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In the Wake of the Mumbai Attacks

The 26 November 2008 terror offensive in Mumbai is unusual not only for India, but also on the international scale. Authorities in India said Thursday at least 155 people were killed and at least 327 injured when suspected Islamic militants attacked 10 sites in Mumbai. Teams of gunmen stormed luxury hotels, a popular tourist attraction, hospitals and a crowded train station. 

This time we are not dealing with the kind of terror attack increasingly experienced by India in recent years – a series of explosions undertaken simultaneously by radical Islamic organizations aiming to kill masses of Hindus. This time around we saw an all-out offensive, with clear military hallmarks, targeting the city considered to be India’s economic and tourist center. This mixture of objectives, as well as reports that the Muslim terrorists who raided Mumbai arrived from outside of India by sea, could point to the fact that the offensive is a joint operation initiated by global Jihad forces (al-Qaeda) and Indian Muslim groups that operate in a local, religious, and political context. The organization that claimed responsibility for the Mumbai offensive, the “Deccan Mujaheedin”, is largely unfamiliar, similarly to the Indian Mujaheedin group that claimed responsibility for most attacks carried out in India in recent years. The use of the word “Mujaheedin” attests to some kind of affiliation with global Jihad of the Bin Laden variety. 

Based on the details known so far, we can estimate that the operation was planned over a long period of time outside of India’s borders – apparently in nearby Pakistan, from where at least some of the attackers arrived. The central government in Pakistan is weak and Muslim terror groups operating in India – just like in Pakistan itself – at times enjoy the secret support of Pakistani security and intelligence agencies. 

The latest Mumbai terror events have been perpetrated by the Lashkar- e-Tayyiba-affiliated (LET) Kashmir-centric Islamist group. Some observers point the finger at Al-Qaeda as instigators and supporter. Even though the Pakistan-based militant group denied any involvement in the Mumbai attack, its footprints are quite evident. Abdullah Gaznavai, LET chief spokesman denied any involvement or association with these attacks. According to Indian police, at least 10 of the terrorists were affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and had reached south Mumbai in inflatable speedboats, landing near Sasson Dock, very near to the Taj Continental Hotel. Two Pakistani ships, MV Al Kabir and MV Alpaha are suspected to have transported the terrorists, playing the role of “Mother Ship”, The ships have been detained in a joint operation by the Border Security Force and the Navy Coast guards. 

Even by the standards of terrorism in India, which has suffered a rising number of attacks this year, the assaults were particularly brazen in scale and execution. The attackers used one or two “Mother Ships” which presumably left the Pakistani port of Karachi, bearing rubber boats on its decks to reach the urban peninsula where they landed. 

In this context, it should be noted that the operational practice to use Mother Ships was in common use during the 70’s and 80’s by Palestinian terror organizations, which in some cases perpetrated successful terror attacks in Israeli seashore cities. Between the years 1973-1982 Israeli Navy missile ships intercepted 3 PLO mother ships and thwarted terror attacks via the sea. In 7 March 1975, after a successful terror attack on the Savoy hotel on the sea shore of Tel Aviv, the Israeli Navy was able to capture the retreating PLO mother ship. On 21 October 1985, Israeli Navy intercepted and sunk the PLO mother Ship “Ataviros” heading from the port of Annaba in Tunisia on a terror mission with 3 rubber boats with terrorists trained and commissioned to land on the Tel Aviv seashore and to attack the Israeli Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv. The Palestinian Liberation Front, Abu al-Abbas Faction, attempted to carry out a terrorist attack using a mother ship in the Nitzanim area in Southern Israel in May 1990. Israeli operational and intelligence analysis and investigations of the above mentioned cases, where terror attacks were perpetrated via the sea by mother ships conclude that the terror organizations, needed a large and extensive operational infrastructure with significant number of people involved within all stages of the preparations. 

In the Mumbai attack, the targets’ characteristics were sites popular to tourists and westerners, which indicate and reflect the global Jihad ideology and operational mindset behind the attack to target foreigners and the economy. Altough it would be premature in view of the unfolding tragedy in Mumbai and the corresponding investigation to reach any hard-and-fast conclusions on who may be responsible for the attacks,  some of what we have witnessed in Mumbai is reminiscent of past terrorist operations undertaken by groups such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. Unlike previous attacks in India this year, which consisted of anonymously planted bombs; the assailants were spectacularly well armed and very confrontational. All these facts point at Lashkar-e-Tayyiba as the potential terror organization behind the attacks, although it denied its involvement in the recent attack.[1] 

Background of Indian-Pakistani Kashmir Conflict 

The Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan dates back to the 1947 partition of then-British India into generally Muslim Pakistan and Hindu-majority India. Kashmir, the region of disputed territory, has been the site of 3 wars (1947-48, 1965 and 1971). 

