Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Solving the Mumbai Attacks Puzzle

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 involved in domestic and international terror.

Former editor of Japan Times Yoichi Shimatsu believes that blaming LeT is a "convenient solution" for the politicians who are trying to cement an Indo-American civilian nuclear pact. Here is a piece by Shimatsu published by New American Media website.

On India’s “most-wanted” list of 20 suspects believed to have planned the recent Mumbai attacks is the name of fugitive crime boss Dawood Ibrahim, who ordered an earlier wave of bombings 15 years ago. Among those chief suspects, only Dawood has sufficient local knowledge, an entrenched organization -- known as D-Company -- and the deep pockets for such a complex operation in a world city.

The bold raid by young gunmen, who apparently came by sea, was preceded by extensive preparations by city insiders – mapping and targeting were specific and explosives were stocked inside hotel rooms rented before the attack. Most telling was an early police report that indicated one of Dawood’s lieutenants inside the Mumbai Customs House organized the transfer of guns and ammunition from warehouses on Sassoon Dock onto the speedboats used in the landing.

The assault was a made-in-Mumbai production much like the Bollywood crime movies about D-Company’s many bloody gang wars. A Hindu breakaway gang, in concert with conservative politicians and police officers, revived the turf wars in 2007 with a spike in shootings and arrests, along with gaining Pakistani approval for Dawood’s deportation. Then D-Company, with a few lowly recruits from Pakistan, stuck back.

Why then is New Delhi and Washington insisting that Islamic militants in Pakistan are primarily responsible for the attack while downplaying Dawood’s larger role?

Lashkar-e-Taiba is the convenient solution for the politicians who are trying to cement an Indo-American “civilian” nuclear pact and military allinace, and every such arranged marriage demands a common enemy.

Blaming the Lahore-based Lashkar is all-too easy since the outfit was once the West Point of the Kashmir insurgency. The Army of the Righteous, as it is known in English, was a paramilitary force par excellence that routinely mauled the Indian Army along the Himalayan ridge that forms the Line of Control of divided Kashmir. In an attack on the strategic town of Kargil in late spring 1999, Lashkar broke through India’s alpine defense line and came close to forcing New Delhi to the negotiating table.

Along the sawtooth LoC, Lashkar is respected by professional soldiers on both side. A Pakistani hero who fought on the Baltistan heights, Corporal Ahmed, told me of his admiration for the stoicism of these jihadis, who wore sandals to battle in the snow. At a checkpoint in Indian-controlled Kargil, an army captain wearing a Sikh turban said frankly that nobody in the Indian Army could fight man-to-man against Lashkar.

Lashkar earned its reputation in clean-fought mountain warfare, pitting lightly armed guerrillas against Indian armor and superior firepower.

In its finest hours, these fighters would never consider the dirty tactics used against civilians in Mumbai, for example, the gangland-style executions using a shot to the back of a kneeling captive’s head. That is more typical of the Mumbai underworld.

Like many of the misguided decisions in the war on terror, the banning of Lashkar by Pakistan in 2002 did more harm than good. Without central discipline and a unifying cause, splinter groups broke off and many a cadet went solo. During his residency in Karachi, Dawood is known to have sent his young recruits for training by former Lashkar instructors. The moralistic cause had degenerated into a school for hitmen.

Conservative politicians in New Delhi have seized on the brutal Mumbai attack to discredit the nationalist revolt in Kashmir and undermine the five U.N. Security Council resolutions (1948-1965) that call for a plebiscite on the status of the once-independent country. By linking Lashkar to Mumbai, the Indian right hope to deter President-elect Barack Obama from his oft-stated policy of bringing the Kashmir issue to the fore.

These same politicians hope to repeat their successful handling of Bill Clinton, who reversed the American policy of sanctions for India’s nuclear bomb tests in 1998 within two short years by proposing nuclear cooperation with New Delhi. The Enron gas-fired electricity plant outside Mumbai played a major role in that about-face.

So did the Battle of Kargil. A greater international leader would have seen that the Islamic tactical victory was the key for dislodging New Delhi’s institutional inertia against Kashmir talks. Clinton intervened in the Kargil battle by pressuing Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif to order a pullback, and the Indian artillery in violation of the truce opened fire on the retreating guerrillas.

The Kashmiris again lost their right of self-determination, the U.N. resolution remained unresolved, and America got nothing out of the deal. Worse yet, this policy failure shattered any lingering hopes among Islamic militants for American evenhandedness. The inevitable consequence of the Kargil betrayal was 911, and the rise not of Laskar-e-Taiba but of Al Qaeda.

President-elect Obama should not submit to the hysteria being whipped up over the Mumbai atrocities. Mumbai was a criminal event that India’s elite cannot face up to, for Dawood’s D-Company was and still is their procurer of starlets, smuggled gold, drugs, loans for gambling debts and urban land for their new hotels and office blocks. Don’t mix up the healthy oranges for the rotten apples Kashmir is a historic judgment awaiting the verdict of a popular referendum.

Yoichi Shimatsu. Former editor of The Japan Times in Tokyo and journalism lecturer at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Shimatsu has covered the Kashmir crisis and Afghan War.


