Thursday, December 04, 2008

Terror: How the Pakistani extremists entered Mumbai, and the aftermath

We reported the recent Mumbai terror earlier (Nov26 refWrite blog entry), and now in the title link we are able to convey the spooky, movie-like opening of the story, how the operatives from Pakistan came ashore in Mumbai's commercial capital (Keith Bradshaw "Armed teams sowed chaos with precision," Nov28,2k8, NYT).

The takeover and then the counter-seige of India's commandos took three days, ending Saturday morning (Nov28), as detailed by Somini Sengupta and Keith Bradshaw (same date, NYT):

Soldiers were still combing the [Taj Mahal] hotel, going room to room in search of remaining gunmen, but the siege appeared finally to have ended, J. K. Dutt, director general of the National Security Guard, an elite commando force, said in the news conference at 9 a.m. Firefighters were permitted to begin pouring water over the flames that had burned out of control in the hotel’s lower floors for as much as an hour while the commandos battled the terrorists.

It was the third day of a siege that has shaken India, raised tensions with neighboring Pakistan and prompted questions about the failure of the authorities to anticipate the tragedy or to react swiftly enough as it unfolded.
Also under assault, adding up to a total of 10 sites, was the Oberoi hotel, the Leopold café, and Nariman House (a hospitality center maintained by a Hasidic Orthodox group serving the 4,000-10,000 Jews of India and, of course, Jews visiting Mumbai from anywhere around the world). The assault on the House was thwarted from above, when Indian commandos rapelled down on ropes from helicopters onto/into the House, already on Thursday, clearing it out before the Taj could be cleaned out--which took another fateful day.

Yet, as soon as I heard that Nariman House was a Jewish site, I felt earlier speculation that the attackers might be extremist Hindus, whose leading badmouther, Narendra Modi, had arrived outside the Taj to stir the throng against the government; I neverthless discarded the notion that blame here belongs to Hindu far-out politics (SS, "Crisis may shift India's political landscape," Nov28,2k8). India's nationalist Hindu extremists do not seem to be fixated against Jews, not purveyors of anti-Judaism: yet certainly they are anti-Islamic. Most of India's (1.3 billion) Hindu population, hopefully, are neither anti-Jew nor anti-Muslim. But some Hindus are vociferously anti-Islam. Since India's general population is 1.3 billion, we should note that Hindus constitute 80.4%, Muslims 13.4%, Jews 0.4%. [After Muslims, Christians are the largest community (2.3%), and while seeming also to be statistically insignificant, a process of persecution has been underway against them by Hindu extremists, now for sometime.] My statistics are from Wikipedia.

India: terror in Mumbai

What has emerged since the Terror at the Taj is simply that the attackers were anti-India, Islamic extremists from Pakistan and perhaps Kashmir. It is said that there were only 10 terrorists, but that figure seems based on the count of the eye-witness of the original landing at the dock, and is probably true about that group. Nevertheless, the figure 10 seems definitively settled, "India faces reckoning as terror toll eclipses 170 (SS & KB, Nov29,2k8, NYT):

The police chief in Mumbai, Hasan Gafoor, said nine gunmen were killed, the last of whom fell out of the terrace of the Taj Hotel on Saturday morning as the siege ended. ... A man who is suspected to be the 10th gunman was arrested; the police say he is a 21-year-old Pakistani, Ajmal Amir Kasab.
Already, Kasab seems to be spilling his guts, at least to some extent.

However, days before the Mumbai terror, from Pakistan Daily via UPI, came word that India's extremist Hindus are not at all sublimely pacifist. "India shocked by discovery of 1st Hindu terror cell" (unsigned, Nov23,2k8).

Returning to our main theme of the Mumbai assault, Kasab is a Pakistani Muslim and an operative of LET, which works out of the Muslim majority population of Kashmir, struggling ostensibly for Kashmir's independence and definitely in active hostility toward India. "5 Lessons from the deadly Mumbai terrorist attacks," Alex Kingsbury (Dec1,2k8, US News & World Report):
While it's too early to know for sure how many terrorists were involved in the three-day shooting spree in Mumbai, counterterrorism officials in the United States and India are already sifting through the evidence in search of clues.

A Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure), or LET, is the top suspect in the three-day terrorist rampage that left more than 170 people dead, U.S. officials say. "While it's too early to jump to any final conclusions on who may have been responsible for the Mumbai attacks, there are some solid indications that people associated with [LET] were involved," says one U.S. counterterrorism official.

The brazenness of the incident combined with its potential to destabilize the region already has the counterterrorism world searching for lessons learned.
I'm sure we'll soon hear more about Kasab and LET.
Update (Dec4,2k8):

TIME mag's Simon Robinson outlines 4 terrorist networks possibly involved

US backs India's claim against Pakistan intelligence agency (ISI)


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