Passport

Who are the Deccan Mujahideen?

One must always be suspicious when a "new" terrorist organization crops up. Today's horrific attacks in Mumbai were claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen. But one India journalist claims the pattern of the attacks suggests that Lashkar-e-Taiba, a nasty Islamist organization based in Lahore, Pakistan, and with a significant presence in Kashmir and links to al Qaeda, may be to blame.

Here's where it gets interesting -- and I stress here that I am just speculating. Lashkar-e-Taiba's main goal is to expel India from Kashmir. In the past, some have accused elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence services of having ties to the group. Pakistan's government has always hotly denied such accusations.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has in recent weeks moved closer to the United States, made some significant gestures toward India, and moved to shut down the political wing of the ISI, Pakisan's powerful intelligence service (that's the unit that tries to steal elections). How likely is it that some angry "rogue elements" of the ISI, aligned with Kashmiri jihadists and a team of Indian domestic extremists, sought to head off these moves? I have no idea, but it's definitely a theory worth exploring.

There's another more straighforward explanation for today's attacks -- revenge. A group calling itself the "Indian Mujahideen" has claimed responsibility for attacks in a number of different cities over the past several months. The Indian Mujahideen sent a warning in September expressing anger over recent raids by the city's antiterrorism squad (ATS). Today's message from the Deccan Mujahideen appears to be identical:

You should know that your acts are not at all left unnoticed; rather we are closely keeping an eye on you and just waiting for the right time to execute your bloodshed. We are aware of your recent raids at Ansarnagar, Mograpada in Andheri and the harassment and trouble you created there for the Muslims.

"You threatened to murder them and your mischief went to such an extent that you even dared to abuse and insult Maulana Mahmood-ul-Hasan Qasmi and even misbehaved with the Muslim women and children there.

"If this is the degree your arrogance has reached, and if you think that by these stunts you can scare us, then let the Indian Mujahideen warn all the people of Mumbai that whatever deadly attacks Mumbaikars will face in future, their responsibility would lie with the Mumbai ATS and their guardians - Vilasrao Deshmukh and R R Patil. You are already on our hit-list and this time very very seriously."

The chief of Mumbai's ATS was killed in a gun battle with some of the attackers today.

UPDATE: On CNN just now, terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna says that the Indian Mujahideen are most likely to blame, and they are the same group as the Deccan Mujahideen. "No other group has the capability," he said, emphasizing the group's strength in Mumbai. He also pointed out that such attacks would have taken months of planning.

Passport

Happy Thanksgiving

Passport will be off eating turkey for the rest of the week. They may be some sporadic posting. The Morning Brief and full-strength blogging will return on Monday.

Have a great holiday, everyone. Consider this an open thread.