The Mumbai Massacre
Vol: 86 Issue: 29 Saturday, November 29, 2008
The Mumbai Massacre
When I first heard of the terror attacks in Mumbai, my first thought was, “Where the heck is Mumbai?” When it became apparent it was a carefully coordinated mujahadeen attack, my next thought was, “Why the heck Mumbai?”
I answered both questions when I looked up Mumbai. “Mumbai” used to be “Bombay” before being renamed back in 1996. Bombay was the colonial name imposed by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Mumbai was the traditional name of the port city.
In any case, I can see now why Bombay was selected.
Mumbai [Bombay] is the capital of Maharashtra and the financial capital of India in the sense that New York City is the financial capital of the US.
With a population approaching fourteen million, it is one of the world’s most populous cities.
Mumbai is one of the world’s top ten financial centers in terms of global financial ‘flow’ and serves as corporate headquarters for scores of multinational corporations.
(If you’ve ever called Dell tech support or Microsoft, odds are that the frustratingly unintelligible person at the other end is sitting in a cubicle somewhere in [Bombay] Mumbai)
The siege was finally declared over by the Indian government on Saturday (local time) as the last of the terrorists were gunned down. Although the terrorists paid special attention to Westerners, particularly Britons and Americans, most the the dead were Indian nationals gunned down in their own city.
About eighteen foreign nationals, including five Americans, were killed and another 22 were wounded. The toll of dead and injured, (at the time of this report – the toll is likely to rise) stands at 162 dead and 283 wounded.
The worst of the fighting was at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, which was the last of a dozen sites attacked in the rampage that began on Wednesday and lasted through to Saturday.
The terrorists never issued any manifestos or made any demands, and it seemed clear from their stubborn resistance at the Taj that they intended to fight to the last. All the attackers were Muslim males between the ages of 17 and 35.
American intelligence and counter terrorism officials said Friday that there was mounting evidence that a Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba was responsible.
Indian commandos said the attackers at both hotels appeared well trained in handling weapons and hand grenades, and they seemed to know the buildings layouts, indicating a high degree of preparation.
Among the sites attacked was the Nariman House, the local Jewish center. When Indian commandos finally raided it, it found the Jewish hostages had all been slaughtered. Said one Indian commander of the terrorists, “they were young, they were determined, and they were remorseless.”
R. R. Patil, the home affairs minister of Maharashtra State, where Mumbai is situated, said the assailant who had been captured alive was a Pakistani citizen. The Indian foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, said early evidence explicitly pointed to Pakistan s involvement.
Preliminary evidence, prima facie evidence, indicates elements with links to Pakistan are involved, he told reporters in New Delhi.
Let’s summarize: Pakistani involvement, ‘determined and remorseless’ Muslim males between the ages of 17 and 35, and an attack on India’s financial and entertainment capital.
At least 162 dead and another 283 wounded in an assault that paralyzed the world’s most populous city for sixty hours. And finally, the terrorist force itself.
According to the Mumbai police chief as quoted by the New York Times, there were only ten of them.
With confidence I can say that 10 terrorists came in, said the commissioner, Hasan Gafoor. We killed nine of them and one was captured alive.
It is obvious that the raid had the support and assistance of Pakistan’s ISI security services. The ISI is filled with covert supporters of either the Taliban or Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
Until Pakistan’s overnight ‘conversion’ in 2003, the ISI was the Taliban’s liaison with the Pakistani government. The ISI supplied money, materiel, recruits and training to both al-Qaeda and the Taliban dating back to the 1980’s.
But it is just as obvious that Pakistan didn’t plan to invade and capture Bombay with just ten guys. The raid on Bombay didn’t provide Pakistan or the ISI with anything of strategic value — just the satisfaction of inflicting harm on a hated enemy.
But what it provided to al-Qaeda was invaluable. Bombay is India’s New York City. Some of the terrorists were already inside the harbor city; the rest infiltrated by boat with additional weapons and explosives.
The terrorists were undoubtedly al-Qaeda affliates; their tactics were mujahadeen tactics; fight to the death inflicting as much damage as possible in the process.
Their chosen victims were Westerners — particularly Americans – and Jews.
During the campaign, Senator Joe Biden hinted darkly at a ‘test’ that will present itself to the Obama administration within six months of his taking office. Homeland Security is as prepared as it can be for attacks using airliners, dirty bombs, nuclear materials, etc.
But Mumbai, a city twice the size of New York City, was paralyzed by ten determined young men armed with nothing but small arms and field explosives for more than sixty hours.
Why Mumbai? To see if it would work. Ten guys paralyzed the city for sixty hours and killed or wounded more than four hundred people. It was a tactical success.
On January 20th, 2009, thousands upon thousands of people will be crowded into coastal Washington D.C. to attend the Obama inaugural.
Please join me in prayer that America’s defenders learned as much from the Mumbai massacre as America’s enemies did.