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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

US hits Mumbai attacks, reaffirms support for India

US reaction to the coordinated rush hour bombings Wednesday that left 21 people dead and 141 wounded in Mumbai, India’s bustling financial capital, was swift: The attacks were deplorable and would only strengthen US relations with its South Asia ally.

President Barack Obama described the attacks as “deplorable and outrageous terrorist acts.” He said he believed the strength and resilience of the people of India would enable the country to overcome the attacks.

“The terrorist bombings that took place in Mumbai are an evil and barbaric attack against the people of India, our close friends and strategic partners,” said Sen. Joseph
Lieberman, an Independent and the senior senator from Connecticut.

“This attack is also a terrible reminder that, despite the killing of Osama Bin Laden, violent extremists continue to seek the mass murder of innocent people and the destruction of free societies around the world,” he said. “They hate the values our two countries share -- the values of democracy, diversity, tolerance, and rule of law.”

“The perpetrators of this attack must be found, their backers, protectors and funders must be exposed, and justice must be done to all of those involved in this hideous mass murder of innocents,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman, a Democrat and member of the Congressional sub-committee on the Middle East and South Asia.

“India has once again been brutally attacked by barbaric terrorist violence and I extend to the people and government of India my deepest sympathy for the many injured and killed by the three bomb blasts today in Mumbai,” he said. “The deliberate murder of civilians is always wrong, it is always inexcusable, and it is always unacceptable for any reason, cause, or belief. It can not be rationalized, justified or excused.”

“Nations that tolerate or, worse, encourage, such networks and infrastructure to take root are just as guilty as the terrorists who set off the bombs,” Ackerman continued. “As a nation that has, itself, suffered at the hands of terrorists, the United States must not only be vigilant in prosecuting the war on terror, but also equally aggressive in confronting any nation that continues to facilitate or sponsor terrorists of any stripe.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to India next week for previously scheduled security talks and will reaffirm US support for the country.

“We condemn the despicable act of violence designed to provoke fear and division. Those who perpetrated it must know they cannot succeed,” she said. “I will be traveling to India next week as planned. I believe it is more important than ever that we stand with India, deepen our partnership and reiterate our commitment to the shared struggle against terrorism.”

State Department spokesmen buttressed her position. “The US government condemns this senseless violence in the strongest possible terms and offers condolences to the families and friends of those affected by this attack and stand in solidarity with the people of India and Mumbai,” said spokesman Mark Toner.

“We offer our full support and assistance to the government of India in their response to and investigation of the attack,” he said, adding that it was far too early to speculate on possible involvement of Pakistan-based terror groups or Pakistani officials.

Stratfor Global Intelligence, a US strategic affairs think tank, said the attacks were not as sophisticated as the 2008 attacks which were linked to terror groups operating out of Pakistan but were “much more in line with those used by more amateurish groups, such the Indian Mujahideen, who have targeted crowded urban areas before.”

“The attack comes at a critical juncture in US-Pakistani relations as the United States is trying to accelerate a withdrawal of its military forces in Afghanistan,” the statement said. “The 2008 Mumbai attacks revealed the extent to which traditional Pakistan-based Islamist militant groups, such as elements from the defunct Lashkar-e-Taiba, had collaborated with transnational jihadist elements like al Qaeda in trying to instigate a crisis between Islamabad and New Delhi.

Such a crisis would complicate US-Pakistani dealings on Afghanistan, potentially serving the interests of al Qaeda as well as factions within Pakistan trying to derail a negotiation between the United States and Pakistan,” the statement said.

The American Jewish Committee, which has extensive relations with India and maintains an office in Mumbai, also condemned the bombings.

“We stand in solidarity with the people and government of India at this hour of tragedy,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris.

“No grievance can ever justify such horrible attacks on innocent people. As with the November 2008 terrorist assault on Mumbai, the attackers seek to disrupt India’s economic miracle and growing ties with the West, including the United States and Israel. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now,” he said

(Nathaniel Sheppard Jr., a veteran national and foreign correspondent who worked at the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times

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