‘Serious’ terror threat in Mumbai; police hunt four suspected militants

A police official in Mumbai has warned four suspected militants of Pakistani origin have entered the city, the capital of Maharashtra, India, and claims they are plotting attacks in the city. Police are now searching for the four people, thought to be members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Islamic fundamentalist militant group the Indian government holds responsible for the coordinated attacks which hit Mumbai in 2008. Joint police commissioner Himanshu Roy says intelligence suggests “the threat is serious.”

Ajmal Amir Kasab in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus during the 2008 Mumbai attacks

A United States counter-terrorism official said the attacks are likely imminent, and will occur over the Christmas and New Year period. “There’s no question LeT remains interested in pulling off another large-scale attack in India,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, “and we are alert to the possibility that LeT might again try a holiday attack.”

Speaking at a press conference, Roy said “[t]hey have recently arrived in Mumbai. We are not in a position to reveal their nationalities now but they are LeT members.”

Armed police have been posted around high-profile destinations in the city, and roads around the Taj Mahal Palace hotel—seiged by militants in the 2008 attacks—have been closed. Police have released a sketch of one of the militants believed to be in the city.

“The police [are] on high alert all over the city. We cannot take any of these intelligence inputs lightly in the holiday season,” another Mumbai official said. “Since yesterday, we are checking all the possible hideouts, small lodges and guesthouses, railway stations. We are checking all the vehicles that are coming into the city.”

166 people died and hundreds more were injured in the 2008 attacks, in which multiple gunmen attacked the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, a hospital, a police station, and numerous hotels, amongst other sites. The attacks were dubbed “India’s 9/11” by local media. Only one militant survived the attacks, Ajmal Amir Kasab; in May this year he was sentenced to death by hanging, on 86 charges, including murder, terrorism, and waging war against India.

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LeT’s annual military budget is USD 5.2 million

The annual military operations budget of terror outfit LeT is a whopping USD 5.2 million, according to a secret US document which gives details about the outfit’s fund raising activities, some of which comes through Jamaat-ud-Dawah’s charitable networks.

Logo of Lashkar-e-Taiba

The information is contained in a non-paper prepared by the American intelligence community, and shared with the Pakistan in August 2009 at the direction of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and gives a deep insight into the fund raising, financing and various outfits of LeT.

The document says that Hafiz Saeed continues to lead both the LeT and its front organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawah and that some of the funds collected in the name of charitable activities have also been used for planning terror attacks.

Saudi and Gulf States major sources of terror funding

Saudi Arabia and oil-rich Gulf States continue to be major sources of funding for radical Islamist terror groups like al Qaeda and LeT and militant groups are suspected to be receiving hefty donations during the annual pilgrimage of Haj, leaked US documents have said.

26/11 Mumbai Terrorist Attacks, Taj Mahal Hotel and Oberoi Trident.

“Private donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”, a leaked memo from the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December 2009 reads.

While acknowledging that Saudi Arabia has made “crucial progress” in aggressively trying to close the terrorist funding tap, the document say that while Riyadh is serious about threat from terrorism to the Kingdom, “it is a challenge to persuade Saudi officials to tackle terror funding outflow from its soil”.

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