A note from Michael A. Innes, Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds School of Politics and International Studies:
Some of you may already be familiar with The Complex Terrain Laboratory (CTlab) and its blog, Current Intelligence (http://www.terraplexic.org). That blog has now moved to its own accommodations (http://www.currentintelligence.net) and evolved into Current Intelligence Magazine.
Check it out, bookmark it, blogroll it.
India is going to leverage the fallout from the attacks to their advantage – as they should:
India is renewing its demands that Pakistan hand over a group of wanted militant leaders suspected of plotting the attacks in Mumbai that killed nearly 180 people.
Indian officials have delivered a list of suspected terrorists and asked Pakistan to hand them over, two sources within the Pakistani government confirmed to CNN on Tuesday.
India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said his country made the request to Pakistan’s top diplomat in India, according to the Press Trust of India.
“We will await the response of Pakistan,” he told reporters Tuesday.
Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is requesting more evidence from India before any transfer takes place. It’s an effort to buy time more than anything else.
It’s not like we haven’t heard these warnings before but events in Mumbai, our economic situation, and this period of significant political transition may prove too tempting for Al Qaeda to pass up:
If Al Qaeda terrorists have their way there will be chaos and mayhem here this holiday season, a mass transit bomb plot that would probably affect all the subway and train lines at Penn and Grand Central stations.
“The threat is serious, the threat is significant, and it is plausible,” said Congressman Peter King, R-Long Island, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Uniformed officers, including this NYPD Counter Terrorism Squad members and Amtrak cops with M-16s, flooded Penn Station Wednesday after the FBI said it had received a “plausible but unsubstantiated” report that Al Qaeda operatives discussed a plan two months ago to bomb New York City’s mass transit system.
The report said: “These discussions reportedly involved the use of suicide bombers or explosives placed on subway/passenger rail systems.”
This warning is a bit unusual in that some information about the source has been released or leaked:
Police sources said the information came from a Pakistani citizen arrested overseas within the past week. Those sources said the target would have been trains arriving at Penn Station.
It’s going to be a long night, a long couple of days really, for our homeland security – public safety folks.
This is still a very fluid situation but some hotel guests escaped in the chaos and have provided some insight:
Another British guest at the Taj Mahal hotel, where the England cricket team had been staying two weeks ago, said that he had managed to escape the terrorists after finding himself among a dozen people who were herded together by two heavily armed men and taken up to the hotel’s upper floors.
“They were very young, like boys really, wearing jeans and T-shirts,” he added. “They said they wanted anyone with British and American passports and then they took us up the stairs. I think they wanted to take us to the roof.” He said he escaped when they reached the 18th floor.
As he was speaking, there was a loud explosion from the roof of the hotel. Several European politicians were among a group who had barricaded themselves inside the Taj Mahal, a century-old seaside hotel complex and one of the city’s best-known destinations.
They included Sajjad Karim, a Conservative MEP. He said by mobile phone: “I was in the lobby of the hotel when gunmen came in and people started running. There were about 25 or 30 of us. Some of us split one way and some another. A gunman just stood there spraying bullets around, right next to me. I managed to turn away and I ran into the hotel kitchen and then we were shunted into a restaurant in the basement. We are now in the dark in this room and we’ve barricaded all the doors. It’s really bad.”
THe number of hostages seems to range wildly in reports – with some estimates at 100 or more:
Over 40 western hostages are reportedly being held at two luxury hotels in soutern Mumbai, say the Times of India.
Fire is reportedly spreading across the Heritage Wing of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel amid ongoing firefights between the army and terrorists.
CNN is reporting that 7-15 hostages remain in the Taj specifically. While NDTV puts the number of terrorists still on scene at 3 to 4.
More on the historic Taj at its website.