A banned Islamic terrorist group funded with cash raised in British mosques is believed to be behind the Mumbai attacks.
Kashmiri separatists Lashkar-e-Taiba, ‘The Army of the Righteous’, which has strong links to Al Qaeda, is accused of previous terrorist outrages in India.Â
‘Funded by UK cash’: The Taj Mahal hotel burns during the terror attack on Mumbai – an Islamic terrorist group funded with cash raised in British mosques is thought to be behind the attack
Indian officials say at least one of the gunmen captured after the attacks is part of a Lashkar network.
The group last week denied any responsibility and the unknown group Deccan Mujahideen said it was behind the atrocity.Â
But earlier this year another group, the Indian Mujahideen, which has links to Lashkar-e-Taiba, sent an email to Indian police warning it was planning an attack in Mumbai.Â
The message read: ‘We are keeping a close eye on you and just waiting for the right time to execute your bloodshed…Let the Indian Mujahideen warn all the people of Mumbai…You are already on our hit list and this time very, very seriously.’
Lashkar-e-Taiba has been blamed for violence throughout India, including the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi and a strike at an amusement park in Hyderabad in 2007.
It is accused of being behind a series of train bombings in Mumbai in 2006, which claimed almost 200 lives.Â
The group is outlawed in Britain and the US. In 2006, a Coventry man was sentenced to nine years in jail for conspiring to provide funds for its terrorist activities.Â
And intercepted telephone and radio communications before and during the latest attacks apparently suggest a link.
British Muslims have become a mainstay of the global ‘jihad’
More than 4,000 British Muslims have passed through terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to security agencies, providing a fertile recruitment pool for the Islamist international jihad.
Men from the UK’s Kashmiri community have joined groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, the prime suspects in the Mumbai attacks, which have been fighting against Indian forces in Kashmir. Others from a Pakistani background are in the ranks of the Taliban and other groups taking part in action against British and Nato forces in Afghanistan.
A former commander of the British force in Helmand, Brigadier Ed Butler, has revealed that his troops had come across British Muslims in southern Afghanistan. “There are British passport holders who live in the UK who are being found in places such as Kandahar,” he said. “There is a link between Kandahar and urban conurbations in the UK. This is something the military understands, but theBritish public does not.”
Last year, RAF Nimrod intelligence-gathering aircraft tracking Taliban radio signals in Afghanistan heard insurgent fighters speaking with Yorkshire and Midlands accents.
As well as fighters joining their ranks, groups such as Lashkar also benefit from funds raised on their behalf in the UK by the Muslim community. It has also been claimed that some of the aid money donated for the earthquake disaster relief three years ago was siphoned off for militant groups.
Lashkar, previously known as Jaish-e-Mohammed, has forged links with al-Qa’ida in Pakistan and are said to have shared training camps. One of their most famous recruits was Rashid Rauf, accused of being a key member in the plot to blow up transatlantic airliners, who was recently reported to have been killed in an American missile strike.
British Muslim recruits have also been involved in other conflicts. Asif Hanif, 21, from London, killed three people and injured 55 by blowing himself up in Tel Aviv. A companion, Omar Sharif, 27, from Derby fled the scene after explosives strapped to his body failed to detonate and was later found dead, his body washed up on an Israeli beach.
Somalia’s transitional government has accused Britain of being the main source of money and men for the fighters of the Islamist Courts Union (ICU), a fundamentalist group, in the country. The then deputy prime minister, Hussain Mohammed Aideed, declared: “The ICU’s main support was coming from London, paying cash to the ICU against the government. Among those who died in the war with the ICU wereBritish passport holders.”
The Independent, in Mogadishu after the Somali capital was taken over by Islamist forces last summer, discovered a significant number of young Somalis who had returned to fight for the Islamists from the diaspora in the West. Half a dozen young men, including two brothers from Wood Green in north London, were acting as bodyguards for Sheik Yusuf, one of the main Islamist commanders. One of the brothers, Hamid, said at the time: “The true Muslims are the only ones who are honest and who are patriots. We are doing our duty by fighting for the cause of Islam, which is above all countries.”
Britain has also been accused of being the centre where a number of terrorist plots abroad were planned. Moutaz Almallah Dabas, a Syrian-born Spanish citizen accused of helping those who took part in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, was extradited from London to Spain after the discovery of links between the attack and an alleged cell in England.
The Mumbai atrocity is a wake-up call for a frighteningly unprepared Britain
Last updated at 1:58 AM on 01st December 2008
Around the world, people have reacted with horror to the vile atrocities in Mumbai.Â
For three days, our TV screens transmitted images of carnage and chaos as the toll of murder victims climbed to upwards of 190 people, with many hundreds more injured.
Despite the fact that British citizens were caught up in the attacks, there is nevertheless a sense in Britain that this was nothing to do with usÂ -Â a horrible event happening in a faraway place.
The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai: ‘We don’t understand what we are up against… if it were to happen here, we would be unable to cope’
Among commentators, moreover, there has been no small amount of confusion.Â
Were these terrorists motivated by the grievance between Muslims and Hindus over Kashmir, or was this a broader attack by Al Qaeda?Â
If British and American tourists were singled out over IraqÂ -Â which many assume is the motive for such attacksÂ -Â why were Indians targeted in the Victoria railway station?
