ATbar ICT Global Terrorism Brief: India Bombings - Ahmedabad and Bangalore
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ICT Global Terrorism Brief: India Bombings - Ahmedabad and Bangalore

28/07/2007 | by Database Desk  

Recent Trends and Similarities

On the evening of 26 July 2008, 16 explosives, many of which were set up with timers on bikes around Ahmedabad, were detonated simultaneously or very near to it. Two car bombs exploded outside of two hospitals, the others exploded approximately 20 minutes earlier in a crowded marketplace in the old city dominated by a Muslim community. The day after the explosions in Ahmedabad, police were alerted to and diffused another two more bombs on 27 July 2008.  On 25 July 2008 there were seven explosions in Bangalore, a city located in the southern state of Karnataka.

Similarities were drawn between the 26 July explosions in Ahmedabad, of Gujarat state, and the explosions the day prior in Bangalore. Forty-five have been killed, thus far, as a result of the Ahmedabad bombings, 63 were killed in the 13 May 2008 explosions in Jaipur, Rajasthan state’s capital and popular tourist spot, and at least two were killed in the seven Bangalore explosions; the “low-intensity” blasts, Newstrack India, claimed were meant to scare civilians. Attacks over the past several years, such as these, have been against “soft” targets, those which are easy to access, and they have been anonymous. Combined, these factors are difficult to defend against and they have caused the general public to grow suspicious of everyone.  It is the “‘perfect way to destabilize a society’” according to a local Ahmedabad professor. An article published by Timeechoed this sentiment; according to Brahma Chellaney, a local professor and topical expert, foreign forces are at work to show the Indian government and population that they are vulnerable.

For example, the areas targeted by the Ahmedabad attackers were described as communally sensitive; in Bangalore the IT sector was the intended focus. International SOS, warned that the Ahmedabad may have been used to instigate “communal violence.” The national security operatives grew fearful following the attacks on the IT-based community.

In addition, Time reported that many bombs used in the Jaipur attacks were attached to bikes and placed around the city, some in tiffin boxes. This was the same method utilized two months later on 26 July. The same ammonium nitrate used in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Jaipur was employed during the two explosions, which killed 40, in the southern city of Hyderabad on 25 August 2007. The blasts in each city all came within moments of each other. A Bangladeshi organization banned in India, Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami (HUJI), was believed to be behind the attacks in Hyderabad and Jaipur; though claims of responsibility have proven rare, another group claimed responsibility for the Jaipur explosions since the attack. 

Those Believed to be Behind the Attacks

In recent years India’s government has blamed Pakistani and Bangladeshi militant groups for the continuous attacks on religious sites, public venues and public transportation. A May 2008 Reuters article cited that, through their attacks, the militants of Pakistan and Bangladesh hope to incite violence between the Muslims and Hindus in India.   As a result of this and of global jihad, radical Islam has been found to be on the rise in India, and Hindu activists are believed to be countering the violence with violence. Time claimed that the Indian government was at fault for the growth radical Islam within its own borders. According to Newstrack India, India has become caught in the “cross-hairs” of terrorism. 

The Indian government has blamed the catalyst and driving force behind foreign militant operations in India, at least in part, on the Pakistani intelligence service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The Economist admits the Indian government has little concrete evidence to offer for the most recent attacks of the past few years, but states it is likely the organization is involved to some degree. The article argues that Pakistani government officials have long utilized Islamic militants against the Indian government in defense of the Kashmir region; these claims were supported by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). It is highly unlikely that new ISI officials over the past decades have not kept the Islamic militants in their sights The Economist article claimed. The militant operations have since spread from the Kashmir region: ISI was thought to be behind the attack against the Indian embassy in Kabul in July 2008. Though, according to the CFR report, Pakistan is currently trying to secure good relations with India, it is possible that ISI officials want to keep the fight going between the two countries.

Reuters cited that Islamic militancy is on the rise in India, and India’s Economic Times claimed that the tactics used were similar to those used by al-Qa’ida in Iraq. Specific to the Ahmedabad explosions on 26 July, the Bangladesh-based HUJI, the Pakistani-based group, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), and the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) of Maharashtra were the suspected perpetrators. As demonstrated by the placement of SIMI on the list of possible suspects, authorities also believed that the foreign forces had secured aid - some from within India - to detonate the Jaipur explosions; a Time article argued that considering the immediate sequence of the three most recent attacks, Indian militants were undoubtedly behind the explosions.   

