Berlin, Nov.28 : Counter-terrorism officials and experts said the scale, sophistication and targets involved in the Mumbai attacks were markedly different from previous terrorist plots in India and suggested the gunmen had received training from outside the country.
The Washington Post quotes officials in India, Europe and the United States as saying the likely culprits included Islamist networks based in Pakistan that have received support in the past from Pakistan's intelligence agencies.
"This is a new, horrific milestone in the global jihad," said Bruce Riedel, a former South Asia analyst for the CIA and National Security Council and author of the book, "The Search for Al Qaeda."
"No indigenous Indian group has this level of capability. The goal is to damage the symbol of India's economic renaissance, undermine investor confidence and provoke an India-Pakistani crisis," he added. An American counter-terrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the Lashkar-i-Taiba and the Jaish-i-Muhammad are "the thing people are starting to look at. But I can't caution enough to treat it as a theory, a working assumption. It's still too early for hard and fast" conclusions." Earlier, Pakistan's government condemned the attacks and warned India against jumping to conclusions about who was responsible.
The Lashkar-i-Taiba issued a statement denying involvement.
Analysts said the fact that the gunmen quickly fanned across the city and were able to hold off Indian security forces over three days suggests that they had received training at organized camps.
"What is striking about this is a fair amount of planning had to go into this type of attack. This is not a seat-of-the-pants operation. This group had to receive some training or support from professionals in the terrorism business," said Roger W. Cressey, a former White House counter-terrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations. Peter Neumann, a terrorism analyst at King's College in London, noted that dozens of gunmen were involved.
"Anything could be in the cards. With most terrorist attacks, it's relatively clear-cut who is involved. In this case, it could be all sorts of constellations that are at work," said Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism analyst at the Swedish National Defense College.