via Times Online
The investigation into the terror attacks that have killed at least 125 people in Bombay are focussing on a fishing vessel that was found off the city’s coast with one dead body on board, security sources say.
It is thought that the vessel was used by the terrorists before they climbed aboard a smaller boat to land at Colaba, the popular tourist area that suffered the worst strikes and where gunmen are hostages still holed up in two luxury hotels.
“This is a vital lead,” an Indian intelligence source told The Times.
The nationality of the dead man found on the boat is unknown, but one theory being pushed by many inside India’s intelligence apparatus is that the boat’s origin was Karachi, in Pakistan.
It is thought that the calls made by a satellite phone on board are bing analysed.
Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister, has said the attacks were triggered by forces “outside the country”, a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan. There are fears that tensions are rising between the two nuclear-armed nations.
Independent analysts have said that Wednesday’s attacks also recalled previous strikes by Lashkar-e-Toiba, a Pakistan-based militant group linked to a 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, where terrorists stormed the building with guns and grenades, taking hostages as part of a suicidal mission.
India’s security forces are also investigating the suspected involvement of Bombay’s most notorious mafia gang in the attacks — the network operated by Dawood Ibrahim, an underworld don who ranks among the world’s top five most-wanted men and is widely believed to have links with al-Qaeda.
Ibrahim, who is believed to be in exile in the Middle East or Pakistan and has been described by the US as “a global terrorist”, is thought to have masterminded the 1993 Bombay bombings, which claimed 250 lives.
The head of D-Company, a feared Bombay-based crime syndicate, he has been linked by US authorities to a massive drug smuggling operation.
The involvement of Ibrahim or parties associated with his network is suspected because of the deep local knowledge displayed by the terrorists.
They knew, for instance, that security at the Taj hotel had been dramatically scaled back in recent days. Another theory being checked by the Indian security forces is that at least one terrorist had a job at the Taj.
Dr Lakshman, of the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management,
said: “The level of local logistical support given to the terrorists suggests the involvement of Dawood Ibrahim’s group.”
Witnesses have said that they saw a small inflatable boat carrying at least eight men, now believed to have been the terrorists, landing at the Badhwar Park area of Colaba just before the first attacks.
One fisherman who confronted the men said that they pointed their weapons at him and said “humko tension hai” (we are feeling very tense).