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International terrorism expert on Mumbai attacks.

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7.30 Report International terrorism expert on Mumbai attacks


International terrorism expert on Mumbai attacks

Broadcast: 01/12/2008


KERRY O’BRIEN: The full impact of last week's Mumbai terrorist attacks is still reverberating through the sub-continent as India counts the cost in both death toll and damage to its reputation.

Heads are rolling within government, and India’s security and intelligence services are facing a barrage of criticism for their failure to see the attack coming, and for how they dealt with it.

There is now little argument that the terrorists came from Pakistan, although Pakistan’s Foreign Minister has said, "Our hands are clean". The death toll now stands at 170.

For his own picture of who was behind the attack and its implications, I spoke late today with leading global terrorism expert, Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorist Research at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

He also advises various governments on al Qaeda and its offshoots. He spoke from Singapore.

Rohan Gunaratna, what is the most likely scenario you can put together from all the available intelligence as to who was behind the Mumbai attacks?

ROHAN GUNARATNA, GLOBAL TERRORISM EXPERT: The best that we can put together at this point of time is that there was an attack team that came from a place called Multan in Pakistan. They travelled by sea to Gujarat in India and from there they once again travelled by sea to Mumbai, in order to mount the attack. Certainly, they had linked up with elements within India. It is very likely that the attackers, they received their training in Pakistan, in a region called Fata, the federally administered tribal area. It is because the quality of training and the content of training was very similar to the al Qaeda style of training that has been imparted before to other terrorist groups that have attacked elsewhere, including in Europe.

KERRY O’BRIEN: There are strong reports the most likely link is to Lashkar-e-Toiba in Pakistan.

ROHAN GUNARATNA: Multan is in Punjab and what we have seen is that Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, the two groups that have been named, have been recruiting both in north and south of Punjab. It is possible that some members of the attack team were from Lashkar-e-Toiba, but once again, mainstream Lashkar-e-Toiba organisation is very well controlled by the Pakistani Government. Lashkar-e-

Toiba as an institution could not have staged this attack because Pakistan would be implicated in any Lashkar-e-Toiba attack.

So it is very likely that the terrorist group that mount this had attack may have even recruited from, recruited elements from various groups including Lashkar-e-Toiba, but certainly Lashkar-e-Toiba as a group would not have been responsible.

KERRY O’BRIEN: There is an obvious assumption to make that the goals of these attacks are to set India and Pakistan at each other's throats again. After a recent thawing in relations and possibly even to scupper Barack Obama's strategy for the region. Again what, do you say to that?

ROHAN GUNARATNA: The terrorists' intention certainly was to inflict mass fatalities, mass casualties and create so much of disruption between the India answer Pakistani relations that have been improving dramatically during the past regime of Musharraf and certainly sense the new government came to power

in Pakistan.

But I believe that the Pakistani and the Indian leaders should try to overcome the fallout from this attack. They should not allow this terrorist attack to disrupt the improving relationship. The terrorist attack is certainly a message to the Obama administration that the terrorists are capable and they will continue to carry out these attacks.

I have no doubt, looking back at this attack, that al Qaeda certainly inspired and instigated this group answer perhaps during investigation it is likely that we will even find an operational link to al Qaeda, because the manner in which this attack was staged clearly shows the hallmarks, the professionalism of al

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KERRY O’BRIEN: How strong is the political resolve within both the Indian and the Pakistani Governments to stay on the road to peace despite the provocations? And for that matter, how credibly can Pakistan say "Our hands are clean" as the Pakistani Foreign Minister has said?

ROHAN GUNARATNA: At this point of time India is accusing Pakistan. I think that it is so important for India to realise that they can protect itself in the future much better by developing a collaborative intelligence and security agreement and sharing of intelligence agreement with Pakistan with Bangladesh and its neighbours. I believe that India as the regional power as the major power should work with Pakistan, I believe that the Pakistani leadership is currently very keen to work with India. I myself met with the Prime Minister and the national security adviser of Pakistan and I want to state that both of them are very keen to improve their relationship, the bilateral relationship with India. They understand the problems that exist between these two countries, but with regard to terrorism they're willing to work together and India must not miss this opportunity, although India has been hurt very badly by this attack.

KERRY O’BRIEN: How do you think Indian intelligence and its capacity, its counter terrorist capacity emerged from these attacks? What have these attacks exposed?

ROHAN GUNARATNA: Every successful terrorist attack is an intelligence failure. Certainly this attack was an intelligence failure and that is why the Home Minister and the National Security Adviser have resigned. I believe that this attack should create the impetus for India to restructure its national security and intelligence policy and strategy, and invest significantly in developing the high quality, high grade intelligence necessary to prevent the next attack, to prevent and attack in the planning and the preparation phase. And India is able to do this only by investing more in developing human sources, improving its technical intelligence capability and more importantly building liaison relations with its neighbours,

particularly with Pakistan.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Rohan Gunaratna, thank you very much for talking with us.


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