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Mumbai serial blasts: What security experts have to say about terror and Pak military

Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 8:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Experts tell DNA that the blasts are directly related to increasing pressure on the Pakistan military.

It’s a diversionary tactic
The timing of these blasts is very significant. Firstly, the India- Pakistan talks have resumed. Then the Kasab trials are going on in Pakistan. But most importantly, the Pakistani military is currently under attack from all quarters: politicians, civil society, their media and the Americans; also there is distinct unrest in their ranks. The Americans are speaking to them and using language that people wouldn’t use with their subordinates and they’ve made it very clear that if the Army doesn’t get their act together, they will stop all funding. So how does the Pakistani army respond? Well, they attack India. It’s a diversionary tactic. The intention is to provoke India in such a manner that we will be forced to retaliate and then all of Pakistan will close ranks behind its army and be united.

Most terrorists don’t repeat targets. The only reason they keep attacking Mumbai is because there is nothing that has shaken the psyche of the country like the last Mumbai attack and they want to repeat that effect.

From our side, we have made very tall claims that we’ve taken many measures to beef up security after 26/11 but the country is totally unprepared to detect and neutralise terrorists and terror attacks. We have been the target of terrorists for two and a half decades now, but we do not have structures in place to actually stop these sorts of attacks. The terrorists who have done this did not cross the border the day before yesterday surely. We have terrorist cells in our country, deep down, that get activated when the time comes. Any guess as to specific organisations involved would be speculative, but I have a hunch that it has to do with Ilyas Kashmiri and, of course, the LeT.
—CD Sahay, former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief

It’s a once-in-three-years pattern
A bomb blast during the monsoons gives terror groups more time to escape as law enforcement agencies tend to stay indoors and can’t act fast. Also, the city tends to come to a halt with slow moving traffic and general chaos during the rains. We saw this happen during the 2006 train blasts, and again on Wednesday.

Post-26/11, the biggest blunder we committed was to show that control over terror comes from better weapons, which is a foolhardy approach. The only way to gain control over a terror attack is impeccable intelligence. Parading armoured vehicles does not hinder those planning bomb blasts, only better intelligence and a better network of information does.

In Mumbai, there has been a pattern of bomb blasts occurring every three years, starting with the 2003 blasts, then 2006, 26/11 was late-2008, and now 2011. I expect terror activity to die down for a while now, at least for a year, as the terror detection system would have been invigorated after today’s blasts once again.
—YP Singh, activist and former IPS officer

Why Zaveri Bazaar was targeted again
There are some similarities between what happened in the train blasts in 2006 and what has happened now. If you look at one of the trains that was attacked in 2006, it was the train that people used to travel to Zaveri Bazaar. And now Zaveri Bazaar has been attacked. A lot of the Gujaratis live and work in Zaveri Bazaar, so maybe this was in retaliation to the Gujarat riots.

This was an extremely well-planned operation with explosives that were timed to go off one after the other in areas that would create the maximum damage and panic. This was the case for the train blasts as well.

I think it was the work of local groups like the Indian Mujahideen. We should not start blaming any foreign entities before more information comes in.  
 —B Raman, former R&AW analyst, currently director of the Institute of Topical Studies, Chennai

US pressure may have eased off
Both the modus operandi and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) points in the direction of the Indian Mujahideen (IM). Their LeT masters, who were active in the German bakery blast in Pune, had been lying low for the past few years fearing that the Americans will swoop down on them.

Either American pressure has eased off following the killing of Osama bin Laden or the LeT has begun to think a step ahead. It is very well possible that they could have figured out a way of getting things done through the IM without any connection being detected. This will make it difficult for India to point fingers at LeT and hence Pakistan, and does not bode well for our security concerns. It is indeed a breakthrough for them and a setback for us. We will need to go back to the drawing board again and rethink our strategy to counter this latest offensive.
—AV Karnik,
retired deputy director, IB

Aimed to get the world’s attention
They have chosen these very crowded spots very carefully. You have the Shiv Sena Bhavan in Zhaveri Bazaar, the middle-class and lower middle-class families in Kabootarkhana in Dadar. Mumbai was targeted because it is the commercial and industrial capital of India. An attack here would be felt all over the world. People who do it also can get lost in the confusion, which is also why Mumbai was targeted. But this is not the first time that this is happening in Mumbai. The people of Mumbai are very resilient. They just have to be more careful.
—Julio Ribeiro, former police commissioner of Mumbai

City’s criminal underbelly has to be tackled
The blasts are low-intensity, going by the number of people injured and dead. And there are some reports of a car being used to plant the improvised explosive device. This modus operandi is typical of the Indian Mujahideen. It doesn’t look like the work of terror groups from across the border.  Just a few days ago, I saw a news report of two IM operatives being caught by the Mumbai police. This shows that they are active. These are radical elements that can carry out a terror attack without any provocation.

Mumbai has been a target of bomb blasts since 1993. It will continue to be a prime target. It underscores the need for Mumbai police to be vigilant at all times. However, I feel terms like ‘red alert’ have become catchphrases that have lost all meaning. The Mumbai police should have an impact on the criminal underbelly of the city. That is very important.  
—MN Singh, former Mumbai police commissioner

What happened to the plans to revamp police machinery?
There is no significance to the timing of the blasts. If you see the timeline in India, there has been a continuous attempt to carry out blasts. There is no linkage either to bin Laden or Kasab. This is an ongoing war, and this is yet another attack.

If you were to speculate, looking at the fact that these were serial blasts and aimed at soft targets, this seems to be the work of a Pakistan-backed Islamic terror group. It most likely is the Indian Mujahideen and LeT, either working together or independently.

There is going to be no impact of this blast (on our preparedness). Things will progress at a glacial pace as usual. After the 26/11 attacks, the police machinery in Mumbai was going to be transformed. How much of that has happened?

A critique of the intelligence machinery cannot happen based on attacks carried out on soft targets. You have to judge that based on arrests made, prediction of attacks and seizures.
—Ajai Sahni, executive director, Institute for Conflict Management, New  Delhi




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