim Tani, president of the Muslim Council of India. "Those who were martyred are our family."

The men raised their fists in the air and cried out: "Long live mother India!"

The speech was part of an aggressive campaign by Mumbai's Muslims to show their solidarity with India's Hindu majority in the wake of last month's attacks.

Muslim groups have held community meetings and peace marches, brought tea and cookies to hospitalized victims, and organized blood drives. Leaders have asked people to tone down festivities for the Muslim holiday of Eid, and the city's largest Muslim graveyard refused to bury the nine slain gunmen.

But behind these efforts at unity lie fear and suspicion. Reactions to the attack show that despite the talk of all Indians standing together against a common enemy, in many ways the Hindu and Muslim communities remain ill at ease and view the world differently.

Mutual distrust

While thousands of protesters called last week for war with Pakistan, Muslims on the streets near the Minara mosque said they weren't convinced by Indian government claims that Pakistan-based militants were responsible for the attacks.

Here, in the narrow alleys of Mumbai's Muslim's neighborhoods, the fear is that the mutual distrust could explode in bloody attacks by Hindu mobs, as it has in the past.

Even as Tani called for unity, he warned his street-corner disciples of the possibility of a backlash by Hindu radicals. "It might be our turn to die tomorrow," he told them. "There are some Hindus who call Muslims 'Pakistanis.'"

Although Muslims say relations with the police have improved since the early 1990s, when some police joined mobs on anti-Muslim rampages, the trust is fragile. Some say they still don't feel protected by local authorities.

There have been few signs so far of a backlash against India's 150 million Muslims in these early days of collective grief and rage at a government many feel failed to protect them from a foreign enemy. But many Muslims worry the peace may not hold.

"For now, everyone is united," said Sarfaraz Arzu, editor of the Hindustan Daily, an Urdu-language paper read largely by the Muslim community.

But, he added, "You cannot say this is a permanent change. Things might get out of hand if there is a minor trigger."

A history of tension

India has a history of Hindu-Muslim tensions that at times erupt into violence. Mumbai itself was the scene of riots in 1992-93 that claimed at least 900 lives.

Soon after, a terrorist attack in Mumbai killed more than 250 people — an attack the government says was masterminded by Muslim gangster Dawood Ibrahim. He was one of 20 suspects that India asked Pakistan to hand over last week. Pakistan denies that Ibrahim is in its country.

More recently, Hindu mobs killed 1,000 Muslims in the state of Gujarat in 2002 after Muslims were accused of burning a train car full of Hindus. Who set the train on fire has never been established.

"Whatever happens in India, everyone is pointing at Muslims," said Parvez Khan, who runs a shoe shop on Muhammad Ali Road, a heavily Muslim neighborhood in Mumbai. "Even if Mother Nature does anything, we are blamed. So far, everyone is blaming Pakistani Muslims, not Indian Muslims."

He fears that distinction could easily blur. "When you go to sleep and get up the next day, it's always a new thing," he said.

World in chaos

A few doors down is a bakery where police gunned down five Muslim workers in the 1992-93 riots.

"Times are bad. The whole world is in chaos now," said a man sitting at a table outside, drinking sweet milky coffee. He would not give his name for fear of stoking tensions. "We really want peace and harmony now. You pray for that," he said.

So far, right-wing Hindu groups, which have targeted Muslims and other minorities in the past, have directed their ire abroad over the attacks.

"Pakistan is responsible, definitely. Internal security we are not concerned about at all," said Shishir Shinde, a spokesman for the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, an offshoot of the Shiv Sena, a Hindu fundamentalist group.

Neelam Gorhe, a spokeswoman for the Shiv Sena, said India's own Muslims were victims of the terror attacks. "There is going to be a united reaction to the terrorists," she said. "People who died were also Muslim. Why should there be a reaction against Muslims?"

Terrorism and religion

The government's early fingering of Pakistanis as the likely culprits has helped take the heat off India's Muslims, said Arzu, the newspaper editor.

"Had there been some confusion as far as the identity was concerned, things might have been different," he said.

Arzu added that he has seen a list of the dead and about a quarter were Muslims.

Across from him sat Sayyed Mazhar, his left hand bound in a bright blue cast. Mazhar said he was shot outside Mumbai's main train station on the first night of the attack. His friend, he said, was shot in the thigh. He held up a wad of bloodied 100 rupee notes with a bullet hole at the center pulled from his friend's pocket.

"The anguish is ours, too," Arzu said.

A few miles to the south, thousands of protesters thronged outside the burned-out Taj Mahal hotel, setting up candlelight shrines and calling angrily for political change and war with Pakistan.

One man held a sign that read: "Terrorism doesn't have a religion ... Or does it?"

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Militants strike as Pakistan cracks down

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

Asia Timesonline

December 9, 2008

KARACHI - Pakistan is taking action against the banned militant group Laskhar-e-Taiba (LET), which has been linked to the attacks in Mumbai in India last month in which nearly 200 people died.

Several people against whom evidence has been provided by the Indian authorities to Washington have been apprehended. The security forces on Sunday also arrested several militants in Muzzafarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, where the militant group has traditionally been active.

However, the Jamaatut Dawa, which was formed separate from the LET's military activities when the LET was banned in 2002, will continue to operate as a political and welfare group. Pakistan cannot afford to take direct action against Jamaatut Dawa, an organization which is loyal to the state of Pakistan.

The crackdown on the LET is the result of pressure from Washington following the Mumbai attacks that Islamabad abandon its support for militancy.

However, this does not mean the end of militancy - the move will simply pass the LET-Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) nexus to the al-Qaeda network in South Asia.

Asia Times Online has learned that the public faces of the Jamaatut Dawa, such as its chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, will be spared. But people such as Zakiur Rahman, the commander-in-chief of the LET, are marked men for interrogation by a joint US Federal Bureau of Investigation-ISI team for their alleged role in the Mumbai attack.

A senior member of the LET confirmed to Asia Times Online that there had been a raid on one of the Jamaatut Dawa's offices, and warned that if Zakiur Rahman was grilled, it would be tantamount to civil war in Pakistan.

"So far the province of Punjab [the largest Pakistani province] has been spared from all sorts of violence, but if such action is carried out, Punjab will also burn in violence," he said.

The latest move might go some way to appeasing the US, but militancy cannot be easily stamped out - it has a habit of re-inventing itself.

In 2004, Pakistan shut down all militant training camps under immense US pressure and grilled several jihadi leaders. As a result, the LET broke and several hundred militants, trained by the ISI's India cell, joined hands with al-Qaeda in the North Waziristan and South Waziristan tribal areas of Pakistan. The Harkat-e-Jihad-i-Islami was merged into al-Qaeda structures as well. The latest action against the LET, once again taken under American pressure, will simply shift the LET fighters in al-Qaeda's structures in South Asia.

This transition is happening at a time when Pakistan is weakening with the passing of every day. Al-Qaeda and the neo-Taliban - Pakistani militants who have accepted al-Qaeda's ideology - are waiting for the elimination of all political boundaries so they can operate at will.

So far, they have succeeded in doing so in large parts of the tribal areas, and now increasingly they are causing chaos in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), where the state's control is limited to a few government offices and military camps.

There could also be fallout in India, where al-Qaeda could fill the vacuum left by the crackdown on the LET, even in Kashmir where, to date, indigenous Kashmiri groups have fought against India, keeping al-Qaeda at a distance.

Nevertheless, the Mumbai attack was the result of a LET-ISI nexus on the one side and al-Qaeda-linked groups in India on the other side in planning the operation. Al-Qaeda has enough resources to operate in India, even if it does not get help from the Pakistani side. The Bangladesh connection is still vibrant and al-Qaeda receives money, arms and human resources.

In the short term, India could be a more interesting place for al-Qaeda than Pakistan, due to the involvement of Israel. Israel is actively training Indian intelligence and Indian commandos after their poor performance during the Mumbai attack.

In addition, the US establishment hopes for victory for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in upcoming elections as the US badly needs Indian assistance to win the war in South Asia. Unlike the ruling Congress-led government, a BJP government would not hesitate to provide all necessary support to US designs in the region.

Due to the current high security alert, stand-alone al-Qaeda-linked organizations in India (after the LET and the ISI are cut off from the scene), will not be able to carry out immediate strikes, but it is just a question of time.

Going for the jugular

On Sunday night, militants carried out a devastating attack on North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supplies on their way to Afghanistan. The attack in the provincial capital of Peshawar destroyed 50 containers.

Earlier in the day, they destroyed about 200 containers in another terminal in the city, the biggest attack yet on NATO supplies. Between 200 and 300 armed men were involved in the incident. A similar attack last week also destroyed a number of containers.

For the first time since the Taliban started attacking NATO supplies this year, there are visible signs of some success in effectively depriving NATO of vital reinforcements.

Over 70% to 80% of NATO's supplies pass through NWFP on the way to Kabul in Afghanistan, with the remainder going through Pakistan's Balochistan province to Kanadahar across the border. A very small proportion of supplies goes by air to the land-locked country.

Dr Farrukh Saleem, the executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Pakistan and a renowned strategic writer, told Asia Times Online, "The Soviets' defeat in the Afghan war [in the 1908s] was primarily due to the cutting off of its supply lines. The mujahideen focussed on choking the supply routes from Central Asia into northern Afghanistan.

At present, there is one US combat US brigade in Afghanistan [about 5,000 men]. This December, another combat brigade will arrive, while two more combat brigades will arrive next year. Therefore, more supplies will be needed. If, at this juncture, the militants cut off the supply lines, it will be devastating for NATO forces in Afghanistan."

Iran has already refused to allow NATO supplies through its territory, and while there is a pact for non-military NATO supplies to pass through Russia, this route is very expensive and cannot be relied on for regular supplies.

A NATO spokesperson said on Sunday that that morning's attack would have little impact on NATO's battle against the Taliban-led insurgency. All the same, if the rate of attacks continues, it is inevitable there will be shortages.

In July, when NATO-Taliban battles were at a pitch, sporadic Taliban attacks on NATO's supply lines reduced NATO's storage capacity of food and other items from one month to just a week at important bases such as Ghazni and Helmand.

There are estimates within militant camps that if they succeed in severing NATO supplies from Pakistan this year, NATO will have to leave Afghanistan in 2009.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at


More US pressure on Pakistan: But US denied reports it set a 48-hour deadline for action.


Dec. 8, 2008

MUMBAI - THE United States on Monday ramped up pressure on Pakistan to crack down on militants after the deadly Mumbai attacks but denied reports it set a 48-hour deadline for action.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Pakistan must act quickly to help India prevent follow-on attacks, adding there was no doubt Pakistani soil was used by 'non-state actors'.

Her comments came as tension simmers between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours in the aftermath of the violence, which has enraged public opinion in India and threatened a slow-moving peace process.

Suspicion over the Mumbai carnage, which left 172 dead, including nine gunmen, has fallen on Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group that has fought Indian rule in Kashmir and was blamed for a 2001 attack on the New Delhi parliament.

India says all 10 gunmen involved in the assault came from Pakistan, and has handed Islamabad a list of 20 terror suspects, with demands for their arrest and extradition.

Ties were strained further on Sunday when India's foreign minister said Pakistani reports about a hoax call made in his name during the Mumbai siege were an attempt to divert blame for the attacks.

Speaking on US television, Dr Rice said she stressed during her recent visit to Pakistan how important it was for Islamabad to cooperate fully and promptly with India.

'The important thing is that Pakistan act and that these people are brought to justice and that any information that they may have is put to use in making sure follow-on attacks don't happen,' she said.

Dr Rice said there was no strong evidence Pakistani officials had a role in the November 26 attacks but added they had 'responsibility' to take action.

'I think there is no doubt that Pakistani territory was used by probably non-state actors. I don't think that there is compelling evidence of involvement of Pakistani officials,' Dr Rice said.

'But I do think that Pakistan has a responsibility to act,' she said.

Dr Rice also echoed remarks from Pakistan's foreign office denying Islamabad had agreed to a 48-hour timetable to take action against Pakistanis accused of involvement in the attacks.

Separately, US president-elect Barack Obama called for a grand new approach to fighting terror in South Asia that would include pressing India and Pakistan to heal their divide over Kashmir.

Meanwhile, India's foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday denied he had made a telephone call to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari threatening military action.

The apparent hoax call put Pakistan on high alert of a military strike by India while militants were still battling security forces in Mumbai.

The caller told Mr Zardari that India would take military action if Islamabad did not hand over those behind the attacks, Pakistani newspapers reported on Saturday.

Pakistan responded to the hoax call on November 28 by putting its air force on stand-by and the incident triggered a flurry of diplomatic activity as world leaders feared a row between the nuclear-armed rivals could lead to war.

Pakistan, a close US ally in the 'war on terror', is fighting its own brutal Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives, and officials reject claims that the government supports terror groups.

But elements in the country's powerful military intelligence service are widely suspected of at least tacitly supporting some militant groups.


Pakistan nabs Mumbai suspect

By Simon Cameron-Moore


Mon Dec 8, 2008

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani security forces have arrested a suspected planner of last month's militant attack on India's financial capital in Mumbai in a raid on a militant camp in Pakistani Kashmir, sources said on Monday.

The Pakistani government has not revealed any details of Sunday's raid at the camp used by Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters in the hills outside the regional capital Muzaffarabad. But the military confirmed a crackdown had started on banned jihadi groups like Lashkar.

India and the United States have pressed Pakistan to act against militants suspected of being behind the Mumbai attack in which at least 171 people were killed.

There were fears that tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan could rise unless Pakistan cooperated and a four-year-old peace process is already in jeopardy.

Intelligence officials, workers with a charity linked to Lashkar and people living nearby say Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a Lashkar operations chief named by India as a suspect, was taken into custody.

"Yes, Lakhvi is among four or five people arrested in a raid yesterday," said an official from the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity, widely regarded as a front for the militant group.
A former militant who now has close ties to the JuD also said Lakhvi had been arrested, as did one intelligence official.

All of them spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of talking about security matters.

Other Pakistani intelligence officers said at least six men were arrested. The military confirmed arrests had been made.

"This is an intelligence-led operation against banned militant outfits and organisations," the military said in a statement. "There have been arrests and investigations are on."

A Lashkar spokesman confirmed the jihadi group was targeted.

"Pakistani forces have attacked our camps in Muzaraffabad under pressure from the U.S. and India," Abdullah Ghaznavi, a spokesman for Lashkar, told Reuters by telephone.

He denied the group was involved in the Mumbai attack.

The surviving gunman captured in Mumbai named Lakhvi and another Lashkar commander, Yusuf Muzammil, as ringleaders in the plot, according to Indian officials.

Indian police said they had identified the nine dead gunmen, and the places they came from in Pakistan.

Rakesh Maria, lead investigator for Mumbai police, said three suspects including one in custody were from Okara district, three from Multan, two from Faisalbad and one from Sialkot. He identified the leader as Ismail Khan, from Dera Ismail Khan.

They were also questioning a man arrested in northern India last February, and investigating if there were any links to homegrown Islamist militant groups.

The man being questioned is an Indian citizen who was caught with maps that highlighted several targets hit in Mumbai.


Pakistan has asked for proof that attackers came from its territory. It says it will cooperate with India in the investigation but relations between the old rivals have become fraught.
For the past two days they have been arguing over the origin of a hoax call to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on November 28 by someone pretending to be the Indian foreign minister.

The aggressive tone taken by the caller resulted in Pakistani forces going on high alert for almost 24 hours.

"I think there's no doubt that Pakistani territory was used, by probably non-state actors," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told CNN on Sunday.

The United States fears a confrontation with India could deflect Pakistan from its " war on terrorism."

In Washington, a White House spokeswoman welcomed the arrests as a positive step by Pakistan.

"What's critically important now is that we continue to work together -- the Indians, the Pakistanis, the United States, and our allies -- to prevent follow-on attacks after the attacks in Mumbai," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

She said there were no credible signs that follow-on attacks were in the making.

If Lakhvi's arrest is officially confirmed, it will raise the question of what the Pakistani authorities will do with him, and whether it will satisfy India. Zardari has said that anyone arrested in Pakistan will be tried there, too.

The Pakistani military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had ties in the past with Lashkar and other jihadi organisations fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, according to analysts, which could reduce the Pakistani authorities' readiness to be transparent in its handling of the situation.

Laskhar was banned by Pakistan in 2001 after it was blamed, along with Jaish-e-Mohammad, for a raid on the Indian parliament that almost sparked a fourth war between the two countries.

The JuD, however, was just put on a watchlist, although the United States has branded the charity, which has thousands of followers, a terrorist organisation.

The Indian government's measured response so far contrasts with the tough action its public has called for. The government, which faces a general election in 2009, has been criticised for security lapses in the wake of the attacks on Mumbai.

Yet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Congress party, despite general distress over rising inflation, looked set to fare far better than expected in elections underway in five states.

The latest crisis with Pakistan has weighed on investor confidence, already sapped by a slowing economy, but the Mumbai stock market rose on Monday thanks to rate cuts and a stimulus package announced at the weekend.

