The group responsible was not a formally “named” terror group. It was instead, an independent, AQ-inspired cell. Three bombers were Pakistan-born British citizens, and one was born in Jamaica. The apparent ringleader of the cell was Siddeque Khan. He made a video message saying the bombings were revenge against the people of the UK for electing a government that was murdering Muslims, globally. He saw himself as a soldier of God and believed it was his responsibility to carry out such attacks. Specifically, Khan said: “I myself, I myself, I make dua (pray) to Allah ... to raise me amongst those whom I love like the prophets, the messengers, the martyrs and today’s heroes like our beloved Sheikh Osama Bin Laden, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and all the other brothers and sisters that are fighting in the ... of this cause.” Zawahri later said the attacks had been an AQ operation.
The 2006 Mumbai Bombings
The Mumbai bombings happened on July 11, 2006. A select group of a 23-person terror cell placed eight IEDs on seven trains of the Western Railway of the Mumbai Suburban Railway system. During the 6:30 p.m. rush hour, all but one of the devices detonated in first class carriages within about 15 minutes of each other — just as they were arriving at various stations. The blasts killed as many as 228, wounded up to 890 and caused catastrophic carriage damage. The impact of the bombings caused severe physical damage to the affected passenger cars with blown-out doors, windows and roofs. The blasts also damaged train station platforms. The entire Mumbai rail system shut down for a day, stranding hundreds of thousands.
The Mumbai train bombers made their IEDs out of RDX, ammonium nitrate, and petroleum hydrocarbon oil. RDX is a stable military-grade explosive with a VOD of 20,000 fps and higher. Pure ammonium nitrate can be used as an explosive enhancer that increases VOD. When mixed with fuel oil, ammonium nitrate can achieve significant blast effects as an ANFO compound (ammonium nitrate fuel oil). Officials say the terrorists smuggled the RDX into India from Pakistan. The bomb makers packed about 2.5 pounds explosives into each IED, used pressure cookers as casings and quartz timers as triggers. The plotters then concealed the IEDs in bags or wrapped them in newspapers. One terrorist died in the explosions. More than likely, he failed to disembark from his target train soon enough. Authorities figure six of the terrorists reconnoitered their targets beforehand.
Indian officials accuse the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT, “Army of the Pure”), and the domestic Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) of carrying out the attacks. LeT, an alleged Pakistani-Inter Services Intelligence sponsored organization, has traditionally fought India over the Kashimir dispute, and SIMI has AQ-like goals; it wants a Salafi-jihadi Caliphate-run society in India and beyond.
Initial investigations said of the 23 terrorists involved, 13 were Indian and 10 were Pakistani. At trial in August 2007, the bombers claimed innocence and also did not recognize the court’s authority because it was not a sharia legal system. In 2009, the radical Islamic terrorist Sadiq Sheikh of Indian Mujahideen’s (IM) claimed responsibility for the Mumbai train attacks. Indian investigators dismissed the confession as a plot to confuse and embarrass the government. Some assert the IM is simply a cover organization for LeT and SIMI operations.
The 2010 Moscow Bombings
The Moscow bombings happened on March 29, 2010. Two female suicide bombers set off their IEDs on two passenger carriages on the Sokolnicheskaya and Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya lines of the Moscow Metro rail system as they were stopped at Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations. The Lubyanka IED went off at 7:56 a.m., and the Park Kultury bomb went off at 8:38 a.m., both during morning rush hour. The blasts killed at least 40 and wounded more than 70. The bombers detonated their devices as passengers were boarding, which increased the casualty count. More, the Lubyanka blast happened underneath the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters, an obvious political message. Damage to the carriages was substantial, but not so to the structural integrity of the platforms and track. This was the seventh significant attack on Moscow’s metro system since 1996.
The Moscow bombers used suicide belts with up to 14 ounces of RDX, again with a VOD of more than 20,000 fps. They used screws and pieces of iron rods as shrapnel. Detonations appear to have been manual. The precise timing indicates the terrorists themselves detonated their own devices. The belt aspect of the IEDs ensured they would detonate about 3 feet off the floor, increasing the effects of the blasts against passengers. The two bombers were escorted to their targets by female chaperones. They were moreover driven to the target area by a male driver, and intelligence reports indicate yet another male supervised the entire operation.