July 12, 2006



by B.Raman

One hundred seventy four persons are reported to have been killed in seven well-orchestrated explosions in Mumbai on July 11, 2006. Five of these explosions are reported to have occurred in moving trains and the remaining two in railway stations. Most of those killed and injured were railway commuters.

2. The expert orchestration of the explosions would be evident from the following timings of different explosions:

Khar -- 1824 hrs
Bandra -- 1824 hrs
Jogeshwari -- 1825 hrs
Mahim -- 1826 hrs
Mira Road -- 1829 hrs
Matunga -- 1830 hrs
Borivali -- 1835 hrs
Thus, all the seven explosions have taken place with a time span of 11 minutes following each other in quick succession.

3. No information is as yet available on the explosives or detonators used or how the explosions were triggered off. As of now, there is no reason to believe that suicide terrorists were involved. While there are as yet no indicators of the likely trigger mechanism, there are only three possibilities---a mechanical timer, a chemical timer and a mobile telephone. Chemical timers of US origin given to Pakistan during the 1980s were used in the Mumbai blasts of March, 1993. In the Coimbatore serial blasts of February, 1998, mechanical timers of local improvisation were used. Mobile telephones, which were reportedly used in the Madrid train blasts of March, 2004, by pro-Al Qaeda Salaqfi terrorists, have not so far been used in India for serial blasts. They provide a remotely controlled mechanism for well-timed explosions within a narrow time frame as we witnessed on July 11. Precision timing is generally difficult to achieve with mechanical and chemical timers. A wider time span would be required.

4. This is the third instance of mass casualty terrorism in the history of terrorism in India. The first was the blowing up of an aircraft (Kanishka) of Air India in June 1985 off the Irish coast by the Babbar Khalsa, a Sikh terrorist organisation. About 300 innocent civilians were killed.

5. The second was the Mumbai blasts of March, 1993, in which 250 innocent civilians were killed in 13 well-coordinated explosions directed against well-chosen economic targets by a group of Muslims trained and armed by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with the assistance of Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian mafia leader presently living in Pakistan. The perpetrators were carefully selected Muslim youth not belonging to any jihadi organisation.

6. This is the fourth instance of co-ordinated serial blasts. The first was in June, 1985, when some Sikh terrorists placed transistor radio sets filled with small quantities of explosives in different parts of New Delhi. When passers-by picked up the radio sets and switched them on, the explosions took place. The casualties were small.

7. The second was the Mumbai blasts of March, 1993, and the third the Coimbatore blasts of February, 1998, in which 33 people were killed and 153 others were injured in a series of 12 bomb blasts. The explosive material (RDX) used in March, 1993, were given to the perpetrators by the ISI. That used in February, 1998, was procured by the perpetrators locally.

8. This is the second instance of multiple explosions in trains. The first was carried out by the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in December, 1993, coinciding with the first anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh by a Hindu mob. Those were random explosions and not well-co-ordinated serial explosions. The casualties were small.

9. Jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir is a post-1992 phenomenon and is attributable to the feelings of hurt and anger caused in the Muslim community---particularly the Muslim youth---by the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The feelings of hurt over the demolition of the masjid are aggravated from time to time by feelings of anger over alleged police atrocities against Muslims and over alleged Police failure to protect Muslims. A third cause for anger since July last year has been the growing close relations with the US and the perceived failure or reluctance of the Government of India to express itself openly and in strong language against the violations of the human rights of the Muslims by the US.

10. Such feelings of anger have resulted in a series of acts of reprisal terrorism since 1993. These acts have been carried out by angry Indian Muslims manipulated by Dawood Ibrahim and the ISI; indigenous Muslim organisations with proved links to the ISI such as the SIMI; and indigenous Muslim organisations such as the Al Ummah of Tamil Nadu with no proved links to the ISI.

11. Indian Muslims were responsible for the serial blasts of March, 1993 and February, 1998. One should not be surprised if there is an involvement of India Muslims in the blasts of July 11, 2006, too.

12. More serious have been the acts of reprisal terrorism organised in the Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir since 1993 by the Pakistani jihadi organisations. The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUJ), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) have been involved in these acts, which were inspired and orchestrated by the ISI. All of them are members of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front (ISF) For Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People formed by Osama bin Laden in February, 1998. These organisations have been operating from their bases in Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Gulf countries. They have not so far organised multiple, well-timed explosions.

13. Of these, the LET has had the widest network in the North as well as the South. The HUJI has been showing signs of developing a similar network in the North and the South. The network of the HUM and the JEM is believed to be restricted to the North.

14. While the Pakistani organisations with their objective of "liberating" the Indian Muslims from the control of the Hindus have enjoyed some support from the Indian Muslim youth, the Al Qaeda, with its pan-Islamic objective of forming an Islamic Caliphate, had not enjoyed any noticeable support in the Indian Muslim community in the past. However, taking advantage of the anger in sections of the Indian Muslims over the developing relations with the US, Al Qaeda has been trying to rally the Muslims of India, including J&K, in its support.

15. Since 2003, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the no.2 of Al Qaeda, has been critical of India and the Hindus. Since the visit of Mr.Bush to India in March, 2006, Osama bin Laden has joined this criticism. Before March, 2006, Al Qaeda and bin Laden used to talk of a Crusader-Jewish conspiracy against Islam. Since March, 2006, they talk of a Crusader-Jewish-Hindu conspiracy against Islam.

16. Al Qaeda has been critical of India's strategic relations with the US and of what it projects as the US support to India on the Kasmir issue. But, it has been silent on the Indo-US nuclear deal and on India's vote against Iran on the nuclear issue at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at Vienna.

17. The July 11 blasts have coincided with the following events: the first anniversary of the abortive terrorist strike by jihadi terrorists against the improvised Hindu temple at Ayodhya on July 5 last year; the first anniversary of the visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to the US in the third week of July last year; and the forthcoming G-8 summit in St. Petersburg in Russia later this week where Dr. Manmohan Singh was expected to meet Mr. Bush and review Indo-US relations since March last.

18. The blasts have also come at a time of renewed tension in the relations between sections of the Hindu and Muslim communities in Mumbai and signs of unhappiness in sections of the Indian Muslim community over the decision of the Manmohan Singh Government to provide extra protection to an improvised Hindu temple at Ayodhya. The Muslims look upon this improvised temple as having been constructed by Hindus on the land belonging to them over which the demolished Babri Masjid stood.

19. While in the past, the Pakistani pan-Islamic organisations and the ISI have been taking advantage of the pockets of anger in the Indian Muslim community for their strategic objectives against India, since March this year, Al Qaeda has been trying to take advantage of them for its own pan-Islamic and anti-US objectives. In view of the increased interactions between the US and India, it is likely to look upon India as providing a fertile soil for its anti-US operations.

20. The impact of Al Qaeda's propaganda and ideology on the minds of Indian Muslim youth, its possible inspiration behind the blasts of July 11 and likely threats to American interests in India from Al Qaeda need close attention. The Madrid blasts of March, 2004, were preceded by strong anti-Spain propaganda by Al Qaeda. The London blasts of July 7, 2005, were preceded by strong anti-UK propaganda by it. Anti-India statements of Al Qaeda since March, 2006, need to be closely monitored and not dismissed lightly as of no consequence.

21. This may please be read in continuation of the earlier articles titled "bin Laden Targets India" at http://www.saag.org/papers18/paper1776.html and "AL QAEDA, THE IIF & INDIAN MUSLIMS" at http://www.saag.org/papers18/paper1743.html.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd.), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: itschen36@gmail.com)

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