According to a BBC News report documenting the India-Pakistan conflict, armed resistance to Indian rule began in the Kashmir Valley in 1989 due to two main reasons:[2] 

· The first reason cites the 1987 election as a trigger for the formation of militant groups. Muslim political parties criticized the India government claiming that the election for the state’s legislative assembly was manipulated against them. 

· The second reason points to the large numbers of Mujahideen, searching for their next “theatre of Jihad” following the end of the Afghanistan conflict, who arrived in the valley of Kashmir. The ‘success’ of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan provided hope and motivation for the Kashmiri Jihadists.[3] 

In his book “Jihadis in Jammu and Kashmir: A portrait gallery”, K. Santhanam detailed the terrorist developments in Kashmir from 1980 to 1990. Santhanam claims that Osama Bin Laden declared Jihad in Kashmir already back in 1989 and lent his support to the following local jihad groups: Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HKUM), Harkat-ul-Jihad-Islami (HUJI), Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LET), and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM). The Ahl-i-Hadith group is mentioned on the U.S. State Department website (, with connections to two organizations which appear on the U.S. and U.N. lists of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO’s). Under [FTO] Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the following (amongst other) aliases are listed: Paasban-i-Ahle Hadith and Pasban-e-Ahle-Hadith. Under [FTO] Jamaatul-Mujahedin Banglades (JMB) it is written that the JMB organization emerged from the “Ahl-I- Hadith Movement”. 

Ahl-i-Hadith connections to terrorism 

The Ahl-i-Hadith is a prominent example of the extent of Saudi involvement in the financing of radical groups and terrorist organizations. The Ahl-i-Hadith is an organization which supports Jihad in Kashmir- the articles below display the organization’s connections with the Saudi based charity The World Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY). Additional information obtained from Pakistani, Indian, and American sources, point to the connection between the Ahl-i-Hadith and terrorism and terrorist groups, which are involved in activities related to Kashmir. [4] 

In May 2004, the Pakistan-facts website published an article which revealed that the Ahl-i-Hadith is the parent organization of the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba terrorist organization, which is active in Pakistani Kashmir. According to the article, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba has strong ties to Saudi Arabia, which has been responsible for its swift development. 

Sources of Funding of Kashmiri Militancy 

According to Santhanam, Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) spends more than Rs 200 crore yearly to promote the Kashmiri militancy. In 2002, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs published their annual report which stated that the militancy in Kashmir is “under the direct control of Pakistan’s ISI.[5] Furthermore, Santhanam lists several other sources of funding of the Kashmiri insurgency. The World Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY) is listed as one of those sources.[6] 

In May 1997, The BJP Today Newsletter, a publication of the Indian Baharatiya Janata Party (BJP), published a report providing detail into the nature of Saudi financing of the Kashmiri militancy. According to the report, the Saudi government was providing vast amount of funds for the “ostensible uplift of the Muslim Ummah” in Kashmir, yet the money was being diverted to in fact promote Muslim extremists there. Islamic charitable organizations, described as the major recipient of the Saudi funds were used as the conduit for the channeling funds to militants. 

According to the BJP Newsletter, the media in Saudi Arabia saturates its audience with reports regarding the Kashmiri situation – the danger of the Muslims there and their need for help to counter, “sustained oppression”. The Saudi based charity International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and the Muslim World League (MWL) are also mentioned as organizations that use the funds collected in Saudi Arabia and their overseas offices to propagate militant Islam in Kashmir. 

Kashmiri Terrorist Organizations with Saudi Connections 

K. Santhanam outlines the main Jihad groups in Kashmir, providing a detailed look into their history, objectives, and structure. The following list of organizations is those, which Santhanam describes as having connections to the Saudi Arabian government and their associated charity organizations. 

