Mumbai terror assaults: The legacy of India’s 9/11, ten years on


A lot in regards to the Mumbai tragedy was traumatic — from its excruciatingly lengthy period and merciless fixation on gentle targets, to its ruthless effectivity and chillingly novel strategy. Some Indians describe it as their 9/11.

One decade later, the Mumbai assaults proceed to solid a protracted shadow over India — and the world.

For India, the assaults shattered the final nice alternative to pursue peace with arch-rival Pakistan. In 2007, promising back-channel negotiations — launched a number of years earlier and inspired by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — had gained steam.

The negotiations targeted on Kashmir — the territorial dispute on the coronary heart of India-Pakistan tensions.

Nevertheless, late in 2007 after which in early 2008, home politics in each international locations acquired in the best way, and the talks floundered. The mayhem in Mumbai — orchestrated by attackers related to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), a Pakistani terror group with ties to Pakistani intelligence — exploded any hopes of regaining momentum to renew the negotiations.
Although the 2 sides have made modest progress on commerce and different low-hanging fruit over the past decade, bilateral ties have improved little. Pakistan’s lack of sturdy authorized motion in opposition to the Mumbai assault organizers constitutes one of many largest obstacles to regaining extra bilateral belief and sustaining dialogue.

Moreover, the Mumbai assaults intensified the anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan rhetoric typically heard in India throughout electoral campaigns — and which the present ruling celebration, the Hindu nationalist BJP, might use to rally its base upfront of elections subsequent 12 months.

Mumbai additionally uncovered India’s sea-based safety vulnerabilities, prompting New Delhi to step up maritime safety enhancements that now represent a significant element of its general army modernization effort.

The Mumbai attackers hijacked a fishing boat, killed 4 crew members, and sailed in to town. This got here 15 years after explosives arrived within the port metropolis by ship and have been used to construct bombs that killed 257 individuals on March 12, 1993.
After the 2008 assault, Indian policymakers moved rapidly. In 2009, they announced plans to construct 100 warships over the subsequent decade. They finally developed a brand new three-tiered maritime safety system involving maritime police, the coast guard, and the navy. They launched main know-how upgrades, together with coastal surveillance radars and undersea sensors. And the coast guard increased its fleet from 74 to 134 vessels.
Indian Army soldiers take positions outside the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai on November 28, 2008.

These maritime modernization efforts do not solely tackle sea-based safety vulnerabilities. Additionally they assist additional two key Indian strategic targets: Protecting tempo with rival China’s rising maritime energy, and pursuing and defending sea-based vitality property.

From a world perspective, the Mumbai assaults established a terrifying new template for terror — one which al-Qaeda and ISIS would often replicate in subsequent years. The blueprint is easy: Small bands of closely armed assassins staging coordinated assaults on gentle targets in city areas. The examples proliferate.

In 2013, militants stormed a shopping center in Nairobi and bombers focused the Boston Marathon. In 2015, gunmen besieged a live performance corridor, a sports activities stadium, and eating places in Paris. And in 2016, assailants attacked the airport and a metro station in Brussels, and jihadists attacked a restaurant in Dhaka. Moreover, potential Mumbai-style assaults in Copenhagen and Madrid have been foiled in 2009 and 2015, respectively.

Counterterrorism officers instantly acknowledged Mumbai’s significance and the way straightforward it will be to tug off elsewhere. It was, in the words of a former counterintelligence official for the New York Metropolis Police Division, “a watershed second for counterterrorism.”
Simply days after the tragedy, New York and Boston authorities staged workout routines and trainings to arrange for Mumbai-modeled assaults. After the Paris assault, then British Prime Minister David Cameron said that since Mumbai, “now we have all been working collectively to make sure we may reply to such an assault.”

Nonetheless, anticipating Mumbai-inspired assaults does not imply they’re going to be averted, and particularly after they contain easy weaponry and might exploit the open entry afforded by main cities within the West and past.

Maybe the largest legacy of Mumbai is obvious concern. Regardless of the place in a metropolis one could also be — enjoyable on the seashore, taking in a ball recreation or live performance, strolling on a downtown boulevard, sitting in a café, arriving on the airport — you may by no means assume you are secure. Within the post-Mumbai period, these venues have all been attacked — and may very well be once more.

Fortuitously, al-Qaeda and particularly ISIS, essentially the most potent practitioners of those Mumbai-modeled assaults, have change into shadows of their former selves. Nonetheless, any ragtag group of unaffiliated radicals can simply muster the capability to wreak havoc with handguns, crude bombs, and even automobiles — and in cities removed from the one which spawned such a tragic precedent 10 years in the past.

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