The Legacy of Jihad?
India Mumbai (Bombay)
A Greek millionaire killed.
A French scientist survives attack.
(26-30 Nov 2008)
The siege in Mumbai has finally ended with all the terrorists holding the city to ransom gunned down..
However, before the Taj Hotel siege came to en end on Saturday morning, the attacks that began at around 9.35 pm in the country’s financial capital on Wednesday night turned out to be India’s biggest horror story, leaving at least 160 people dead and over 327 injured. Terrorists holding innocent people, including MPs and foreigners, hostage at three places and killing many of them; top Mumbai police officers sacrificing their lives in the battle, including state Anti-Terror Squad chief Hemant Karkare; and blasts and firings throughout the three-day-long battle were all part of the drama that unfolded in Mumbai.
These were not just any other terror attacks that India sees every other day and has become immune to; these were attacks on an unprecedented scale. Till Wednesday, 1993 Mumbai serial blasts were considered to be the biggest attack ever on Indian state. However, what’s happened in Mumbai over the past three days has surpassed any such attack by leaps and bounds. Never before has the country seen a terror attack on this scale – fidayeen terrorists, guns, bombs and grenades, hostage situations have all been part of these highly co-ordinated attacks carried out to inflict maximum damage on Mumbai, the country’s economic hub. If I may say so, the attacks appeared to be a WAR on Mumbai and seem to be planned on the scale of September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.
Terrorists specially targeted foreigners in their attacks – foreign nationals were both killed and held hostage in the incidents. Some reports suggested that two US intelligence officials were also caught in the attacks on the posh Taj and Oberoi (Trident) hotels. Another Greek millionaire also succumbed to his injuries. A top French nuclear physicist is reported to have escaped from one of the two hotels. Israeli nationals were also held at gunpoint at a Jewish headquarter in the city.
Why I’m calling this as a war because never before in the Indian history, a terror attack on a city has carried on for these many hours. In fact, Army, Navy and NSG teams were involved in the operations to flush out terrorists holed up inside hotels and try and save the hostages. What made matters worse is that the terrorists did not demand any ransom. According to government sources, they seemed determined to hold the state to ransom and their main motive appears to be deaths of innocent men and women, and not money or safe passage.
The consequence of the attacks was immediately seen – Mumbai was virtually shut on Thursday; the Bombay Stock Exchange, schools and colleges remained closed; curfew was imposed in various parts of the city. On a bigger scale too, the damage seemed to have been done. Visiting England cricket team has already called off its remaining tour, the upcoming T20 Champions League has been deferred after participating foreign teams expressed reluctance to play in the city. Mumbai is one of the three venues for the Champions League matches and four of the eight participating teams were supposed to stay at the historic Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the flashpoints of the deadly attacks.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travelled to Mumbai on Thursday to take stock of the highly volatile situation. He also addressed the nation that day.
What the country needs at this delicate moment is political unity and pro-active approach by the administration to sit down and find out how a few determined enemies managed to hold the country to ransom and wage a war on Mumbai – a symbol of a modern, progressive India.
The Press: MUMBAI: The terror attack on south Mumbai's two tony hotels The Taj and Oberoi Trident - caught many celebrities by surprise.
The Greek millionaire Andreas Liveras was one of those shot dead in the Taj Hotel. Owner of Liveras Yacht, which owns and charters luxury yachts, Andreas had come to Mumbai to scout for business opportunities. His decision to stay at the Taj was influenced by his fondness for the food served at the hotel.
French nuclear scientist George Vendryas was another notable person who was staying at the hotel. Vendryas and his wife were in Mumbai to attend a three-day conference of the Indian Nuclear Society which began on November 24. At the end of the conference on Wednesday (November 26), they checked into the Taj. Both were lucky they managed to come out alive. Having lived through the traumatic assault, they have now moved into the Nuclear Power Corporation guest house. Incidentally, Vendryas is known as the father of the fast breeder reactor and won the Indian Nuclear Society's first lifetime achievement award on November 24.
It was also a close shave for Cricket Australia lawyer Dean Kino and BCCI internal auditor P V Srinivasan who were guests at the Taj on Wednesday evening. Kino, who is on the Champions League T20 governing council, had flown in from Australia to work on the rules of the event, which has now been postponed indefinitely.
"He spent some difficult moments at the hotel and is now staying in a safe place,'' Cricket Australia media manager Philip Pope told TOI from Melbourne on Thursday. In fact, Kino had to endure torrid times. "Yes. He was actually fired at by the terrorists, but some brave fire brigade officers rescued him,'' BCCI's Ratnakar Shetty said.
