Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mumbai Terror Attacks: What is Deccan Mujahideen?

CNN with every other news outlet in the nation is covering the the Mumbai terror attacks as the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers smolders. As I wrote on Snigdha's post at Blogher about the attacks, I've been watching the nightmare unfold off and since I got home today.

mumbia terror
A few minutes ago I saw this outstanding AP picture leading to CNN's India terror index page of birds flying through smoke outside the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers. Built in 1903, the historic hotel is not the renowned mausoleum completed in 1653.

Per Snigda, "A set of eight or nine coordinated attacks on the city's landmarks -- including the Taj and Trident (formerly Oberoi) hotels, a train station and a hospital -- has claimed 80 lives and injured over 200."

When I first heard reports of the attacks shortly after noon today, I thought reporters spoke of the great Taj Mahal that is sometimes classified as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I didn't register that they were saying Mumbai and not Agra where the famous wonder is located.

I was slightly relieved for a moment that the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel burning in Mumbai is not that wonder, but it is a beautiful building as well, according to visitors. However, the loss of lives outweighs any building's beauty.

In the following video, CNN-IBN's Prachi Jatania reports what she saw:

As we hear of these reports with hostages taken and the innocent killed by "teams of gunmen" seizing Mumbai in a "coordinated attack," we wonder what is Deccan Mujahideen, the obscure terrorist organization that claims responsibility for today's horror. As Snigdhasen indicates in her post, we don't know much and the name means little. She links her readers to's brief on the group:
Dressed in a black half T-shirt and jeans with a blue rucksack hung over his left shoulder and red sacred thread tied on his right wrist, one might just mistake him to be just another regular college going student.

What baffles the security agencies is the sacred thread tied on his wrist which many say could be a plot to show that the attack was undertaken by probably an extreme Hindu group.

But, the claim by a terror organisation with a Muslim name has left the above theory in question, say experts. (NDTV)
You can watch the news live from India at the NDTV site.

A CNN reporter was cautioned that we should be careful with the name Deccan Mujahideen becase Deccan is a region of India and so saying Deccan Mujahideen is like saying "the Kansas Mujahideen."

Pundits, terrorist analysts, and journalists speculate an Al-Qaida connection, but nothing's been proven.

Snigdha will be updating her post, but I left the following thought earlier, recalling that she's been warning us of the growing terrorism problem in India for a while now at BlogHer.
I recall your first post on India's terror problem and your second from India. I thought they were both informative and eye-opening. Thank you for teaching and giving us a more intimate view.

I have been looking aghast at the TV off and on since the terror began today, and just saw Deepak Chopra on Larry King Live saying we should stop calling our strategy to stop terror "the war on terror." He said it's like saying we have a terror on terror and who the terrorist is depends on your point of view. I paraphrased.

"Teams of gunmen" and phrases like "coordinated attacks" seems to fly in the face of the chaos associated with terrorism. When I hear those phrases on the news this evening, I close my eyes to contemplate the impact. The people we call terrorists consider themselves strategists as well and undoubtedly believe that they are freedom fighters and heroes. How do we cross this chasm?
Chopra also said it's time to start questioning how these terrorists groups are funded. In particular he said we should look more closely at where Saudi oil money goes.

Some Americans have been holding their breath, expecting that Vice President-elect Joe Biden's warning that President-elect Barack Obama will be tested during his first days in office, and possibly became more concerned as we heard today that security was tightened on New York subways, anticipating potential threats. With the Mumbai attacks, we know Obama's been thrown deeper into the fire and this crisis will divert some of his attention from our domestic troubles, such as the economy.

Both the President-elect Obama and President George W. Bush have issued statements condemning the attacks. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said, according to CNN, that she will keep Obama "in the loop" on this crisis, but CNN's David Gergen reminded viewers that the current administration is the responsible for addressing the Mumbai attacks, not Obama.

Updated at 2:06 a.m. Thanksgiving Day: I found the transcript of Chopra's talk with Larry King, and here is what he said that I loosely paraphrased earlier.
King: Are you pessimistic?

Chopra: I think Mr. Obama has a real opportunity here, but a challenging opportunity, a creative opportunity.

Get rid of the phrase "war on terrorism." Ask for a creative solution in which we all participate.

King: Is it because the war on terrorism really can never be won because the terrorists (inaudible)?

Chopra: Because it's an oxymoron. It's an oxymoron, Larry, a war on war, a war on terrorism.

You know, terrorists call mechanized death from 35,000 feet above sea level with a press of a button also terror. We don't call it that, because our soldiers are wearing uniforms. They don't see what is happening, and innocent people are being killed. So, you know, terror is a term that you apply to the other. (Chopra talking to Larry King.)
You can read the full interview at this link.

Also, The Huffington Post has a lot of coverage, which is where I found the link to this Mumbai terror slide show at Flickr. And ABC News reports, as have all other news sources I've viewed today, that the terrorists expressed interest only in hostages and targets with British or American passports. Brief video.

CBS has India fast facts and the following video.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Its still shot shows the picture of an unknown young man that some journalist have described as the "young man with the maniacal look in his eye." I expect we'll see his picture often in the coming weeks.

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