Who’s Responsible for Mumbai Attacks?

Flames and smoke gush out of the historic Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.Indian army commandos were Thursday battling heavily-armed Islamist gunmen who launched coordinated attacks against luxury hotels and other targets in Mumbai, killing at least 100 people. (AFP/Indranil Mukherjee)

A previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahedeen has claimed responsibility for the horrific attacks in Mumbai.  While these attacks came during a period when Western intelligence chiefs were “expecting an al Qaeda spectacular terrorist attack” and came just hours after the FBI warned that al Qaeda may be “targetting New York’s subways and railroads,” the best guess of terrorism experts is that the Mumbai attacks were the work of local groups.

Continued at New Atlanticist: “Mumbai Attacks Sophisticated but Likely Not al Qaeda.”

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, Uncategorized, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    James, I could buy that the attacks were not linked to AQ, except for the reports that they were singling out US and UK passport holders. That, to me, indicates they are likely AQ affiliated or inspired. Also, the coordinated multiple attacks are a hallmark of AQ operations. It’s getting difficult, if not impossible, for AQ to conduct these types of operations in Europe and North America due to stepped up surveillance and security. So they have to aim at the softer targets. India and other countries with less rigorous security readiness against terrorists are their prime operational areas now.

  2. DC Loser says:

    I also want to add the attack on the Jewish center is another indication this is not the usual Muslim-Hindu inspired attack.

  3. John Burgess says:

    While this certainly could be an AQ attack, there’s not enough evidence yet for me to conclude that.

    There are simply too many groups, each with its own agenda–though these do overlap considerably–to say exactly who or what is behind the attacks.

    It could be simple Indo-Pak frictions: there are Pakistanis who are very annoyed that the US seems to favor India in many regards, including the new nuke agreement.

    It could be AQ, certainly.

    It could be a local Muslim group acting in perceived philosophical accord with other Muslim groups who see themselves engaged in an eschatological war with the West.

    It could be a group intent on creating chaos for local, i.e., Mumbai, reasons.

    It could be any number groups interested in ‘false-flag’ operations.

    I’ll wait for more and better information.

  4. James Joyner says:

    John and DCL,

    I think we just don’t know yet. As I noted last night on OTB Radio, and have added as a postscript to my linked post, we should recall that Pakistan militants employed a similar strategy in the Islamabad Marriott bombing two months ago. It’s quite possible that they’re targeting the government by making Western tourists and businessmen feel less safe.

  5. Rick DeMent says:

    So they have to aim at the softer targets. India and other countries with less rigorous security readiness against terrorists are their prime operational areas now.

    Typical American keyboard jockey commenting on something he clearly doesn’t know anything about. Been to Mumbai lately? I haven’t, but my wife has. She left two summers ago just as the train bombings were getting started and told me that it was difficult to walk into even small shops without the presence of an armed guard.

    The Idea that western targets are somehow “too tough” for terrorists because of anything we have done since 9/11 is naive at best. I do agree that the involvement of AQ, if there is any at all is, at best, indirect.

    Mumbai is not a destination for western tourists and the idea that anti-US or anti western groups would strike there is unlikely. It is far more plausible that this is a reaction of domestic groups who are against the westernization of India in general then any act by global terrorists organizations. These acts in Mumbai have been increasing as the social liberalization of Indian culture has been underway over the last decade.

  6. DC Loser says:

    You’re hilarious, Rick. Your opinion is just as valid as mine on this blog. If we’re limited to posting on first hand experience, there would be no comments here. 2008 is different than 2006. There were many comments from eyewitnesses that the security at the Taj and other places was cursory at best, and that they eliminated the more comprehensive and intrusive security a few weeks ago. The Indians now indicate the attackers came from outside, most likely Lashkar e Taiba, though they deny it.

  7. Rick DeMent says:


    My comments were directed at the idea that AQ picked this because other targets in the west were somehow “hardened” to the point where they were seeking “softer” targets.

    The fact is that the the hotels were only two of ten targets so the idea it that this attack was perpetrated against “westerners” is pretty thin or that these attacks are part of some larger effort at terrorism meant to influence governments outside of India.

    Also the notion that security is more lax then two years ago when the violence there has been steadily increasing is curious at best given that the attacks in India have been perpetrated on that countries wealthy rather then on wealthy westerners. But you know anything that completes you notions of an epic struggle between the west and Islam.

    Fact is that relations between Hindus and Muslims are, on the whole pretty good in India. the trouble is that a very small minority can and are causing problems way out of proportion to their numbers.

    But the larger point is that whoever did this are very likely to be only tangentially involved (if at all) with groups that seek to take their war on to the global stage ah la AQ. I get frustrated with those who look for any and all excuses to link all Islamic terrorism with those who seek to bring that conflict to the world stage when the fact is that only a subset has those kinds of ambitions.

  8. Triumph says:

    Who’s Responsible for Mumbai Attacks?

    Hussein Obama

  9. Syed Jawad says:

    India itself is responsible for these attacks

  10. Syed Jawad says:

    India knows well that Pakistan is not in the good book of the west and to get undue benefit and increase its infuence in Afghanistan, hatched a conspiracy to push Pakistan back. It’s Idia’s habit to kill its own people for its benefits.In the past Indian government highjacked its own plane, gunned down a passenger plane in to the Indian ocean,killed hundred of hidus and muslims to blame Pakistan.But the whole world is now well aware of India’s negative mentality. I asure you that india will never be successful in its conspiracies although its seven times bigger than Pakistan, but scared of the later.