· J&K Jamaat-e-Islami (JKJEI) – The JKJEI is a political Islamic party in Pakistan with links to WAMY through Nazir Ahmad Qureshi. In September 1989, the organization established its militant branch, known as the Hizbul Mujahideen. According to a 1993 US Congressional Report, Hizbul Mujahideen has received funding, weapons and training assistance from JKJEI.[7] 

· Kul Jammat Hurriyat Conference (KJHC) – In 1995, the Hizbul Mujahideen were involved in the 1995 Charar-e-Sharif shrine incident in Srinagar, Kashmir, where militants, led by an Afghan mujahideen, occupied the shrine from March until May 1995. The KJHC provided the terrorists with food and organized protests throughout the duration of the incident. Indian security forces eventually burned down the shrine. Following the destruction of the shrine, the KJHC sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia to discuss the matter. The Saudi government provided funds for ‘relief and shrine reconstruction’.[8] 

· Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen (TUM) – The Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen is a Pan-Islamic terrorist group with close association to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen receives funding from Saudi Arabia.[9] 

Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LET) 

Lashkar-e-Tayyiba-“The Army of the Pure” (LET)– The objective of the LET is the merger of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan and furthermore, the establishment of Islamic rule in India and throughout the world. The organization is responsible for the carrying out of several major terrorist attacks throughout India. LET also has connections to “Hizbul Mujahideen”, and several other terrorist groups active in Kashmir. A major source of the financing comes from Saudi Arabia.[10] Lashkar-e-Tayyiba is a Salafist-Jihadist group affiliated to Al Qaeda (Qa`idat al-Jihad), who adhere to and practice the worldview of global Jihad, that has been ideologically developed by doctrines derived from a combination between the Egyptian Jihad, Saudi Wahabbi doctrine, and the globalization of Jihad, espoused by the Palestinian Dr. Abdallah Azzam in Afghanistan and adapted by the Pakistani Islamic scholar Abu A’la Maudoudi (1903-1979)[11] who influenced the ideological foundations of the local Jihad groups including LET. Maudoudi laid the foundations and had a central role to the Islamist and terrorist movements which are now plaguing both the Muslim and non-Muslim world. According to Maudoudi’s Islamic beliefs and ideology which are practiced until today by LET, the Islamic state should not be limited to just the “homeland of Islam” it is for the entire world. Jihad should be used to eliminate un-Islamic rule and establish this Islamic state. Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth, which is opposed to the ideology and program of Islam regardless of the country or the nation, which rules it. According to Maudoudi, the objective of Islamic Jihad is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of state rule. Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a single state or a few countries; the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution. 

LET began as the militant wing of the Islamic extremist organization Markaz Dawa ul-Irshad (MDI), which was formed in the mid-1980s. MDI changed its name to Jamaat ul- Dawa (JUD) in 2001, probably in an effort to avoid Government of Pakistan restrictions. The U.S. State Department designated Lashkar e-Tayyiba a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in 2001, and Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf banned LET in 2002. The United Nations designated LET as an FTO in 2005.LET is led by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and is one of the three largest and best-trained groups fighting in Kashmir against India. It is not connected to any political party. The Pakistani Government banned the group and froze its assets in January 2002. Elements of LET and Jaish-e-Muhammed combined with other groups to mount attacks as “The Save Kashmir Movement.” 

The LET has conducted a number of operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Jammu and Kashmir since 1993. The LET claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in 2001, including an attack in January on Srinagar airport that killed five Indians; an attack on a police station in Srinagar that killed at least eight officers and wounded several others; and an attack in April against Indian border security forces that left at least four dead. The Indian Government publicly implicated the LET, along with JEM, for the attack in December 2001 on the Indian Parliament building, although concrete evidence is lacking. The LET is also suspected of involvement in the attack in May 2002 on an Indian Army base in Kaluchak that left 36 dead. India blames the LET for an attack in New Delhi in October 2005 and an attack in Bangalore in December 2005. Senior al-Qaeda lieutenant Abu Zubaydah was captured at an LET safe house in Faisalabad in March 2002, suggesting that some members were facilitating the movement of al-Qaeda members in Pakistan. 

The LET has several thousand members in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, in the southern Jammu and Kashmir and Doda regions, and in the Kashmir valley. Almost all LET members are Pakistanis from madrassas across Pakistan or Afghan veterans of the Afghan wars. The group uses assault rifles, light and heavy machine guns, mortars, explosives, and rocket-propelled grenades. This fact may indicate the connections of Lashkar- e-Tayyiba to the recent Mumbai attack in which no suicide bombers were introduced as a method of operation. 

