Even as the first suspects in the Mumbai bombings were named yesterday, India was facing the possibility that Tuesday's attacks were committed, at least in part, by its own citizens.
Police released photographs of the first two suspects, named as Sayyad Zabiuddin and Zulfeqar Fayyaz. Their nationalities were not given, but Indian intelligence sources say they suspect the seven co-ordinated bombings were a joint operation by Pakistan-based militants and an entirely Indian organisation, the Students' Islamic Movement of India (Simi).
What is Simi?
Founded in 1977 in Uttar Pradesh, Simi has declared jihad against secular India, with the avowed aim of converting the entire country to Islam. The group has repeatedly praised Osama bin Laden as a Muslim hero, and has been banned in India since 2002.
India's Supreme Court rejected a plea for the ban on the group to be overturned just five days before the bombings. The group recruits entirely from inside India. Although it is nominally a students' movement, it accepts members up to the age of 30.
This is not the first time they have been linked to terrorist activity:
The group has been held responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in India. From March to August 2000, SIMI was responsible for a series of bombings in Uttar Pradesh that killed several civilians. Later that year, SIMI members were suspected of inciting communal riots in Maharashtra. By 2001, dozens of SIMI members had either been killed or arrested over suspected violent activity, and by December 2001, the group had been banned under India’s Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Despite the ban, SIMI has continued a course of violence. Members are suspected of being behind twin bombings in Mumbai in January 2003. And most recently, Indian police arrested former SIMI members for their role in a failed attack on the disputed Ramjanmabhumi complex in Ayodhya.
The Kashmiri militants suspected to have master-minded the operation, Lashkar-e-Taiba, reportedly made calls to Pakistan within moments of the explosions:
Senior officers revealed that they were also investigating overseas calls made from two of the stations within minutes of the explosions. One police official told The Times that he believed the terrorists may have had local lookouts posted at Borivali and Jogeshwari stations, who reportedly made calls to Pakistan within a minute of the bombs exploding.
The investigation continues.