On July 12, we conducted an informal survey of Muslim contacts from Lucknow and other cities. Their responses revealed a remarkable unanimity on ""Islamic terrorism"".
71263, 7/13/2006 12:44, 06NEWDELHI4948, Embassy New Delhi, CONFIDENTIAL, 06MUMBAI1302, "VZCZCXRO7826OO RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPWDE RUEHNE #4948/01 1941244ZNY CCCCC ZZHO 131244Z JUL 06FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHITO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6502INFO RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVERUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2953RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 6276RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 6287RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 9318RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 6968RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 9255RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3592RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 5314RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 5313RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI 4735RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE 2837RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 4536RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 3486RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDCRUEIDN/DNI WASHINGTON DCRHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HIRUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1602RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FLRUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3899RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HIRHMFISS/HQ USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FLRUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC","C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NEW DELHI 004948
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/13/2016 TAGS: PGOV, PTER, KISL, SCUL, IN
SUBJECT: NERVOUS NORTH INDIAN MUSLIMS ANTICIPATE A POST MUMBAI BACKLASH
REF: MUMBAI 1302
NEW DELHI 00004948 001.2 OF 003
Classified By: Charge Geoff Pyatt for reasons 1.4 (B,D)
1. (C) Summary: The Mumbai attacks have focused attention on the fragile communal situation in the North Indian Hindi belt, most particularly in Uttar Pradesh (UP). Indian security agencies are warning that both the Students' Islamic Organization of India (SIMI) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) have established cells throughout the state, increasing fears that UP could be their next target. Our contacts have little faith in the ability of Islamic leaders, political parties, security agencies or the GOI to prevent a terrorist attack and the anti-Muslim backlash that could follow. While Indians are grateful that the Mumbai attacks have not yet set off a communal conflagration, North Indian Muslims remain nervous and fearful. End Summary.
Uttar Pradesh as the Next Target
2. (U) No sooner had the smoke cleared in Mumbai than the focus shifted to the crucial North India state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). With a 17 percent Muslim population and a large concentration of Shias, UP has endured a string of terrorist attacks since 2001, including multiple bombings on moving trains similar to the Mumbai blasts. In addition, the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the two principal suspects in the Mumbai attacks, are both active in the state. SIMI was founded in April 1977 in the UP city of Aligarh and Indian intelligence agencies estimate that it has established cells in 12 UP districts with large Muslim populations. On July 12, the UP police warned that a terrorist attack could take place in the state as early as the August 15 Independence day holiday.
Muslim Leaders Quick to Condemn the Attacks
3. (SBU) The Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind (JuH), the political wing of the Deobandi sect, is well-entrenched and powerful throughout North India's Hindi belt. On July 13, its President Maulana Arshad Madani decried the Mumbai bombings as ""barbaric acts calculated to disturb communal harmony,"" called on the government to capture and prosecute the perpetrators and organized relief for the Mumbai victims. There were no similar statements from other prominent Muslim organizations or leaders, especially Wahhabi organizations such as the Jamaat Islami (JI). Less prominent Muslim organizations came forward, with generally anodyne statements, including the Muslim Political Council of India, whose President, Tasleem Rehmani rhetorically urged the GOI to declare all victims of the bombings as ""martyrs to national integrity."" All India Minorities Front General Secretary Mohammad Yunus Siddiqui urged Indians not to allow SIPDIS terrorism to disrupt ""communal harmony"" and urged stronger security measures to ""foil attacks against the people.""
But Do Not Enjoy the Confidence of Muslims
4. (C) On July 12, we conducted an informal survey of Muslim contacts from Lucknow and other cities. Respondents included several Maulvis (both Sunni and Shia), Urdu language journalists, political and community leaders, scholars and academics. Their responses revealed a remarkable unanimity on ""Islamic terrorism"". All expressed disdain for what they NEW DELHI 00004948 002.2 OF 003 characterized as the ""weak response"" of India's Muslim leadership to the Mumbai attacks, accusing such leaders of taking a ""head in the sand"" approach and denying stark realities. They pointed out that after a string of terrorist assaults by Muslim extremists throughout India, it is now common knowledge within the Muslim community that the terrorists have established a support system and sympathizers' network among Indian Muslims to help carry out attacks conceived and orchestrated by foreign Muslims.
5. (C) A leading Barelvi community leader and journalist questioned why the media, especially the Muslim and Urdu media, has not been more condemnatory of those supporting terrorism. A Lucknow Shia and Urdu newspaper editor expressed shock that Muslim leaders in UP have largely remained silent about the Mumbai attack. A Shia Lucknow Maulvi compared terrorism to a deadly disease that requires strong medicine to overcome and pointed out that it will persist as long as the majority of India's Muslims remain silent. A leading Islamic scholar based in Delhi noted that the principal target of the terrorist attacks is the Indian people rather than the GOI, as they are aimed at destroying ""the unity and harmony among Hindus and Muslims all over the country."" In this light, he emphasized, GOI action will be insufficient, as the Indian people will have to ""maintain vigilance"" to prevent the social mosaic from unraveling.
Pervasive Uneasiness In Muslim Quarters
6. (C) The Mumbai attacks cannot help but increase unease amongst North Indian Muslims, who have witnessed politically-engineered communal riots in several UP cities over the past six months. Muslim fears are compounded by the lack of governance in UP and Bihar. UP is currently enmeshed in a messy political campaign in the run up to the March 2007 election. Most of our contacts expect the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) and its rival Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to stoop to any level to win, including fanning communal outbreaks. The state's police force has been suborned and corrupted by the SP and we doubt that it would be able to maintain security if communal rioting gets out of hand. The BJP has begun to stage ""anti-terrorism"" rallies at various locations in the Hindi belt, including communal flashpoints with large Muslim populations. In the Hindutva lexicon, ""terrorism"" is synonymous with Islam and most Muslims will see the BJP rallies and statements for a war against terrorism as provocative calls for a war against Islam.
Comment: Not Out of the Woods Yet
7. (C) Most Indians are heaving a huge sigh of relief that the Mumbai attacks have not yet set off communal outbreaks (reftel). However, it is too early to stop worrying. North India, and particularly UP remain stressful and the Mumbai attacks have exacerbated an already fragile communal situation. Our Muslim contacts have reported over the past six months that SIMI and other Islamic extremists, (including mysterious ihdividuals they claim are ""members of al Qaeda."") have been active in the Muslim community, recruiting disaffected young men with offers of physical training, study of the Qu'ran, job opportunities and easy money. They are worried that these are nascent terrorist cells that could be activated to carry out attacks at the behest of foreign-based organizations. None of our contacts are confident that the GOI, security forces or intelligence agencies are capable of NEW DELHI 00004948 003.2 OF 003 dealing with these developments, and complain that extremists in UP barely conceal their activities and seem to operate with impunity. In addition, Muslims see signs that militant Hindutva organizations are also reviving and could use a terrorist attack as an excuse to mount reprisals. The silence of most North Indian Muslims is most telling, as it indicates a community scared of both Muslim and Hindu extremists and determined to keep a low profile at all costs.
8. (U) Visit New Delhi's Classified Website: (http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/sa/newdelhi/)