Experts doubt Al Qaeda link in Mumbai attacks

Mark McDonald
International Herald Tribune
November 27, 2008

The men came wearing black hoods, firing automatic weapons and throwing grenades, taking hostages, attacking two hotels, a cinema, a café, a train station and other popular and undefended “soft targets.”

An e-mail message to Indian media outlets that claimed responsibility for the bloody attacks in Mumbai on Wednesday night said the militants were from the Deccan Mujahideen.

Global terrorism experts said Thursday they had never heard of the group. And based on its tactics, they said, it was probably not a cell or group linked to Al Qaeda.

“It’s even unclear whether it’s a real group or not,” said Bruce Hoffman, a professor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the author of the book “Inside Terrorism.” “It could be a cover name for another group, or a name adopted just for this particular incident.”

Chrtistine Fair, senior political scientist and a South Asia expert at the RAND Corporation, was careful to say that the identity of the terrorists could not yet be known. But she insisted the style of the attacks and the targets in Mumbai suggested that the militants were likely to be Indian Muslims – and not linked to Al Qaeda or the violent South Asian terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

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