Train bombings in India (July 11, 2006)

The Indian Mujahideen were believed responsible for 7 near simultaneous pressure cooker bombs on commuter trains in Mumbai which killed nearly 200 people.

Most terrorists have a hard enough time successfully pulling off one attack at a time: what about 7?

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MUMBAI, INDIA — If there is one thing I have learned about terrorism through my work at CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and afterwards (five books on terrorism and counting!) is that most terrorists are incompetent wankers.

There is a large gap between wanting to carry out a violent extremist attack and actually doing it. Firstly, most terrorists who boast on line about planning something never get anywhere: they are just blathering. Secondly, even those who have a modicum of ability rarely follow through with their ideas. Thirdly, even the few who get to action often screw it up through technical incompetence (i.e. not everyone can build an effective bomb). Fourthly, those who surpass all these hurdles and effect something on D-Day usually blow their wad on one act.

The simultaneous attack bunch is a rare beast indeed. Simultaneity takes smarts, access to equipment, know-how, careful planning, imperviousness to detection and infiltration by security intelligence and law enforcement agencies tasked with stopping you and workable trust among all those involved.

Even when all goes right something can go wrong. 9/11 was obviously the exception to the rule I just made up. And there hints were dropped and suspicions were raised but not in high enough quantities to prevent the four planes from being hijacked and flown into buildings.

Still attacks on this scale are few and very far between thankfully. But they do happen. On this day in 2006 an Islamist terrorist group known as the ‘Indian Mujahideen’ planted seven pressure cooker bombs on seven different trains in Mumbai. All in all 189 people were killed and more than 800 injured. The bombs were packed into seven pressure cookers and put in bags, and the coordinated explosions were detonated within 15 minutes of each other.

The sound was terrible, really terrible. Everyone started running. There were a number of bodies lying there on the railway tracks.

In September 2015 a court in Mumbai sentenced five people to death over the bombings,while seven of the 12 men convicted for the blasts were given life sentences. A defence lawyer claimed that the accused were “innocent” men who had been “framed”.


It is indeed fortunate that actions of this scale are very few in nature. Let us hope our luck continues.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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