ALAN COWELL and SOUAD MEKHENNET
Thursday, Nov 27, 2008
A day after the terror assaults in Mumbai that killed over 100 people, one question remained as impenetrable as the smoke that still billowed from two of the city’s landmark hotels: who carried out the attacks?
Security officials and experts agreed that the assaults represented a marked departure in scope and ambition from other recent terrorist attacks in India, which targeted local people rather than foreigners and hit single rather than multiple targets.
The Mumbai assault, by contrast, was “uniquely disturbing”, said Sajjan Gohel, a security expert in London, because it seemed directed at foreigners, involved hostage-taking and was aimed at multiple “soft, symbolic targets.” The attacks “aimed to create maximum terror and human carnage and damage the economy,” he said in a telephone interview.
But the central riddle was the extent to which local assailants had outside support. The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, said the attacks probably had “external linkages”, reflecting calculations among Indian officials that the level of planning, preparation and coordination could not have been achieved without help from experienced terrorists, particularly groups affiliated to Al Qaeda. The planning of the attack has profound political implications for both India and its neighbor, Pakistan.
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But the identity of the Mumbai attackers remained a mystery.
An e-mail message to Indian media outlets taking responsibility for the attacks in Mumbai on Wednesday night said the militants were from a group called Deccan Mujahedeen. Almost universally, experts and intelligence officials said that name was unknown.
This article was posted: Thursday, November 27, 2008 at 11:35 am