Intelligence chiefs were expecting Al-Qaeda spectacular

Intelligence chiefs were expecting Al-Qaeda spectacular

Bombay: a history of violence
Western intelligence services have been expecting an al-Qaeda spectacular terrorist attack in this crucial period between the end of President George Bush’s administration and the succession of Barack Obama.
Signals intelligence “chatter” in recent weeks indicated that Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organisation might be plotting an attack “to grab the headlines” before Mr Obama takes over in the White House on January 20.
British security and intelligence sources said there had been increasing concern, particularly in the United States, that a “terrorist spectacular” was on the cards.

Counter-terrorist experts last night said that India would have been selected for the latest spectacular “probably because that’s where al-Qaeda has sufficient resources to carry out an attack on this scale. They don’t choose for the sake of it, they look to see where they have the greatest capability and then order an attack,” a counter-terror expert told The Times.
The key to this latest attack was the search by the armed terrorists for American and British passport holders. With a reported 40 Britons held hostage, the terrorists have the upper hand. The counter-terrorist sources said targeting Bombay’s most luxurious hotels and a crowded railway station had all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda operation.
Bombay has been targeted before when 180 people died during a bomb attack on the railway station in 2006, but that incident was put down to militants, not al-Qaeda, and the Indian government suspected that the attackers had links to Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI.
This attack, however, involving the taking of Western hostages made it more likely that the operation’s masterminds were from the core leadership of al-Qaeda, which is based in the lawless tribal regions close to the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.
The Americans have been expecting an atrocity partly because of the recent CIA success in eliminating figures in al-Qaeda, using Predator unmanned drones, firing Hellfire missiles at hideouts in the tribal regions of Pakistan. About a dozen al-Qaeda figures have been killed this year.
Although an unknown group claimed responsibility last night, the taking of Western hostages and the deliberate seeking out of American and British citizens indicated a “typical al-Qaeda-style activity”, according to security sources.
Other sources said India was the home of a complicated network of terrorists and it might be too early to jump to the conclusion that it was an al-Qaeda operation. “It seems to be a highly opportunistic attack,” one source said.

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