And why was an obscure Jewish outreach centre marked for slaughter?Â
Such perceptions and questions suggest that, even now, Western commentators still don’t grasp what the free world is facing. This was not merely a distant horror.Â
We should pay the closest possible attention to what happened in Mumbai because something on this scale could well happen here.Â
But because we don’t understand what we are actually up against, we are not doing nearly enough to prevent thisÂ -Â or something even worseÂ -Â occurring on British soil; and if itÂ wereÂ to happen here, we would be unable to cope.Â
The Mumbai atrocities show very clearly what too many in Britain obdurately denyÂ -Â that a war is being waged against civilisation.Â
It is both globalÂ andÂ local. It is not ‘our’ fault; it has nothing to do with Muslim poverty, oppression or discrimination.Â
The Islamic fundamentalist fanatics use specific grievancesÂ -Â Kashmir, Iraq, Palestine, ChechnyaÂ -Â merely as recruiting sergeants for their worldwide holy war against all ‘unbelievers’.Â
The only militant to survive the attack, he is said to be from Karachi, Pakistan
The Mumbai attackers targeted British, American and Indian citizens simply because they wanted to kill as many British, American and Indian ‘unbelievers’ as possible.Â
Where they found Muslims, they spared them.
They also singled out for slaughter the occupants of the Chabad House, a pious Jewish outreach organisation with no Israeli or political agendaÂ -Â underscoring the point that at the core of the Islamists’ hatred of Israel festers their hatred of the Jews.
This was not, as is so often described, ‘mindless violence’.Â
On the contrary, the terrorists precisely calibrated both their choice of targets and the way in which they attacked them. This tells us many things.
India was chosen in order to further two aims. First was to foment greater tension between India and Pakistan.Â
No less important was the wish to destroy the ever more vital strategic alliance between India and the West in common defence against the Islamist onslaught.Â
That was why British and American visitors in those two grand hotels were singled out.Â
And that was why Mumbai itself was chosenÂ -Â as the symbol of India’s burgeoning commerce and prosperity and its links with the West.
The manner of these attacks also carried a message.Â
Many hostages were taken, but no attempt was made to use them to demand redress of any grievances. They were simply killed.
That made a statement that the terrorists’ agenda is non-negotiable.Â
The attacks demonstrated, above all, the reach of the perpetrators and the impotence of their designated victims.
Those who believe that Islamist terror can be halted by addressing grievances around the world are profoundly mistaken.
With these atrocities, moreover, Islamist attacks have moved much closer to war than conventional terrorism.Â
The Iranian-born foreign affairs specialist Amir Taheri has pointed out that the Mumbai attacks embody the plan outlined by a senior Al Qaeda strategist after the U.S. decided to fight back following 9/11Â -Â a decision that the Islamists had not expected.
This new strategy entails targeting countries with a substantial Muslim presence for ‘low-intensity warfare’ comprising bombings, kidnappings, the taking of hostages, the use of women and children as human shields, beheadings and other attacks that make normal life impossible.
Such a simultaneous, multi-faceted onslaught quickly reduces a city and a country to chaos. It can be repeated anywhereÂ -Â and British cities must be among the most vulnerable.
This is becauseÂ -Â astoundinglyÂ -Â Britain now harbours the most developed infrastructure of Islamist terrorism and extremism in the Western world.Â
The security service has warned that it is monitoring at least 2,000 known terrorists, and has said repeatedly that although many outrages have been averted a major attack may not be preventable.
Indeed, British security officials have sleepless nights about the various ways in which the Islamists are trying to cause mass casualties in BritainÂ -Â and the fact that even now this threat is not taken seriously.
This point was made yesterday by the former head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, Peter Clarke.
As an example, he noted that Kazi Nurur Rahman, a convicted terrorist who was arrested shortly after 7/7 with a machine-gun and 3,000 rounds of ammunition, had been trying to buy machine-guns, rocket-propelled grenades and missilesÂ -Â undoubtedly for use against British targets.
Far from the popular caricatures of bumbling, impressionable and socially alienated misfits, he said, there was a capable and motivated enemy spanning the globe which would try to replicate the Mumbai atrocities in Britain.Â
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Even more chilling was the warning by a former head of the SAS that Britain has made no adequate preparations to deal with such an onslaught upon a British cityÂ -Â even though that is precisely the ‘ Doomsday scenario’ that the security world fears.
Such synchronised attacks, he said, required a ‘military-type response’, either by squads of soldiers or armed police. But we have neither in place.Â
This country is simply not trained, equipped or prepared in any way to deal with something on this scale.
Yesterday, Gordon Brown said that the Mumbai attacks had raised ‘huge questions’ about how the world should address violent extremism.Â
But the first question he must answer is how the British approach will now change.
For the fact is that not only is Britain hopelessly unprepared for attacks of this kind, but the Government’s approach to the problem of home-grown radicalisation is misguided.
Wrongly believing that it can use religious fundamentalists to counter terrorist recruitment and that it must at all costs avoid causing offence, it is failing to stop extremists spreading their propaganda, handling their demands with kid gloves and undermining genuine moderates among Britain’s Muslims who have been left exposed, vulnerable and abandoned.
The reason for such flawed policies is the false analysis on which they are based.Â
The Government and security establishment refuse to acknowledge that what we are facing is a religious war.Â
Instead, they think that Islamist terrorism is driven by grievances which are basically the fault of the West.
But you have only to look around the world or at the history of the past four decades and more to see the absurdity and ignorance of this view.
Look at Thailand, for example, currently convulsed by Islamist terrorism in the south with bombings, beheadings and the murder of Buddhists.
Look at the persecution of Christians in Nigeria. Look at the Islamist terrorism in the Philippines.Â
Look, as Peter Clarke noted, at the attacks variously upon New York, Bali, Istanbul, Jakarta, Sharm el Sheikh, Casablanca, Madrid, London and India.
If we don’t understand what we are fighting, we cannot defeat it. Mumbai is yet another wake-up callÂ -Â to a Britain that is still in a trance of denial.