India on the Frontline
BRAHMA CHELLANEY one of India's top terror analyst writes (paid subscription) in the Wall Street Journal:
The latest bombings -- crude in their indiscriminate targeting of civilians and sophisticated in their synchronization -- were carried out at the start of Diwali, the country's main festival holiday, to maximize the effect. Although an obscure underground Kashmir outfit has claimed responsibility, there is widespread suspicion that the attacks were masterminded by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based, al Qaeda-linked group labeled a terrorist organization by India and the United States. The attacks occurred on the same day that a New Delhi court had been scheduled to sentence six convicted Pakistani members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and their Indian associates for involvement in a previous terrorist attack.
More about these convicted pigs here
The bombers have driven home a political message: India, despite its rising international profile, is powerless to stop terror attacks. By audaciously carrying out bombings right under the nose of the Indian government, the terrorists may also be seeking to rattle foreign investors and undermine India's booming economy. The bombings also have the potential to undercut the credibility of the bureaucrat-turned-prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and constrict his leeway in the ongoing peace process with Pakistan.
To regard terrorism as a law-and-order problem is to do what the terrorists want -- to sap your strength. No amount of security can stop terrorism if the nation is reluctant to go after terrorist cells and networks and those that harbor extremists.
Right on. To treat such terrorist attacks as a law and order problem will only undermine India's civil liberty. No laws such as TADA and POTA will stop the terrorists since the funding and logistics comes from abroad (read Saudi Arabia and Pakistan)
The Indian and U.S. responses to terrorism are a study in contrast. No Americans have been killed by terrorists in the United States since 9/11 because the U.S. military has gone after terrorists overseas. India, in contrast, has suffered its biggest terrorist strikes since 9/11, including attacks on the national Parliament, the Kashmir legislature, the 17th-century Red Fort, three major Hindu temples and several military camps.
This is something obvious. In the case of both the London and Madrid terror attacks, there were prior intelligence warning available. In the case of Madrid, the warnings were in the form of another terror attack in the Morroccan city of Casa Blanca. The Spanish government did not cooperate actively with the Morroccans due to the usual diplomatic fracas between these countries.
India has become such a happy hunting ground for terrorists that several major acts of international terror have first been tried out against Indian targets before being replicated in Western democracies. They include attacks on symbols of state authority, midair bombing of a commercial jetliner and coordinated strikes on a city transportation system. In using India as a laboratory, the jihadists have been guided by the logic that if the world's largest democracy can be shaken, so can others.
For instance, the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, replicated the midair bombing over the Atlantic of an Air India commercial flight from Canada in 1985. The same Air India bombing technique was also used in the Libyan-orchestrated attack on a UTA jetliner in 1989, which blew up in midair over the Sahara.
The 1993 Bombay bombings, which targeted India's financial institutions and left hundreds dead, have served as a model act of mass terror to international jihadists. The Bombay bombings, according to Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee, were "eerily similar in modus operandi and targets to 9/11 in their synchronized, serial character and targeting of state and economic symbols."
The parallels are shockingly similar. Yet, the international community left India alone to handle such terror attacks.
A classic case was India's ignominious surrender, on Dec. 31, 1999, to the demands of hijackers holding passengers aboard an Indian commercial jetliner at Kandahar in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. In a surrender unparalleled in modern world history, Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh personally chaperoned three jailed terrorists to freedom in a special aircraft. One of the freed terrorists, Ahmed Omar Sheik -- a British citizen of Pakistani descent -- went on to help finance the 9/11 attacks.
For India, the chickens dramatically came home to roost when evidence on the December 2001 attack on parliament revealed the involvement of one of the terrorists hand-delivered in Kandahar -- Masood Azhar, who had formed the Jaish-e-Muhammad group in Pakistan.
This is a sad reminder where democratic governments of the world failed misearbly in cooperating with each other. It took a 9/11 for the world community to take Islamist terrorism as a serious threat. The battle has only begun.
What India needs is a concerted, sustained campaign against the forces of terror. But what Prime Minister Singh has offered are only words to comfort the nation. If India fails its latest test, it will only be a matter of time before the terrorists strike again at a place and time of their choice.
How sad and true. There needs to be a forcecul strategy to take terror head on. This would require mobilization of Indian public opinion and take a concerted action no matter which government is in power. Let's hope that this day comes soon.