Indian Muslims have, until recently, been unaffected by the global jihad movement, however, an article published by Time cites the increasing Muslim grievances toward the Indian government as the reason behind radical Islam’s growth in the country rather than solely foreign forces. For example, the attacks in Ahmedabad and Bangalore were in states dominated by the Hindu-nationalist party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Gujarat's Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of overlooking the riots of 2002 in which approximately 2,500 people, mostly Muslims were killed. Furthermore, currently, the 13.4 percent of India’s population which are Muslim live in poverty and “remain alienated.” According to the article, these demographics make recruiting for the radical Islamist cause easy. Indian Muslims are underrepresented in the workforce, they have a higher illiteracy rate and, as a result, are forced to turn to aid from other countries. And, Timeargued, the BJP is not the only political party to ignore the injustices claimed by the Muslim minority; electoral motivations cause politicians to play to the Hindu majority.  

There have been calls from Hindu leadership to counter terror with terror. The Hindu-nationalist political party, Shiv Sena, called on its followers to fight back against the increasing Islamic militancy in India. BJP leaders condemned such calls and distanced themselves from Shiv Sena, but Hindu civilians have made some attempts. In early June 2008, two low-intensity bombs were placed in theaters in Mumbai; radical Hindus claimed responsibility. On 31 May 2008, other bombs were diffused outside a movie theater showing a film believed offensive by some Hindutva groups.  Hindu extremists were also behind the 2002 riot in Gujarat state; a response to the murder of 58 Indian Hindus in a train fire. Considering the sequence of attacks, it appears as though India has provided foreign militants with an easy job.

The Most Recent Claim of Responsibility 


The Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the 26 July blasts and the eight explosions on 13 May 2008 in the Rajasthan state capital, Jaipur; no mention was made of the Bangalore attacks. The group wrote that they were the sole perpetrators, and they asked that no other organization, such as LeT, claim responsibility. The email included “a list of grievances against India’s Hindu majority.” The group was unheard of until, in November 2007, they claimed responsibility for an attack in Uttar Pradesh state. The claim raised legitimacy concerns among authorities; claims of responsibility have proven rare in India. As stated earlier, anonymity on the part of the perpetrators has only helped to increase instability in India.  The email in which the group claimed responsibility stated that the attack was to avenge the 2002 killing of approximately 2,000 Muslims. As of most recently, the Indian government has arrested 30 suspects believed to be behind the most recent “unusually sophisticated” bombings. 

India’s Response

In light of the recent attacks and their implications, Time claimed that the Indian government must not continue to point fingers at other countries. Pakistani officials continue to deny their government’s involvement in the recent attacks in response to the warning from Indian officials to their neighbor that their peaceful relations were in jeopardy due the increase in attacks. Instead of this, the Time article stated, India must focus on countering the terrorist growth within its own boundaries. Though moderate Muslims in India decry the violent actions of radical Islamists, the growth of the latter has become overpowering. According the B. Raman, a topical expert, Indian Muslims have, at this point, moved beyond local grievances; the Muslim population, formally unconnected to global jihad, sympathizes with and has joined the war against the larger, Western world.  Raman also cited the most recent attacks in Ahmedabad and Bangalore as the newest successes for ISI and the “‘Indianisation’” of jihad.



Sources:

 International SOS, “Security Special Advisory India” 26 July 2008 and Reuters, “India on alert after two days of bombings kill 40”, 27 July 2008.

International Herald Tribune, “In India, widespread terrorism is attack on 'our way of life'” 27 July 2008 and Reuters, “India on alert after two days of bombings kill 40”, 27 July 2008.

Reuters, “India on alert after two days of bombings kill 40”, 27 July 2008.

International SOS, “Security Special Advisory India” 26 July 2008 and Newstrack India, “Ahmedabad Police diffuse another live bomb”, 27 July 2007.

International SOS, “Security Special Advisory India” 26 July 2008 and Newstrack India, “Ahmedabad Police diffuse another live bomb”, 27 July 2007.

