Saturday, November 29, 2008

India investigates attacks as Taj cleared of threats

Indian security agencies began to unravel details of the Mumbai attacks on Saturday as commandos and police continued to sanitize the locations held by terrorists.

The death toll has risen to 183, not including 11 attackers, but could rise significantly as more bodies are discovered. According to reports, there was a stench in the Taj Mahal hotel apparently caused by decomposing bodies of those killed during the fighting.

Leaders of the security forces that battled the terrorists noted that the attackers were very well-trained and knew the locations well. Apparently some had come by sea while others had come earlier renting living quarters in Mumbai to prepare for the attack.

Intelligence officials are identifying clues that link the attack with al-Qaeda. For example, previous al-Qaeda attacks have also specifically requested the release of Muslim militants in Indian prisons.

Certain Indian and Pakistani terror groups linked closely with al-Qaeda have carried out frontal attacks with automatic weapons and grenades in India before although not on this scale. The specific targeting of Westerners and Israelis is a common al-Qaeda tactic but not seen in India before.

Also, the specific targeting of the orthodox Jewish Chabad House in Mumbai resembles an earlier plot by an Al-Qaeda affiliate group in Southeast Asia, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to attack the Chabad House in Bangkok, Thailand. There may even be a direct Southeast Asian connection as at least three of the militants pretending to be students carried Malaysian identity cards.

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