This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Bombay Attack Series: Part 1

On 26 November 2008, an alleged ten-man team of Fidayeen attackers from Pakistan - allegedly belonging to the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba - carried out an amphibious attack on Bombay, India, and held the city virtually paralysed for three days. In this first part of a series of articles, I'm reposting, verbatim, he first part of my "running commentary" on the attacks as they happened.

The first of those articles, posted on the first day of the attacks:


One image of the relentless TV coverage of the events of the last eighteen hours sticks with me: a white police van, loudspeaker attached over the driver’s position, drives away down an empty, well-lit pre-dawn road from uniformed policemen toting rifles. They watch it go. It slows, makes a U turn at a gap in the road divider, and comes back, still driving fairly slowly, the policemen making no attempt to either take cover or open up on it; in fact you would be at a loss to understand why the van was being videotaped at all. The van stops opposite the camera, and just before the image blurs and focuses on grass and crouching bodies, you can see the driver’s side window explode outwards as someone inside opens fire.

The incredible incompetence on display in that little episode (which makes me cringe when I think of it) is a pattern, a theme as it were, of what happened in Bombay/Mumbai last night, when (as far as I can make out from the stories doing the rounds) an unknown number of terrorists made an amphibious assault on the city in boats, spread out, and attacked and captured multiple, widely separated targets – all without being stopped or even seriously resisted. And as far as I can make out, the situation has not yet been seriously resolved now.

Consider. You have a city that has been attacked by terrorists so many times in the past that you’d be forgiven for thinking the authorities had developed some kind of preparedness, some mechanism to react to attacks if not forestall them. You’d be mistaken.

Consider. While your navy is busy sinking Thai trawlers and pretending they are Somali pirate mother ships, terrorists, presumably on a ship, come sailing into your largest maritime city and principal financial centre, leave their boats, and – this in a city that proudly claims it never sleeps – manage to make their way through long distances to obviously well-chosen and widely separated targets; not only are they well armed but are obviously equipped for a long siege that has now lasted all of 24 hours. And they achieve complete surprise.

Before I go any further, let me ask you to imagine yourself as one of our famous terrorist “masterminds”: you don’t suddenly wake up in the morning and say, OK, today I have nothing else to do, so I’ll launch a frontal terrorist assault on Bombay, do you? I still have not understood precisely how many sites in Bombay (like most Indians of my generation and earlier, I prefer the real name of the place to the lumpenised Mumbai, and shall use it here) were attacked; it varies according to whom you believe. But the minimum number of actual attackers cannot have been less than 30 or 40. You do not gather the equivalent of a military platoon overnight and send them off to fight; you need a plan; you need recruiters and recruits and planners and reconnaissance (and the reconnaissance of these attackers was very good; they even knew where a Zionazi delegation was present). You need local support. You need financiers. In fact, you leave one hell of a trail. You know the old saying: “If one person knows something it’s a secret; if two know it it’s no longer a secret; if three know it, it’s knowledge shouted out to the world.” Three? Three fucking hundred, more like.

So what the hell were the fucking intelligence agencies doing? Maybe they couldn’t have predicted the exact time and date of the attack, but surely you might expect that they would have alerted the coast guard at least, if not the Navy? Oh…I forgot. The Navy was busy sinking Thai trawlers. That takes care of the Navy.

A few more images stick with me. One is truckloads of Indian Army soldiers, seated face to face, being taken to the sites attacked by the terrorist. What these soldiers were intended to do I’m sure I couldn’t tell you, except look fierce. The average soldier isn’t trained to respond to hostage situations. They are more liable to blast down a building if they suspect a terrorist might be in it, rather than winkle him out. Since they can’t get away with that in Bombay (it not being Kashmir or Manipur, where the army can do what it wants) they can’t do a thing. Meanwhile the gallant police wandered around aimlessly in the streets (check the footage if you don’t believe me). And the politicians made tall promises. Hell, a Hollywood SWAT team would have done better.

Another image is a classic in India after each terror strike, natural disaster or accident. People are rushing the injured to hospital, sweating with fear and effort, and some idiot with a microphone comes rushing up and thrusts the fucking mike into those people’s faces and starts asking damnawful idiot questions like “How do you feel about this, sir?” How the fuck is the poor bloody slob supposed to feel? Like taking the mike away from the moron and bashing him or her over the head with it? {Not that I condemn these TV journos alone, they are driven by their channels for greater and greater TRPs. Why did most of us watch Times Now this morning instead of the usually far less bad (I won’t say superior) NDTV24x7? Because Times Now said it was providing exclusive footage of the terrorists…the video I mentioned at the beginning of this post, and the photos of the terrorists some survivor managed to take with his or her cell-phone. It’s the fucking capitalist culture I hate.}

Among the dead in the police attempts, such as they were, to counter the terrorists were two particular people: the head of Bombay’s anti-terrorist squad, Hemant Karkare, who was “gallantly killed in action”. Why the hell a guy who’s supposed to co-ordinate efforts and work out a master plan would want to put himself in a position where he would get blown away is beyond me. The general leading the frontal charge? Now he’s a hero. Great. In my book, he’s a zero. Sorry.