Lashkar-e-Tayyiba collects funds and donations from the Pakistani community in the Persian Gulf and United Kingdom, Islamic NGOs, and Pakistani and other Kashmiri business people. The LET also maintains a web site under the name Jamaat ud-Daawa through which it solicits funds and provides information on the group’s activities. The amount of LET funding is unknown. The LET maintains ties to religious/militant groups around the world, ranging from the Philippines to the Middle East and Chechnya, through the fraternal network of its parent organization Jamaat ud-Dawa (formerly Markaz Dawa ul-Irshad). On 8/9/1995, the Saudi newspaper published an article calling for jihad and supporting all Muslim struggles around the world. The article quotes Muftis, Imams and academics supporting Jihad. The article notes Kashmir as a place in which jihad is taking place and donations should be made for the Muslims living there. The article espouses the importance of the contribution for the jihad and it is described as being a level above jihad itself. “Allah blessed the warriors of financial jihad beyond those of jihad of the soul”[12] 

On 12/9/1995, the Saudi newspaper Okaz published a report surveying the situation in Kashmir six years following the Indian occupation. The article broadly details the Kashmiri uprising against the Indians while expressing explicit support of the Jihad war. The end of the article called on all Muslims to provide assistance to the Kashmiri people to retrieve their land, since this is an all-Islamic issue.[13] The Saudi policy regarding the Jihad arena in Kashmir was reflected in August 1999, when the Saudi newspaper “Al-Jazeera” reported on a press conference conducted by WAMY Secretary General Dr. Mane Ben Hamad Al-Juhani [14]. He praised the role played by Saudi-Arabia in providing assistance to the Muslim brothers in the world, especially in Kashmir. Al-Juhaniequated the Kashmir issue with thesituation in Kosovo and Palestine and called on all Muslims to help the Kashmiri people put an end to their suffering. 

On 25/9/2000, the Saudi newspaper “Al-Jazeera” reported on an additional press conference called by WAMY Secretary General Dr. Mane Ben Hamad Al-Juhani [15]. During the press conference, Al-Juhani presented Saudi-Arabia’s role in providing aid for the Kashmir issue and asked the Islamic countries to play an effective part in the saving of Kashmir’s Muslims. In addition, Al-Juhani spoke about the subject of the Kashmiri people’s Jihad and noted that they sacrificed in their ongoing Jihad thousands of casualties. He added: “the Kashmiri people today want to protect their Islamic identity and faith and their country, and we must help them”. 

Pakistan’s ivolvement 

India’s foreign minister ratcheted up the accusations over the attacks noting that according to preliminary information, some elements in Pakistan are responsible for Mumbai terror attacks although proof cannot be disclosed at this time. The Indian foreign minister said, that Pakistan had assured New Delhi it would not allow its territory to be used for attacks against India. India has long accused Islamabad of allowing militant Muslim groups, particularly those fighting in the disputed region of Kashmir, to train and take shelter in Pakistan.[16] 

As mentioned above and based on the details known so far, one can estimate that the attack could not have been carried out without a state sponsoring escort, which facilitated the training, funding and logistical support for what may seem as an expensive operation. 

The attack must have been planned over a long period of time outside of India’s borders – apparently in nearby Pakistan, from where at least some of the attackers arrived. The central government in Pakistan is weak and Muslim terror groups operating inside India or perpetrating cross border terrorism enjoy the secret support of Pakistani security and intelligence agencies.



[3] K. Santhanam, Jihadis in Jammu and Kashmir, Sage Publications and Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, New Delhi, 2003. 
[5] “Kashmir: The View From New Delhi”, ICG Asia Report No. 69, The International Crisis Group, 4 December 2003. 
[6] K. Santhanam, Jihadis in Jammu and Kashmir, Sage Publications and Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, New Delhi, 2003. 
[7] K. Santhanam, Jihadis in Jammu and Kashmir, Sage Publications and Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, New Delhi, 2003. See Also: “The New Islamist International” Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, House Republican Research Committee, 1 February 1993. 
[8] K. Santhanam, Jihadis in Jammu and Kashmir, Sage Publications and Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, New Delhi, 2003. See Also: Seema Mustafa, “Saudi Arabia funding schools for militant Islam”, BJP Today, 16-31 May 1997. See Also: 
[9] K. Santhanam, Jihadis in Jammu and Kashmir, Sage Publications and Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, New Delhi, 2003. See Also: 
[10] K. Santhanam, Jihadis in Jammu and Kashmir, Sage Publications and Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, New Delhi, 2003. 
[12] Saudi Daily Newspaper Okaz, 8/9/1995. 
[13] Saudi Daily Newspaper Okaz, 12/9/1995.