Three World Bank officials, who were in the city to monitor projects, were detained at the Taj and Oberoi hotels. Gaurav Joshi, R S Phatak and Satya Mishra were part of a larger bank team which was in the city for a few days. While the rest of the team, including MUTP project leader Hubert Nove Josserand, left earlier, the three stayed behind. However, none of them was taken hostage. "We have been told to stay in our rooms, and we keep hearing firing, we wonder what is happening outside,'' one of them said over the phone before contact was cut off.
Vinod Garg, director (commercial) of Ispat Industries, was holed up in Trident on Wednesday, but has since managed to come out. Vinod Mittal, Ispat's vice-chairman & MD, said: "We're all relieved that our colleague has come out safely. We also extend our support to other people and the families who were affected in the terrorist attacks.''
Suhel Seth, CEO of Equus Advertising, had a providential escape. "I had stepped out to attend a wedding and on my way back to the Taj, I received a message from hotel employees saying there was a law and order problem and I should not go back to the hotel. I diverted my car to The Taj President at Cuffe Parade. I am really grateful to Taj authorities for informing me on time.''
More News: Mumbai attacks Taj Mahal siege ends as total death toll rises to 195
The siege at the Taj Mahal Hotel in the centre of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, has ended, bringing a halt to more than three days of terror in the city.
At least two more terrorists were killed in the final stages of a battle with Indian commandos, following attacks throughout Mumbai.
The official death toll rose significantly today to 195, from 155 yesterday. At least 295 others have been injured in the assault on India's economic capital.
The hotel siege was brought to a close today as security and political sources in the UK tried to play down suggestions that up to seven of the terrorists had strong British links, and that some of them were British-born men of Pakistani origin.
Sources in India are reported to have indicated that some of the men came from the north of England, including from Leeds, Hartlepool and Bradford.
Erika Mann, a European Union trade official, escaped from the Taj Mahal hotel through an underground passage.
She told the Times of India: "The attacks appear to have an European dimension.
"We've heard from journalists and other people we were with that English citizens were involved in the attacks."
However, a spokesman for the Foreign Office in London said: "We have spoken to Indian authorities at a high level and they have said that there is no evidence that any of the terrorists either captured or dead are British."
Gordon Brown also played down such a link after speaking to Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister. "At no point has the Prime Minister of India suggested to me that there is evidence at this stage of any terrorist of British origins, but obviously these are huge investigations that are being done and I think it will be premature to draw any conclusions at all,", said Mr Brown.
"We remain steadfast and firm, standing with India and all other countries against any form of terrorist activity, and we will be vigilant in both helping the Indian authorities and in making sure that in every part of the world we support those who are fighting terrorism."
Mr Brown said his thoughts were with those who had died, including British yachting tycoon Andreas Liveras. Mr Liveras, the 73-year-old Cypriot-born founder of a luxury yacht business, was pronounced dead on arrival at St George's Hospital in the city.
A team of detectives from Scotland Yard is flying to Mumbai to help Indian authorities with the investigation. Officers are also meeting Britons returning on flights to London's Heathrow Airport and handing out leaflets appealing for information.
More of those Britons caught up in the terror attack were due to fly home to London today.
Some in the Indian government have suggested that the attack could have be planned or launched from Pakistan. Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian External Affairs Minister, said: "According to preliminary information, some elements in Pakistan are responsible for Mumbai terror attacks."
Pakistan has backtracked on a decision to send the chief of its spy agency to India to help with the Mumbai attack investigation, in a move likely to revive questions about who is in charge of the shadowy agency. The Prime Minister's office in Islamabad said today that a representative of its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency would now go to India instead of its director general.
Faces of Terrorism in India¹
Terrorism is a political virus¹. Greed for power, injustice and intolerance breed terrorism. No one in the world is immune from the direct or indirect effect of terrorism now.
According to sociologists and experts on terrorism the French Revolution provided the first uses of the words ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’. The use of the word terrorism began in 1795 in reference to the Reign of Terror initiated by the Revolutionary government in France during the French Revolution. The agents of the Committee of Public Safety and the National Convention that enforced the policies of “The Terror” were referred to as ‘terrorists’. The French Revolution provided an example for future states in oppressing their populations. It also inspired a reaction by royalists and other opponents of the Revolution who employed terrorist tactics such as assassination and intimidation in resistance to the revolutionary agents. Systematic use of terror as a policy was first recorded in England in 1798.
