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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2706

Glaring loopholes in Mumbai terror attacks

By Asif Haroon Raja

Following the Mumbai terror attacks on 26 November, in line with the timed programmed plan, India is steadily mounting pressure on Pakistan to make it succumb to its illegal demands. No sooner the first bullet was fired in Mumbai on the evening of 26 November, the state sponsored media jumped into action. The media anchors had prepared scripts to dilate upon and amidst thick fog of chaos and confusion prevalent in the port city, fingers started to be raised at Pakistan. After each hour of the gun battle ensuing between the terrorists and the security forces at Oberoi Hotel, Taj Mahal Hotel, Railway Station, Cama Hospital and a Jewish centre Nariman Bhawan, new aspects were added to the thrilling drama watched by the bewildered world.

Indian media and leaders threw away civilised norms and upped the hype to dangerous levels. They resorted to extreme form of belligerence and made all sorts of threatening noises to scare Pakistan. Manmohan, Pranab, Sonia Gandhi, Advani, Bal Thackeray, Arun Shouri assisted by hawkish media anchors shouted at the top of their voices to exert as much pressure on Pakistan. RSS chief KS Sudarshan favoured nuclear conflict. Even ultra liberal film actress Simi Garewal joined the chorus of hawks and squeaked that Pakistan should be subjected to carpet bombing. Within days the whole Indian nation went berserk and cried for war. The Indians allowed their emotions to take the better of their rationality.

Under the garb of nationalism and patriotism they dived into the pool of irrationalism and narrow mindedness. BBC, CNN, Fox News, Sky News reiterated whatever Indian media propagated against Pakistan as if those were on the payroll of India. It was an orchestrated campaign.

After deliberately whipping up emotions of the public, Indian leaders are now wailing that they are under extreme pressure from the public to go to war with Pakistan. USA and UK have lent their shoulders to them to shed crocodile tears. They say that since war is an extremely dangerous proposition because of Pakistan’s nuclear capability, the Indians should as a minimum be given permission to carryout surgical strikes against few Jihadi targets inside Pakistan to give vent to their hurt ego and to calm down the temper of the public.

In the initial story presented to the world, it was said that a band of highly motivated and trained terrorists numbering about a dozen or so belonged to Deccan Mujahideen and their mission was to liberate Hyderabad Deccan from the coercive yoke of India. Some of them spoke in Marhathi, a language only spoken in parts of Maharashtra. Soon after the story was twisted and it was claimed that one of the terrorists named Kasab had been captured alive from Oberoi Hotel and his companion Ismail killed. (Literal meaning of Kasab is butcher; it is a sub-caste whose profession is to sacrifice animals). This name was given to him to present him as a ferocious person since none in Pakistan add this nickname to their original name. Subsequent story was entirely built on the information extracted from Kasab.

While the battle was still raging with full intensity and 1200 Indian commandoes had joined the operation, the Indian leaders laid the blame entirely on the doorstep of Pakistan. Manmohan Singh initially said that a neighbour was involved in the act of terror and it will have to pay a price for it, but later on Pakistan was squarely mentioned. Parnab Mukherjee tone was more threatening, so much so that he stopped attending to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Qureshi who was on an official visit to New Delhi and the agenda was how to confront the challenge of terrorism in the region. Manmohan refused to meet him despite his requests and was a handed over a curt letter on 29 November. PM Gilani kept trying to contact his counterpart in India but the latter did not take his call.

Finally when the two spoke, Gilani was coldly asked to despatch his DGISI to India. This demand was totally out of place and should not have been made particularly when the whole thing was in a state of flux.

The story presented was that all the ten terrorists were Pakistanis trained by the Lashkar-e-Taeba (LeT, an Indian occupied Kashmir based Jihadi outfit, banned in 2001) in Muzaffarabad and further training in marine warfare was imparted in Mangla by the army/ISI.

