Two questions hang over the massacres, for which Indian security forces appear to have been completely unprepared: who did it, and why?
Security analysts said yesterday that, while the involvement of al-Qa’ida could not be ruled out after foreigners were targeted for the first time in a major Indian attack, initial suspicions focus on home-grown Islamic militant groups which have become a major concern for authorities.
By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
The Independent (UK)
Although the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, blamed “external linkages” and appeared to point the finger of blame at Pakistan, it was not clear last night whether he was repeating India’s familiar accusations against its neighbour in the wake of every major terror attack or if he had firm evidence following the arrest of nine suspects involved in the shootings.
The festering sore of Kashmir, over which Pakistan and India have fought two wars, is ever present. One of the militants holed up in the Jewish centre in Mumbai contacted Indian television to ask: “Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir? Are you aware how your army has killed Muslims? Are you aware how many of them have been killed in Kashmir this week?” He was said to be speaking Urdu with a Kashmiri accent.
Proof of a Kashmiri connection is likely to lead to rising tension in the subcontinent as these groups not only have ties with groups such as al-Qa’ida but also the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI. “There are serious concerns in India about the support of the ISI for militant Islamic groups,” said a security analyst, Garry Hindle.
The Mumbai attacks were claimed by a previously unknown group, the Deccan Mujahedin, which is calling for the release of jailed Islamic militants. “At first glance, it looks like an offshoot of the Indian Mujahedin which itself arose out of the student Islamic movement,” said Nigel Inkster, a senior analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies who is a former assistant director of MI6.
“We’ve been worried about the indigenisation of Islamist extremism in India,” Mr Inkster added, referring to the new splinter groups springing up inside the country which are distinct from militant organisations imported from outside and accused of being sponsored by Pakistan.