Sophistication and savagery in Ahmedabad

July 28, 2008

One of the most striking things about the weekend’s bomb attacks in Gujarat was the mixture of savagery and sophistication.

Security personnel search for evidence near a bomb blast site in Ahmedabad July 27, 2008. REUTERS/Amit DaveSavagery because of the way a second wave of bombs were detonated at a hospital, apparently to target the crowds of concerned relatives who had gathered there. Had they been watching Contract, a recently released Bollywood film with a similar plotline?

Sophistication because of the way the coordinated attack was planned and executed without the intelligence agencies getting a sniff of it, even though dozens of people must have been involved.

It also looks as though the IP address of an American living in Mumbai was hacked to send an email just before the first blasts. Perhaps the perpetrators remembered how Daniel Pearl’s kidnappers were traced in 2002 from a email sent from a cybercafe in Karachi. This time the sender of the email will be harder to trace.

The bombers also stayed one step ahead of the police by not using mobile phones to detonate Saturday’s blast. That allowed the bombers to detonate the second set of bombs without having to worry about the mobile phone network being closed down (as police in Bangalore did on Friday). It could also will rob the police of some potentially valuable leads.

By reportedly using old, rented bicycles instead of newly bought ones, as they did in Jaipur, the bombers may also have covered their tracks more carefully.

The email from the Indian Mujahideen was professionally put together, even if its message was one of hatred. In it, the group insisted that “each and every Mujahid belongs to this very soil of India”, and mocked the “cunning ones who call themselves the ‘Intelligence Bureau'”.

So far the police seem to have few leads on the Indian Mujahideen, but this level of sophistication and planning will undoubtedly lead some people to suspect the presence of a foreign hand.

It already has made some people wonder if India’s intelligence agencies are well enough equipped and resourced to cope with this sort of threat.

But there is one thing I simply do not understand. The email says the attacks targeted Gujarati Hindus. But if that was the case, why were some of the bombs left in the Muslim-dominated old city? But I guess the working of a Mujahid’s mind are not always easy to understand.


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The terrorists are well educated and computer savy and are making a fool of our internal security system whose Head the home Minister of India is the most inefficient. He just doesn’t understand TERRORISM. He thinks it is some kind of political game which can be blamed on gujerat riots.We have also a potential PM in waiting always harping on POTA as if it is a magic wand. He was home minister and didn’t LEARN his job well.
Meanwhile we have these guys who are dedicated and don’t accept the traditional govt Maulvi as they follow WAHABISM and SALAFISM to the letter.The recent arrest in Tamilnadu of terrorists who was trained in Pakistan and conducting the operation from CENTRAL JAIL in chennai.

Posted by captainjohann | Report as abusive

India has seen a series of bomb blasts in the last few years. Interestingly, the politicians and their families have always been immune to the destruction. I have scratched my head and could come up with the following POTENTIAL reasons. A) These politicians just too lucky. B) Or they usually have advance information about the blasts C) Or they have better security than the real Indians. My guess is that it is C). But that is so counter-intuitive… Terrorists are never going to kill these incompetent buffoons. If they did then these terrorists might have to face a half way decent policy maker who might stand up to their challenge. Therefore, I propose that all the security cover of the politicians… from Prime Minister to the vote-selling Member of Parliament to corrupt MLA’s be revoked with immediate effect. That way we save some money and the exchequer would have more money to be looted by the corrupt, bribe seeking politicians.

Posted by Pankaj | Report as abusive

The main motive behind the attack is to cause violence between Hindus and Muslims and to disrupt the economy. The countries that benefit the most are Pakistan and Bangladesh, as they compete with India for foreign investment. And there appears to be links to both countries in these recent bombings.

Posted by barry | Report as abusive

simple answer to your last question; they don’t care if muslims die in the attacks – they’ll just count those casualties as martyrs for the cause.

