India Releases Names and Pictures of Mumbai Terrorists

The names and pictures of the Mumbai Terrorists have now been publically released by Indian Authorities, story at BBC.

Pakistan Raids Lashkar e Toiba Camp

Just breaking, Pakistan has raided a Lashkar e Toiba camp, who are believed by most world intelligence agencies to be responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks. This comes just in the wake of Secretary of State Rice stating unequivocably on Wolf Blitzer’s program that there was “No doubt that the attacks were planned in Pakistan.”

Story from Reuters:

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani security forces on Sunday raided a camp used by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), two sources said, in a strike against the militant group blamed by India for last month’s deadly attacks on Mumbai.

Local man Nisar Ali told Reuters the operation began in the afternoon in Shawai on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistani side of disputed Kashmir region.

“I don’t know details as the entire area was sealed off, but I heard two loud blasts in the evening after a military helicopter landed there,” Ali said.

An official with the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity, which is linked to LeT, said security forces had taken over the camp.

India has demanded Pakistan take swift action over what it says is the latest anti-India militant attack emanating from Pakistani soil. No comment on the raid was immediately available from Indian officials

Update: According to Syed at Asia Times other Let and JuD offices have been raided. A word of warn about Syed: he will put AQ / Taliban spin and agitprop out, so some of this is factual, some not. [e.g. when he implies that we might drive LeT into AQ arms, we know they are already there and have been allied since at least Sept. 2007.]

UPDATE:  Little Green Footballs has discussion.

The Confession on Mumbai: Timeline

There’s now a leaked confession in India from the one live terrorist out to the news, and it made the rounds yesterday. It came out very fast, and I’ll withold judgement on its veracity until more of the real evidence comes out. The confession does lay out a realistic timeline, but there are a few gaps I find in it.

Normal terror Logistics, and the fact that the terrorist shot more than 250 rounds they were supplied with tells me there were more than the 10 stated. I would suspect there are others who did just logistics work and facilitation, and there are the unknown financiers. Those are the real leads that need to be followed up on, the weapons used, the RDX, the grenades, etc. did not materialize out of thin air, someone bought them.

Here’s the purported timeline from the confession at The Malaysian Insider:

Azam said he was member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, but the Kashmir- based Pakistani militant group has denied any role in the attacks.

Founded as a guerilla group to fight the Indian army in Kashmir, the group was banned by the Pakistani government after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks, but reportedly continues to enjoy the backing of some Pakistani politicians and security officials.

A native of Faridkot in Pakistan- occupied Kashmir, Azam revealed the names of his fellow terrorists, all Pakistani citizens: Abu Ali, Fahad, Omar, Shoaib, Umer, Abu Akasha, Ismail, Abdul Rahman (Bara) and Abdul Rahman (Chhota).

But the 10 men were apparently not the only ones directly involved: Another group, he claimed, had checked themselves into hotels four days before, waiting with weapons and ammunition they had stockpiled in the rooms.

The 10 men in Azam’s group were chosen well: All were trained in marine warfare and had undergone a special course conducted by the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Preparations were also detailed, and started early.

Azam and eight others in the team made a reconnaissance trip to Mumbai several months before the attacks, pretending to be Malaysian students. They rented an apartment at Colaba market, near one of their targets, the Nariman House.

The chief planner of the attacks also visited Mumbai a month before to take photographs and film strategic locations, including the hotel layouts.

Returning to Pakistan, the chief plotter trained the group, telling them to ‘kill till the last breath’.

Surprisingly, the men did not expect themselves to be suicide terrorists. Azam said they had originally planned to sail back on Thursday – the recruiters had even charted out a return route, stored on a GPS device.

On the evening of Nov 21, Azam’s group set off from an isolated creek in Karachi in a boat. The next day, a large Pakistani vessel with four Pakistanis and crew picked them up, whereupon the group was issued arms and ammunition.

Each man in the assault team was handed six to seven magazines of 50 bullets each, eight hand grenades, one AK-47 assault rifle, an automatic loading revolver, credit cards and a supply of dried fruit. They were, as some media put it, in for the long haul.