The other character I want to talk about who got blown away is a cop called Vijay Salaskar. He was one of a peculiar breed of Bombay policeman called the “encounter specialist”; a man who was licensed, basically, to kill suspects without due process. In any other nation he would be called a death squaddie. In Bombay, he and his kind were heroes…until it was found that they were all multimillionaires. How were they multimillionaires? They were multimillionaires because they would take money from one gang of crooks to bump off members of another gang, and innocents too if it paid enough. As of October 31st, Salaskar had murdered 78 people. He won’t be murdering any more. Good fucking riddance. Every cloud has some silver lining.

Another silver lining was the attack on the Taj luxury hotel, which is the most widely televised terrorist target. I remember saying some years ago that the Bali terrorist bombings were richly deserved because the disco that was attacked did not let the native Indonesians in unless they were female and accompanied by a white male; hookers, in a word. Well, the Taj was in the news last year for turning away an old Indian woman whose lifelong ambition had been (since she had seen its fa├žade so often in Bollywood flicks) to have a meal there. They didn’t allow her to enter because she was wearing sandals, not closed shoes. They have a dress code. Fine. But the dress code didn’t apply to Westerners who could enter in shorts or sandals or bikini tops if they wanted. Get me? You reap what you sow, baby.

OK, rant over. Now let’s get to some serious discussion. Who were/are these terrorists? I am far from automatically assuming they are jihadists, though some hitherto unknown group called Deccan Mujahideen (hell, I could think up a better name for a terror group than that; how does Al Billah sound?) has sent an e-mail claiming responsibility. Anyone can send an e-mail; it means doodly-squat. I could say a couple of things: one of the terrorists has a red thread tied round one wrist, something only Hindus do; but this might be a cover. Allegedly a captured terrorist (the number of killed and captured terrorists seems to oscillate like a yo-yo) has said he’s a Pakistani. In which case they are jihadis. But they could be Hindunazis as well, intent on facilitating a Hindunazi victory in the coming elections by polarising the nation against Muslims. I just don’t know and I shall not make any firm pronouncements. It doesn’t matter anyway; Hindunazi or jihadi, they want the same thing: a religious war. And their target is the same: the secular Indian state. And they are winning.

It would be incorrect to call these young men in black T shirts and jeans suicide attackers. Though they obviously attacked prepared to die in the effort, they are not suicide attackers like suicide bombers in “Israel” or (if one believes the official version) the 11/9 hijackers in the US. These attacks are not suicide attacks, they are fidayeen attacks.

What is a fidayeen attack? The technique was used repeatedly and extremely effectively in Kashmir by the jihadi group, the Lashkar e Toiba. In this, a small team of terrorists – often a single individual, and seldom more than two or three in number – makes a surprise attack on a military installation, fights its way inside, and begins fighting and killing everybody in sight until the members of the squad are killed (which might take a day or more) or until they find a chance to escape. Surprisingly often (given the technique) some of them do get away. This is why it’s not a suicide attack. The Bombay police already declared that some terrorists escaped. Maybe many more have done so; all they would have to do is dump their weapons and backpacks and vanish into Bombay’s teeming slums. Nobody would be able to find them again.

Fidayeen attacks in Kashmir were effective because they took the fight to the military bases. Instead of going out to fight, the military had to spend more and more effort simply in securing its own installations; something that obviously left less soldiers to fight the war outside. It also dropped the kill ratio from about one soldier to every seven terrorists to virtual parity. That’s success.

I have been reading a hell of a lot of guff about how terror attacks are “dastardly” and “aimless”. Bull. Dastardly? You might call a fidayeen a crazed fanatic, but he’s in a different category altogether to the guy who makes a bomb and walks casually away after leaving it to explode in a crowded marketplace. Like the Japanese Kamikazes, fidayeen are anything but cowardly. And I can assure you that any of these who escaped, be they jihad warriors or Hindunazis, will regroup to strike again.

Aimless? Terror strikes always have specific motives. In this case the motives (assuming the attackers were jihadis) would be fivefold:

1.    to, firstly, overload the security agencies and force them to spend ever more effort in securing the cities and themselves;
2.    to make a spectacular strike to show that they meant business;
3.    to put even more stress on an already imploding economy;
4.    to provoke Hindunazi retaliation against innocent Muslims (like those American morons who after 11/9 went around looking for brown-skinned people to shoot) so as to gather more recruits and:
5.    to punish India for this traitorous government’s supine support to the Bush criminal endeavour.

Will this lead to a wake-up call? Tell me, from what I have written above, what do you think?

Bomb blasts to fidayeen strikes to what next? Open conventional war against the state? I wonder what happens if these characters attack and capture, not a nuclear arsenal which would need to be prepared and delivered on target, but… a nuclear reactor? They could be trained to cause a deliberate Chernobyl, easy.

I leave you with that thought.

Sleep well.

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