Al Qaeda could be behind Mumbai strikes: British expertsNovember 27th, 2008 - 3:58 pm ICT by IANS
London, Nov 27 (IANS) British counter-terrorism experts say the terror attacks at prominent landmarks in Mumbai which have left at least 101 people dead and over 250 injured have “all the hallmarks” of being an Al Qaeda operation.The Times of London, which quoted these experts, claimed Western intelligence agencies were “expecting an Al Qaeda spectacular terrorist attack in this crucial period between the end of President George Bush’s administration and the succession of Barack Obama”.
The attacks began Wednesday night and targeted two well-known hotels among other places in India’s financial capital, with guests there being held hostage. The terror siege continued well into Thursday.
The newspaper said: “Signals intelligence ‘chatter’ in recent weeks indicated that Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organisation might be plotting an attack ‘to grab the headlines’ before Mr Obama takes over in the White House on January 20.”
The counter-terrorism experts based their argument on the fact that high visibility locations were targeted in Mumbai where the terrorists’ focus was on British and American citizens.
They said even in the past Al Qaeda had “switched its resources (to other regions) to achieve maximum impact”. They gave the example of the attacks on Western targets in Bali in 2002 and found it worthy of comparison with Wednesday’s Mumbai strikes. A group called the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility.
But the British newspaper said: “The key to this latest attack was the search by the armed terrorists for American and British passport holders. With a reported 40 Britons held hostage, the terrorists have the upper hand. The counter-terrorist sources said targeting Bombay’s most luxurious hotels and a crowded railway station had all the hallmarks of an Al Qaeda operation.”
It said the Americans had been expecting a retaliation from Al Qaeda after “recent CIA success in eliminating figures in Al Qaeda, using Predator unmanned drones, firing Hellfire missiles at hideouts in the tribal regions of Pakistan”.
The Mumbai attacks, which involved taking Western hostages, “made it more likely that the operation’s masterminds were from the core leadership of Al Qaeda, which is based in the lawless tribal regions close to the Pakistan/Afghanistan border”, the experts said.
However, the newspaper quoted “other sources” as saying that the terrorist network existing in India was quite complex and it would not be prudent to jump to any early conclusions.
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Tags: being held hostage, british experts, british passport holders, counter terrorism, high visibility, mumbai terror attack, president george bush, signals intelligence, terrorism experts, visibility locations, western intelligence agencies