A day later, the team came across an Indian-owned trawler, Kuber, which they boarded. They killed four of the fishermen onboard, dumped their bodies into the sea, and forced its skipper Amarjit Singh to sail for India.

The next day, they beheaded the skipper, and one of the gunmen, a trained sailor, took the wheel and headed for the shores of Gujarat, India.

Near Gujarat, the terrorists raised a white flag as two officers of the coast guard approached.

While the officers questioned them, one of the terrorists grappled with one of them, slit his throat and threw his body into the boat. The group then ordered the other officer to help them get to Mumbai.

On Nov 26, the team reached the Mumbai coast.

Four nautical miles out, they were met by three inflatable speedboats. They killed the other coast guard officer, transferred into the speedboats and proceeded to Colaba jetty as dusk settled.

The Kuber was found later with the body of the 30-year-old captain onboard.

At Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade – just three blocks away from Nariman House – the 10 men got off, stripped off the orange windbreakers they had been wearing and made sure to take out their large, heavy backpacks.

It was there that they were spotted by fisherman Prasan Dhanur, who was preparing his boat, and harbour official Kashinath Patil, 72, who was on duty nearby.

“Where are you going?” Patil asked them. “What’s in your bags?”

The men replied: “We don’t want any attention. Don’t bother us.”

Thinking little of it, Dhanur and Patil, who said they did not see the guns hidden in the backpacks, did not call the police, and watched the 10 young men walk away.

Then the carnage started.

On hitting the ground, the 10 men broke up.

Four men headed for the Taj Mahal Hotel, two for The Oberoi Trident, two for Nariman House and two – Azam and Ismail – for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus by taxi.

At the railway station, Azam and his colleague opened fire, targeting Caucasian tourists while trying to spare Muslims.

The two gunmen also destroyed the CCTV control room, throwing grenades into it.

It was here that Azam was photographed, dressed in light-grey combat trousers and sneakers, a rucksack on his back, toting his AK-47.

According to one security expert, the way he carried the assault rifle revealed months of training.

The two men left the main hall of the railway station littered with bodies and pools of blood, then moved on to Metro Cinema and then to the Girgaum Chowpatty area in a stolen Skoda.

It was there that their plans started to unravel.

At the Girgaum Chowpatty area, Azam and Ismail were intercepted by anti-terror troops from the Gamdevi police station, and they ended up trading shots.

Azam managed to shoot dead assistant police inspector Tukaram Umbale, while one of them also gunned down anti-terror squad chief Hemant Karkare.

Ismail, however, was eventually killed, while Azam himself was shot in the hand. Pretending to be dead, he fell, and the two men were taken to Nair Hospital.

But police soon spotted him breathing and quickly evacuated the hospital’s casualty ward, and brought in the anti-terror squad to interrogate him.

In the end I won’t be surprised if other Kashmiri groups like Harkat ul Mujahideen, Harkat ul Mujahideen al Islami, Jaish e Muhammed, and Al Qaeda are involved. All of these groups including Lashkar e Toiba declared loyalty to Al Qaeda in September 2007. Any or all of the above could have aided with planning, logistics, finance, or training, and it’s likely that one of these groups did.

Taliban Ally Harkat ul Mujahideen Controls Mohmand

In Saturday’s report from Pakistan I noted that there was fighting between militant units of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan. Post fighting it appears the TTP / Harkat ul Mujahideen force beat the Lashkar e Taiber (Tayyaba) force and is now in control of Mohmand Agency as outcome of that. Umar Khalid is their leader, and this appears to be the same group(s) responsible for the Kohat fighting last year. The LeT group is mostly derived from the Kashmir intifada fighters against India, they are responsible for many of the terror attacks there in the past, and have direct alliance with Al Qaeda.

From the Daily Times:

The Mohmand Agency has come under the “complete control” of Umar Khalid after he eliminated another jihadi organisation operating in the area, local residents told Daily Times.

Khalid, a Safi tribesman who is commanding the Taliban in a very strategic tribal district, took “greater control” of Mohmand following a bloody campaign against the Shah Sahib militant group, whose chief and deputy chief were among eight killed on Friday. “He (Umar Khalid) is the strongest and most influential Taliban leader after Baitullah Mehsud and Maulvi Faqir,” residents told Daily Times by phone from Ghalanai.