(Additional reporting by Rina Chandran in MUMBAI, Sheikh Mushtaq in SRINAGAR, Abu Arqam Naqash in MUZAFFARABAD, and Zeeshan Haider in Islambad; Editing by Angus MacSwan)


India does not believe in Pakistan's terrorist arrest

DEBKAfile Special Report

December 8, 2008, 6:05 PM (GMT+02:00)

DEBKAfile's military sources report that the 17 arrests made by Pakistani forces in Kashmir Sunday and Monday, Dec. 7-8, did not impress the Indian government as part of a genuine crackdown by Islamabad on the Lashkar e-Taibe ringleaders who masterminded the Nov. 26 Mumbai attacks. The Indian government will therefore not be deterred from its planned reprisals.

The raids were described by Pakistani sources as having picked up Lashkar e-Taiba fighters in a camp outside Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir. The camp belongs to the Jamaat ud-Dawa, a "charity" front of LeT, which is believed to be patronized by Pakistani intelligence. Pakistani forces are described as swooping on the camp in armored cars and helicopters. Explosions and shots were then heard. The facility was cordoned off against entry by anyone including reporters.

According to one report, Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, described as a mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, was captured.

Our New Delhi sources attach low credibility to the report from Islamabad. They might have taken it seriously had Lakhvi been turned over to India or Indian investigators allowed to question him. Western as well as Indian counter-terror sources point out that Lashkar e-Taiba was only one part of the Mumbai conspiracy. They point fingers at a coalition led by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Taliban, elements of al Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups. Without ISI's tactical and logistical organization, a terrorist attack on the Mumbai scale would have been inconceivable inside India.

Indian intelligence note the gap between their information and the Pakistani arrests: The only captive taken in Mumbai, Azam Amir Qassam, admitted to being trained by ISI officers at a facility near Karachi in southern Pakistan – from which he set out for the attack, while the Lashkar e-Taibe allegedly raided by Pakistani forces is located in northern Pakistan.


Pak rejects India's demand to hand over Dawood, Memon, Masood

India Times

8 Dec 2008

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has rejected India's demand to hand over three terrorists and criminals, including underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, saying that action will be taken against individuals found involved in terrorist activities under Pakistani law.

Islamabad's response to a demarche from India seeking the handing over of the three came hours after security forces launched a crackdown on Lashkar-e-Taiba, arresting suspected Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi and eight other militants.

India had made the demand in the second demarche handed over to Pakistan in the wake of last week's terror attacks in Mumbai that killed over 180 people and injured dozens more.

Pakistan's response, handed over by Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir to Indian High Commissioner Satyabrata Pal during a meeting this evening, indicated that Islamabad would itself take action against individuals if information provided by New Delhi proved they were involved in terrorism, diplomatic sources said.

The sources said the reply stated that action would be taken against such individuals "with the ambit of Pakistani law". The response also stated that Pakistani authorities would act on any information provided by India on the Mumbai attacks, they said.

The response also reiterated Pakistan's offer to conduct a joint investigation with India into the Mumbai attacks and for full cooperation, including intelligence sharing, the sources said.


Ex-ISI chief Gul dismisses charge of al-Qaeda link as 'lies'

India Times

8 Dec 2008

ISLAMABAD: Dismissing US charge of his having links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, former ISI chief Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Gul on Monday asked the Pakistan government to come out in his defence against the pack of "lies".

Gul said he had no contacts with the Pakistani Taliban and its leadership or with militant commander Sirajuddin Haqqani. He also said he was not in any way involved in recruiting youth from madrassas to fight in Afghanistan.

His remarks came after reports that the US plans to send names of four Pakistanis, including that of him and other former ISI officials, as also Pakistan-based groups to the UN Security Council for imposing sanctions against them for alleged links to terrorist activities.

"I have met the Foreign Minister (Shah Mahmood Qureshi) and asked him to protect innocent citizens like me. He said he would take it up," Gul said.

Noting that the government is currently pre-occupied with dealing with the fallout of the Mumbai attacks, Gul said he is hopeful the matter will be taken up with the UN soon.

"If they don't take it up, I'll write to the UN Secretary General and tell them that this is an embarrassment for me as I have no such links. The UN can set up a commission to probe the matter and I would be willing to appear before it," he said, adding that such a commission should be independent and not controlled by the US.

The inclusion of Gul and others on the UN list would lead to freezing of their assets. The News recently reported it had accessed a secret US document that listed charges against Gul.
Gul, who served as ISI chief during 1987-89, said the charges that the US was bringing against him "are all lies".

He said he had no contacts with the Taliban and al-Qaeda and his links to leaders in Afghanistan were "purely moral and academic".


Pakistan raids camp of group blamed for Mumbai

By Kamran Haider

Reuters India

Dec 8, 2008

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani security forces on Sunday raided a camp used by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), two sources said, in a strike against the militant group blamed by India for last month's deadly attacks on Mumbai.

Local man Nisar Ali told Reuters the operation began in the afternoon in Shawai on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistani side of disputed Kashmir region.
"I don't know details as the entire area was sealed off, but I heard two loud blasts in the evening after a military helicopter landed there," Ali said.

An official with the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity, which is linked to LeT, said security forces had taken over the camp.

India has demanded Pakistan take swift action over what it says is the latest anti-India militant attack emanating from Pakistani soil. No comment on the raid was immediately available from Indian officials.

At least 171 people were killed during the three-day assault last month across Mumbai, India's financial capital, which has imperilled the improving ties between the south Asian nuclear rivals.

Mumbai police have said the gunmen were controlled by the Pakistan-based LeT group blamed for earlier attacks including a 2001 assault on India's parliament that nearly sparked the two countries' fourth war since independence from Britain in 1947.

LeT was formed with the help of Pakistan's intelligence agencies to fight Indian rule in Kashmir, but analysts say it is now part of a global Islamist militant scene. They say it is sympathetic to, and may have direct ties with, al Qaeda.


Pakistani territory was used to stage the attacks on Mumbai, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday, again urging Islamabad to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

"I think there's no doubt that Pakistani territory was used, by probably non-state actors," Rice told CNN's "Late Edition."

She has just returned from a trip to the region to urge cooperation between the old enemies India and Pakistan.

"I don't think that there is compelling evidence of involvement of Pakistani officials," she added.

India's foreign minister had earlier accused Pakistan of trying to dodge blame over the Mumbai attacks' Pakistani origins by leaking a story about a hoax call to Pakistan's president that set off diplomatic panic.

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported on Saturday that Pakistan had put its forces on high alert after a caller pretending to be Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee threatened President Asif Ali Zardari while the attacks were still going on.

Police in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, over which India and Pakistan have fought for six decades, said on Sunday that one of two men arrested on Friday for helping get mobile phone cards to the gunmen had recently been hired as a constable.

"We are investigating whether he was on an undercover operation," a top Kashmir police officer said on condition of anonymity. The man, Mukhtar Ahmed, had worked for years as an informal anti-militant informant, the officer said.

An LeT-linked man suspected of reconnoitring Mumbai well before the attacks has been in custody since February in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, police Special Task Force chief Brij Lal told Reuters.

The disclosure about Faim Ansari, a 26-year-old native of Mumbai, was the first evidence to emerge of Indian complicity in the attacks.


The Mumbai Attacks The Real Perpetrators and their Goals [???]

By WWW.DAILY.PK (Pakistan Daily)


For the past many months, the world’s eyes were focused towards the horrendous developing situation in India, wherein a serving Lieutenant General was charged guilty of massacre against both Hindus and Muslims in the “Samjhauta (Friendship) Express” train in which countless people were burnt alive in their cottages before reaching Pakistan from India. . His name was Lt. Col. Purohit, who was later on reported to have also supplied RDX chemical explosives to Hindu extremists to carry out their attacks.

But then after a few days, suddenly there appear ten “Pakistani” individuals (mostly young) who run about the vicinity of Mumbai wreaking havoc and carnage wherever they go. The Indian media, though know for its objective and straightforward reporting, for the first time showing irresponsibility pointed the finger straight towards Pakistan and its nationals. This has never happened before.

Some of the notable events and occurrences that are indeed questionable during all these tensions include:

· How did “people who sailed from Karachi” come to know about the exact whereabouts of the city and especially the layout of the hotel premises? Employees of the Taj Hotel have said that the way in which the terrorists rioted through the whole building was amazing. One of them even said that “They know the place better than us or for that matter, even the Manager himself!”
· Pictures of one of the attackers in a black T-shirt and grey jeans have been spread over the internet. Even the Associated Press managed to capture a picture, which also clearly shows that the attacker had been wearing an orange-colored male bangle in his left arm. Many Hindu religious sources including Wikipedia clearly say that such bangles are worn by far-right Hindus (too conservative) on their right arms (by males) and left arms (by females).. Similar orange bangles were also worn by Hindu extremists when they were openly slaughtering Muslims in Gujarat and Christians in Orissa. Some religious sources say that the wearing of these bangles signify the “good-luck charm for the fulfillment of any religious undertaking”. Sort of like a “Hindu jihad”, if I were to basically put it that way. The question is: Why would a “fundamentalist Muslim” who is willing to “wage war against the infidels” wear a bangle that purely represents extremist Hindu ideology and beliefs?
· Immediately reports came in the Indian media that the “Deccan Mujahideen” claimed responsibility for the attacks”. If that were the case, then we all know that Deccan is the provincial capital of Hyderabad, not the Hyderabad in Pakistan but the one in India! Furthermore, authentic investigative and intelligence-briefed findings show that there is no such “jihadi” organization by this name, which furthermore proves that this was another hoax.

· One Indian channel went as far as broadcasting “real time videos” of a particular “Rehman chacha” (Rehman uncle) hailing from Faridkot district, Pakistan. Reportedly, the attackers had called him from their SIMs and taken further instructions… This is indeed appaludable, for one of the largest news channels in Pakistan, Express News, did extensive thorough findings in search of this person and found out there wasn’t anyone with such a name who ever belonged to Faridkot.
· The Indian Govt. then again changed her statement and said it was a particular “Amir Jamal” from Faridkot. Again, the Express News team went on research and found out that this very man had died 3 years ago! His own kin related the event to the news team.
· And again… now the Indian Govt. says it was a particular “Amir Kasab”… we’ll see what develops regarding another sham like this.
· Some sources revealed on Pakistani media that they were “surprised” at they themselves not knowing of the fact that during all the tragedy in Mumbai, the Jewish settlement at ‘Nariman House’ was also loaded with MI5, Mossad and FBI agents. Furthermore, a handful of CIA agents were also among those dead at the Taj Hotel and were also present at the Oberoi Palace. As we move on, we came to know that the international Jewish terror organization “Chabad Lubavitch”, was also based at Nariman House. The question is: What were the reasons and circumstances under which agents of the MI5, Mossad, FBI, CIA and Chabad Lubavitch were resident in India? Are the Israelis who lived there in that much need of security?
· The next day, the beneficiaries of all these events, the Hindu right-wing extremist parties such as the BJP, RSS, Vishwa Prashad, etc. get more active in fostering anti-Pakistan, anti-Muslim sentiments among Hindu nationals. The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) played the forefront role, it even had highly-sentimental nationalistic and anti-Pakistan, anti-Muslim statements and banners printed in various leading Indian newspapers and magazines. All this seems to have benefited them a lot. Obviously, the Indian media and the Global Eye before was focused towards some of their members infiltrating the Indian Army’s hierarchy and infusing racist ideologies in them. They got the perfect chance to “turn the tables over”.
· India pinpointed names of 3 terrorists to the Pakistan Govt. The names were of “Tiger” Memon (Mushtaq Abdur Razzaq Memon), Daud Ibrahim and Mas’oud Azhar. The former two are themselves Indian nationals, it is senseless to claim that they “perpetrated these acts from Pakistan” when the ISI and Govt. have repeatedly said they are not here. Mas’oud Azhar is a religious activist from Bahawalpur who is accredited for the establishment of the jihadi organization “Jaish e Muhammad”.
· The American Govt. then, as expected, showed sympathy for the Indian Govt. and has recently sent a list of “terrorists” to be reviewed and approved by the U.N. Security Council. Among the names are 4 of the top-ranking former Director Generals of the ISI (Pakistan). And most notable among them is Lt. Gen. (R) Hameed Gul. The purpose and intent is obvious: The Zionists and Neocons in the American Govt. along with their Hindu counterparts want to corner and malign Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) from all sides. In a half-hour exclusive interview to Geo News’ program “Crisis Cell” dated Nov. 4, 2008, Hameed Gul said that the reason the American Govt. and India is behind him is because he always spoke out in advance about the recent upcoming plans of Zionists and Indian Govt. against Pakistan. The question: Hameed Gul was a good friend of Milt Bearden of CIA and had good communication with the American Govt. (in cooperative terms) during his serving tenure, then why is he being blamed also? I hint its because of him being a devoted Muslim who believes in the policies of “true Islamic jihad” and who is known to be quite indulged in religion. He is known to support the just and true Islamic government that was just being formed by the genuine Taliban before it got purposely and timingly demolished by the U.S. Hameed Gul has also repeatedly spoken in detail about the various covert/overt plots that India’s R.A.W. and Israel’s Mossad are churning up in collaboration with each other. Is this a plot to silence him up?

· Now during all this mayhem, the Zionists wage their propaganda in line with what they used to threaten the Iranian Govt. Issues are being raised whether Pakistan’s nuclear assets are safe or not. To this, one of Pakistan’s top nuclear scientists, Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, replied that indeed Pakistan’s assets are 100% safe by the Grace of Allah and can never be detonated accidentally, as they are protected by a very complex secret code. This shows how the Indian Govt. and the American Zionists are propagandizing against Pakistan.
· On December 5, 2008, Russia and India signed a “Joint Nuclear Cooperation Treaty”. PM Manmohan Singh of India had this to say (basic excerpts):
“Russia and India will work together to bring forth an International Order… we shall work together in (nuclear) research and development”.

Indian Media reported the first of these steps involved Russia setting-up a nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.

One wonders: Why all this now? Was it pre-planned? It seems so. But we still don’t know.

One thing we are sure of is that this time, for real and directly head-on, the Zionists en par with their Indian counterparts including Israelis at the background are very desperate to malign, destabilize and eventually ‘abolish’ the ISI. Which, Insha’Allah, they never can.


Final phase of Indo-US-Israeli gory drama and our response [??]

By Asif Haroon Raja

Asian Tribune (published by World Institute for Asian Studies)

December 8, 2008

After 9/11, India fabricated another 9/11 by stage-managing a terrorist attack on Indian Parliament in December 2001. It gave a ready-made excuse to deploy over one million troops along Pakistan border to bully Pakistan and extract concessions. While the military coercion made no impact because of tit-for-tat response by Pakistan armed forces, USA helped India in forcing Musharraf to cede to Indian demands. India has once again manufactured 9/11 like drama in Mumbai to extract further concessions from Pakistan which are the ultimate of Indo-US-Israeli sinister plan. Mumbai attacks had similarities with 9/11 attacks particularly with regard to hostile media warfare and the anger expressed.

Americans had bayed for blood and the UN hurriedly sanctioned the invasion of Afghanistan which had no role in the terrorist attacks. Afghanistan under the Taliban had neither any means to defend on military or technological planes nor on the media front and hence was made a scapegoat to assuage the rising anger of the American public. The Indian media too has gone bonkers and Indians are thirsting for Pakistan blood which has inflamed passions and fuelled the fatal enmity. Indian belligerence can be gauged from the poll taken by a private Indian channel which showed 90% Indians wanted India to attack Pakistan. BJP is in the lead role desiring revenge. Not a single voice of sanity has been heard from any quarter in India. Indian leaders were sure to harass and intimidate NRO cleared pliable leadership of Pakistan.

The soft but re-corrected response by Pakistani leadership by refusing to send DG ISI as demanded further antagonised Indian leaders. The small but razor-sharp and biting media riposte which mirrored the sentiments of Pakistanis took the Indians by surprise and flabbergasted them. Their lies started to get exposed too quickly and easily which checkmated their offensive and put them on the defensive. Their internal weaknesses and vulnerabilities which they had cleverly camouflaged under the farce of secularism were bared and the world got much wiser that India is hotbed of terrorism and Hindu extremism and biggest violator of human rights.

In order to neutralise the media strikes emanating from Pakistan, India was prompt to alert its Pakistani cronies inside and outside Pakistan to play their role. Certain Pakistani TV channels and newspapers where the Indians have invested heavy amounts were to become the platforms to damage Pakistan cause and promote Indian cause. The lackeys have begun to play their devious role by bad mouthing against Pakistan in form of writing articles and participating in talk shows.

Aakar Patel in his write up in The News on 1 December says that the horrifying scenes of brutal killing of hotel employees and other inmates when shown to the Indian public is bound to evoke uncontrolled fury. Not only he pre-supposed public anger but used it as a plank to caution Pakistan to be aware of it and try to prevent such backlash because of which it would become difficult for Indian leadership to restrain its armed forces. He advised Pakistan to tread the path of submissiveness by promptly accepting all demands of India promptly to assuage public anger. This in his view was the only way to save Pakistan from getting crushed. He equated Indian anger with American anger after 9/11 which led to decimation of Afghanistan without collecting any proof of Al-Qaeda involvement. Patel ignored the hard reality that the state sponsored media hype created within hours of the happenings and Indian leadership seething with anger had whipped up emotions of the Indian public and within first 12 hours had turned their passions into a state of frenzied fury. He claims that Indian investigators have traced the smoking gun and says that if clinching evidence is gathered from Kasab, India will be constrained to attack abodes of Jihadi groups inside Pakistan.