Newstrack India, “Ahmedabad serial blasts death toll reaches 45 (Update-Ahmedabad blast)”, 27 July 2008 and Newstrack India, “Terrorism spreading tentacles to South India”, 26 July 2008 and International SOS, “Security Special Advisory India” 26 July 2008.

International Herald Tribune, “In India, widespread terrorism is attack on 'our way of life'” 27 July 2008.

Time.com, “India hit by another bombing”, 14 May 2008.

International SOS, “Security Special Advisory India” 26 July 2008 and Newstrack India, “Terrorism spreading tentacles to South India”, 26 July 2008.

International SOS, “Security Special Advisory India” 26 July 2008.

Newstrack India, “Terrorism spreading tentacles to South India”, 26 July 2008.

Time.com “India hit by another bombing”, 14 May 2008.

Newstrack India, “Terrorism spreading tentacles to South India”, 26 July 2008 and Reuters, “Indian police suspect Bangladeshi hand in blasts” 16 May 2008 and Times of India, "Ahmedabad blasts: Death toll rises to 45", 27 July 2008.

Time.com, “India hit by another bombing”, 14 May 2008 and International SOS, “Security Special Advisory India” 26 July 2008.

Newstrack India, “Terrorism spreading tentacles to South India”, 26 July 2008 and Time.com, “India hit by anther bombing”, 14 May 2008 and Reuters, “Indian police suspect Bangladeshi hand in blast”, 16 May 2008.

Reuters, “Indian police suspect Bangladeshi hand in blast”, 16 May 2008.

Reuters, “Indian police suspect Bangladeshi hand in blast”, 16 May 2008.

Reuters, “India on alert after two days of bombings kill 46”, 27 July 2008 and India, “Terrorism spreading tentacles to South India”, 26 July 2008.

India: The Terrorists Within”, 27 July 2008.

Newstrack India, “Terrorism spreading tentacles to South India”, 26 July 2008.

The Economist, “Blast after blast”, 28 July 2008.

The Economist, “Blast after blast”, 28 July 2008 and Council on Foreign Relations, “The ISI and Terrorism: Behind the Accusations” 9 July 2008.

The Economist, “Blast after blast”, 28 July 2008.

The Economist, “Blast after blast”, 28 July 2008 and Council on Foreign Relations, “The ISI and Terrorism: Behind the Accusations” 9 July 2008.

Reuters, “India on alert after two days of bombings kill 46”, 27 July 2008 and The Economic Times, “Ahmedabad attack email traced to Mumbai” 27 July 2008.

Time, “India: The Terrorists Within” 27 July 2008 and The Economic Times, “Ahmedabad attack email traced to Mumbai Ahmedabad attack email traced to Mumbai”, 27 July 2008.

Reuters, “Indian police suspect Bangladeshi hand in blast”, 16 May 2008 and Time, “India: The Terrorists Within”, 27 July 2008.

Reuters, “India on alert after two days of bombings kill 46”, 27 July 2008 and Time, “India: The Terrorists Within” 27 July 2008.

Reuters, “India on alert after two days of bombings kill 46”, 27 July 2008.

Time, “India: The Terrorists Within” 27 July 2008.

Reuters via Yahoo! News, “Call for Hindu suicide squad sparks anger in India”, 19 June 2008.

India, “Terrorism spreading tentacles to South India”, 26 July 2008.

The Economist, “Blast after blast”, 28 July 2008.

International SOS, “Security Special Advisory India” 26 July 2008.

Time, “India: The Terrorists Within”, 27 July 2008.

Times Online, “Multiple bombings kill 45 in India”, 28 July 2008.

AP via Yahoo! News, “In e-mail, Islamic group claims India blasts”, 27 July 2008.

International Herald Tribune, “In India, widespread terrorism is attack on 'our way of life'” 27 July 2008.

The Economist, “Blast after blast”, 28 July 2008.

Times Online, Multiple bombings kill 45 in India”, 28 July 2008.

Time, “India: The Terrorists Within”, 27 July 2008.

Times Online, “Multiple bombings kill 45 in India” 28 July 2008.

Time, “India: The Terrorists Within”, 27 July 2008.

Times Online, “Multiple bombings kill 45 in India” 28 July 2008.