They had travelled by train to Karachi from where they moved by sea to Mumbai in two Pakistan Navy ships Alpha and Al-Kabir; the last hop up to the coast was carried out in a hijacked trawler. It was also claimed that the two ships after dropping them were on return journey but apprehended by Indian Navy off Gujarat coast.

In other words, Pakistan government, army, ISI, navy and LeT were made party to the crime. The story was later on slightly modified and said that the entire sea journey was undertaken in a hijacked trawler and the last dash was made in Zulu boats that were inflated near the Mumbai coast. The terrorists carried with them passports, cell-phones, identity cards and credit cards and remained in touch with their director Rehman Chacha in Karachi through satellite communication.

They also had a GPS to guide them to their destination. All these items were left behind in the trawler and were recovered by the security agencies. They got hold of the record of transmissions on cell-phones and satellite phone and the GPS on which the route of return journey to Karachi was mapped. A video clip of Rehman Chacha with a pistol in one hand and a mobile phone in other was also shown directing the whole operation and supervising military training in camps.

In the next phase it was declared that other than Kasab, other nine terrorists had been killed in the over 60 hour gun battle and it was learnt that elite forces of Israel and South Africa had joined the operation. More names were added to Kasab, and he became Muhammad Ajmal Amir Kasab. For unknown reasons the faces of killed terrorists were defaced beyond recognition and were kept in morgue without carrying out any post-mortem.. Killing of Maharashtra anti-terror chief Hemant Karkare during the initial stage of the operation and two other police officials Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte under mysterious circumstances made the drama still more sensational. To the surprise of many it was found that all the three police officers were killed near Cama hospital at one time.

Indian minorities minister AR Antulay hailing from Maharashtra raised the issue in Lok Sabha and asked pointed questions as to who killed the three police officials and who misguided them towards the already prepared ambush site near Cama hospital when logically they should have been at the main sites of fighting in Oberoi or Taj or even Nariman House? Their killings becomes all the more significant when seen in the backdrop that Karkare had unearthed the network involved in Samjhota Train terrorist attack in February 2007 in which 69 Pakistanis besides some others had been burnt to death and the blame had been put on ISI. This network was also involved in Malegaon blasts in which Indian Muslims were killed and the blame was pasted on ISI and Student Islamic Movement in India.

Ten persons were arrested by Karkare led team which included Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and Major Sharma of Indian army and Sadhvi Pragya Thakur. The other members were from Hindu extremist group RSS and had full backing of BJP. Purohit had arranged supply of RDX explosive for Samjhota blasts which he had procured from a unit in Kashmir. RDX was also used in Malegaon blasts and so was the case in Marriott suicide attack.

There is uproar among saner elements in India who suspect that Mumbai attacks were cooked up by Hindu extremists backed by rogue elements within Indian army to kill Karkare, Vijay and Ashok who were on the verge of revealing startling disclosures. Reportedly, this network was involved in several other blind acts of terror.

They say that RAW and RSS in particular are notorious for keeping informers, ex-militants and Pakistani spies in illegal confinement and on payroll and use them for sinister purposes. They are not ready to buy the official story that Karkare had been killed by Kasab and Ismail. All the terrorists were carrying AK-47 weapons while Karkare and his two colleagues had been hit in the neck from behind with 9 mm pistol. 9 mm bullets have been extracted from the bodies of the slain police officials. Narindra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat who had butchered Muslims of Gujarat in 2002 is widely suspected as the real culprit since he is known for pursuing anti-Muslim policies. With regard to the much publicised anger of the Indian public, the real story is that the Indians are asking the government to explain about the huge intelligence failure and as to how ten persons held the financial hub centre hostage for three days.

The news that Kasab was kidnapped by RAW from Nepal in 2006 has punctured another hole in the crafted story. It has been learnt that RAW has been routinely prowling for Pakistanis visiting Kathmandu for sight seeing or business ventures and kidnapping them from their hotel rooms and taking them to India. The FBI has said that it could not find any connection of Kasab with Faridkot village in Pakistan and that the identity card he carried was forged. The Interpol chief on his visit to Islamabad said that he was not given any evidence by India except for the details about Kasab and a letter supposedly written by him to his father.

