A series of alerts in India has counter-terrorism experts working overtime; the latest coming in the form of a Warden Message from the U.S. Embassy late Wednesday.
‚ÄúThere are increased indications that terrorists are planning attacks in New Delhi,‚ÄĚ the note read starkly, while strongly encouraging Americans in India ‚Äúto maintain a high level of vigilance, remain aware of their surroundings, monitor local news reports, and take appropriate steps to bolster their personal security.‚ÄĚ It also added that several markets in the city popular with western tourists could be attractive terrorist targets.
The warning comes just days after a low intensity explosion at a cricket match in the southern city of Bangalore. Last Saturday‚Äôs blast forced organizers of the Indian Premier League to move the semi-finals of the high profile tournament to Mumbai. The competition involves a large number of international players, with the exception of cricketers from Pakistan.
Police in Bangalore are theorizing that the attack was the work of an international gang or a betting mafia, according to CNN‚Äôs sister network in India, CNN-IBN.
But could the explosion have been the work of al Qaeda? The online site Asia Times believes the incident had the hallmarks of Ilyas Kashmiri and his 313 Brigade, a Pakistan-based terrorist group. Asia Times‚Äô Islamabad correspondent wrote that Kashmiri had sent a message to the publication in February, warning foreign athletes and spectators not to attend a series of sporting events in India this year, including the Hockey World Cup, the IPL and this October‚Äôs Commonwealth Games.
The hockey tournament went off without incident, but Asia Times notes the 313 Brigade is alleged to have carried out similar attacks in Pakistan. The correspondent writes that Kashmiri‚Äôs group could be trying to gauge how Indian security forces react to the attacks and also determine the coordination between security agencies, in preparation for a bigger attack.
The links between Kashmiri and other terrorist attacks were also laid bare during the U.S. government‚Äôs case against David Coleman Headley, the U.S. citizen who was found guilty of involvement in two international terrorism plots, including the 2008 siege in India‚Äôs financial capital that left more than 160 people dead.
According to the Long War Journal counter-terrorism site, Kashmiri is considered by U.S. intelligence to be ‚Äúone of al Qaeda‚Äôs most dangerous commanders.‚ÄĚ His organization, known as Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami or HuJI, has worked closely with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the group Indian and U.S. officials have blamed the 2008 attacks on. He‚Äôs believed to operate out of the North Waziristan region, along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.