A member of the militant group, following a meeting with Umar Khalid, said that there was now less likelihood that a fact-finding team sent from Baitullah Mehsud would penalise Khalid for his July 18 actions against the Shah Sahib group.

People from the banned militant organisation Lashkar-e-Tayyaba had originally led the group. “Any group not showing allegiance to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan will not be tolerated in the Mohmand Agency,” Khalid had told reporters in his first press conference after taking over the headquarters of the rival jihadi outfit.

Also note that Jaish e Muhammed and HuM have fought old differences with HuJI over the Kashmir, and at one point they were part of Harkat Ansar, here’s more from WebIndia.

I’m not sure if this is a case of pushing the bubble in one place and having it bulge out another – e.g. are these mostly jihadis who fled from the earlier offenses in Khyber, Swat, or Hangu, or is it just one of power consolidation? It’s more likely the latter as Baitullah steadily campaigned to put NWFP under his power in a series of strategic moves from FATA. Baitullah also has compiled an enemies list of 300 prominent leaders from PPP, ANP, and MQM, expect targetted suicide assassinations to continue.

From the way that the government stopped the offense and is negotiating peace in Hangu from their knees, I would wager he could make it through a quarter of that list before the coalition stops infighting and he gets real, committed response back. As long as the government’s offenses against Taliban remain “poking at the edges” instead of directed attacks against the leaders, they will continue to fail.

Update: Bill Roggio has more details at The Long War Journal.

Taliban Update: Suicide Assasination Attempt on Namdar Fails

Namdar\'s Offices BombedThe Taliban affiliated group, Lashkar-e-Islami,  leading the failed efforts in the Khyber Pass sought retribution today with a suicide bomber attack on one of their Tribal opponent’s offices. The blast killed several, but Namdar was not present so like the Karzai attempt it was a strike-out.

Namdar led the tribal turning that destroyed the recent Taliban efforts to block the Khyber and interdict supplies to the US forces North in Afghanistan. More from NDTV:

Several people were feared killed on Thursday when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the office of an Islamic group in Pakistan’s restive Khyber Agency, officials said.

The suicide bomber targeted the office of the ”Amar bil maroof wa nahee aanelmunkar” (promotion of virtue and prevention of vice force), the religious police of a group led by Haji Namdar at Bara, the main town of the northwestern Khyber Agency.

A spokesman for Haji Namdar said the head of the suicide bomber has been found.

Official sources said Haji Namdar was the actual target of the attack though he escaped unhurt. He is a rival of Mangal Bagh Afridi, another radical leader who heads the Lashkar-e-Islam group.

The sources said they feared the death toll could rise as several of the injured were in a critical condition. The seriously injured were rushed to hospitals in Peshawar, capital of the North West Frontier Province.

When the Taliban first announced their plans in the Khyber I predicted doom for them since there are too many vested tribal interests in the area, and they are not going to allow outside interference in their region. The Wazirs lost miserably, tucked their tails and ran into a trap where they were killed. They will undoubtably continue to seek retribution, but if that goes on much longer they might stir up something they don’t like. The Khyber agency tribes are cunning and they are better trained and more capable than the Taliban — they aren’t going to put up with this.

In other news Syed at Asia times details the failed attack on Karzai, making it out to be more than it was, the important nugget here is the cooperation between Hekmatyar and Haqqani. That indicates to me that the Afghanistan Taliban are more stressed than portrayed, and it also indicates the source of their arms. Hekmatyar has long ties to elements in Iran, and he is their agent of instability in Afghanistan.

While Syed portrays the actions as smart, the reality is that failed efforts kill innocents, and steel more of the Pashtun against the Taliban. The fact that they are now working tight with Hekmatyar again isn’t going to win them friends either.

In a more recent article Asia times details the alignment of Taliban forces and leaders, but the reality is that they are down to fourth and fifth string leaders. Callow, inexperienced rookies for the most part, who will crumble now that the surge is on and the marines have landed.

The Spring offensive this year will be against the Taliban, not by the Taliban. They will try to slip small groups north, attack aid workers and other soft targets, I expect night visits to villages and school burnings as usual, but they can’t mount an effective campaign. They will try to grab headlines in other words rather than try to win.