Mumbai Culprits

At this early stage, public information has to be gleaned from the Indian media: most sources here are quoting Indian reporters. Indian TV is aggressive in its reporting. But it can also be even more sensationalist and exploitive than the American media. Imagine CNN on acid and you get their partner IBN. The FOX sister channel in India is SKY-TV; the reporters are much like Geraldo Rivera only without the restraint and sophistication.

The print media in India is better, as here. The Times of India, for example, is a usually reliable source. They report that at least one terrorist has been captured alive. He is

21 year old Azam Amir Kasav, who hails from tehsil Gipalpura in Pakistan’s Faridkot.

That is in Punjab, the largest of the four provinces of Pakistan.

He was not one of those who attacked the hotels, but was involved in the bombing of the CST Train Station (one of the busiest in the world).

According to sources the young terrorist has given the investigators vital leads including how the chief planner of the Mumbai terror plot had come to the city a month ago, took picture and filmed strategic locations and trained their group and instructed them to “kill till the last breath.” Every man was given six to seven magazines with fifty bullets each, eight hand grenades per terrorist with one AK-57, an automatic loading revolver and a supply of dry fruits.

Azam reportedly disclosed that the group left Karachi in one boat and upon reaching Gujarat they hoisted a white flag on their boat and were intercepted by two officers of the coast guard near Porbandar and while they were being questioned one of the terrorists grappled with one of the officers slit his throat and threw the body in the boat. The other officer was told to help the group reach Mumbai. When they were four nautical miles away from Mumbai there were three speedboats waiting for them where the other coastguard officer was killed. All the ammo was then shifted into these three spedboats they reached Colaba jetty on Wednesday night and the ten men broke up into groups of two each. Four of these men went to the Taj Mahal hotel, two of them to the Trident hotel, two towards Nariman House at Colaba and two of which Azam was one moved to CST.

This is the best information we have now publicly. It leaves no doubt that the attack originated in Pakistan. The details have been verified: the hijacked ships were found. Some other minor details seem off. Do they mean AK-47 and not 57?

The next question is, who in Pakistan is the mastermind?

The terrorists might have made a strategic mistake by targeting US, Israeli and UK nationals. Thousands of Indians have been killed in attacks over the last few years, with very little publicity abroad. But publicity that they seek, and got aplenty, is also a double-edged sword. US,UK and Israel all have more sophisticated tools for intelligence gathering at their disposal than India. Hopefully, it will soon be clear who is behind it.

After initially promising to send the head of the secret service (ISI) to India to aid in its investigation, Pakistani authorities have backtracked. It looks like the Prime Minister, who made the promise, was overruled by the Army, which is still in effective control of the country. This is not a good sign.

The harder question is what to do with that information. A public exposure of culpability can be quite effective. Although to this day Pakistani Army denies responsibility, the exposure of A. Q. Khan’s leaking of nuclear technology to Libya and N. Korea led to his arrest.

Ties to Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Taib become clearer.

Police chiefs in Mumbai confirmed they had been aware as long ago as January that the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba was planning a terrorist spectacular.

The information came from Fahim Ansari, a captured operative for the group, who revealed under interrogation that he had carried out reconnaissance visits to the Taj and Oberoi hotels.

CCTV footage confirmed that Ansari had visited the Oberoi. Both hotels said they had received warnings as recently as August about an attack and had stepped up security.

Interesting take by an irreverent Indian Mulsim

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