Patel did not like the tone and tenor of FM Mehmood Qureshi in his Press conference in Islamabad on 29 November on his return from official visit to India. He ignored the humiliating treatment meted to him by Indian leadership in India and his counter part Pranab Mukherjee as well as Manmohan having refused to meet him despite his repeated requests. He had offered full cooperation and joint mechanism to unearth the real culprits. He was handed over a terse letter in which Pakistan was rudely asked to hand over 20 suspects most of whom they had been demanding since 1993. Patel regretted that Qureshi had not used the language of diplomat. How strange, kettle unashamedly calling the pot black. Unlike all the Indian leaders, by all standards Qureshi had behaved in a very responsible, cool and measured manner in spite of being humiliated. His only fault was that he did not accept the blatant charge of Indian media that Pakistan was complicit in the Mumbai carnage.

Patel laments Pakistan reversing its decision not to send DG ISI and considers it a mistake which makes Pakistani government more vulnerable to Indian public anger. He also reprimands the negative role of Pakistani columnists who castigated Gilani’s capitulation to unwarranted demand of India. Rawalpindi based Agha Manzoor Rauf in his letter to editors to News Post of 6 December asserts that Pakistan should be generous and broadminded while dealing with India and Indian request to send DG ISI should have been accepted. He adds that a good opportunity has been lost due to misplaced egos. Hats off to his weird logic but he must have gladdened the hearts of Indians.

Foqia Sadiq based in London in her write up in The News on 4 December castigates the role of media anchors as well as security analysts on both sides of the divide. She has felt irked at the small-scale counter strokes launched by few anchors and analysts whose strength doesn’t exceed 5-7. Majority of Pakistani media anchors and analysts are diplomatic, soft and many are visibly pro-India. Foqia named Lt Gen ® Salahuddin Tirmizi and questioned as to why such jingoistic commentator was invited. She has probably either not seen the scenes of bellicosity on Indian channels or pretends to be naïve about it. But for the few counter jabs by 2-3 channels, Indian media’s jingoism would have remained in a state of frenzy. It has been deliberately stoking the emotions of Indians within hours of the occurrence of attacks in Mumbai and had gone wild in churning out half-truths and fabrications at an unprecedented momentum. Sentiments of Indian nation were whipped in a manner that 90% of Indians desired war as was evident from the survey conducted by a private Indian TV channel. Hysterical calls were made by rightist Hindus led by BJP to decimate Pakistan. The purpose of state sponsored media war was to malign Pakistan, its institutions and its people and to harass leadership to achieve sinister objectives. It had almost succeeded in flabbergasting Zardari and Gilani who feeling the heat ceded to the demand of Manmohan to despatch DG ISI. But for sense of patriotism and national spirit shown by the brave and upright ones, India would have achieved its objective without taking any physical steps.

Every country of the world has lauded the responsible and measured response of Pakistani leaders as well as the media to defuse the situation but Foqia has put both in the same basket thereby bailing out Indian detestable jingoism and irresponsible behaviour. In her view Pakistanis should not have defended Pakistan’s honour and dignity that was being soiled and instead should have continued with its traditional policy of appeasement. She fails to mention persistent efforts by highest in the land to cool down raised tempers of Indians and offering all sorts of cooperation. She strongly feels that Pakistani media should not have replied in the same coin. I only hope she expresses her view out of altruistic sentiments and independently and has not been tutored.

Praful Bidwai is a learned scholar and undoubtedly he has been commenting upon certain high-handed but well exposed actions of Indian extremists like the Gujarat carnage. The world had witnessed and commented upon the pogrom against Muslims of Gujarat perpetrated under the directions of State Chief Minister Narindra Modi. Mr Praful could not have written anything in defence of Modi even if he wanted to. With regard to Mumbai carnage, in his article in The News dated 6 December Praful terms the all out offensive of Indian media and Indian leaders and few Pakistani media jibes in self defence as a retreat into shell of nationalism. He sees it a competitive blame game; that is, tit for tat. It implies both were equally guilty and had indulged in media hype on same levels, which is far from truth. He has absolved India loving PPP, MQM and ANP government asserting that it could not have colluded with the army, ISI and terrorist groups in the Mumbai operation. He indicts the army which in his view is beyond the civilian government control.

He associates the ISI with extremist group and pronounces his verdict that those who attacked Mumbai were Pakistani nationals connected to and controlled by an extremist group (he implies Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT)), who received combat and marine training from professionals (implying army/ISI). He pronounces that LT was ISI created and trained and desires that the ISI must be reined in and punished.

He lends strength to his indictment by quoting Pakistani analysts Ahmad Rashid, Shuja Nawaz, Hussain Haqqani and Aeshya Siddiqua (known for their secular and pro-western/Indian thoughts and anti-army/ISI bias. He missed out Pervaiz Hoodbhouy). He provides the circumstantial evidence in the form of discovery of GPS, satellite phone records, e-mail tracks, ordinance factory markings on armaments (he means POF Wah), and fingerprints on boats and other materials which in his view were sufficient evidences to prove that the attackers came by sea from Karachi. The lone captured terrorist Kasab (whom he has given a new name as Muhammad Ajmal Amir Iman), (I wish he had added few more Muslim names to his name to make his case more strong), has supposedly corroborated the story.

Praful lays heavy stress on the military-style operation, which was meticulously planned and executed with precision but does not say anything as to why the planners and executors decided to provide so many clues to be found out in a jiffy. Does he not know that in today’s world of technology, carrying mobile phones and conversing on it is a sure death certificate. The militants in FATA and Swat have long thrown away their mobiles forcing the adversaries sitting across the Durand Line to resort to chip technology to locate the target. Unless they wanted to be found out before hand and killed, should the Mumbai attackers logically not have maintained radio silence till the accomplishment of the mission? Even if they had used GPS to help them in guiding their way to Mumbai shores, should they not have destroyed it the moment they landed at the objective area? Reportedly they came on Pakistan navy ships up to a point and then hijacked a trawler for covering the last hop and the ships were reportedly on their return journey and apprehended near Gujarat Coast. If so, what would have been the mode of return journey of terrorists if we take it that the GPS mapping indicated return route to Karachi? Was it planned on the trawler? Normally such dare-devil missions are suicide missions in which the terrorists are given one-side tickets and not return journey tickets.

Praful has ingeniously put the blame of targeted killings of anti-terror chief Hemant Karkare and two senior police officials who had unearthed the Hindu extremist network. Hemant’s cold-blooded murder will haunt India for a long time. He artfully reduces the strength of Indian commandoes and combat soldiers from 1200 to 500 who battled with ten terrorists for 60 hours and projects the terrorists as fanatically dedicated having received frightening level of combat training. He makes no mention of Israeli and South African specialised troops who wrapped up the operation. No mention is made of glaring loopholes in the episode that have come to bug the Indians. No mention is made of Intelligence failure and ineptness of Indian navy, security forces and other state departments.

He has given out India’s future course of action which says that if Pakistan refuses to act on the dictated terms, the matter should be taken up with (all too willing) UNSC by citing Resolution 1373. I reckon, he and all Indian nationals forget that India is the biggest violator of UN Resolutions. I may like to refresh their memory that UN Resolution on Kashmir is pending action since 6 February 1948. India draws strength from US all out support to Indian crimes. USA has promptly fallen in line with the Indian drumbeat and already corroborated the charge sheet framed by India that terrorists have links to Pakistan and Condi Rice has delivered a stern warning to listen to India and comply. Factor of non-state actors and danger to nuclear weapons is again being overplayed which exposes the real design behind Mumbai drama. Beware, the final act of the gory drama conceived by Indo-US-Israeli nexus based in Kabul is about to be put into operation.

Mercifully, the political parties have risen to the occasion and have come on a single platform to confront the Indian challenge backed by Israel and USA. Army chief has given a loud message that he would shift forces employed in FATA and Swat towards eastern border. Their hopes that the army would not be able to extricate itself have dashed because of the vociferous calls of support given by all militant groups in FATA. All have expressed their willingness to fight the Indians alongside the army and promised whole-hearted support. They have even volunteered to send thousands of suicide bombers into India to wreak havoc. Even the retired armed forces personnel whose number runs in lacs have volunteered to fight for the defence of motherland.

The state of combat preparedness of the army could not have been better than what it is today. Whatever operational, technical and logistic flaws it had had been rectified during the ten-month military stand off with India in 2002. The entire army is battle hardened carrying a rich experience of six years war under most trying conditions. Each infantry, armoured-infantry and artillery regiment has gone through the mill. The patriotic tribals too are fully battle inoculated and combination of the two would make an unconquerable force. The nation as a whole too is quite prepared for war since the people have become accustomed to bomb blasts and suicide attacks. Overall morale is high and it is a unique chance to gel the nation into a cohesive nation. All our economic indicators are down and the foreign debt too heavy to repay. We have nothing more to lose but India has everything to lose including its Silicon Valley. India is otherwise on the verge of getting imploded from within because of innumerable separatist movements and all its minorities fed up of brutal rule of Brahmans. Conflict with India would also rid Afghanistan of occupation forces which are otherwise in no mood to depart. So let India and its backers commit a folly of imposing war on Pakistan and regret its fatal decision.

Asif Haroon Raja is a retired Brig and a defence and political analyst.


Two men arrested in Mumbai attacks: But questions fly after Kashmir police say suspect in cellphone connection is their undercover agent

Associated Press

Dec 07, 2008

SRINAGAR, India–One of the two Indian men arrested for buying mobile phone cards used by the gunmen in the Mumbai attacks was a counterinsurgency police officer who may have been on an undercover mission, security officials said yesterday in demanding his release.

The arrests, announced in the eastern city of Calcutta, were the first since the bloody siege ended.

But what was initially touted as a rare success for India's beleaguered law enforcement agencies quickly turned sour as police in two regions squared off against one another.

Senior police officers in Indian Kashmir, which has been at the heart of tensions between India and Pakistan, demanded the release of the officer, Mukhtar Ahmed, saying he was one of their own and had been involved in infiltrating Kashmiri militant groups.

Indian authorities believe the banned Pakistani-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has links to Kashmir, trained the gunmen and plotted the Mumbai attacks, which left 171 people dead in a three-day rampage that began Nov. 26.

The implications of Ahmed's involvement – that Indian agents may have been in touch with the militants and perhaps supplied the SIM cards used in the attacks – added to the list of questions about India's ill-trained security forces, which are widely blamed for not thwarting the attacks.

Earlier yesterday, Calcutta police announced the arrests of Ahmed and Tauseef Rahman, who allegedly bought SIM cards by using fake documents, including identification cards of dead people.

The cards allow users to switch their cellular service to phones other than their own.

Rahman later sold them to Ahmed, said Rajeev Kumar, a senior Calcutta police officer.

Both men were arrested Friday and charged with fraud and criminal conspiracy.

But the announcement had police in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir, fuming.

"We have told Calcutta police that Ahmed is our man and it's now up to them how to facilitate his release," said one senior officer, speaking on condition of anonymity. Other police officials in Kashmir supported his account.

The officer said Ahmed was a Special Police Officer, part of a semi-official counterinsurgency network whose members are usually drawn from former militants.

"Sometimes we use our men engaged in counterinsurgency ops to provide SIM cards to the (militant) outfits so that we track their plans down," said the officer.

About a dozen Islamic militant groups have been fighting in Kashmir since 1989, seeking independence from mainly Hindu India or a union with Muslim-majority Pakistan.


Another twist in Kuber mystery

Times of India

6 Dec 2008

MUMBAI: Around November 20, the MV Kuber had travelled 40 nautical miles (NM) out of India's international maritime border line (IMBL) after it left Porbunder, Coast Guard (CG) sources confirmed on Friday. Sources also say that the nearly 70kgs of RDX could not have come on the inflatable boat if the 10 terrorists were on it with their haversacks. The key question is when and how did the RDX come into the city?

The GPS that was found on the Kuber after the CG tracked it on November 27, one day after the attack on Mumbai, was most likely given to those on board the trawler somewhere near Karachi. Kuber's owner, Vinod Masani, has said that the trawler did not have a GPS when it went missing on November 13. "The coordinates of a Lashkar ship that were allegedly given to us by Indian federal agencies are of 22 NM from Karachi's outer anchorage, where we cannot go. We did not get the alert. (India is about 100 NM from Karachi). But our routine check for Pakistani ships was on, and we had checked 290 fishing trawlers inside our waters between November 20 and Nov 26. No Pakistani ship was found, and Kuber was certainly not found,'' CG sources said.

CG sources also said that Pakistani trawlers are different in shape and can easily be identified. "That is why the Kuber was used by the Pakistanis,'' say these sources.

Kuber reportedly sailed from Porbunder on October 30 and returned with 1,400kgs of fish on November 13. The same day, it tanked up on diesel and left again, purportedly on a fishing expedition. But when the crew of its partner ship Maa, spotted the navigator, Amar Narayan, on November 20, the trawler had not collected any fish. Then it went missing. This is the time it probably went into Pakistani waters, after receiving a signal, CG sources say.


Pak Army Masterminded the Mumbai Attacks ..? And Still Pulling the Strings

Dec. 5, 2008

One week since the Mumbai attacks - the Indian government knows the killers, knows where they were trained, who the trainers were, their links with sections of the ISI, and much more. Yet it doesn't know what to do next.

The government feels the attack was meticulously planned, with the help of top intelligence inputs and professional support. It thinks that it's unlikely the Indian fishing trawler Kuber was hijacked. A well-planned attack mission like this would not depend on the off-chance of hijacking a boat for its success. Rather, the INDIAN CREW of the boat were probably mixed up in smuggling and got sucked into this deadly game. And paid with their lives.

The government knows the attack originated from Pakistan. In fact, the Pakistan government doesn't deny this. Even now when Asif Ali Zardari is telling Larry King that the attackers are "stateless people", he isn't saying they are not Pakistanis. Earlier, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was in India when the attack took place, told the media he was willing to send the ISI chief for a joint probe, signaling that he believed the attackers were Pakistanis.

When Manmohan Singh called up Zardari and Pakistan PM Gilani, both said the ISI director general Shuja Pasha would be sent to India to help out with the investigations. But by evening, the picture had changed. An ISI spokesman sounded very iffy about Pasha's visit. "Let the government tell us and we'll see," he said.

In short, the ISI was telling the civilian government to get off. Meanwhile, the Pakistan army sounded a warning about an Indian military build-up along the border. Newspapers close to the army, like Pakistan Observer and Frontier Post, and TV channel Geo, played up this alleged build-up. Suddenly, the popular mood was turning — from a sense of outrage at the Mumbai killings to alarm about a possible Indian attack.

Why did the Pakistan army do this? First, to deflect attention from the Mumbai attack into which the ISI was being dragged (ISI and the army are very close after Pakistan army chief Kayani hand-picked Lt Gen Pasha as the ISI boss). Second, it was signaling to the world that the civilian government didn't matter; what mattered was the army.

The third reason is that it saw in the situation an opportunity to recoup the morale of its soldiers. The US-pressed "war on terror" on Pakistan's western front is believed to have badly sapped the army's morale. Many of the soldiers don't believe in it -- there were as many as 900 desertions last year.

Fourthly, it reckons that by playing the India card, it could win back some of its lost credibility and authority among the people. Musharraf's last months had badly dented the army's standing in Pakistani society and the "war on terror" has eroded its popularity. With Zardari & Co seen as soft on India, the army was now sensing an opportunity of staging a comeback.

In fact, one estimate in New Delhi is that the Mumbai carnage, and the expected backlash from India, is aimed at a larger goal to set the scene for an army coup. Top officials, however, discount the possibility -- at least for now, although they don't discount that the army is pushing to carve out its independent space and a bigger stake.

That's where India's dilemma comes in. If it were to flex its muscle, mass its soldiers along the border and tell Islamabad that it means business — as many people, incensed with the repeated terrorist attacks, would like the government to do -- it could be playing into the Pakistan army's hand.

New Delhi knows that the Americans have more levers on Pakistan than it has. But it doesn't know how much pressure the US was willing to exert on Islamabad. While there is an overlap of interest with India now (six American were, after all, killed in the attack), US's bigger interest is in forcing Pakistan's hand in the fight against al Qaida and the Taliban.

So, when Condoleezza Rice came over on Wednesday, she said all the right words but, in concrete terms, promised to press Pakistan on one thing — to ask for a ban on Lashkar-e-Taiba's political wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The Dawa is not an underground organization like Lashkar, although it recruits people for terror, as it did with captured Mumbai attacker, Ajmal Amir Kasav.

India is also uncertain of the implication of getting the US and others involved in the standoff. It fears that could lead to the internationalizing of the Kashmir dispute. Everyone loves a good crisis, and all of them were looking to get something out for themselves from it if they could get their finger in the pie. That's India's second dilemma — it knows only the US can deliver but it doesn't know if it's a good idea to press it for help beyond a point.

Ask any top government official and he or she will say, "We want outcome, not statements." But they don't really know how to secure that outcome. So, India waits staring at the various non-options, waiting for a bright idea to strike it.