The words ‘terrorism’ and ‘terrorist’ were first used as political terms to describe atrocities of an occupying establishment – say colonial government.
Researches done on the history of terrorism reveal that ‘terrorist’ in the modern sense dates to 1947, especially in reference to Jewish tactics against the British in Palestine – while earlier it was used for extremist revolutionaries in Russia (1866). The tendency of one party’s terrorism said to be another’s guerilla war or fight for freedom was noted in reference to the anti-British actions in India (1857), Cyprus (1956) and the war in Rhodesia (1973). The word terrorist was applied, at least retroactively, to the Marquis resistance in occupied France during the World War II.
The Britain first used the terms ‘terrorism and terrorist’ to describe anti-establishment forces or those who used hit-and-run practices against British colonialism.
It is relatively hard to define terrorism albeit it is not a new phenomenon for the world. A Western writer argues, ‘Terrorism has been described variously as both a tactic and strategy; a crime and a holy duty; a justified reaction to oppression and an inexcusable abomination.’ Obviously, a lot depends on whose point of view is being represented. Terrorism has often been an effective tactic for the weaker side in a conflict. As an asymmetric form of conflict, it confers coercive power with many of the advantages of military force at a fraction of the cost.
World’s popular online encyclopedias notes, ‘The word “terrorism” is politically and emotionally charged, and this greatly compounds the difficulty of providing a precise definition. A 2003 study by Jeffrey Record for the US Army quoted a source (Schmid and Jongman 1988) that counted 109 definitions of terrorism that covered a total of 22 different definitional elements. Record continues “Terrorism expert Walter Laqueur also has counted over 100 definitions and concludes that the ‘only general characteristic generally agreed upon is that terrorism involves violence and the threat of violence.’ Yet terrorism is hardly the only enterprise involving violence and the threat of violence. So does war, coercive diplomacy, and barroom brawls.”
The lack of agreement on a definition of terrorism has been a major obstacle to meaningful international countermeasures.
The media and law enforcement agencies’ onslaught with assumptions and deliberate repetitions of Muslim names after each terror attack in India made a penetration into common hearts and it ultimately implies that terrorism is a Muslim specialty in the country.
In India, the militants in Kashmir are Muslims. But they are one of several terrorist groups operating in the country. The Punjab terrorists are Sikhs. The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) is a Hindu terrorist group. Tripura has a history of rise and fall of several terrorist groups, and so have Bodo terrorists groups, mostly Christians which killed hundreds of Muslims in 1993 for autonomy, some of them are now in Assam’s Tarun Gogoi’s cabinet as ministers. Christian Mizos mounted an insurrection for decades, and Christian Nagas and Manipuris are still heading militant groups. They have bombed trains, assassinated hundreds of innocent men, women and children. This year they called a boycott in at least five states out of seven north-eastern states of India to disrupt Independence Day celebrations of India.
But most important of all are the Maoist terrorist groups that now exist in no less than 150 out of India’s 600 districts, according to a report in a national English daily. They are attacking police stations, and killing and razing innocent villagers who oppose them, and there is nothing Muslim about these groups.
In September 2, 2006 another national English daily published from Mumbai reports elaborately about few dozen ‘Hindu Mujahideen’ working with Hizbul Mujahideen of Kashmir for years in Jammu and Kashmir. The newspaper published statistical information with real Hindu names, age and year of attachment with HM along with their native locations in Jammu region. Similarly in some other non-Muslim outfits such as ULFA in Assam, Muslim members are not barred from joining their resistance.
On February 24, 2008, bomb blasts occurred in the RSS office and the Bus Stand in Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu, one of India’s southern states. The media carried big stories about the blasts. The Sangh Parivar organised demonstrations in various parts of the state, demanding the arrest of Muslim ‘terrorists’, who according to them had committed the crime. However the Tamil Nadu police acted sensibly. A special team led by Mr. Kannappan, DIG, Tirunelveli range made a thorough investigation and arrested three persons S Ravi Pandian (42), a cable TV operator, S Kumar (28), an auto driver, both from Tenkasi, and V Narayana Sharma (26) of Sencottai, all Sangh Parivar activists. The last accused had assembled 14 pipe bombs in the office of Ravi Pandian, as revealed by press reports.