Posted by Anil | Report as abusive

Its unfortunate that after such a tragedy people would point fingers at the “usual suspects” instead of looking at who was actualy involved in getting his hands “dirty”.
The terrorist activity of this sort is not possible without support in India itself.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Its easy to point fingers at Pakistan and start blame game without conducting proper investigation. The Indian government should properly investigate and track down the perpetrators. Pakistan has seen some of the worst wave of terrorist attacks in 2007, almost evey single law enforcement agency has taken direct hits, the Army, Air Force, Navy, Police, Paramilitary forces, FIA and agencies alike.
When Pakistan itself is a victim of worst terrorism and many innocent people have lost their lives, how can Indai blame Pakistan for these recent bombings. If India does not track the real culprits it will hound them later. Terrorism will keep growing and reach alarming levels. Infact there is an opportunity here for the leaders of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to sign some form of treaty and ensure intelligence sharing and counter terrorism efforts between law enforcement agencies of the four South Asian nations.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

I agree with Simon’s excellent analysis. The bottom line is that the intelligence services and the police are no way near up to stratch to match the challenge of increasing brutal and sophisticated terrorists–who must be laughing at the sheer incompetence of our security agencies.

But the question that needs to asked is why are our policemen and the intelligence agencies (an oxymoron for our domestic intelligence agency) so tragically inefficient. Well, one reason lies in the broader context of Indian polity: that is, the policeman and sleuths are so busy hassling and taking money from innocent Indians that they do not focus on stopping terrorist attacks. They are also so busy providing protection to politicians, top cops and senior bureaucrats, how can we expect them to thwart terrorist attacks?

Moreover, the obsequious culture where many policeman are licking the bootstraps of their seniors and politicians for favours, transfers and promotions allows terrorists to have a free run. God knows where our income tax is going — the cess, the surcharge, the basic tax rate–for unneeded foreign trips of officials, airconditioned cars for our leaders and IAS officers.

Who is answerable? Who will stand up to the evil terrorists who want to kill all Indians–Hindus, Muslims Christians, Sikhs–all of us are fair game. Who will say “Enough is Enough”. Well don’t look at Manmohan Singh, Shivraj Patil or L.K Advani for security–political rhetoric and point scoring is what they have to offer. We all have to look after ourselves and our children, because under our corrupt polity, that is the only alternative. Jai Hind.

Posted by Syed Mansoor | Report as abusive

Nice piece, sticks to the basic facts and does not venture into kite flying like some of the other pieces in this website. Shows what good reportage is…

Posted by Aditya | Report as abusive

The problem is that the terrorist will never target our corrupt politicians because their intention is to Harm the country not to provide benefit to the country by targetting these corrupt politicians. And our Home Minister is busy asking the Intelligence agancies to keep a check on MPs and buy MPs from other parties so obviously these intelligence agencies cannot devot their time to small matters like terrorism since they have bigger task on their hands like managing MPs so that congress party government can survive

Posted by Ramesh | Report as abusive

Reading the previous blog entries I am getting a better understanding of the real India. PRChina, was once in a similar position as India not long ago, and for some reason they have been able to get ahead (minus the human rights issues). The majority of infrastructure in the major cities is up there with ‘1st world countries’, sometimes surpassing. The average standard of living is higher. But what about India? There was and still is corruption in the PRChina but it has been reduced to the extent where the country as a whole has been able to improve. It is obvious those in the top jobs see the common sense in preventing such cancerous and degenerative behaviour on society. However it appears India is yet to see that the rampant corruption at all levels is slowly devastating it’s society like a gangrenous wound left to rot without any or proper treatment. Seems like the wastage and extravegance would be immeasurable, immoral and downright irrational.

Posted by Conscientious Observer | Report as abusive

‘But I guess the working of a Mujahid’s mind are not always easy to understand’

You article suggests the work of a foreign hand – usually meaning Pakistan.

Has it occurred to you that the plot may have been carried out by India’s own security agencies so the the finger of blame could be pointed at Pakistan.

The Pakistanis are under a lot of pressure from Nato – they’d be foolish to do this too.

Never swallow the corporate nonsense wholesale.

Posted by Moody | Report as abusive

I think the cast system and rich poor gap,Approx. 300million people live below the poverty level are the real problems of India. These problems will not go away by blaming others.

Posted by Ghandi | Report as abusive