caption="A commando during the operation at the Jewish center."]
Program note: See Peter Bergen's full report during special CNN coverage of the Mumbai attacks, tonight, 7-9p ET.
CNN National Security Analyst
It was an al Qaeda-influenced attack with western targets, British targets, American targets, Jewish targets, multiple coordinated attacks. In terms of who could have done this, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials that I've been speaking with recently, they don't think that this could be just simply a local indigenous group.
We have seen numerous terrorist attacks in India, of course, and in Bombay. But some of the attacks in Bombay - one of the counterterrorism officials I talked to pointed to the '93 attack in Bombay which killed 250 people, multiple attacks, was coordinated according to the U.S. government by a guy called Daoud Ebraham (ph). Now Daoud Ebraham (ph) is an Indian gangster with strong links to Pakistan.
He's believed to be living in Karachi right now, Karachi, Pakistan, the large port city where it is possible that the ship came from that delivered the terrorists, so that's one angle I'm sure investigators are going to be looking at. A significant Kashmir militant group conducted a similar operation to what we've seen in Bombay against the Indian Parliament back in December of 2001 where numerous gunmen was sent into the Parliament on a de facto suicide mission, shot up the Parliament. It nearly brought India and Pakistan to war in 2002, perhaps the intent again with these recent attacks to kind of inflame tensions between these two long-time rivals.
There's a lot of tension between Pakistan and India. They fought three major wars and one smaller war since 1947. And they nearly came to a nuclear exchange in 2002. So the fact that they are sharing this intelligence at the high levels is a good thing. However, Indian popular opinion is going to be very much inflamed if indeed this links back to Pakistani terrorist groups.
The Indian government has in the past proven quite responsible and mature in its responses to terrorist attacks that may have some Pakistani links. And we can only hope that's the case in the future. However, Indian politicians have to respond to their public, so going forward, as the investigation goes forward, if there are links back to Pakistan, the Indian population may demand some kind of further action than is being taken right now.
This attack could have been designed to derail the improving relationship between India and Pakistan. I mean the last several years' confidence-building measures between the two countries have included bus services, flights resuming, cricket matches, small things, but the sorts of things that would have been almost impossible to think of five years ago when relations between these two countries were really at their worst. So if these attacks are designed to inflame relations and they may well succeed, unfortunately.
One of President-elect Obama's advisers is a man called Bruce Riddell (ph), who's an expert on South Asia and al Qaeda. He has been advocating greater attempts by the United States to solve the Kashmir issue, so that's some advice the President-elect Obama is probably hearing. Also, if indeed Hillary Clinton is secretary of state, this is a part of the world that she knows very well.
She has been interested in perhaps appointing a special envoy to try and solve that dispute. This is something that she's been thinking about for a couple of years. Obviously that's something that she would have to discuss with President-elect Obama, so I would anticipate the new administration putting a great deal more diplomatic efforts to solve this long-festering dispute between these two countries.
The fact that we've been covering this event for more than 48 hours now rather than just having that brief news hit on suicide attackers, that they are taking hostages, we saw that going back to the Munich Olympics in 1972. If you can prolong the news coverage, obviously you prolong the news attention.
But one very strange thing about these hostage-takings is that they haven't issued any demands. We don't know what these people want. I mean usually when you take hostages, you make some demands. These people have made no demands at all, so all we can do is speculate about what the political issues are that they're interested in highlighting.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with