The 26th of November, 2022, marks the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. For three nights and days, ten heavily armed terrorists spread mayhem in the city. Their targets included the Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus, Oberoi Trident, Taj Hotel, Leopold Café, Cama Hospital, Nariman House and the Metro Cinema. As many as 168 people lost their lives, including 25 foreigners.
The official version of the Indian state is that these attacks were carried out by a Pakistani terrorist group called Lashkar e-Taiba. The entire narrative of how it was carried out and by whom is based on information received from American intelligence agencies. The version of American intelligence agencies is in turn based on the revelations of a man called David Headley, who had been arrested by the US authorities several times in the past and released from prison allegedly because he had turned into a useful informer. (See Box: Revelation of US intelligence agencies)
The fact that the Indian authorities have been repeating whatever was fed to them by the US authorities makes this official version highly dubious. A dispassionate analysis of the political context in which these attacks took place suggests that the US imperialists are themselves the prime suspects.
Internationally, the so-called war against terrorism, initiated by the US following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, was being exposed as a war aimed at establishing American imperialist domination over the whole world. The US justification for the invasion of Iraq, that the Saddam Hussain regime had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction, had been exposed as a deliberately manufactured lie. Many countries, including Germany, France, India and Pakistan, had refused to join the American led “coalition of the willing” against Iraq. In Pakistan, there was growing mass opposition to the use of their country as a base to attack the fraternal Afghan people. In sum, the US was getting increasingly isolated in the international arena.
In South Asia, it was a time when the governments of India and Pakistan were striving to overcome their differences and settle unresolved disputes. It may be recalled that on the day the terrorist attacks in Mumbai began, the foreign Minister of Pakistan was in New Delhi for talks. It must also be noted that every time India and Pakistan have made any attempt to resolve their outstanding disputes, the US has secretly worked to derail these efforts. This has created favourable conditions for the US to escalate its intervention in South Asia, with the aim of bringing entire South Asia under its domination.
Soon after the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008, Barack Obama, who had just been declared President Elect, started championing a massive propaganda campaign against Pakistan, portraying that country as the fountainhead of global terrorism.US armed forces carried out numerous drone attacks on the soil of Pakistan, in which hundreds of innocent people were killed.
It must be noted that a no-confidence vote against the Manmohan Singh government in July 2008 had revealed the division that existed in the Indian Parliament over the Indo-US nuclear deal. The Mumbai terrorist attack served to pave the way for the strengthening of the strategic cum military alliance between the United States and India. Since then, the US has included India as an important partner in the QUAD alliance, in order to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region.
In sum, the geo-political context and available evidence point to the possibility that the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai was a false flag operation organised by the intelligence agencies of the US, to advance its geo-political aims.
Even if it is true that the terrorist operatives came to Mumbai from Pakistan, that by itself does not absolve the US from being the prime suspect. It is well known that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States is the creator and sponsor of most of the terrorist groups in Pakistan. The CIA created such groups to infiltrate the Afghan resistance to Soviet armed occupation in the eighties. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has deployed these groups in different countries and regions of the world, to serve its interests — in many countries of Europe, Asia and Africa, and in the US itself.
Escalation of state terrorism in India
The Indian state has used the 26/11 terrorist attacks to beef up the repressive state apparatus and arm itself with draconian laws that attack the democratic rights of the people.
Immediately following the 26/11 attacks, the UPA government of Manmohan Singh established the National Investigation Agency (NIA). It passed amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) which made it even more draconian than TADA and POTA. (TADA had been promulgated in the name of crushing terrorism in Punjab. TADA had to be repealed in the wake of powerful opposition from people. POTA had been promulgated following the terrorist attack on Parliament in December 2001. That law too had to be repealed in the wake of mass protests).
Over the past 14 years, the NIA has been increasingly used by the central government to persecute political opponents. UAPA has been used to terrorise and persecute those who oppose state terrorism and fight for the people’s rights. It gives the state the power to incarcerate people without any charge-sheet, for years on end, without trial. Those jailed have to prove they are innocent in order to get released. Thousands of fighters for justice and the rights of people are languishing in the jails, for years on end, under this law.
US imperialism is the greatest enemy of humankind, and the fountainhead of terrorism. All progressive forces in India must unite and fight to end the dangerous Indo-US military cum strategic alliance. We must fight alongside the peoples of Pakistan and other neighbouring countries, to ensure that US imperialist interference in this region is ended.
Revelation of US intelligence agencies
In late 2009, a year after the Mumbai terror attacks, US intelligence agencies claimed that they had just arrested a man called David Headley, who had played a key role in the planning of the Mumbai terror attacks. This agent revealed information about how the terror attacks were organised, and who were the organisers.
According to the US, this man was one of their agents who had been deployed by them to work with various terrorist groups in Pakistan. This agent had allegedly turned rogue. The US refused to hand him over to Indian intelligence agencies for interrogation, strengthening the view that the US wanted to cover up its hand in the organizing of the Mumbai terror attack, and put the blame on Pakistan.