Saturday, November 29, 2008

Are the terrorists British?

As the Mumbai siege comes to an end, it seems almost inevitable that some British citizens were involved.

The Sun seems fairly sure. A BlackBerry link to the UK suggests "as many as five terrorists had British connections", adding that two of the terrorists are "believed to be from the Leeds or Bradford area". The Guardian gives similar relevance to the opposite claims. One of their headlines today is: Gunmen not from UK, Foreign Office insists, reporting Gordon Brown's warning against "jumping to conclusions". In the same paper, Richard Norton-Taylor notes the striking difference in tactics between the suicide bombings of he first half of the decade and the Mumbai attacks. The headline is Security chiefs fear revamped version of 70s-style violence.

In the meantime, The Telegraph wonders: Mumbai attacks: Are they British? But their question is more of a rhetorical one. Their reporters on the ground quote Mumbai's chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his statement that two "'British-born Pakistanis' were among eight gunmen captured alive during bloody shoot-outs with soldiers". In another piece, there's the disturbing truth of "dozens of young Muslim extremists from this country travelling abroad to learn their deadly trade". A "well-trodden path from England to terror training camps in Pakistan".

The Daily Mail doesn't give much relevance to the Mumbai siege. However, their take on the number of British citizens involved in the "terror gang" is a more radical one. A piece by David Williams mentions "seven" of them, amidst "reports that the terrorists checked British news websites on their mobile phones during the attacks". The Times carries a piece by Jeremy Page about the security forces' Hollow victory as more bodies discovered in Jewish centre and top hotels. Elsewhere, the allegations that "Britons were among the militants arrested for the Bombay attacks" is given as a fact, quoting "a senior Indian official yesterday".

Our guess is that there is no doubt.

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