Mumbai attack: Burning issues

5 Dec 2008

Times of India

We follow the trail of some loose ends and interesting revelations that have emerged during 26/11 and its aftermath

Could only 10 terrorists have done so much damage?

The speculation: Reports said 15 blankets, `winter jackets' and toothbrushes were found on the Kuber, the Indian fishing trawler used by the terrorists to reach Mumbai. The theory that there were more than 10 jihadis then gained impetus. Initially, officials interrogating arrested terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasav also said 16 terrorists had arrived.

Official line: The interrogators later said that Kasav revealed that only 10 youth were picked in Pakistan for the attacks. Police chief Hasan Gafoor said only 10 terrorists arrived. How many men landed at Colaba (and how many taxis were taken)?

Police say: The 10 men landed in a dinghy and split up into five groups, each with two terrorists. One group took a cab to the Taj, another to Leopold's, another to Oberoi, the fourth to Nariman House and the fifth to CST.

Machchimar Nagar witnesses say: A dinghy landed and eight fair-skinned 20-something men clad in jeans and jackets got off with haversacks. Each also carried two bags in their hands. Two others, who helped them, sailed away. (It is speculated that they sailed across to the Oberoi.)

How many dinghies were there?

Police say: Only one. (It's now at Cuffe Parade police station.)

But: Could the small dinghy have carried 10 men, their heavy haversacks, their bombs, AK47s and food?

Are there more bombs?

An unexploded RDX bomb was found in a red-and-black bag at CST. Another was exploded and 2 were defused at the Taj. Two bombs went off at Oberoi. A bomb went off at Nariman House and 2 exploded in taxis.

The question: If the terrorists got off the boat at Colaba with a bag in each hand, where are the other bags and what do they contain?

The taxi blasts

The two RDX blasts in taxis at Wadi Bunder and Santa Cruz initially appeared incongruous with attacks that were concentrated in the south Mumbai business district.

Police say: The bombs were placed by the terrorists when they took cabs from Colaba.

Did they plan on getting out alive?

Yes: Kasav's interrogators first said the gunmen planned on returning home, possibly via the same route they came. The RDX bombs, for example, were meant to create diversions to allow the terrorists to slip out as tourists.

Yes: The interrogators also said that the CST, Taj and Oberoi terrorists were to return the next day itself, November 27, while the Nariman House duo were to keep Jewish hostages so that their bosses in Pakistan could negotiate with the Israeli government. No: The police chief said the 10 men were on a suicide mission, with no intention of returning. He said the Global Positioning System, found on the Kuber, had not been set, but automatically charted a course back.

Did they visit Mumbai earlier?

Yes: Kasav's interrogators have said that the gang came to Mumbai on a reconnaisance mission before the attacks and lived as students in Colaba. They visited the Taj and Oberoi hotels. Commandos who fought them also said the terrorists were familiar with the layouts of the attacked hotels.

No: The Mumbai police chief has said that the group never did recces and were not familiar with the insides of the hotels. He said they had been shown detailed maps of the city in Pakistan.

Was the Kuber involved?

No: The terrorists took over the Kuber, killed four of its crewmen and made the skipper, Amar, steer to Mumbai. Later, they killed Amar and used a dinghy to reach Colaba.

Maybe: Amar had been in a Pakistani jail three years ago for about six months. One theory is he may have been bribed or forced to ferry the terrorists. The Kuber lost contact on November 20 despite having a VHF Sat of ICom M-45 series. The terrorists only left Karachi on November 23.

When found off Mumbai on November 27, the Kuber had only 50kg of fish (some of it marinated), a very small amount of catch.

Were they on their way to Malabar hill?

Kasav and Abu Ismail were stopped by the DB Marg police's barricades at Girgaum Chowpatty, where Ismail was killed and Kasav arrested. The road connects directly to upmarket Malabar Hill, home to powerful politicians and executives as well as the city's swish set.
Was the Maa involved?

The Kuber returned to the Gujarat coast on November 13 at 2 pm with 1,200kg of catch. Normally, fisherfolk rest a day before going out again. But Amar and his crew left at 10pm with the Maa and its crew. The Maa and Kuber were together till November 20 when the Kuber went missing. The Maa's crew didn't inform the Coast Guard about the disappearance.

Were locals involved?

Gangsters: Is it possible for 10 men to carry out such huge attacks with only training, equipment and maps? The underworld and India's main menace Dawood Ibrahim have a vast network in the city that could have been tapped for help.

Hotel guests: Intel was looking into whether co-conspirators had checked into the five-stars as guests to help the attackers.

Hotel ex-employees: Intel was considering whether two of the terrorists had worked earlier at the Taj as chefs. Two attackers may have entered from the kitchen. The Taj said it had no information that employees and contract staff were involved in the carnage. The Oberoi gave a similar statement.

Colaba shopkeepers: There were reports that three shops behind the Taj had come under the scanner.

Santa Cruz cabbie: Police said the middle of the taxi was damaged and the body of cabbie Mohammed Omar, 31, was ripped apart. There was speculation that the bomb was kept in the front of the cab. If so, did Omar know of it? But police later said the bomb was left under the driver's seat, which explains the destruction.

The official clean chit

The Mumbai police chief has said that no locals were involved in any way whatsoever.


Another Pak vessel had tailed Al Raffique

Vikram Rautela

Express India

Posted: Dec 05, 2008

Porbandar Coast Guard officers, who had seized the Pakistani trawler, Al Raffique, from near the mouth of Kori Creek on Tuesday afternoon, said on Thursday that another vessel was tailing the boat. After being ‘alerted’ by some of the crew members onboard Al Raffique, the trawler managed to escape into Pakistani waters, Coast Guard officers said.

A senior Coast Guard officer said: “The crewmembers onboard Al Raffique had waved at the trawler and the latter managed to sail back into Pakistani waters,” adding that the Coast Guard has passed on this vital information to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and other intelligence agencies for further investigation.

Officials from agencies like RAW, who are camping at Porbandar after the Kuber episode, are now trying to collect information about the crew members onboard the yet-to-be-identified Pakistani trawler, besides their probable intentions behind sailing into Indian waters.

“Speculations are rife that this trawler may have been sent to ferry back some of those who were directly or indirectly involved in the Mumbai terror attack and may be hiding in India,” said a senior Gujarat Police officer on condition of anonymity. The officer is now coordinating with the intelligence agencies in Porbandar.

Another Coast Guard officer, who was part of the team that apprehended Al Raffique, said the ICG inceptor boat (C-132) had given chase to this trawler (spotted close to the dispute Sir Creek area) at that time. “But due to shallow water, C-132 had to take an alternative route. Taking advantage of this, the Pakistani trawler managed to escape into its territorial waters,” he said.

Meanwhile, the seven crew members of Al Raffique, Mohammed Siddique, Ali Mohammed, Yusuf Jummo, Ahmed Khan, Sikandar Ali, Nazeer Ahmed and Mohammed Alam, have claimed that they are residents of a village in Thatta district of Pakistan, and had entered Indian waters inadvertently. The Coast Guard and the other intelligence agencies, however, find this unconvincing.

An officer shared with Newsline some of the reasons for not buying this story: The Coast Guard officers had seen the crew onboard Al Raffique waving at the trawler tailing them; the crew also possessed a large quantity of walkie-talkie sets (usually boats have permanently fitted VHF sets); their fishing nets were also not dipped (which indicates that they may not be fishing there); the fish found in the trawler was not fresh and did not indicate a recent catch; and lastly, the fact that the boat was apprehended close to the last Border Out Post (BoP) on the Western Frontier, a strategically important BoP located in Medi in Bhuj, which is guarded by the Gujarat frontier of the Border Security Force (BSF).

The seven Pakistanis have now been booked under provisions of the Maritime Zone of India Act (used in normal cases of Pakistani fishermen apprehended from Indian waters) as well as the Indian Passports Act (invoked in cases of illegal infiltration). At present, they are being interrogated by several agencies at the Joint Interrogation Centre (JIC) in Bhuj.


The Mumbai Attacks: More Than Meets The Eye

By Jeremy R. Hammond

04 December, 2008

Details have emerged regarding who was responsible for the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, with the evidence pointing to the Pakistani-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). But the trail doesn't end there.

Indications of a coming attack were reportedly received by intelligence agencies well in advance. US signals intelligence (SIGINT) picked up a spike in “chatter” indicating something was brewing, which was supported by information from assets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some of the information that was received by US intelligence was passed on to India as early as September.

The details were specific. The CIA station chief in Delhi reportedly met with his counterpart at India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), to pass on intelligence that LeT was planning a major attack that would come from the sea.

Less than a week before the attacks, a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan purportedly killed a British citizen of Pakistani descent named Rashid Rauf, who was suspected of planning to blow up commercial airliners flying from Britain to the U.S. He fled Britain in 2002 after being suspected of stabbing to death his uncle, Mohammed Saeed. He settled in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, and married a relative of Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of another militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Besides being linked to JeM, he was also suspected by some intelligence sources of having connections to the ISI. Pakistani authorities arrested him in Bahawalpur in August 2006 at the behest of British authorities, but he escaped police custody when they allowed him to enter a mosque ostensibly to say afternoon prayers. While police waited outside, Rauf walked out the back door. He may have just escaped, but there were also rumors that he was secretly taken into custody by the ISI in a plan that kept him under wraps while preventing him from being extradited to Britain.

The location of Rauf was reportedly given to U.S. officials by the Pakistani government, and may have been a move calculated to appease the U.S. over charges that elements of the ISI are still assisting militants engaged in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. Earlier this year, terrorists bombed the Indian embassy in Kabul, and both India and the U.S. claimed that the ISI had been involved in the attack.

The airstrike that killed Rauf may also have been the result of early information obtained on the attack on Mumbai, as intelligence agencies reportedly had learned that he was involved in the planning of a major upcoming terrorist event. They may have sought to take him out before such an attack could occur.

Indian intelligence had obtained its own warnings of an attack. One indication was a request from a LeT operative to obtain international SIM cards for an upcoming operation. There was also information that a LeT team was training at a camp near Karachi, and that part of their training was to prepare for launching attacks from the sea. The team was trained under Zakir-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, also known as “Chacha”. Also among the information received was that the Taj Mahal hotel was pinpointed as a major target.

As a result, security at the hotel was increased, but was lessened again just a week prior to the attacks because of complaints from the hotel’s clients. Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, which owns the hotel, acknowledged that warnings of a possible attack had been received.

The Tata Group is also invested in the energy sector, and stands to gain from the recent deal between the U.S. and India, which would provide India with nuclear resources outside of the framework of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system. Pakistan has voiced its opposition to the U.S. deal with its nuclear-armed neighbor.

On November 18, RAW intercepted a satellite phone conversation made to a number in Lahore, Pakistan, known to be used by the military commander of LeT known alternatively by the names Yusuf Muzammil or Abu Hurrera, also known as “Yahah”. The caller notified his handlers that he was heading for Mumbai with unspecified cargo.

As a result of the intelligence it had received, India’s Navy and Coast Guard were on the lookout for suspicious ships entering Indian territorial waters, and were specifically told to watch for an unidentified ship coming from Karachi.

Only one of the terrorists in the Mumbai attacks was captured alive, Azam Amir Kasab, a resident of the territory of Punjab in Pakistan. According to reports, he has told his interrogators a great deal about how the attacks went down.

Kasab confessed to being a member of LeT. He and his fellow terrorists were instructed to target foreigners, particularly Americans, British, and Israelis. They had set out from Karachi in a ship called the “MV Alpha”, which is allegedly owned by Dawood Ibrahim, a terrorist wanted by India in connection with bombings in Bombay in 1993 that resulted in 250 deaths. Ibrahim is also wanted by Interpol, and has been designated a global terrorist by the U.S.

Confronted with increased naval patrols that were boarding and searching suspect vessels, the team hijacked a fishing trawler called the “Kuber”, registration number 2303, and killed most of its crew except for Amarsinh Solanki, whom they kept alive to help navigate.

On November 26, as the terrorists neared their target destination, they killed Solanki by slitting his throat. An associate of Ibrahim’s in Mumbai had arranged to pick the team up in inflatable rubber dinghies. They went ashore at about 9pm. Witnesses reported seeing them land in the dinghies, which were unusual among the common wooden fishing boats, and unloading a number of large bags.

Once on shore near the Gateway to India, Mumbai’s main landing point near the Naval dockyard, the team split up. Four men went to the Taj Mahal hotel, where an advance team had already checked in on November 22 and set up a control room. Two went to the Nariman House, the Mumbai headquarters of Chabad Lubavitch, an ultra-orthodox Jewish group. Another acquisitioned a taxi and drove to the railway station. Two others headed to the Leopold restaurant, a hot spot for foreign visitors to Mumbai.

At about 9:20pm, one team arrived at the Nariman House, where they took hostages, while another opened fire at the Leopold café. At 9:45, terrorists entered both the Taj Mahal and Trident Oberoi hotels, where hostages were again taken. At 10:15, two of the men began firing indiscriminately outside the Cama hospital. At 10:30, terrorists entered the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station and again opened fire.

According to Pakistan’s Daily Times, the terrorists identified and killed two U.S. intelligence officers at the Taj Mahal hotel.

Indian officials are now saying that just 10 men were responsible, indicating that two-man teams were able to strike one target and move on to the next. Teams held out under siege the the Nariman House and the hotels, with the Taj Mahal the last to be cleared. By the end, it had taken Indian forces 60 hours to kill or capture the attackers, with their reign of terror finally ending on the 29th with nearly 200 people reported dead.

According to police, the men were aged 18 to 28. They were found to have drugs in their system, and traces of cocaine and LSD were found at one or more scenes of their attack, which they apparently had taken for an additional adrenaline boost to keep them going for the long siege and battle with Indian special forces.

A Mauritian government identity card was discovered with the terrorists who attacked the Taj Mahal hotel, along with credit and debit cards of a number of different banks, including HSBC (headquartered in London and named after its founding member, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, with global branches), HDFC, and ICICI (both banks in India). The Republic of Mauritius is a former British colony and member of the Commonwealth off the east coast of Africa, near Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

They were reported to be using AK-47 assault rifles. Photos shown in the press reveal what appear to be variants with a folding stock. They were also reported to have handguns and grenades. Additionally, police recovered sub-machine guns used by the terrorists. An Associated Press photo of the confiscated guns reveals what appear to be Heckler & Koch MP5-N sub-machine guns. The “N” model is a version of the MP5 designed specifically for the U.S. Navy and used by Navy Seals teams.

BlackBerry cell phones were also recovered from the terrorists, containing international SIM cards investigators believe correlate with the early intelligence further connecting the team to LeT. During the attacks, they received calls from outside the country, which is apparently among the evidence leading government officials to early on state publicly that the terrorists had ties to a foreign nation.

A global-positioning system (GPS) and satellite phone were found in the abandoned Kuber fishing trawler. Navigation routes plotted in the GPS revealed the planned route from Karachi to Mumbai and back again, indicating that the terrorists hoped they might possibly be able to escape and return to Pakistan. Investigators determined that this was the phone used to contact Muzammil, the LeT military commander. Calls from the phone were also traced to Lakhvi, the LeT training specialist.

The MV Alpha was also intercepted after the attacks by the Indian Navy.

Responsibility for the attacks was claimed via e-mail by a previously unknown group calling itself Deccan Mujahideen. This appears to be a front, apparently designed to direct blame upon groups within India and give the appearance of a home-grown terrorist attack. Deccan may refer to a neighborhood in the city of Hyderabad or to the Decaan Plateau that dominates the middle and south of India.

The RAW traced IP addresses used to send the e-mail to an account in Russia that was opened on the Wednesday just prior to the attack and used to relay the message to media in India. The e-mail was further traced to a computer in Pakistan, and investigators have also said that it was generated by dictation using voice recognition software.

India has called for Pakistan to hand over 20 individuals it has alleged were involved in the attacks. Among the wanted men are Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed, and Maulana Masood Azhar.

As noted, Ibrahim is among Interpol’s most wanted. The U.S. designated him as a global terrorist in 2003, stating that he had ties to al Qaeda and that he funded attacks by militant groups, including LeT, aimed at destabilizing the Indian government. Ibrahim’s organization is known as the D-Company and is known to be heavily involved in drug trafficking. According to the U.S. government, D-Company is involved in large-scale shipment of narcotics into the U.K. and Western Europe. He is also alleged to have ties to the CIA through casino operations in Nepal.

Ibrahim is the son of a police constable and worked as a police informant, only to become involved in crime. He rose through the ranks of the underworld in Bombay (now Mumbai) to become one of the city’s leading organized crime bosses. He later fled to Pakistan, where he is believed to have stayed in Karachi under the protection of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Some Indian analysts have suggested that it was at the behest of the ISI that Ibrahim planned the Mumbai attacks. Pakistan has denied that he is in the country.

Wanted along with Ibrahim for the 1993 Bombay attacks is Aftab Ansari, also an Indian national. Ansari is linked to Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British national of Pakistani origin. Omar Sheikh is an associate of Osama bin Laden and has been accused of masterminding the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal.

