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The terrorists behind the three bombings in Mumbai on July 13 that killed at least 23 people obviously want to torpedo any dialogue between India and Pakistan, but the Pakistani government (or at least the ISI and other extremist factions) may want to send a message: You need us.
The attacks came around the anniversary of the July 11, 2006 train bombings that killed over 200 people in Mumbai. A leader of a group called the Indian Mujahideen (IM) confessed to his role in this attack, and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) has also been linked. The latter displayed its lethality with its sophisticated attacks on Mumbai in November 2008 that killed 164 people. Suspicion for these latest attacks is falling upon the IM, but the LET may have used the IM as a front, given their close links.
“When LET’s terrorists were arrested, ISI had a problem internationally. So their strategy was to train more and more people of Indian origin,” said New Delhi Joint Police Commissioner Karnail Singh in 2008. Top IM leaders, specifically the Bhatkal brothers, are currently sheltered by the LET in Karachi. India’s Intelligence Bureau has even suspected that IM is made up altogether by the LET and presumably, its Pakistani backers.
The attacks happened shortly before scheduled meetings between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers on July 26. They are believed to be part of a campaign called the “Karachi Project,” which was conceived by the LET and retired officers from the Pakistani army. The IM has also been linked to Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, an Al-Qaeda affiliate. Rising jihadist star Ilyas Kashmiri served as the group’s operational commander until he was killed in a drone strike on June 3. Kashmiri sought to spark a war with India to halt Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations. This should also be considered an objective of the perpetrators.
The LET operates openly in Pakistan under the name of Jamaat ud-Dawa, and is unlikely to undertake an operation that would result in the loss of its safe harbor. The LET’s leader still preaches to the public, and the group has boasted of having over 200 facilities in the country, including schools, hospitals and charities. The Long War Journal says the group “essentially runs a state within a state.” If the Pakistani government, or factions inside of it, approve of the operation, then they are also trying to send a message.
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