Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Today in the World: Mumbai

I assume everyone has read about the attacks in Mumbai by now. This is an extremely sad day for India and I hope the death toll will not rise too much, as it is already awfully high. There are still hostages in the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels so we do not know yet how this will end.

Who did it? The Deccan Mujahideen, a previously unknown group, claimed the attacks but many thinks that it is probably the Indian Mujahideen who did it. They have already committed several attacks this year and had sent an email claiming Mumbai was its next target, out of revenge because of recent raids by the city's anti terrorism squad. It is the sixth time has been struck by a terrorist attack since 1993. Mumbai Blake Hounshell writes some interesting speculation on who might have done it:

Here's where it gets interesting -- and I stress here that I am just speculating. Lashkar-e-Taiba's main goal is to expel India from Kashmir. In the past, some have accused elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence services of having ties to the group. Pakistan's government has always hotly denied such accusations.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has in recent weeks moved closer to the United States, made some significant gestures toward India, and moved to shut down the political wing of the ISI, Pakisan's powerful intelligence service (that's the unit that tries to steal elections). How likely is it that some angry "rogue elements" of the ISI, aligned with Kashmiri jihadists and a team of Indian domestic extremists, sought to head off these moves? I have no idea, but it's definitely a theory worth exploring.

Worth exploring indeed, although I do not think it is that likely. It takes more than a few weeks, I'd think, to plan such an attack.

Another thing to keep an eye on in the next few days will be how Shiv sena and other hindutva groups will react. Let's hope things do not escalate. And let's hope that the Indian state manages to put a stop to the recent increase in attacks on civilians.

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