Omar Skeikh was also the paymaster of the 9/11 hijackers and wired $100,000 to Mohammed Atta in Florida. According to Indian intelligence, working with the FBI a link was established between Omar Sheikh and the head of Pakistan’s ISI, Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed. Sources revealed to the media that the evidence obtained from Omar Sheikh’s cell phone indicated that it was at the behest of Mahmud Ahmed that the money was sent to finance the 9/11 hijackers. While this has widely been reported internationally, including by the Press Trust of India, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, Agence France-Presse, and UK’s The Guardian and The Times, it has not received any mention in the U.S. mainstream media.

Hafiz Saeed is the founder of LeT. He travelled to Peshawar to join the CIA-backed effort to overthrow the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan. Peshawar served as the command base for both the CIA and Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK). Haiz Saeed became the protégé of Abdullah Azzam, who, along with Osama bin Laden, founded MAK to recruit and train foreign fighters to join the mujahedeen. The CIA worked closely with the ISI to finance, arm, and train the mujahedeen.

By about 1988, MAK had been evolved into the group known as al-Qaeda by bin Laden. The name “al-Qaeda” literally means “the base”, and may either refer bin Laden’s base of operations for the mujahedeen war effort or the actual database of names of jihadist recruits. While numerous terrorist attacks have been attributed to al-Qaeda over the years, it isn’t so much a centralized organization as a loose network of individuals and affiliate groups having roots or otherwise associated with the CIA-backed effort against the Soviet Union.

Maulana Masood Azhar is the head of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and is also wanted by Interpol. Like LeT, JeM is said to have close links with the ISI, which has used the groups to wage a proxy war against Indian forces in Kashmir.

Like Hafiz Saeed, Azhar was numbered among the veterans of the Soviet-Afghan war. He was educated at Jamia Binoria, a madrassa (religious school) in Karachi that also served as a recruitment center for the mujahedeen.

He later became a leader of Karkat-ul-Mujahideen, a Pakistani militant group, and was captured by India in Kashmir in 1994. He was tried and acquitted, but spent six years in jail before being freed in exchange for the release of the crew and passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane in 1999. He formed JeM after returning to Pakistan.

Omar Saeed Sheikh was also caught and imprisoned by India for involvement in that hijacking, and was likewise released in exchange for the hostages. Like Azhar, Omar Seikh is reported to have close links to the ISI and, according to former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, was also an agent of MI6, Britain’s spy agency, which sent him to engage in operations in the Balkans.

Relations between India and Pakistan also reached a crisis point in December 2001, when gunmen attacked the Indian parliament. JeM and Let were held responsible for that attack as well, and both countries amassed troops on the border, a situation that led to fears of war between two nuclear-armed countries. The U.S. helped mediate an end to the crisis, pressuring Pakistan to crack down on militant groups and setting in motion the plan to assist India with its nuclear program that was finally realized this year.

LeT was banned in Pakistan in 2002 following the attack on the Indian parliament, but remained active in the country nevertheless. The group has denied responsibility for the attacks in Mumbai last week.

Pakistan has on one hand said it would formulate a response to India’s request to turn over the 20 wanted men, and on the other hand indicated it would not do so, insisting that the men are either not in Pakistan or that they have been under Pakistani surveillance and no indication seen that they were in any way involved.

While the evidence strongly points to LeT and a network of associates affiliated with the group or with each other, that web also includes the CIA and MI6. One early report said that some of the Mumbai terrorists were, like Rashid Rauf, British nationals. This was picked up by numerous press accounts around the globe, but the Indian government official this information was attributed to denied ever having said such a thing.

Theories that this was a false flag operation have already begun to spread around the internet, with varying culprits and motives. Whatever the truth is, what is clear from the facts one is able to piece together from media accounts is that there is more to the Mumbai attacks than meets the eye.

Jeremy R. Hammond is the editor of Foreign Policy Journal, a website dedicated to providing news, critical analysis, and opinion commentary on U.S. foreign policy from outside of the standard framework offered by government officials and the mainstream corporate media, particularly with regard to the "war on terrorism" and events in the Middle East. He has also written for numerous other online publications. You can contact him


Karachi satphone, Sims from Vienna, New Jersey

By Ritu Sarin

Indian Express

Posted: Dec 04, 2008

New Delhi : Investigation into the Mumbai terror attacks is acquiring the dimensions of an international probe with trails being tracked in several countries besides Pakistan after evidence that the terrorists used a Thuraya satellite phone bought in Karachi and two SIM cards issued in Vienna, Austria, and New Jersey in the United States.

Top sources have confirmed to The Indian Express that this has drawn in investigators from several countries who are assisting Indian agencies to piece together the complex jigsaw of the terror plot.

The Thuraya satellite phone, located on the Kuber, the fishing trawler used by the terrorists in their journey to Mumbai, has been tracked to a distributor in Karachi. Now efforts are on in Dubai, where the Thuraya company is based, to locate who sold the set to the distributor.

A scrutiny of the call details on the Thuraya set has revealed that the terrorists made four or five calls to numbers in Sialkot and Karachi during the journey.

“Efforts are on to zero in on the identities of the persons called,” sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Besides the satphone, two mobile handsets recovered from terrorists killed in the commando action in the Taj Mahal hotel have also widened the scope of the terror probe. These mobile phones were being intercepted, as The Indian Express first reported, by Indian agencies right through the gunbattle.

While the two handsets are manufactured in India, one of the SIM cards was issued by a telecom company in Vienna, the other by a firm in New Jersey. Sources said intelligence agencies in Switzerland and the USA are now actively working on the purchase trail of these SIM cards.

In a related breakthrough, a foreign intelligence agency has helped land a copy of the Pakistani passport (and thus picture) of Zaki-ur-Rehman Naqvi, the Lashkar-e-Toiba Commander widely believed to be behind the attacks.

Zaki-ur-Rehman has since been named by Ajmal Ameer Kasab, the lone surviving militant now in the custody of the Mumbai police, during interrogation, as the man who debriefed them on the locations and modus operandi of the Mumbai operations. A copy of the passport, accessed by The Indian Express, shows that the travel document had been issued to Naqvi in 2007. It gives the age of the passport holder as 48 and describes him as a resident of Okara.


Gunmen Used Technology as A Tactical ToolMumbai Attackers Had GPS Units, Satellite Maps

By Emily Wax

Washington Post Foreign Service

December 3, 2008; A01

NEW DELHI, Dec. 2 -- The heavily armed attackers who set out for Mumbai by sea last week navigated with Global Positioning System equipment, according to Indian investigators and police. They carried BlackBerrys, CDs holding high-resolution satellite images like those used for Google Earth maps, and multiple cellphones with switchable SIM cards that would be hard to track. They spoke by satellite telephone. And as television channels broadcast live coverage of the young men carrying out the terrorist attack, TV sets were turned on in the hotel rooms occupied by the gunmen, eyewitnesses recalled.

This is terrorism in the digital age. Emerging details about the 60-hour siege of Mumbai suggest the attackers had made sophisticated use of high technology in planning and carrying out the assault that killed at least 174 people and wounded more than 300. The flood of information about the attacks -- on TV, cellphones, the Internet -- seized the attention of a terrified city, but it also was exploited by the assailants to direct their fire and cover their origins.

"Both sides used technology. The terrorists would not have been able to carry out these attacks had it not been for technology. They were not sailors, but they were able to use sophisticated GPS navigation tools and detailed maps to sail from Karachi [in Pakistan] to Mumbai," said G. Parthasarathy, an internal security expert at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi. "Our new reality of modern life is that the public also sent text messages to relatives trapped in hotels and used the Internet to try and fight back."

During the attacks, an organization calling itself Deccan Mujaheddin asserted responsibility in an e-mail to news outlets that was traced to a computer server in Moscow, said Praveen Swami, a terrorism expert and media commentator. The message, it was later discovered, originated in Lahore, Pakistan. Investigators have said the
e-mail was produced using Urdu-language voice-recognition software to "anonymatize" regional spellings and accents so police would be unable to identify their ethnic or geographic origins.

When the gunmen communicated with their leaders, they used satellite telephones and called voice-over-Internet-protocol phone numbers, making them harder to trace, Swami said. Then, once on the scene, they snatched cellphones from hostages and used those to stay in contact with one another.

At every point, Swami said, the gunmen used technology to gain a tactical advantage.

"This was technologically a pretty sophisticated group. They navigated their way to Mumbai using a state-of-the-art GPS system. Most of their rehearsals to familiarize themselves with Mumbai were done on high-resolution satellite maps, so they would have a good feel for the city's streets and buildings where they were going," Swami said, adding that the CDs containing maps and videos were found in some of the hotel rooms the gunmen had occupied during the siege.

The lone captured gunman, Azam Amir Kasab, told police that he was shown video footage of the targets and the satellite images before the attacks, said Deven Bharti, a deputy commissioner in the crime branch of the Mumbai police.

Mumbai police chief Hassan Gafoor, offering the first official details of how the siege was conducted, said at a news conference Tuesday: "Technology is advancing every day. We try to keep pace with it."

But several Indian analysts pointed out that the country's police are still equipped with World War II-era rifles, lagging behind the technology curve when it comes to cyber-criminals and Internet-savvy gunmen. And although there are closed-circuit TVs in the luxury hotels, some office buildings, banks, airports and rail stations, they are not nearly as pervasive as in the United States. There has been criticism that, like metal detectors, many closed-circuit cameras don't work or go unmonitored.

Security experts also say the attacks represented an alarm bell for India's intelligence agencies, which in the past have complained that Google Earth images contained too much detail about military sites and other defense installations.

"Where in the rule book does it say that terrorists are not allowed to use technology that is readily available to almost anyone?" said Ajay Sahni, executive director of New Delhi's Institute for Conflict Management. "The only people out of the loop seem to be the Indian security forces. They are a generation behind in understanding the technology that the terrorists used."

The security forces on the ground, including the country's elite special forces unit popularly known as the Black Cats, had little access to night-vision goggles or thermal-imaging capability to help pinpoint where people were located in the two hotels under siege, he said. The elite 7,400-member National Security Guard -- whose commandos arrived in Mumbai at least eight hours after the attackers struck to dislodge them from the hotels -- does not have its own aircraft, Sahni said.

"When they finally got there, they had no floor layouts of the hotel, let alone high-tech devices," he added.

Investigators and eyewitnesses have reported that the assailants had TVs on, tuned to live broadcasts of the assault, as the commandos prepared to storm the hotels.

When TV stations showed every twist and turn of the masked Black Cat commandos sliding down ropes from helicopters to rooftops near a Jewish center called the Chabad House, the Mumbai government shut down news channels, taking live coverage off the air for 45 minutes, fearing that the attackers were monitoring the screens, ruining the commandos' crucial element of surprise.

Several TV stations, including the national news station Times Now, told their anchors to stop reporting on the positions of commandos. "The fact is, there was a live encounter going on," said Arnab Goswami, chief editor of Times Now. "If there was even a slight possibility that these terrorists could use television to get play-by-play news of the enemy, then we have to stand down. There should not be a scoop mentality when the nation is on the edge."

When the coverage was cut, residents panicked. Goswami said he received a thousand text messages within that period to get the news back on the air, forcing him to decide whether providing information to the public would jeopardize the lives of the security forces.

"I was immediately on the phone speaking to a lot of senior politicians in Delhi. The public needed it put back on. But we also had to be restrained," Goswami said, adding that his station refused to show photographs of bodies being brought out at captured sites, which could have boosted the morale of the attackers. He will participate in a summit of television stations Thursday to study their role in the crisis.

The Mumbai attacks also lit up the blogosphere, and Web sites such as YouTube and Twitter kept the data going without interruptions or blackouts. Some of the young backpackers living near the Chabad House, also known as Nariman House, said they used Twitter to send minute-by-minute updates of what was happening to relatives and friends. Across the globe, in Brooklyn, N.Y., some Hasidic Jews used Twitter to track the fate of a rabbi held hostage in the building.

For residents of Mumbai, TV coverage was riveting. Madhuri Raghuveer said her family could not get enough of it. "We practically felt like TV was our air. We couldn't breathe without it," she said. "But it also terrified us." They watched the siege as a family. Raghuveer's son, 6, and daughter, 9, were told to stay inside, where they tended to gravitate toward the images constantly flickering on the screen.

On Sunday, Raghuveer took them to see the Oberoi Trident hotel, site of one of the attacks, to show them the siege was over. Outside the hotel, the windows of a Jimmy Choo shoe store were pierced with bullet holes. But work crews had begun to tape up the cracked glass. "I wanted to show them that now everything is safe," she said, pulling her pigtailed daughter to her side. "They have been sleeping in our bed since this happened. They say, 'Mama, I can't go to the bathroom without you. I am afraid.' "

Days later, with Indian news stations repeatedly replaying scenes from the attacks, her husband, who goes by the initials H.R., cut off the cable. He said it just got to be too much.

Correspondent Rama Lakshmi in Mumbai contributed to this report


Bomb alert at Mumbai train station:
Two bombs found in bag are defused at station that was attacked last week

By Angela Balakrishnan and agencies

December 3 2008

Mumbai police have defused two bombs found in a bag at the train station attacked by terrorists last week.

Officers called the bomb squad after finding a suspicious-looking bag while searching 150 pieces of luggage at Chhatrapati Shivaji station. Two bombs of 4kg were found inside and defused, police said.

The bombs are understood to have been left during the original attack on the city last week in which 183 people were killed.

A senior police official, Rakesh Maria, gave no further details about the explosives, where exactly they were found or how they remained undetected.

The station, one of the country's busiest, was among the first of 10 targets during the three days of attacks and sieges that began last Wednesday.

Authorities reopened the station and declared it safe within a day.

Vilasrao Deshmukh, the chief minister of Maharashtra state, had been due to visit the station today to mark a week since the attacks, India's NDTV channel reported.

India's security status is at war level in the wake of the attacks.


Al-Qaeda 'hijack' led to Mumbai attack

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

Asia Timesonline

Dec. 2, 2008

MILAN - A plan by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that had been in the pipelines for several months - even though official policy was to ditch it - saw what was to be a low-profile attack in Kashmir turn into the massive attacks on Mumbai last week.

The original plan was highjacked by the Laskar-e-Taiba (LET), a Pakistani militant group that generally focussed on the Kashmir struggle, and al-Qaeda, resulting in the deaths of nearly 200 people in Mumbai as groups of militants sprayed bullets and hand grenades at hotels, restaurants and train stations, as well as a Jewish community center.

The attack has sent shock waves across India and threatens to revive the intense periods of hostility the two countries have endured since their independence from British India in 1947.
There is now the possibility that Pakistan will undergo another about-turn and rethink its support of the "war in terror"; until the end of 2001, it supported the Taliban administration in Afghanistan. It could now back off from its restive tribal areas, leaving the Taliban a free hand to consolidate their Afghan insurgency.

A US State Department official categorically mentioned that Pakistan's "smoking gun" could turn the US's relations with Pakistan sour. The one militant captured - several were killed - is reported to have been a Pakistani trained by the LET.

A plan goes wrongAsia Times Online investigations reveal that several things went wrong within the ISI, which resulted in the Mumbai attacks.

Before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the ISI had several operations areas as far as India was concerned. The major forward sections were in Muzzafarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which were used to launch proxy operations through Kashmir separatist groups in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The next major areas were Nepal and Bangladesh, where both countries were used for smuggling arms and ammunition into India and for launching militants to carry out high-level guerrilla operations in Indian territory other than Kashmir.

After 9/11, when Islamabad sided with the United States in the "war on terror" and the invasion of Afghanistan was launched to catch al-Qaeda members and militants, Pakistan was forced to abandon its Muzzafarabad operations under American pressure. The major recent turn in the political situation in Nepal with the victory of Maoists and the abolishment of the monarchy has reduced the ISI's operations. An identical situation has happened in Bangladesh, where governments have changed.

The only active forward sections were left in the southern port city of Karachi, and the former Muzzafarabad sections were sent there. The PNS Iqbal (a naval commando unit) was the main outlet for militants to be given training and through deserted points they were launched into the Arabian sea and on into the Indian region of Gujarat.

At the same time, Washington mediated a dialogue process between India and Pakistan, which resulted in some calm. Militants were advised by the ISI to sit tight at their homes to await orders.

However, that never happened. The most important asset of the ISI, the Laskhar-e-Taiba (LET), was split after 9/11. Several of its top-ranking commanders and office bearers joined hands with al-Qaeda militants. A millionaire Karachi-based businessman, Arif Qasmani, who was a major donor for ISI-sponsored LET operations in India, was arrested for playing a double game - he was accused of working with the ISI while also sending money to Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal area for the purchase of arms and ammunition for al-Qaeda militants.

The network of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, which was a major supporter of the ISI in the whole region, especially in Bangladesh, was shattered and fell into the hands of al-Qaeda when Maulana Ilyas Kashmiri, chief of Harkat, a hero of the armed struggle in Kashmir who had spent two years in an Indian jail, was arrested by Pakistani security forces in January 2004. He was suspected of having links to suicide bombers who rammed their vehicles into then-president General Pervez Musharraf's convoy on December 25, 2003.