Evidence extracted from a prisoner who has been denied excess to legal adviser is inadmissible in any court of law. China has said that Mumbai attacks were conducted by Indian home-grown Deccan Mujahideen. Since India has no clinching evidence to substantiate its allegations, it therefore wants Pakistan to accept its demands without asking for proof.

Yet another disclosure as to why the two luxury hotels in Mumbai were the targets of attack has come to light. It is learnt that a high powered conference was hosted by RAW chief in Mumbai on 26-27 November and the invitees were staying in Taj Hotel. The guests included senior officials from CIA, FBI, MI-6 and Mossad. The purpose was two-fold.

One. Carryout appraisal of progress made in Pakistan with regard to the gory plan of destabilisation, de-Islamisation and denuclearisation of Pakistan in 2001 and whether time had arrived for the implementation of final phase of the plan.

Two. Take stock of the deteriorating security situation in occupied Kashmir and to devise means to counter the phenomenon of unarmed resistance movement based on Israeli experience in Palestine.

Killing of intelligence persons belonging to these agencies, hurried arrival of Israeli and South African commandoes in Mumbai and decision of all these agencies to investigate the incident lend credence to this news.

To hide their embarrassment and to deflect attention of the public and the world it was considered prudent by Indian leadership to make Pakistan a scapegoat. After giving threatening statements that surgical strikes will be carried out against Jihadi targets inside Pakistan, two missions intruded menacingly into Pakistani air space by few miles to test waters on the night of 13 December but were frustrated to find the PAF alert and ready to strike down the intruders. Strike formations have been moved into Rajasthan and Punjab under the pretext of providing security during state elections.

Likewise forces have been moved up in Samba-Kathua area to exert pressure against Azad Kashmir sectors. A high level meeting of armed forces as well as that of National Command Authority were chaired by Manmohan and it was declared that all the defence services were ready for action. Manmohan and Pranab chimed that all options are open. There on it was decided to launch an aggressive diplomatic offensive to paint Pakistan in black and India as the victim of terrorism. A meeting of all Indian Ambassadors was held in New Delhi and they were directed to win over world support to pressurise Pakistan to comply with Indian demands or face military action. Composite dialogue between two countries has been put on hold. Having taken all these offensive steps to up the ante, Manmohan now say that he never meant war and that it is Pakistan which is creating war hysteria. Indian writers are saying that India has acted with restraint and used diplomatic channels and not military means to browbeat Pakistan.

Although the phase of high tension has passed, situation has still not been defused. Pakistan must not feel relieved if the situation gets back to normal. India will never desist from striking Pakistan whenever it gets an opportunity to do so. It has taken a backward step only after seeing that things within Pakistan are not as dismal as it had perceived. It will therefore continue with its efforts to weaken Pakistan from within through subversion, coercion and propaganda campaign. Having destabilised Baluchistan, FATA and greater part of NWFP, and created lawlessness in Karachi, India will now concentrate on Punjab to destabilise it.. The army and ISI would remain subjected to disparagement to weaken them. Pakistan must take a firm stand and ask India to either provide concrete evidence or apologise for levelling baseless allegations repeatedly.

It should also adopt a pro-active policy to press India to put an end to its policy of aggressiveness and doublespeak and to resolve all the contentious issues at the earliest. It should be told to rein in RAW and should focus on cleaning its own house which is full of muck before it gets choked. Likewise, Afghanistan should be told clearly not to allow its soil for terrorism against Pakistan in the form of drone attacks and training and launching of RAW agents into Pakistan. The new US leadership should be apprised of the double game played by Bush administration and told that if it wanted Pakistan to play a constructive role in fighting terrorism, Pakistan should be allowed to fight it in accordance with its indigenous strategy and not based on Indo-Israeli-US strategy to destabilise Pakistan.

Asif Haroon Raja is a defence and political analyst.

- Asian Tribune -

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