Anonymous said...

Obnoxious Article Yuk!
I think this Jap guy is living in a time wrap. Kargil architect Musharaf in his Line of Fire have clearly mentioned it was Pak Army all the way.(Northern Light Infantry). What is with Nuclear Deal and Mumbai attack?
Laskhar-e-Toiba is a terrorist organisation no matter how you white wash it.Its one of the most brutal terror organization in the world vindicated by Nariman House massacre in Mumbai.Al-Qaeda is believed to have used LeT safehouses frequently.LeT even have sleepers in US and Australia(whose cover were blown) and its cadre have been fighting in Iraq.Al-Qaeda from 2007 decided on using LeT cadres for penetrating US becoz Arabs have hard time getting past security measures.
LeT in recent years have suspended its Kashmir operations and decided to divert resources to Afghanistan(which is a "success" story of Taliban right now) to fight NATO and US.Its ridiculous to term D-gang as the perpetrators for Mumbai attack. Its a clean ISI operation using D-gang/SIMI etc for logistics and LeT/Al-Qaeda cadres for military style assault.Its easy for violent criminals to be turned into terrorists,Kasab was a thief-turned-holy warrior for instance .The inference world is getting is Pak Army and Al-Qaeda is joined at the hip. Americans were in state of denial about this. Now I believe,they have woken up from that delusion beginning from Kabul embassy bombing by ISI.
Nuclear deal is not a deal between America and India.Its a deal between India and International Community (NSG+IAEA). America was roped in(123 agreement) to use its influence in the world for IAEA and NSG clearance.period.Indians love America(&American Dream) and hopes to emulate it in bringing prosperity to its people one day.People here have great admiration for GW.Bush's War On Terror.I dont know why we need excuse for that.We have strong relations with Israel too and infact after US, India is Israel's best friend which is partly the reason for attack on Jewish Centre in Mumbai.

Ray Lightning said...

The attack on Mumbai is a clear testimony to the complete lack of control in Pakistan over its own army. Splinter groups can arrange for their own finances. Generals with wild adventurous schemes have no questions asked. Thiefs and thugs can be turned to holy warriors overnight. And the army chief (no need to even mention the democratic govt) can look bemusedly in wonder at what the boys are capable of doing..

Tis is the reason why the Pak army hhas to demonstrate who is wearing pants in the house.. by picking some lounging retired terror-heads.

For the own good of Pakistan, it will be wise to dismantle all the Islamic terror outfits, completely stop using violence over Kashmir issue, and eradicate terror from its roots by close watch on Madrassas.

Riaz Haq said...

I think both Indians and Pakistanis are in denial of the causes and culprits of violence within their own societies. Such denial is costing them both dearly. Unless they both acknowledge their own problems and deal with them squarely, the problems of violence and insecurity in South Asia will not go away.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story from Indian media about Mumbai terror trial:

Agencies Posted online: Tuesday , Dec 22, 2009 at 1918 hrs
Mumbai : Lone surviving Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab said on Tuesday that he was not a "Jihadi" and had not undergone any training at the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) camp in Pakistan.

Kasab told the court, which was recording the gunman's final statement on the prosecution evidence, he was a cook with a catering company in "Saarayee-Alamghir" near Jhelum in Pakistan.

Denying any involvement with terror outfits LeT and Jamat-ul-Dawa (JuD), Kasab declined meeting Hafiz Sayed, Zaki-ur-Lakhvi, Abu Kahfa and Abu Hamza--all wanted accused and alleged LeT operatives.

"I heard the names of Lash-e-Taliban and JUD from the police here. Crime Branch officials had shown the photograph of Lakhvi," Kasab said.

Asked by the court if he was introduced to one Major General Saab at the training camp, Kasab said, "This is absolutely wrong."

The judge, M L Tahaliyani, was putting questions to Kasab on the basis of his confession before magistrate in February; however Kasab disowned the confession, saying it was given under duress.

When special Judge M L Tahaliyani referred to his statement in the confession that Hafeez Sayed had told 30 boys at the LeT training camp that they would have to lay down their lives for liberating Kashmir, Kasab said: "This is absolutely wrong".

Alleging that the police had threatened to administer electric shocks to him if he did not give a statement to the magistrate, Kasab said the police had prepared the confession and forced him to recite it.

Asked by the court, if he was told in the training that they would go to heaven if they attacked India, Kasab replied in the negative saying he did not attend the training.

Kasab also denied having told the police anything about Kuber boat and a dead body found on the boat. According to the prosecution, the group of ten terrorists had highjacked Kuber on their way to Mumbai from Karachi in Pakistan.

"I have never seen the boat; crime branch and FBI had showed me pictures of Kuber and my clothes and articles seized from the boat. These articles must belong to either fishermen or smugglers. The AK 47 rifle may belong to the police and it is not mine."

An I-card recovered from his trouser pocket was shown to Kasab in the court on Tuesday, but he refused to identify himself. "It's not me. Trousers are not mine, I was wearing leather pants," he stated.