He was released after 30 days and cleared of all suspicion, but he was profoundly affected by the experience and abandoned his struggle for Kashmir's independence and moved to the North Waziristan tribal area with his family. His switch from the Kashmiri struggle to the Afghan resistance was an authentic religious instruction to those in the camps in Kashmir to move to support Afghanistan's armed struggle against foreign forces. Hundreds of Pakistani jihadis established a small training camp in the area.

Almost simultaneously, Harkat's Bangladesh network disconnected itself from the ISI and moved closer to al-Qaeda. That was the beginning of the problem which makes the Mumbai attack a very complex story.

India has never been a direct al-Qaeda target. This has been due in part to Delhi's traditionally impartial policy of strategic non-alignment and in part to al-Qaeda using India as a safe route from the Arabian Sea into Gujrat and then on to Mumbai and then either by air or overland to the United Arab Emirates. Al-Qaeda did not want to disrupt this arrangement by stirring up attacks in India.

Nevertheless, growing voices from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and from within India for the country to be a strategic partner of NATO and the US in Afghanistan compelled al-Qaeda, a year ago, to consider a plan to utilize Islamic militancy structures should this occur.

Several low-profile attacks were carried out in various parts of India as a rehearsal and Indian security agencies still have no idea who was behind them. Nevertheless, al-Qaeda was not yet prepared for any bigger moves, like the Mumbai attacks.

Under directives from Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kiani, who was then director general (DG) of the ISI, a low-profile plan was prepared to support Kashmiri militancy. That was normal, even in light of the peace process with India. Although Pakistan had closed down its major operations, it still provided some support to the militants so that the Kashmiri movement would not die down completely.

After Kiani was promoted to chief of army staff, Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj was placed as DG of the ISI. The external section under him routinely executed the plan of Kiani and trained a few dozen LET militants near Mangla Dam (near the capital Islamabad). They were sent by sea to Gujrat, from where they had to travel to Kashmir to carry out operations.

Meanwhile, a major reshuffle in the ISI two months ago officially shelved this low-key plan as the country's whole focus had shifted towards Pakistan's tribal areas. The director of the external wing was also changed, placing the "game" in the hands of a low-level ISI forward section head (a major) and the LET's commander-in-chief, Zakiur Rahman.

Zakiur was in Karachi for two months to personally oversee the plan. However, the militant networks in India and Bangladesh comprising the Harkat, which were now in al-Qaeda's hands, tailored some changes. Instead of Kashmir, they planned to attack Mumbai, using their existent local networks, with Westerners and the Jewish community center as targets.

Zakiur and the ISI's forward section in Karachi, completely disconnected from the top brass, approved the plan under which more than 10 men took Mumbai hostage for nearly three days and successfully established a reign of terror.

The attack, started from ISI headquarters and fined-tuned by al-Qaeda, has obviously caused outrage across India. The next issue is whether it has the potential to change the course of India's regional strategy and deter it from participating in NATO plans in Afghanistan.

Daniel Pipes, considered a leading member of Washington's neo-conservatives, told Asia Times Online, "It could be the other way around, like always happens with al-Qaeda. Nine-eleven was aimed to create a reign of terror in Washington, but only caused a very furious reaction from the United States of America. The 07/07 bombing [in London] was another move to force the UK to pull out of Iraq, but it further reinforced the UK's policies in the 'war on terror'. The Madrid bombing was just an isolated incident which caused Spain's pullout from Iraq."

Pipes continued, "They [militants] are the believers of conspiracy theories and therefore they would have seen the Jewish center [attacked in Mumbai] as some sort of influence in the region and that's why they chose to target it, but on the other hand they got immense international attention which they could not have acquired if they would have just attacked local targets."

Israeli politician and a former interim president, Abraham Burg, told Asia Times Online, "It was not only Jewish but American and other foreigners [who were targeted]. The main purpose may have been to keep foreigners away from India. Nevertheless, there is something deeper. This attack on a Jewish target becomes symbolic.

"I remember when al-Qaeda carried out the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen [in 2000] and then they carried out attacks on American embassies in Africa, they mentioned several reasons. The Palestinian issue was number four or five, but later when they found that it had become the most popular one, it suddenly climbed up to number one position on their priority list. Since the attack on the Jewish institution drew so much attention, God forbid, it could be their strategy all over the world," Burg said.

Al-Qaeda stoked this particular fire that could spark new hostilities in South Asia. What steps India takes on the military front against Pakistan will become clearer in the coming days, but already in Karachi there has been trouble.

Two well-known Indophile political parties, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a coalition partner in the government comprising people who migrated to Pakistan after the partition of British India in 1947, and the Awami National Party, another coalition partner in the government and a Pashtun sub-nationalist political party, clashed within 24 hours of the Mumbai attacks. Fifteen people have been killed to date and the city is closed, like Mumbai was after the November 26 attacks.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at


Boats auctioned by Pak pose a threat, India seeks details

By Vikram Rautela

Express India

Posted: Dec 01, 2008

Ahmedabad Intelligence reports indicate that among those who procure these boats can be terrorists

AMID conjectures that Kuber — Indian fishing trawler from Porbandar — was hijacked by the alleged Pakistan-based terrorists to reach Mumbai, the long-pending issue of 379 Indian fishing boats in the custody of Islamabad is all set to be raised again.

The issue, which was hitherto taken up mainly on humanitarian grounds, is now being considered by the Indian intelligence agencies as a serious threat to the country’s security.
It assumes significance as nearly 200 of the 379 apprehended Indian boats have reportedly been auctioned. Central and state intelligence reports indicate that among the bidders, who procured these boats, can be terrorists like those that attacked Mumbai last week, which claimed numerous lives.

State Home Minister Amit Shah said, “The fact that the apprehended Indian boats can be a security threat to the country has already been brought to the notice of the Ministry of External Affairs. We also asked the ministry to get from Pakistan details of the boats that have been auctioned.”

Reports say that 336 fishermen, mostly from Gujarat, who were apprehended by the Pakistan marine agency for entering their waters, are still languishing in Pakistani jails. On Friday, Pakistan released 99 of them as part of the confidence building measures between the two countries. While the fishermen are expected to reach their homes by Monday, their boats continue to be in the custody of Pakistan.

The Gujarat government had in October this year sent a delegation of government officials and Indian fishermen to Karachi. The visit aimed to meet the detained fishermen and also bring their boats back. The delegation that stayed there for eight days, however, was not even allowed to meet the Indian fishermen.

M K Chaudhary, from the Fisheries department in Gandhinagar, who had led the delegation, said: “Of the 379 Indian boats, we were allowed to inspect only 181, of which 135 were in a repairable state. Although their engines had clogged after remaining in seawater for a long time, some of them can be brought back if released.”

He added that when they asked about the remaining 198 boats, the delegation was told that they had been auctioned. “S K Reddy, counsellor with the Indian High Commission in Pakistan, was accompanying us when the Pakistani authorities told us this. When we asked for details like the list of people to whom the boat had been auctioned and the amount of money they collected, the Pakistani authorities refused to furnish the details,” Chaudhary said.


Massacre in Mumbai: Up to SEVEN gunmen were British and 'came from same area as 7/7 bombers'

By Justin Davenport, Rashid Razaq and Nicola Boden

UK Mail Online

Dec. 1, 2008

· British-born Pakistanis among arrested militants
· Commandos storm strongholds to rescue hostages
· Death toll rises as another 24 bodies found in hotel
· At least five dead hostages found in Jewish Centre
· Bystanders wounded in crossfire at Taj hotel siege

British-born Pakistanis were among the Mumbai terrorists, Indian government sources claimed today, as the death toll rose to at least 150.

As many as seven of the terrorists may have British connections and some could be from Leeds and Bradford where London's July 7 bombers lived, one source said.

Two Britons were among eight gunmen being held, according to Mumbai's chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. At least nine others are reportedly dead.

The eight arrested were captured by commandos after they stormed two hotels and a Jewish centre to free hostages today.

One security official said: 'There is growing concern about British involvement in the attacks.'

At the Oberoi Hotel, the siege ended when two militants were shot dead.

Dozens of traumatised guests emerged unharmed but inside there were scenes of carnage and the bodies of another 24 victims.

Mumbai officials say more than 150 people in total have now died in the attacks. Another 370 were wounded.

The bodies of another five hostages were found dead inside the Nariman House Jewish

Centre this afternoon after commandos finally secured the building.

Two militants were also killed. It is not known whether the Rabbi and his wife who were believed to be among the hostages are dead or alive.

Around 20 masked officers had raided the centre this morning, dropping from helicopters onto the roof, in an operation dubbed Operation Black Tornado.

Hours of heavy fighting ensued as they moved from floor after floor. As dusk fell, there was a massive explosion and it appeared to be over.

However, at the five-star Taj Mahal Hotel across the city, officers were still battling up to six militants believed to be holed up in the ballroom.

The Indian authorities thought they had ended the siege there last night after they shot dead three terrorists and released hundreds of hostages but it raged again today.

In a major army operation, soldiers threw grenades at the walls in a bid to smoke out the militants. Four bystanders were reported wounded in the crossfire.

Across at the Oberoi Hotel, traumatised guests were struggling to absorb their ordeal.

Many had been locked in their rooms, terrified, for 41 hours while the gunmen rampaged.

Today, around 100 were rescued after two militants were shot dead. One man was clutching a tiny baby in his arms as he walked out.

British lawyer Mark Abell emerged with a beaming smile, saying: 'I'm going home, I'm going to see my wife. '

The 51-year-old told how he had spent the night listening to gunshots and explosions and communicating with the outside world on his phone and Blackberry.

Describing the scene when he was eventually led to safety, he said it was 'carnage' with 'blood and guts everywhere'.

'I was supposed to be working in Delhi but I think I have had more than my fair share of my business trip so I am looking forward to going home to see my family,' he said.

A number of the hostages were airline staff still wearing their Lufthansa and Air France uniforms when they emerged from the building.

As they came out some carried luggage with Canadian flags, and two women were dressed in black abayas, traditional Muslim women's garments.

Others were not so lucky. Reported dead tonight was an American and his 13-year-old daughter as well as the wife and two children of the Taj hotel's general manager.

Foreigners from Japan, Australia, Italy and Germany and one Briton - tycoon Andreas Liveras - have already been confirmed as among the victims.

There are fears the British toll could yet rise further as more and more buildings are made stable and searched.

Earlier, one commando revealed he had seen around 50 bodies littering the Taj hotel floor after special officers stormed the building and rescued hundreds of guests.

Clad in black, with a mask covering his face, the unit chief said: 'There was blood all over the bodies. The bodies were strewn here and there and we had to be careful as we entered the building to avoid further bloodshed of innocent civilians.'

The terrorists had seemed like young, ordinary men but had clearly been very well trained, he said.

'They were wearing T-shirts, just ordinary looking, but they have definitely been trained to use weapons. There is no way they could handle such weapons without being taught how to.'

At least nine terrorists are thought to have been shot dead in gun battles across the city as police and special forces tried to regain control.

Three arrested at the Taj Mahal have been officially identified as a Pakistani national and two Indians. Another is reported to be a Mauritian national.

They arrived in the city by sea before fanning out to at least 10 locations. Dinghies were found moored at a jetty by the famous Gateway to India monument.

Today, coast guard officials said they could have hijacked an Indian trawler to drop them off after finding an abandoned boat drifting near the shore.

The captain's dead body was found inside the vessel, along with communications equipment.

Dressed in jeans and T-shirts and heavily armed, they then headed for the city - which is India's financial centre - and started firing indiscriminately.

It is thought they gained entrance to the hotels by pretending to be staff and hotel guests, according to reports.

Indian authorities have not released any details about the two Britons and the Foreign Office has refused to confirm Indian television reports.

Security services in Britain are now examining images of the gunmen in an effort to identify them.

Gordon Brown said he would be speaking to the Indian Prime Minister again today but warned that it was 'too early' to reach any conclusions about British involvement.

India's High Commissioner Shiv Shankar Mukherjee added: 'I have seen nothing more than what is in the media and that is based on speculation. i will wait for the investigation to produce some hard facts.'

A team of Scotland Yard anti-terrorist detectives and negotiators are now on their way to Mumbai to assist in the investigation.

Indian commandos have recovered credit cards and the militants' ID cards as well as seizing a vast arsenal of grenades, AK-47 magazines, shells and knives.

A previously unknown Islamic group, Deccan Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility for the attacks but terror experts believe is is linked to Al Qaeda.

It is known that dozens of British-born Pakistanis have travelled to Pakistan to train in its camps in recent years.

One security source said recently: 'The camps are full and many of the people inside are Brits.'

Last night, there was speculation that a British Al Qaeda suspect reportedly killed by a U.S. missile strike in Pakistan last weekend may have helped plot the attacks.

Rashid Rauf was among five killed in a missile attack in a tribal area in North Waziristan on Saturday.

Security sources believe that at the time of his death Rauf had been planning a major attack on Western targets.

Met officers were also interviewing passengers returning from Mumbai as they stepped off planes at Heathrow.

There was speculation last night that England cricketers could have been an intended target of the terrorists.

It emerged that some of the team had been due to stay in Mumbai, most likely the Taj Mahal, on Wednesday evening before a late decision was made to switch training to Bangalore.

Shocked player Michael Vaughan said: 'I don't know why it was switched but we could have been there in one of those hotels when they were attacked.

'All our white Test kit is in one of the rooms at the Taj Mahal hotel: All our pads and clothes for the Test series and our blazers and caps and ties. That's how close the danger is.'

The England team will fly back to Britain today.

The bloody drama which began on Wednesday night has now lasted almost two days.

The targets across the city were:

· The Oberoi Hotel, in the commercial district. Its restaurant was bustling with diners, many of them tourists;
· Also attacked was the Leopold restaurant, a haunt of the city's art crowd. As the fanatics sprayed the packed cafe, diners fled in terror;
· Some of the worst scenes were at the major railway station. As they entered the Gothic Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, once named after Queen Victoria, the gunmen were smiling. With an astonishing air of casualness, the terrorists started to shoot. Within seconds the concourse was a bloodbath. People lay screaming on the floor;
· A further prestigious target was the 105-year-old Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel;
· More hostages were taken at the nearby Chabad House, headquarters for an ultra-orthodox Jewish group. A rabbi was among those held.

About 15 police officers were killed, including the head of Mumbai's anti-terrorism unit.
India's prime minister Manmohan-Singh has blamed militant groups based outside the country - usually meaning Pakistan - raising fears of renewed tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals. Pakistan condemned the attacks.

The attack on the train station had echoes of previous terror outrages.

In July 2006 more than 180 people were killed in seven bomb explosions at railway stations and on trains in Mumbai that were blamed on Islamist militants.


Specific intel warnings were ignored in Mumbai attack

by Josy Joseph


Nov. 30, 2008

On Nov 18, coast guard knew an LeT vessel had set sail from Karachi; on Sept 24, intel said Taj will be attacked

NEW DELHI: Very specific intelligence warnings over terror attacks in Mumbai, especially on the Taj hotel, via the sea route were ignored by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Coast Guard and the Maharashtra police, according to dependable sources in the security establishment.

At least three different and specific inputs were issued in the past three months, the last one being as late as November 18, the sources told DNA. Besides, a steady stream of information over the years had established that Arabian Sea was being used by terrorists, especially the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), for smuggling arms and ammunition into mainland India.

The security agencies, especially the Coast Guard and the state police, failed to act on the recent inputs, ignoring them as some more cases of undependable tip-offs, resulting in the Mumbai carnage.

Sources said that on November 18 the IB, based on inputs received from another agency, alerted the Coast Guard and the Maharashtra police that four days earlier a vessel belonging to the LeT had set sail from Karachi. This warning clearly said the vessel’s target was Mumbai.

“Almost daily there are so many intelligence warnings,” says a senior official of one of these agencies, adding: “We don’t grade them or prioritise them.” That comes as a surprise since RDX and weapons came by the Arabian Sea for the 1993 Mumbai blasts.

Earlier, on September 24, there was a specific intelligence input from Karachi that warned of a possible attack on the Taj hotel for which the Lashkar-e-Toiba was training cadres. Again, it had no response.

There was also an intelligence input from the US about a possible terrorist strike via sea, the sources said. But it is not clear what exactly was this tip-off or if it was just a generic warning.

There has been a steady flow of intelligence information in the recent past that LeT was eyeing the sea route for terror attacks in India. The most sensational of such warnings came when the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) obtained the interrogation report of senior Lashkar operative Faisal Haroun who was arrested in Dhaka while on his way to Mauritius in 2006.

Indian agencies had laid a trap for him in Mauritius but the Bangladeshi authorities nabbed him in Dhaka and, after interrogation, deported him to Pakistan without informing India. But RAW was able to get hold of the interrogation report.

Haroun revealed during the interrogation that LeT was using the sea route to smuggle explosives and weapons to its Indian wing, based mostly in Hyderabad and involved in several terror attacks in India.

A senior official of one of the agencies that received the warnings on the impending attack on Mumbai said about the lapse: “We have no concept of security grading or prioritisation of warnings. In most countries intelligence and threat perceptions are graded, indicating the seriousness of the threat. How am I to respond within my limited resources if almost every other day I get warnings on a range of issues.”


