Washington: As attackers of Sri Lankan cricketers continued to elude police, experts have found similarities between Mumbai and Lahore strikes and have cited evidence to show that terrorists were changing tactics to go for commando-style operations over suicide bombings.
Intelligence division of the New York Police Department (NYPD) have carried out a study of the twin terrorists strikes and said there was evidence of a “shift in tactics” from suicide bombs to a commando-style military assault with small team of highly trained, heavily armed operatives launching simultaneous, sustained attacks.
Testifying before a Congressional sub-committee on Mumbai terrorist attack on Wednesday, the New York City Police Commissioner, Raymond W Kelly has said “We are paying very close attention to this trend.”
Appearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Kelly also pointed out other similarities as choice of location: dense, relatively unprotected urban areas where the terrorists could establish strategic choke points to impede the response of authorities.
This was the fourth hearing by a Congressional committee on Mumbai attack, which killed more than 170 people including several American nationals.
“We also know that some form of detailed, pre-attack surveillance was carried out in both cases, as evidenced by terrorists thorough familiarity with their targets.
“Likewise, both sets of attackers coordinated their movements closely through the use of basic technology, cell phones in Mumbai and small battery powered two-way radios in Lahore,” he said.
Kelly said the assault teams themselves were composed of physically fit males between the ages of 20 and 30. They were similar composition and in size, with 10 people involved in the Mumbai attack and an estimated 12 in Lahore. In each instances, the team appeared to break down into smaller, two-man operating units once the attack was launched.
While in both Mumbai and Lahore the attackers were armed with assault rifles, semi-automatic pistols and grenades, they carried backpacks with additional ammunition and explosives, more than enough to sustain a prolonged siege, he observed.
“Both groups were calm, unhurried and methodical. They also carried food and drugs to enhance their performance and stamina.
“In Mumbai, the terrorists reportedly used cocaine and amphetamines to stay awake. In Lahore, remnants of unspecified high energy biscuits were recovered from the scene,” he said.
Kelly said it appears both the attacks were initially not designed to be suicidal. The goals of the terrorists included hostage taking, extending the violence and the resulting media coverage and escaping.