Similarly, about the money seized from him, he said that it was not his. "The police had taken Rs 2,400 from me on November 25, which I had kept for my return ticket. Those currency notes did not have any marks on them. These notes have something written on them," Kasab said when he was shown the Rs 100-note.

The gunman further alleged that all the witnesses were briefed by the police. "One witness had in the identification parade identified me as the one in Hotel Taj. That witness was not brought to court during the trial," Kasab said.

He further said all the witnesses were shown his photograph prior to the parade and thus they could identify him and witnesses were prompted by the police.

Kasab also alleged that even when he was in jail custody, three crime branch officials were guarding him and used to threaten him to give the statement before the magistrate.

"I had given this complaint in writing to the magistrate on February 18, when I was produced for recording my confession. But when nothing was done on it, I kept mum and did not complain again," Kasab said.

Kasab and two Indians- Faheem Ansari and Sabaudding Ahmed are facing trial for their involvement in the 26/11 terror attacks.x

Riaz Haq said...

According to a Times of India report, Kasab has answered the judge's questions in Marathi language.

Another newspaper, Indian Express, has reported that Bal Thackeray is asking why others in Mumbai can not learn Marathi if Kassab can?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wikileaks excerpt on Ajit Doval's connections with Indian underworld:

Date:2005 August 8, 09:38 (Monday) Canonical ID:05MUMBAI1682_a

The media quickly linked the murky arrest of several
alleged underworld figures in New Delhi on July 11 to Ibrahim
and the wedding. Subsequently, however, it became unclear how,
if at all, the arrests were tied to Ibrahim. In early July a
group of Mumbai policemen traveled to Delhi to stake out Vicky
Malhotra, an underworld figure who had been charged with
numerous crimes, including murder, extortion and arms smuggling.
On July 11 the Mumbai police arrested Malhotra while he was
driving through central Delhi. Accompanying Malhotra was Ajit
Kumar Doval, former head of the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB).
Doval was allowed to go free, whereas Malhotra and two
associates who were picked up later were taken to Mumbai where
they now face criminal charges. Doval himself as well as GOI
officials from the Home Ministry later declined to comment about
the incident.

Thereafter the Indian media was rife with speculation
about why the former head of India's premier intelligence
service was caught with a known underworld figure. As is often
the case on media coverage of the underworld, Ibrahim was
quickly assumed to have had a hand in the incident. Malhotra is
the right hand man of gangster Chhota Rajan, a fierce rival of
Ibrahim. Rajan was once Ibrahim's lieutenant, but broke up with
Ibrahim after the 1993 Mumbai bombings. The two have reportedly
been fierce rivals since. Communal tensions between Ibrahim, a
Muslim, and Rajan, a Hindu, were also believed to have
contributed to the breakup. Rajan reportedly objected to the
bomb attacks, which were part of a chain of violent retributions
surrounding right-wing Hindus' destruction of the Babri Masjid
mosque in 1992. Rajan was thought to be living somewhere in
Southeast Asia, but recent press reports claim that is now
hiding in Europe. He and Malhotra are believed to have been
responsible for the targeted killing of a number of Ibrahim's

The GOI and the Mumbai police have not commented on
the incident. The arrests and the presence of former IB chief
Doval are established facts. Since the authorities are not
publicly talking, everything else about the incident is
speculation of media outlets, which have given much
contradictory information in their reporting as the story
unfolded. For example, several newspapers originally reported
that the Delhi police were unaware of the Mumbai police presence
in their district. Later, however, the same papers wrote that
the Delhi and Mumbai police had in fact worked together to
apprehend Malhotra.


Riaz Haq said...

No idea where Dawood Ibrahim is, Indian government tells parliament

In a reply submitted to the Indian Parliament on Tuesday, the Home Ministry said the government had no clue about the whereabouts of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Indian media reported.

Indian Minister of State (Home) Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary stated that the former Mumbai underworld don is not on Indian intelligence's radar, and it would only be possible to bring him back to the country once his whereabouts were discovered.

Today's statement is in direct contrast to Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh's stand, who had alleged in November 2014 that Pakistan was providing shelter to Ibrahim. The minister had claimed that despite many requests, Pakistan had not handed him over to India.

“When the Pakistan premier came to India, our prime minister told him to hand over Dawood. We are pursuing it. We are trying to build diplomatic pressure... As he is the most wanted cri­minal... Right now he is along the Pak-Afghan border,” the Press Trust of India had quoted Singh as saying

Former Intelligence Bureau (IB) Special Director Rajendra Kumar also contradicted the Indian government's claim today, adding that there was no chance Ibrahim would leave Pakistan, a report published on IBNLive quoted him as saying.

Prior to winning the elections in India, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said he would bring Dawood Ibrahim to India to be tried for the 1993 blasts in Mumbai if he came into power.

Pakistan routinely denies Indian charges that it shelters Dawood Ibrahim — one of India's most wanted men — ever since the don became a fugitive for his alleged role in the serial bomb blasts that hit Mumbai in 1993 in apparent retaliation for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992. Over 250 people were killed in the attacks.

Dawood stands convicted in absentia in India for the blasts, together with several Mumbai accomplices.