Arrested Terrorist Says Gang Hoped to Get Away

Times of India on iStockAnalyst

November 30, 2008

(Source: The Times of India) NEW DELHI: The gang of terrorists who wreaked mayhem in Mumbai for three days were made to believe by their Lashkar bosses that they were not being sent on a suicide mission and that they would be coming back alive.

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.

Sources said that the bait of safe return must have been used by the recruiters to convince the wavering among the group to join the audacious plot against Mumbai.

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-Taiba in what at once transforms the nature of the planning from a routine terror strike and into a specialized raid by commandos.

Battle-hardened ATS officials are surprised by the details of the training the terrorists were put through before being despatched for the macabre mission. This was very different from a terrorist attack, and amounted to an offensive from the seam, said a source.

Ajmal has revealed the name of his fellow jihadis all Pakistani citizens as Abu Ali, Fahad, Omar, Shoaib, Umer, Abu Akasha, Ismail, Abdul Rahman (Bara) and Abdul Rahman (Chhota).

The account of Ajmal also strengthens the doubt of the complicity of powerful elements in the Pakistani establishment. According to him, the group set off on November 21 from an isolated creek near Karachi without the deadly cargo of arms and ammunition they were to use against the innocents in Mumbai. The group received arms and ammunition on board a large Pakistani vessel which picked them up the following day. The vessel, whose ownership is now the subject of an international probe, had four Pakistanis apart from the crew.

A day later, they came across an Indian-owned trawler, Kuber, which was promptly commandeered on the seas. Four of the fishermen who were on the trawler were killed, but its skipper, or tandel in fishermen lingo, Amarjit Singh, was forced to proceed towards India. Amarjit was killed the next day, and Ismail the terrorist who was killed at Girgaum Chowpaty took the wheel.

A trained sailor, Ismail used the GPS to reach Mumbai coast on November 26. The group, however, slowed down its advance as they had reached during the day time while the landing was planned after dusk. The group shifted to inflatable boats, before disembarking at Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade.

From there, they mandated to kill indiscriminately, particularly white foreign tourists, and spare Muslims split up into five batches. Two of them Ismail and Ajmal took a taxi to Victoria Terminus. Three other batches of two each headed for Oberoi Hotel, Cafe Leopold and Nariman House. The remaining four went to Taj Hotel.

He may have been motivated enough to kill innocents indiscriminately. In police custody, Ajmal Amir Kasab, the terrorist who was caught alive by the Mumbai police at Girgaum Chowpatty, has been forthcoming with details about the attack on Mumbai and his accomplices, all suspected Lashkar operatives from Pakistan.

Kasab, who sustained minor injuries in the police firing that killed his partner Abu Ismail (25) on Wednesday night, was produced before the Esplanade Metropolitan Magistrate on Friday. The magistrate remanded him to police custody till December 8. Incidentally, Kasab and Ismail were the two who gunned down ATS chief Hemant Karkare, additional CP Ashok Kamthe and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar.

Kasab told the police that he and 9 others got off a vessel about 10 nautical miles from Mumbai and shifted to two boats hijacked from fishermen.

One source in ATS familiar with the details of the interrogation quoted him saying that in all 16 fidayeens came to Mumbai on Wednesday. A native of Faridkot in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), 21-year-old Kasab told police they had done a reccee of Mumbai few months ago. He said he had come along with eight of the operatives to Mumbai as students and lived in a rented room at Colaba market, a stone's throw away from Nariman House.

(c) 2008 The Times of India. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.


There were 15 Terrorists in the Gang: Ajmal Amir Qasab confesses

Nov. 30, 2008

In a startling revelation the only arrested terrorist in the Mumbai terror attacks, Ajmal Amir Qasab, said that in all 15 terrorists had entered into Mumbai. While nine have killed and one has been arrested by the security forces still five terrorists have been moving across the city.

Qasab admitted that all of them had reached Mumbai in a raft and had planned to go back to Mumbai after completing their gruesome act. Yesterday, Qasab, who is still bed ridden with several bullet shots in his body, was sent to police custody till December 11 by a visiting judge.

The satellite phone recovered from the abandoned trawler Kuber contains crucial terrorist information. The calls traced from the satellite phone were made to LeT chief Yahya and Zakir ur-Rehman. In addition, satellite phones also contain the records of conversation made by Yahya in Bangladesh in addition to Jalalabad and Muzaffarabad. It is believed that it was Yahya who arranged fake IDs and SIM cards for Mumbai terror operation from Mauritius, US and UK.

Captured terrorist has told his interrogators that he had no regrets about carrying out his mission of mayhem in Mumbai this week, in which the death toll so far is 183 and the injury toll has crossed 300.

On Saturday evening, he told Mumbai Police that the terrorist group that reportedly came out of Karachi via the sea route undertook the terrorist mission to avenge the death of Palestinians, and therefore, one of the main targets identified by them was Nariman House, which housed a Jewish synagogue visited by Israelis.

The landmark Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was also targeted by the Faridkot resident and his fellow terrorists with the objective of attracting the maximum global attention, as the venue had frequent foreign visitors and guests. The terrorists also had plans to enter the Times of India building, but changed it after Qasab was fired upon by the police.

Qasab, the lone terrorist in police custody till the second week of December, said: "We wanted to blow up the Taj," and added that the terror mission was planned at least four months ago. The terrorists, he told his interrogators, booked rooms in the Taj where they kept their ammunition. They booked room 630 for four days using fake identity cards from Mauritius. Posing as Malaysian students, they had many visitors.

According to a Mumbai crime branch official, the ten terrorists had not come to Mumbai before this to conduct any 'recce' and they had learnt about the locations with the help of Google Earth. The police are now trying to locate these visitors.

He has also said that he and his associate Ismail Khan were the ones who shot Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad Chief Hemant Karkare, and top cops Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamthe. Salaskar was the first to be killed followed by Kamthe and Karkare.

Qasab also revealed names and addresses of at least five locals in the city who helped in facilitating the terror operation. These people are said to have provided shelter, escorted them around and passed information on police stations and check posts, besides prominent landmarks.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria said: "We suspect there could be local assistants, but it is subject to verification. It will be very premature to comment on this at this stage as our investigations are going on. All the (identity) cards are in different names and of different banks. Now, we are at least trying to figure out how they procured credit cards from various banks.”

Meanwhile, the Internet Protocol address of the Deccan Mujahideen, the group that sent an e-mail claiming responsibility, has been traced to outside India and police are now saying that the involvement of Dawood Ibrahim, the mastermind of the 1993 serial attacks in the city cannot be ruled out.

Maria also told reporters here last evening that the police believe there could be another two or more terrorists still in the city.


India security chief resigns after Mumbai attacks


Associated Press

Nov 30, 2008

MUMBAI, India (AP) — With corpses still being pulled from a once-besieged hotel, India's top security official resigned Sunday as the government struggled under growing accusations of security failures following terror attacks that killed 174 people.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who has become highly unpopular during a long series of terror attacks across India, submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who accepted it, according to the president's office.

The Cabinet reshuffle comes as a chorus of criticism about the government's handling of the Mumbai attacks grows louder.

"Our Politicians Fiddle as Innocents Die," read a headline Sunday in the Times of India newspaper.

A day after the siege ended, authorities were still removing victims bodies from the ritzy Taj Mahal hotel, where three suspected Muslim militants made a last stand before Indian commandos killed them in a blaze of gunfire and explosions.

On Sunday, the waterfront landmark, popular among foreign tourists and Indian high society, was surrounded by metal barricades, its shattered windows boarded over. At the iconic Gateway of India basalt arch nearby, a shrine of candles, flowers and messages commemorated victims.

"We have been to two funerals already," Mumbai resident Karin Dutta said as she placed a small bouquet of white flowers for several friends killed in the hotel. "We're going to another one now."

The rampage was carried out by gunmen at 10 sites across Mumbai starting Wednesday night. At least 239 were wounded.
One site, the Cafe Leopold, a famous tourist restaurant and the scene of one of the first attacks, opened Sunday for the first time since the mayhem — but police asked it to close just minutes later because they said the eatery needed permission first.

Mirrors, doors and paneling were riddled with bullet holes from the assault that killed seven people there.

"I want them (the attackers) to feel we have won, they have lost," restaurant manager Farzad Jehani said of the symbolic opening. "We're back in action."

The death toll was revised down Sunday from 195 after authorities said some bodies were counted twice, but they said it could rise again as areas of the Taj Mahal were still being searched. Among the dead were 18 foreigners, including six Americans. Nine gunmen were killed.

The dead also included Germans, Canadians, Israelis and nationals from Britain, Italy, Japan, China, Thailand, Australia and Singapore.

A previously unknown Muslim group called Deccan Mujahideen — a name suggesting origins inside India — has claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed more than 170 people. But Indian officials said the sole surviving gunman, now in custody, was from Pakistan and voiced suspicions of their neighbor.

Pakistan denied it was involved and demanded evidence.

Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, reiterated in an interview broadcast on ABC on Sunday that Pakistan stands ready to support India.

"Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. India is a victim of terrorism. The victims need to get together. Forget about our bitter history," he said.

But the assaults have raised fears among U.S. officials about a possible surge in violence between Pakistan and India. The nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars against each other, two over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Prime Minister Singh called a rare meeting of leaders from the country's main political parties to discuss the situation Sunday.

"In the face of this national threat and in the aftermath of this national tragedy, all of us from different political parties must rise above narrow political considerations and stand united," he said.

He added that authorities were strengthening maritime and air security and looking to create a new federal investigative agency. The attackers are believed to have landed in Mumbai by boat.

As officials pointed the finger at "elements in Pakistan," public ire over the government's actions widened.

"People are worried, but the key difference is anger," said Rajesh Jain, chief executive officer at a brokerage firm, Pranav Securities. "Does the government have the will, the ability to tackle the dangers we face?"

But J.K. Dutt, director general of India's elite commandos, brushed off criticism that his unit, which had to fly from New Delhi to Mumbai, was slow to respond to the attacks.
"There was no delay," he told reporters Sunday.

But Patil, the former home minister, succumbed to the mounting criticism of the government's inability to prevent repeated terrorist attacks. To replace him, Singh tapped Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, a Harvard-educated lawyer who has been one of the most prominent faces in the administration.

Chidambaram, 63, served as Minister of Internal Security in the 1980s under slain Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Authorities say the gunmen may have arrived in Mumbai on a trawler that was found abandoned and drifting off the coast with a bound corpse aboard a day after the attacks started.

The government suspects they then transferred to a dinghy and docked at a fishermen's colony near the two hotels and Jewish center targeted in the assaults.

Local fishermen were suspicious of the group of young men, police inspector Dattatray Rajbhog said.

"The fishermen shouted at them and asked who they were and where they had come from. But they abused them and fled," he said.

Suspicions in Indian media quickly settled on the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, long seen as a creation of the Pakistani intelligence service to help wage its clandestine war against India in disputed Kashmir.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said some "signatures of the attack" were consistent with Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammed, another group that has operated in Kashmir. Both are reported to be linked to al-Qaida.

President George W. Bush pledged full U.S. support for the investigation, saying the killers "will not have the final word." FBI agents were sent to India to help with the probe.
It was the country's deadliest terrorist act since 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai killed 257 people.

Associated Press writers Ravi Nessman, Ramola Talwar Badam, Erika Kinetz and Anita Chang contributed to this report from Mumbai, and Foster Klug and Lara Jakes Jordan contributed from Washington


The Gangster

Times of India

30 Nov 2008

Mumbai is enraged and the anger is intermixed with grief. More than the slaughter of hundreds of innocents, people are fuming about the government's failure to demonstrate that it means business.

Mumbai was ravaged by serial blasts in March 1993, killing a couple of hundred people, injuring many more and destroying properties worth a few thousand crores. At the time, it was considered the worst urban terrorist attack anywhere in the world. At the time, Mumbaikers hoped that the government would put in place a mechanism to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy.

But November 26, 2008, has proved the paucity of that hope. Mumbaikars now know their government has done nothing at all to protect the country's financial capital. The terrorists, suspected Al Qaeda operatives, simply sailed into the city, off its busy coastline and struck with deadly force and audacity. A senior intelligence officer says, "Imagine if they had entered the BARC nuclear complex, which is also situated on the coast and captured it? The whole nation would have been held hostage. Coastal security is non-existent."

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has sent a detailed dossier about the activities of one Mohammed Ali, who is the uncrowned king of the docks. A close aide of Karachi-based terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, Ali smuggles petrol, diesel, drugs, arms and other contraband with impunity. "If anyone wants to ship out anything or get in anything into the city, all he needs to do is strike a deal with Ali," confesses an exporter ruefully. There are strong indications that the D-gang actively collaborated with the terrorists in these attacks. And yet, the government is reluctant to move against Ali and his gang because he enjoys the patronage of a powerful politician, known to be a business partner of Dawood.

Any terror operation needs vast funds, via the hawala route. But the authorities are still to crack down on hawala operators. Recently, they picked up Hasan Ali, a racehorse owner in Pune.

A joint probe by the IB, enforcement directorate (ED) and directorate of revenue intelligence revealed that Hasan Ali had handled hawala transactions worth a whopping Rs 35,000 crore, much of it belonging to two Maharashtra politicians. His laptop revealed details of vast amounts stashed away in Swiss bank accounts.

Hasan Ali was called into the ED's office a couple of times for questioning, but mysteriously, he was subsequently allowed to leave. Now, he has simply vanished. As have his wife and brother-in-law. The authorities were reportedly asked to go slow on Hasan Ali. "I will not be surprised if Hasan Ali has been done away with. He is the man who knows too much," says a police officer.

Inspector Vijay Salaskar, who died fighting the terrorists, had closely investigated the entrenched links between a prominent gutka manufacturer and the Dawood gang. He had unearthed a mass of evidence about the manufacturer's visit to Dubai, where he met Hamid Antulay, a nephew of Dawood, and then went on a false Pakistani passport to Karachi where he met the don and his brother Anees. The purpose of the visit was to settle a business dispute with a rival.

Salaskar found out that the manufacturer was Dawood's partner in the gutka business, alongside a leading politician who dabbles in real estate development. Despite Salaskar's best efforts, he was never allowed even to summon the manufacturer for questioning. In stark contrast, diamond merchant and film producer Bharat Shah was interred for over a year all because he spoke for two minutes to Chhota Shakeel, a Dawood aide.

The details of Dawood's vast business transactions and the man fronting it are available with the Central government. But there is inaction. Is it any wonder the security agencies are deeply cynical about enforcing law and order and protecting the country? Is it any wonder the people are enraged? "We are worse than a banana republic," says an official.


India's day of reckoning

North Queensland Register


There was a one-day cricket match on television, and the streets were quite empty in the old part of Mumbai, down on the peninsula that juts into the Arabian Sea, where shops, restaurants and small hotels are crammed into once-gracious stone apartment blocks built for the former British commercial class and their local partners.

About 9.15pm, Bharat Tamore stepped out from his small apartment to walk to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel where his night shift as a junior manager was due to start at 10pm. Diverting to the waterfront to enjoy the sea breeze, he noticed something unusual.

"It was a small inflatable raft, not usually seen in our parts where fishermen ply only small boats," Tamore told The Times of India . "In the darkness, I 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."

Tamore approached the men, who looked in their 20s and were wearing jeans and jackets, and asked them what they were doing. "We're students," one said. Tamore accepted the explanation. Six of the young men went off, carrying the haversacks that seemed to be very heavy. Two got back in the dinghy, started the outboard, and shot off into the darkness.

The hotel staffer walked to the back entrance of the Taj, the luxury century-old stone pile facing the harbour near the triumphal Gateway of India built for King George V's tour of his empire's jewel, and started changing into his uniform. Soon after he heard gunshots coming from the fashionable Shamiana restaurant, where Mumbai's business and financial wizards mix with wealthy tourists and Bollywood film figures for late suppers.

It began a night of terror that ended when Tamore was guided from his hiding place by police at 4am.

For the attackers, Wednesday night was the culmination of careful preparation that must have begun months earlier, possibly in neighbouring Pakistan. It now appears that some time in the 12 days before the attack, up to 20 young fanatics had overwhelmed the crew of a 14-metre trawler called the Kuber after it sailed on November 14 from the Gujarat port of Porbandar for a 10-day fishing trip.

Capable of only seven or eight nautical miles an hour, the trawler chugged down the coast towards Mumbai, mingling with the hundreds of fishing and trading boats plying the generally calm seas. Several kilometres off the brightly lit "Maximum City", as dubbed by the writer Suketu Mehta, the little vessel stopped, and two inflatables were launched. The attackers sped into the metropolis of 15 million inhabitants, leaving a dead captain on the bobbing trawler and no sign of the four other crew. Carrying their rucksacks of metal ammunition clips, grenades and concealed Kalashnikov automatic rifles, the men were dropped at jetties around the peninsula, close to their targets.

A bit after 9.30, two gunmen went to the Leopold Cafe. Once a haunt of minor underworld figures, Somali traders and wizened Western hippies and made famous in the Australian jail escapee Gregory David Roberts's novel Shantaram , the cafe is now a self-consciously "low-life" locale for backpackers, professionals and aircrews. It even sells its own T-shirt.

From the pavement outside, where vendors were closing up their stalls and laying down mats to sleep, the gunmen opened up with their automatic rifles through the open sides, before tossing in grenades. Two young Australians were among the many injured, lying with about eight dead customers and waiters.

