As world leaders expressed shock and anger over Thursday’s terror attacks in Mumbai, questions remain as to who was actually responsible.
The coordinated attacks on luxury hotels and other targets in India’s financial hub, left more than 100 dead and hundreds wounded.
A hitherto little known group calling itself the Deccan Mujahedeen has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Late Wednesday evening, roughly two-dozen gunmen armed with assault rifles and grenades and carrying backpacks full of ammunition came ashore in rubber dinghies close to the heart of Mumbai’s financial and tourist districts.
Almost immediately they stole a vehicle and began firing at random en route to a series of strategic targets, including the city’s largest train station, a bustling tourist cafe and two of Mumbai’s most popular luxury hotels.
Little is known about the Deccan Mujahedeen but the attackers were South Asian in appearance and spoke Hindi, indicating they originated in India.
Although the Deccan Mujahedeen have a web page it is still too early to say whether the group is authentic, or indeed a false flag organisation with its strings being pulled by Western intelligence.
After all one of the few Al Qaeda terror cells ever uncovered and convicted turned out to be a Mossad operation. So perhaps we should not be too hasty to label these latest atrocities as being the work of “Muslim extremists”.
Although Mumbai is no stranger to terror, these latest attacks seem to have singled out foreigners as targets.
An Australian, a Britain, an Italian, a German, and a Japanese businessman were among foreigners confirmed dead – while among those held hostage but later freed were Americans, Israelis, Canadians and a Jewish rabbi.
Over the past twelve months India has seen a string of terror attacks, most of which have been attributed to Muslim “extremists.”
In Delhi in September a series of blasts killed 20 people and an attack in Ahmadebad in July killed 45, both of which have been claimed by a little known group calling itself the “Indian Mujahideen.”
As masked Indian commandoes stormed the final holdout where terrorists were still holding hostages, little was still known about the group behind the atrocities.
Their targets included businessmen, foreigners and members of Mumbai’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community – many of whom were released when Indian troops stormed the Jewish community centre where terrorists made their final stand.
An Israeli diplomat is reported to have said that six Israeli nationals were killed at the community center.
Bags belonging to the terrorists containing hundreds of rounds of ammunition and grenades have been recovered. A Mauritian national Id card, apparently belonging to one of the gunmen, was also found, together with credit cards and more than US$1,000 in cash.
An Indian army officer said that the Taj Mahal Hotel seized earlier by the terrorists had been filled with frightened civilians, making it difficult for Indian security forces to open fire on the gunmen. “To try and avoid civilian casualties we had to be so much more careful,” he said. “Bodies were strewn all over the place, and there was blood everywhere.”
The attacks in India’s financial capital are being described by the Western mainstream media as “bearing the trademarks of al-Qaida” — referring to simultaneous assaults on targets associated with the West. Nonetheless, no hard evidence has thus far been found linking al-Qaeda to the Mumbai killings.
In fact all the evidence so far point to homegrown Indian terrorists.
Spy agencies around the world claim they were caught off guard by the deadly attacks – just as U.S. national security agencies were allegedly caught unawares by the events of 9/11.
Nonetheless, Indian security forces may not be entirely in control yet. At 20.00 Mumbai local time, on Friday, Sky News was reporting that gunfire could still be heard around the Taj Mahal Hotel.