Anomalies emerge in Mumbai terror —of course
India's intelligence apparatus is rapidly zeroing in on its usual suspect Pakistan in the Mumbai attacks. The Times of India reports Dec. 2:
All the 10 terrorists, suspected to have been involved in the Mumbai attacks, were trained by ex-army personnel even as the lone arrested terrorist has admitted to being a Pakistani, the police on Tuesday said.
Ajmal Amin Kamal, the only terrorist of the group of ten caught alive, has admitted he is a Pakistani and hailed from the Punjab province of Pakistan, Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor said.
"The group of ten had come from Karachi by ship, flew an SOS flag in international waters and then hijacked a trawler which they used to come near Mumbai's shores," Gafoor said.
The group of ten had been trained by former army personnel, some for over a year, Gafoor said, refusing to comment on the nationality of the army personnel.
When asked if there was any evidence of Pakistan's involvement in the attacks, Gafoor said, "At the moment investigations are on and if we have proof we shall present it."
Pakistan's Dawn Nov. 30 pointed out confusion in the Indian media as to whether the "alleged attacker" is named Ajmal Amir Kamal, Muhammad Ajmal, Muhammad Amin Kasab, Azam Amir Kasav or Azam Amir Kasab. It also implicitly raised questions as to whether he is really Pakistani, claiming that the village in Pakistan he is supposed to hail from, Faridkot, could be "a town with the same name in the Indian state of Punjab."
The Indian leftist writer Amaresh Misra continues to weave his elaborate conspiracy theory in mass e-mails that have been picked up by a few obscure websites, claiming the attack was really the work of the Hindu right acting in conjunction with the conspiranoid milieu's own usual suspects: Mossad and the CIA. He especially zeros in on accounts from witnesses that many of the attackers were fair-skinned. One he cites from the BBC News Nov. 27 quotes one witness saying the attackers were "foreign looking, fair skinned" men, and another saying: "They did not look Indian, they looked foreign. One of them, I thought, had blonde hair. The other had a punkish hairstyle. They were neatly dressed."
He also cites the similar quote in the following passage from The Guardian of Nov. 27—but conveniently overlooks the countervailing references in the same text:
Gunmen seized the Mumbai headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch. Commandos surrounded the building this morning and witnesses said gunfire could be heard from inside.
A militant holed up in the centre phoned an Indian television channel to offer talks with the government for the release of hostages, but also to complain about abuses in Indian Kashmir. "Ask the government to talk to us and we will release the hostages," said the man, identified by the India TV channel as Imran, speaking in Urdu with what sounded like a Kashmiri accent.
"Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir? Are you aware how your army has killed Muslims?" he said.
One police officer who encountered the gunmen as they entered the Jewish centre told the Guardian the attackers were "white", although this could mean they were paler-skinned Indians from the country's north.
"I went into the building late last night," he said. "I got a shock because they were white. I was expecting them to look like us. They fired three shots. I fired 10 back.
For Misra, the fact that the militants were supposedly "white" is worth mentioning—the fact that one spoke Urdu with a Kashmiri accent and invoked Indian atrocities in Kashmir is not. Of course on this and similarly sketchy evidence, Misra decides the attackers were "mercenaries" hired by the CIA and/or Mossad. Even when the evidence would seem to go the other way, Misra is not disturbed. For instance, when one (unsourced) media account has the attackers speaking fluent Marathi (the regional language of Maharashtra state), this is also taken as revealing the conspiracy:
NOW WHAT DO WE MAKE OF THAT? Another report says that traditional Jews of Mumbai who have migrated to Israel speak fluent Marathi and are known to have been recruited by Mossad!
Yet he doesn't even bother to mention the source of this supposed "report."
Meanwhile, as New Delhi and the conspiranoids each jump to their own conclusions, India and Pakistan could be drifting rapidly back towards bellicosity. From the New York Times, Dec. 2:
As tensions increased between nuclear-armed neighbors after the Mumbai attacks, the Indian foreign minister said Tuesday his country had demanded that Pakistan hand over about 20 people wanted under Indian law as "fugitives."
The demand was made when India summoned Pakistan's ambassador on Monday evening and told him that Pakistanis were responsible for the terrorist attacks here last week and must be punished...
[A]mong the prisoners sought by India in its latest demand was Dawood Ibrahim, described as a powerful gangster and India's most-wanted fugitive, who was accused of organizing bombings in Mumbai in 1993.
The list also included Masood Azhar, a suspected terrorist freed from prison in India prison in exchange for the release of hostages aboard a hijacked Indian Airlines aircraft in December, 1999, the news agency said.
President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan said in a television interview Monday night that if India shared the results of its investigation, Pakistan would "do everything in our power to go after these militants."
Strangely, the Times failed to note the most significant suspect being demanded by India. From the AFP, Dec. 2:
Among the suspects was Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group that has been accused of carrying out last week's dramatic assault on Mumbai. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi suggested setting up a "joint investigation mechanism" into the assaults, which left 188 dead.
As tensions mounted between the nuclear-armed neighbours over the siege of India's financial capital, India demanded that Pakistan arrest and extradite the list of terror suspects.
But Qureshi did not respond to the handover request.
See our last post on the Mumbai attacks.