The two then fled down the side street, which leads to the Taj, and joined others to enter via a door normally kept locked but open that night because of weddings and corporate functions. They walked into the lobby, a wide expanse of marble and fountains, and opened fire. Some headed into the Shamiana, spraying gunfire, and trying to single out American and British citizens as captives.

Then they headed up to the residential suite of the hotel general manager, Karambir Kang, showing a familiarity with the detailed layout and passageways of the old building. Kang's wife and two children have been reported killed during the seige and fire that then started.

Among the dead left by the mayhem was the Greek millionaire Andreas Liveras, the owner of a luxury yacht charter business who had come to scout for opportunities. The French nuclear scientist Georges Vendryes, known as the father of the fast-breeder reactor, managed to escape with his wife, as did the Australian cricket lawyer Dean Kino who had come to help prepare the Champions League T20 competition, now postponed.
Another group stormed the lobby of the Oberoi Trident, another luxury hotel on the other side of the peninsula, where guests included a 25-member NSW trade delegation. The gunmen sprayed the lobby with gunfire and tossed grenades as staff and guests fled through the kitchens, before holing up on the 19th floor with foreign and local hostages.

Midway up the peninsula, four gunmen walked into the concourse of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the vast neo-Saracenic railway station once named after Queen Victoria. Pulling out their guns, they opened fire at random among commuters getting late trains home, killed about 10 people and left the polished floors awash with gore. The attackers ran off towards the nearby Cama Hospital.

Hemant Karkare, the head of Maharashtra state's anti-terrorism squad, had been summoned from his official flat. A veteran of the elite national police service, he'd taken up the key Mumbai-based position after seven years in Vienna working under diplomatic cover for the Indian external intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing or RAW. Already he'd shown a fearless disregard for political pressure, arresting a Hindu holy man and a serving army lieutenant-colonel for a recent bombing in the inland city of Malegaon which had been portrayed initially as an Islamist plot.

Arriving at the railway station, Karkare put on a bullet-proof vest and helmet, and set off in pursuit of the attackers. But he removed them some time before he got to the Cama Hospital and, in a close-quarter clash, died with three bullets in the chest, while two other senior police died alongside him.

The night of slaughter went on, with attackers killing two security guards at the hospital, some seizing a police vehicle and driving through the city shooting at random, and others trying to keep police bailed up inside their headquarters and shooting up the popular Regal cinema. A separate attack caught a rabbi, his family and several Jewish worshippers at the small Chabad Lubavitch centre, back down the peninsula. As Thursday dawned, police were reinforced with truckloads of army and navy commandos from nearby barracks, and elite special forces from the National Security Guard.

As operations proceeded to isolate and overwhelm gunmen and save hotel guests, police and intelligence officials began interrogating three of the captured attackers. Indian press reports quoted Major-General R. K. Hooda, the leader of the operations, as saying the attackers had pretended to come from Hyderabad, an ancient city with a big Muslim population in central India, but they had captured one man who spoke with a Punjabi accent and appeared to be from Pakistan. Some reports named the man as Ajmal Amir Kamal, a resident of Multan in Pakistan.

Even before this information, the precision and planning of the concerted attacks pointed to an expertise beyond the scope of India's domestic extremists. As Jane's Information Group in Britain reported in its Country Risk Daily Report : "From a tactical perspective, most terrorist attacks in India have been carried out through the use of improvised explosive devices planted on bicycles, motorcycles and cars, and triggered by timers or mobile telephones."

To Yogesh Pratap Singh, a former senior policeman now a Mumbai barrister, the sea approach to bring a large number of men and weapons, around the normal surveillance screening, pointed to a link with Pakistan-based organisations. "It seems to be a highly trained operation," he says. "They kept it very secret, they don't allow any information to come out, and they're ready to die: such a wide, comprehensive and immaculate modus operandi is that of al-Qaeda."

The assessment by Jane's Information Group also emphasised that the apparent focus on killing or capturing foreign businesspeople, specifically US and British nationals, had not occurred previously and suggested "a wider global anti-Western agenda" in contrast to national issues that appeared to motivate recent Indian incidents.

A leading Indian intelligence and terrorism expert, the former senior RAW official B. Raman, says sheer expense points to assistance from Pakistan, either its intelligence service, exiled Mumbai mafia figures such as the gang boss Dawood Ibrahim, or al-Qaeda and its Pakistani affiliates. "Indian boys who had taken to terrorism in the name of Indian Mujahideen, they do not have that kind of money at their disposal," Raman says. "I personally feel this has the clear stamp of al-Qaeda."

The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, also pointed the finger after an emergency cabinet meeting on Thursday.

"The well-planned and well-orchestrated attacks, probably with external linkages, were intended to create a sense of panic, by choosing high-profile targets and indiscriminately killing foreigners," Singh said in a national TV address.

"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 … We will take up strongly with our neighbours that the use of their territory for launching attacks on us will not be tolerated, and that there would be a cost if suitable measures are not taken by them."

This would point to terrorist groups based in Pakistan, such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which transferred their attention and deadly expertise from the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan to undermining Indian rule in its part of Kashmir during the 1990s, with active assistance from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, at least up until September 11, 2001. These groups have a record of suicide attacks, in Kashmir and more widely in India, including the December 2001 assault on the Indian parliament.

Yet the only early claimant to responsibility for Wednesday's attack was a hitherto-unknown group, the "Deccan Mujahideen", which emailed claims to Indian media via a Russian server. Deccan, the plateau of central India in which Hyderabad is located, seemed to link to the attackers' cover story, while Mujahideen linked to a new terrorist group, the Indian Mujahideen, which had emerged after serial blasts in three northern Indian cities last November. It later claimed to have carried out the July 2006 train bombings in Mumbai, as well as bombings this year in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and New Delhi.

But the Indian Mujahideen is in many ways even more of a danger for India than groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba.

It appears to draw on alienated elements among India's vast population of Muslims, numbering 140 million. Its recruits include some young people whose family members suffered in the vicious anti-Muslim pogroms that swept Mumbai and some other centres at the end of 1992, after the destruction of the disputed Ayodhya mosque by Hindu zealots, and in Gujarat in 2002. A wider pool is the Students Islamic Movement of India, a banned organisation of religious purists.

They include many well-educated and well-travelled people, able to find their way around the upper echelons of the global economy and India. Among suspected members arrested in Mumbai not long before this attack were three IT professionals, including one with a senior position in, who had visited the United States.

This would suggest that as well as a sharpened counter-terrorist intelligence performance, India has a huge task of rebuilding faith in its secular politics.

This faith has been eroded by the desultory efforts to sheet home blame for the 1992 Mumbai pogrom against complicit police and politicians, and by the impunity of Gujarat's chief minister, Narendra Modi, and his police for their role in whipping up that state's horrific violence in 2002.

As national elections approach in the first half of next year, Singh's Congress Party Government is struggling to find balance between a Hindu-nationalist opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, baying for a crackdown on terrorism and its duty to protect Muslims from oppressive surveillance. Violence between Hindu extremists and Christian converts in eastern states, the growing Maoist insurgency in central regions, and the delicate Kashmir situation add to the precarious security mix.

Yet so far the Indian Mujahideen may just be local cover for outside groups. The attackers, who have been in limited contact with the Indian media, seem motivated by concerns dealing with Kashmir and India's strategic position. "Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir?" asked one attacker naming himself as Imran, who called a TV station from the Jewish centre seige. "Are you aware how your army has killed Muslims?"

In May the Lashkar-e-Toiba head, Abdul Subhan Qureshi, threatened to attack tourist sites unless the Government withdrew its support for the United States, and it has claimed responsibility for the recent bombings in Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi.

This suggests that by striking at India's investment and inflows, the attackers want India to pay a heavy price for its backing of the Karzai Government in Kabul and its detente with Pakistan over Kashmir. Although fragile, the reduction in tension between the two countries allows the Pakistan army to divert forces to fighting the Taliban along the North-West Frontier.

If one result is also a boost to the Hindu nationalists in India's politics and harsher monitoring of India's Muslims, that is not just collateral damage but another wedge into the secular structures that have kept India together for more than 60 years.

Hamish McDonald is the Herald 's Asia-Pacific editor


Militants in Mumbai "wanted an Indian 9/11"

By Matthias Williams


Nov. 29, 2008

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The gunmen who attacked Mumbai killing at least 155 people wanted to go down in history for an Indian 9/11, and were also inspired by the bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, media reports said.

They had planned every detail, knew the layout of the Taj Mahal and Trident Oberoi hotels they targeted, had commando-style training and even had snacks such as dry fruit stuffed in their backpacks.

The capture of one of the militants, a clean-shaven, fluent English-speaking 21-year-old from Pakistan according to reports, has highlighted the ambitious plans of the Islamist group.
"The entire idea was to replicate the JW Marriott at the Taj," Times Now television reported, quoting a defence official present at the interrogation of Azam Amir Kasav.

He was referring to one of Pakistan's worst bomb attacks, when a lorry packed with explosives all but destroyed the hotel in Islamabad and killed at least 55 people in September.

"They wanted to reduce the symbols of economic strength to rubble, the Taj and Trident, so they cannot be rebuilt," Times Now said. "They talked of a 9/11 to bring down the buildings."

Their methods were different but the impact was huge.

During the first hours of the attacks at landmarks across Mumbai police seemed powerless. Top officials, including the head of the city's anti-terrorist force, were gunned down.

The use of at least 10 heavily armed and well-trained "fedayeen" bore the hallmarks of Pakistan-based militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Kasav, the militant reported to have been captured, confessed to being a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, newspapers said, but the group has denied any role in the Mumbai attacks.


The militants, all young men, knew exactly their targets, including cafes and hotels frequented by executives and tourists.

It was only when elite "Black Cats" commandos, the same force that guards Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, arrived to tackle the remaining militants holed up in the Taj, the Trident Oberoi and a Jewish centre, that the tide appeared to turn.

At least three gunmen battled India's best-trained commandos for two days in the maze of corridors in the Taj Hotel, setting fire to places as they moved from floor to floor.

"At times we found them matching us in combat and movement," one commando told the Hindustan Times. "They were either army regular or have done a long stint of commando training. They were behaving the way Indian commandos would have."

Several militants checked into the Taj in the weeks before the attack, gathering details of the hotel layout, several newspapers reported. They filmed some locations on scouting trips.

Their rucksacks were packed to the brim with ammunition, six to seven magazine with 50 bullets each, and grenades. They had satellite phones, credit cards. They were in for the long haul.

"These people were very, very familiar with the hotel layout and it appeared they had carried out a survey before," the chief of the elite Naval Commando Unit, told reporters.

"A very determined lot, remorseless."

In one four-to-five-hour gunbattle, the militants retreated through a hidden door in the hotel. The troops did not know even the door existed, the Hindustan Times reported.
The gunmen also threw grenades to destroy the close circuit television control room early on in the siege.

A picture of the captured militant taken in Mumbai showed him dressed in light grey combat trousers with numerous pockets and sneakers and carrying a rucksack on his back.
One security expert told the Mail Today the way he carried his AK-47 in one hand showed he had months of training.

Prior to mounting the attack the militants had taken over an Indian fishing trawler, tying up and blindfolding some fishermen. One newspaper picture showed one lying on the floor of the small trawler with his hands tied behind his back and his throat cut.

The boat then sailed to Mumbai, where gunmen landed from rubber dinghies. The bloodbath started with an attack on the main railway station that killed nearly 50 people.

Among the dead in the ensuing violence were a couple at the Trident. They were found by police, in rigor mortis, holding hands.

"In their last seconds together, one must have squeezed the other's hand," a police official told the Indian Express.

Copyright © 2008 Reuters


Coast Guard launches major search operation in the Arabian Sea

Times of India

28 Nov 2008

NEW DELHI: In view of revelations that the Mumbai attackers had sneaked in by the sea route, the Coast Guard (CG) on Friday launched a major search operation in the Arabian Sea to hunt for any suspicious ship and sanitise the maritime zone.

The Coast Guard pressed into service several of its ships along with helicopters off the coast of Mumbai and Gujarat, an official spokesman said here.

"We have sent majority of our ships and aircraft to carry out search operations in the Arabian Sea for carrying out search operations and sanitise India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)," the spokesperson said.

EEZ of a country is the 200-km maritime region from its shores. In Indian waters, the Coast Guard has the responsibility of looking after this region.

Coast Guard and other water guarding agencies were put on an alert after intelligence agencies gave inputs about the involvement of a ship in Mumbai terror strikes and that it was trying to move out of Indian territorial waters towards Karachi in Pakistan.

Coast Guard's aerial assets are also carrying out surveillance over the zone. Its air wing has a fleet of Dorniers, ALH Dhruv and Cheetah/Chetak helicopters deployed along the western coast.

"Almost all the serviceable aircraft are flying search missions over EEZ in order to look for any suspicious movements in our zone," the spokesperson added.


Diamantaires have a close shave at Taj

Times of India

28 Nov 2008

SURAT : A dinner party thrown by a leading Gujarati diamond trader saved a galaxy of diamantaires from across the world in Mumbai. Varda Shine, managing director, Diamond Trading Company (DTC) and a battery of senior company officials from London and who's who of Indian diamond industry had a miraculous escape at Taj hotel in Mumbai on Wednesday night.

Shine and her team members walked out of the hotel for dinner party thrown by a leading diamantaire in Mumbai and luck saved their lives as gun-totting terrorists stormed the hotel around 10 pm. Sources said Shine and senior DTC officials arrived from London on Wednesday to attend the year-end meeting with DTC sightholders at Taj Hotel in Mumbai. After the meeting in hotel was over, Shine and her team members were led out to attend the dinner party.

"They walked out of the hotel and terrorists stormed in. Had they been there, they would have been taken hostage by terrorists like other foreign tourists," said Sanjay Kothari, former chairman, Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).

According to Kothari, Shine and her team members are safe and sound and that they have been sheltered at residences of some of leading Mumbai diamantaires.

Rajeev Bhandari, chairman and managing director (CMD), De Beers India private limited told TOI, "Shine and others are safe and we are ensuring that they reach their destination in London safely." The meeting is on since Monday when diamond traders from Gujarat participated but Shine arrived in Mumbai only on Wednesday to address diamantaires regarding present industry situation.

Regional director, GJEPC and one of the DTC sightholders, Chandrakant Sanghavi, who was supposed to attend the meeting but could not go to Mumbai due to some personal engagements, said, "The terrorist attack in Mumbai is shocking. I was more concerned about our diamond industry leaders, including Varda Shine and others who were put up at Taj hotel. In the late night, we got a message that they were safe."


Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai Target Popular Diamantaire Hotels (Update 4)

By Edahn Golan

Newsroom – International Diamond Exchange

Nov. 26, 2008

A series of explosions rocked Mumbai Wednesday night, claiming the lives of more than 100 people. The Indian press is reporting that in the Colaba area, the Taj hotel, the Oberoi, Cafe Leopold and other tourist attractions attacks were carried out with automatic weapons and grenades.

CNN-IBN reports an ongoing gun battle at the Oberoi where gunmen have reportedly taken hostages that continued into mid-day Thursday.

The Taj and Oberoi hotels are popular destination for diamond buyers and traders. The top floor of the Oberoi was on fire, according to The Times of India. Explosions were reported in the area.

A Delegation from The Diamond Trading Company (DTC), including Managing Director Varda Shine, and accompanied by a number of brokers, were staying at the two hotels. Some of them were out of the hotels when the attacks started, while others managed to escape. DTC spokeswoman Louise Prior said they were shaken by the events, but OK.

At least two brokers locked in a room in the Oberoi Hotel were freed only in the late afternoon hours on Thursday.

A group of attackers stormed the Chabad house in the Colaba, taking 10-15 Israelis as hostages. Among them are Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife. Their two year old son was allowed t be taken out of the house by a cook. At publication time, the four kidnapers are asking to negotiate.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal railway station was another target, where two people fired from AK-47 assault rifles, claiming the lives of at least three people. The Cama Hospital was targeted as well.

The attacks were carried out at about the same time, and according to authorities were a coordinated effort. Authorities suspect the attackers, identified as members of a militant Muslim group, arrived by ship from Pakistan.

The attackers deliberately targeted foreigners. At the Oberoi, where guests were rounded up, an attacker sought out American and British visitors, according to survivors.

According to reports, a number of foreigners were killed, yet details were unclear at publication time.

De Beers Media Relations Manager Lynette Gould said De Beers and the DTC have had a special connection to Mumbai for decades, and our thoughts are with our good friends throughout the city, and to all of the victims of this tragedy.

GJEPC Chairman Vasant Mehta strongly condemned the “cowardly acts of terrorism.” “Saluting the brave officers helping us overcome this crisis,” he said, “the industry thoughts are with victims, and hopes that their families find the strength to overcome their monumental loss.”

AWDC President Jacky Roth and CEO Freddy J. Hanard expressed shock and sadness regarding the Mumbai attacks. In a joint statement, the two said, “It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the loss and suffering inflicted upon the people of India and other communities. Our hearts and thoughts go to the families of the victims and all innocent people targeted by this unacceptable act of violence.