Washington: As US observes the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, a reputed Washington-based research group on Saturday warned that a repeat of 26/11 may lead to a full blown Indo-Pak war. Preventing Mumbai-II from occurring remains a major foreign policy challenge for the US, the report said.
“One of the more predictable foreign policy challenges of the next years is a ‘Mumbai II': a large-scale attack on a major Indian city by a Pakistani militant group that kills hundreds,” said the 42-page report from the Bipartisan Policy Centre’s National Security Preparedness Group, a Washington based research group.
Authored by Peter Bergen and Bruce Hoffman, the report “Assessing the Terrorist Threat” appreciated the considerable restraint shown by India in its reaction to the provocation of the Mumbai attacks in 2008.
“Another such attack, however, would likely produce considerable political pressure on the Indian government to ‘do something’. That something would likely involve incursions over the border to eliminate the training camps of Pakistani militant groups with histories of attacking India,” the report said.
“That could lead in turn to a full-blown war for the fourth time since 1947 between India and Pakistan,” it said.
“Such a war involves the possibility of a nuclear exchange and the certainty that Pakistan would move substantial resources to its eastern border and away from fighting the Taliban on its western border, so relieving pressure on all the militant groups based there, including al-Qaeda,” said the report.
Over a three-day period in late November 2008, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) carried out multiple attacks in Mumbai targeting five-star hotels housing Westerners, as well as a Jewish-American community centre, it noted.
Additional incidents involved the Pakistan-born US citizen David Coleman Headley, who had changed his name from Daood Sayed Gilani.
Headley’s reconnaissance efforts on behalf of LeT were pivotal to the attacks in Mumbai, the report said.
“Last year he also planned an operation to kill those responsible for the 2005 publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, which many Muslims had deemed to be offensive,” the report said.