Hasan Suroor

LONDON: British intelligence agencies suspect Al-Qaeda is behind the Mumbai attacks, pointing out that taking Western hostages fits in with the pattern of its previous operations, especially the 2002 Bali bombings when Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists attacked restaurants and clubs frequented by tourists.

Security sources were reported in the British media as saying targeting Western citizens suggested a “typical Al-Qaeda-style activity.” The attacks, seen as the most coordinated operation since 9/11, were believed to be in “retaliation” for recent American air attacks on suspected Al-Qaeda hideouts in the tribal areas on Pakistan-Afghanistan border that reportedly killed a number of leading Al-Qaeda militants and its supporters.

In recent weeks, intelligence agencies had reportedly picked up “chatter” suggesting that Al-Qaeda or groups linked to it were planning a “spectacular” partly as a response to CIA’s anti-terror operations in Pakistan and partly to “grab headlines” in the run-up to the change of government in America.

India was chosen as a target because that’s where Al-Qaeda has “sufficient resources to carry out an attack,” according to one counter-terror expert quoted in The Times.

The newspaper said the “sheer audacity” of the terrorists had “familiar elements of Al-Qaeda.”

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the attacks “outrageous” and said Britain stood “solidly” behind the Indian government.

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