Monday, December 8, 2008
Mumbai's Puzzle Points to Indian Culpability
Mumbai attacks plot is thickening by the day. Several names and details are emerging that seem to implicate Pakistanis, Indians, Kashmiris, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and India's Intelligence Bureau.
For example, Calcutta police arrested Mukhtar Ahmed, an Indian Muslim, for procuring SIM cards for the Mumbai terror group without knowing that he was an undercover operative, according to a BBC report. He was on a long-term mission with police in Indian-administered Kashmir. Senior intelligence sources say a "high-value asset" has been blown and his family put at risk.
Police arrested four Indian Muslims for alleged involvement in a planned attack on Mumbai as early as February, a senior police officer who handled the case told The Times Friday.
One of them, Faheem Ahmed Ansari, was carrying a fake Pakistani passport and a list and maps of nine targets in southern Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal hotel and other sites attacked last week, the officer said. Ansari was born in a slum in Mumbai and was recruited by LeT when he took a job as a mechanic at a printing press in Dubai in December 2005, according to reports. He was taken by boat to the Pakistani port of Karachi a year later and then on to an LeT training camp in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
The revelation appears to undermine India’s assertion that the attack on Mumbai last week, in which 171 people were killed, was planned and executed only by Pakistani members of the Kasmiri militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which has had links to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
The Times further reports that security officials and experts have told the Indian Government that it faces a growing threat from home-grown Islamic militants recruited from the country’s 150 million-strong Muslim population.
According to a report produced by a committee led by a former Indian chief justice, Rajender Sachar, Muslims are now worse off than the Dalit caste, or those called untouchables. Some 52% of Muslim men are unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men. Among Muslim women, 91% are unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 are illiterate. While making up 11% of the population, Muslims account for 40% of India’s prison population. Meanwhile, they hold less than 5% of government jobs.
As the world focuses on the ISI and its possible role in support of LeT, it's important to also recognize India's intelligence agencies' involvement in promoting trouble in South Asian region. India's RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) involvement in Bangladesh, supporting both secular forces and the area's Hindu minority has been mentioned by Federation of American scientists (FAS). The involvement of RAW in East Pakistan is said to date from the 1960s, when RAW supported Mujibur Rahman, leading up to his general election victory in 1970. RAW also provided training and arms to the Bangladeshi freedom fighters known as Mukti Bahini. RAW's aid was instrumental in Bangladesh's gaining independence from Pakistan in 1971.
RAW has had a significant role in the creation of Sri Lankan terror outfits. During the course of its investigation the Jain Commission received testimony on the official Indian support to the various Sri Lankan Tamil armed groups in Tamil Nadu. From 1981, RAW and the Intelligence Bureau established a network of as many as 30 terrorist training camps for these groups in India. Centers were also established at the high-security military installation of Chakrata, near Dehra Dun, and in the Ramakrishna Puram area of New Delhi. This clandestine support to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), some of whom were on the payroll of RAW, was later suspended. Starting in late 1986 the Research and Analysis Wing focused surveillance on the LTTE which was expanding ties with Tamil Nadu separatist groups. Rajiv Gandhi sought to establish good relations with the LTTE, even after the Indian Peace Keeping Force [IPKF] experience in Sri Lanka. But the Indian intelligence community failed to accurately assess the character of the LTTE and its orientation in India and its political leaders. The LTTE assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was apparently motivated by fears of a possible re-induction of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka and a crackdown on the LTTE network in Tamil Nadu, according to FAS.
An FAS report says Pakistan has accused RAW of sponsoring sabotage in its Punjab province, where it has been supporting the Seraiki movement, "providing financial support to promote its activities in Pakistan and organizing an International Seraiki Conference in Delhi in November December 1993". It adds: "RAW has an extensive network of agents and anti-government elements within Pakistan, including dissident elements from various sectarian and ethnic groups of Sindh and Punjab." There are also reports of RAW involvement in Baluchistan and Afghanistan to attack Pakistani interests. Throughout the Afghan war, FAS report says “the RAW was responsible for the planning and execution of terrorist activities in Pakistan” to deter Pakistan from supporting the Afghan liberation movement against India’s ally, the Soviet Union. The assistance provided to the RAW by the KGB enabled it to “arrange terrorist attacks in Pakistani cities throughout the Afghan war.”
It appears that the Indian investigators of Mumbai are operating with only a few pieces of a much larger and more complex puzzle of the tragic terror attacks in Mumbai. What is needed is a broader, more independent, high-level investigation that also looks into the role of Indian intelligence agencies before, during and after Mumbai attacks. Just based on the few reported pieces of this large and complex puzzle, it seems that Pakistan is at least partially culpable, but India must also share responsibility for the horrible treatment of its Muslim minority and the role its security officials and intelligence agencies have played in their dealings with unsavory characters and gangs involved in domestic and international terror.