A Mumbai based Urdu daily Urdu Times (April 18, 2008) reported Malegaon police raid in a patho-laboratory which is situated in the basement of a private hospital and recovered revolver, RDX and fake currency note of one thousand rupees. The Police arrested three terrorists, Nitish Ashire (20) Sahab Rao Sukhdev Dhevre (22) and Jitendar Kherna (25). The last one is the owner of Smith Pathology Laboratory which is situated at the basement of More Accident Hospital of Camp Area. One pistol, 5 live RDX bombs, 3 used RDX cases, four fake notes of one thousand rupee, laptop, scanner, 5 thousand cash rupees and 2 mobiles were recovered during the raid, detailed the newspaper report.
After the Jaipur serial blasts on May 13, the police were reportedly on the hunt for a woman who allegedly promised Rs.100,000 to a rickshaw puller to carry out the terror attacks. “We are looking for a woman, identified as Meena, who tried to lure a rickshaw puller, Vijay, to carry out the attacks,” a police officer said on the condition of anonymity, according to a report in the press.
Vijay, allegedly a resident of Mumbai, said before Ajtak TV channel camera, “Stop the lady (Meena) or she would explode bombs at Katwali”. By that time a bomb was already exploded at Katwali area. Vijay was detained just hours after the Jaipur blasts. He also told the police that Meena lives near one of the blast sites.
What happened to Meena and Vijay, and what the police later got from Vijay is still unreported – the Jaipur case is still unsolved.
The Maharashtra Police on June 16 arrested two people from Navi Mumbai in connection with a series of bomb blasts in the area in which seven people were injured. The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) reportedly swooped down on the Sanatan Ashram and nabbed two men, identified as Hanumant Gadkari (50) and Mahesh D. Nikam (35).
Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare said the duo belonged to the Hindu Jan Jagriti Manch (HJJM) and between February and June were responsible for three bomb blasts in the Navi Mumbai area.
Two bombs exploded outside a theatre on the eve of T20 Indian Premiere League finals on June 4. Two others were exploded in Navi Mumbai on May 31 and in Panvel on February 20.
The ATS also seized a motorcycle registered in Ashram’s name and the vehicle’s logbook entries enabled the investigators to zero in on the prime accused. The motorcycle had been extensively used in January-February for reconnaissance trips in Navi Mumbai and other areas for identifying sites to set off the explosions.
The HJJM, led by Jayant Athavale, had also protested in 2002 against celebrated artist M.F. Husain’s paintings of Hindu deities.
In July 2008 Mumbai High Court freed the accused in Nanded blast for insufficient evidence where two Bajrang Dal activists were killed in April 2006 while preparing bombs. Later, one of the survivors of the Nanded episode during narco-analysis asserted, “We Hindus should also do the acts of terror.” The same statement was publicly reconfirmed by Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and his shivsainiks through his mouth-piece Samna and posters in Mumbai appeared in June after the arrest of Hindu Jan Jagriti Manch activists for Navi Mumbai blasts.
In late July 2008, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Surat were struck with exploded and unexploded serial bombs. The police investigating the case, which killed at least 42 and injured more than 200 people, traced an email claiming responsibility to a Mumbai apartment.
But at the address, rather than seizing terrorists from the ‘Islamist’ group which said it carried out the attack, they found an American – 48-year-old Kenneth Haywood – a Christian missionary in Mumbai high profile society.
The IP address for the email claiming responsibility for an obscure group called the ‘Indian Mujahideen’ was traced by police to Haywood’s laptop. “He has never been detained, but we have called on him and questioned him as part of the investigation,” said Parambir Singh, a senior officer in the anti-terrorism squad. Now Haywood has already flown from India even after a ‘No-go’ warning from Mumbai’s ATS!
If the same laptop had been in possession of a Muslim, would the ATS officers demonstrate the same caution, a genuine question every conscious person should ask?
The hunt for those behind the blasts in Ahmedabad and Surat should be centred on Mumbai. Since some of Mumbai’s politicians have given a green signal to terrorism a month ago in June this year. And more so the police also believe the plot was hatched in the suburb of Navi Mumbai, from where four cars used in the attack were stolen.
Terrorism is a political virus. Greed for power, injustice and intolerance breed terrorism. No one in the world is immune from the direct or indirect effect of terrorism now. Terrorists have a common goal – attack and create fear – in whichever way that easily leads to their nefarious ends. Their religion is terrorism and nothing else. This one formula can at least lead Indians to a solid counter terrorism measure.
¹ Based on an article by M. BURHANUDDIN QASMI.
(M. BURHANUDDIN QASMI is editor of Eastern Crescent and director of Mumbai based Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nikos Deja Vu