November 27, 2008


Mumbai attacks have al-Qaida echoes, but tactics differ: While the terrorists seem to be Islamist militants they are not simply the usual suicide attackers (Richard Norton-Taylor, November 27 2008, The Guardian)

Certainly, the terrorists appeared to be Muslim extremists. Although they must have assumed they were going to be killed even though they took hostages, the attackers were not suicide bombers, overt martyrs of the kind we have witnessed elsewhere - in London, Iraq, and now in Afghanistan - since the 9/11 attacks on the US.

A group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen, which some analysts describe as an al-Qaida affiliate, claimed responsibility for these latest attacks. The group appears to have named itself after a plateau in central south India.

Unlike al-Qaida-inspired extremists, they have made more traditional and more straightforward demands, namely the release of "Muhajideens" held in Indian jails. However, one similarity with al-Qaida tactics is that there was a number of simultaneous attacks. that the attack is so counterproductive, Attacks a message aimed at Obama (Greg Sheridan, November 28, 2008, The Australian)
[H]igh-placed Indian sources told me last night they were certain of cross-border Pakistani involvement. They do not accuse the Pakistani military, but the failed-state-like dysfunctional tribal areas of northern Pakistan have become the new training grounds and operational headquarters of global terror.

The deeper the Pakistani fingerprints on this, the greater will be the Indian demand for retaliation. These attacks will have dangerous consequences for intercommunal relations within India, especially Muslim-Hindu relations. Part of the purpose of the attack may also have been to try to drive the country away from Washington.

Ultimately this will be unsuccessful, but the Indian Left will argue that this trouble comes to the nation in part because of its friendship with the US, evident in the recent US-India nuclear deal.

The most important ally the US has acquired over the whole of the war on terror has been India.

Barack Obama and the other Realists didn't know that until yesterday.

The world can't ignore India's Islamist terrorists any longer (Peter Foster, 27/11/2008, Daily Telegraph)

What will really terrify India's political leaders, however, is the certain knowledge that there is virtually nothing they can do to stop this type of low-tech attack from recurring again and again.

Since 2003, India's homegrown Islamist terrorist have struck with growing frequency - before yesterday's attacks they have bombed Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and New Delhi this year alone - and without a single serious break-thorough by Indian police.

What began as a localized threat from Pakistan-backed mujahideen in Kashmir conflict has now spread across India, putting down indigenous roots in socially disenfranchised Muslim communities who have benefited less than most from the years of economic boom.

From a security perspective India is all but ungovernable: a vast landmass that shares porous borders with unstable Islamic states containing a shifting population of 1.1bn people, many of whom go through their entire lives without their names appearing in an official register of any kind.

With cash being the norm for living transactions and with many living in vast slums (45 per cent of all Mumbai's residents live in a slum, for example) it is perfectly possible for people to 'disappear', as the Indian police's failure to solve a single terror major attack in the last five years attests.

Add to this chaotic background the fact that sections of India's disgruntled 130m-strong Muslim minority have proved highly receptive to the extremists message and you are left with near perfect-storm conditions for an outbreak of terrorist activity.

India's political and security leaders have long privately acknowledged and feared this fact; unfortunately for India, yesterday was the day that the terrorists succeeded in bringing it to the attention of the entire world.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 27, 2008 9:49 AM
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