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This Too Shall Not Pass

Suhasini Haidar suhasinih

Updated: December 1, 2008, 1:05 PM IST
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The men behind the Mumbai carnage have reaped our blood, our tears, our anger. They have filled every Indian with rage as we watched our most innocent and our most brave gunned down and burnt. Now it's time to make sure we think about our response and think it through. And revenge must be a dish served cold. Chilling, preferably.
 
After 9/11, remember, the U.S. spent a month planning its response. The first strikes on Kabul came October 7, 2001. Given the state of preparedness we have shown before the Mumbai strike, it seems likely that we need some time to decide what we do next too. It also seems like something our politicians want- the easiest way to turn the nation's rage away from them, would be to give them something else, tangible, to hate. Like the country next door.
 
But we have done this before, and got nowhere in our war on terror. And doing nothing at all simply furthers our street cred as a soft state Let's look at the facts that we see before us. Of the ten men who made up the so-called Deccan Mujahideen, at least 1 was Yemeni, 2 may have been British nationals, 1 or 2 perhaps even Indian. The coordination between them, the meticulous planning that allowed them to set up "control rooms" in our most  expensive hotels, the commando-like operation that brought them into India via the sea-route, to split up at the Mumbai shore and fan out with precision to their targets. This plot comes the closest in all the terror strikes we have seen worldwide to the Attacks on New York and Washington. Plotted from a location in Pakistan, probably, but carried out by a global network of terror. Al-Qaeda or something allied to it. And let's face it, not possible without local support, that enabled them to stay in Indian waters, have access to hotel plans, and also for information on the very sequestered Jewish Chabad House, in Colaba. That location itself should indicate to an anti-zionist force, not just to the Pakistan based Lashkar e Toiba. its impossible for the Lashkar to have done this without logistics support from ISI elements- especially the marine training- but equally unlikely it did it without indoctrination from Osama's men and followers. The purpose was to kill as many people as possible but to get to those final locations by a certain time.
 
So why aren't we looking more closely at the global linkages to our trauma? Many reasons, I think- but primarily from the Ultra right to the Ultra left of our establishment, it's just plain inconvenient. For the Ultra-right, pointing to the Al-Qaeda detracts from their known enemy Pakistan. For the Ultra-left, pointing to the Al-Qaeda would mean admitting that pan-Islamic terror lives in India- and it may hurt their percieved votebank (never mind that most Indian Muslims I know feel nothing but patronised and revulsed by the thought). For the security establishment, it means admitting that we need help from others. Our country may be globalised financially, but our security establishment (intelligence agencies, and our forces) have yet to upgrade to the world. It's the reason we have such few experts on Al-Qaeda in our system. It's the reason we turned around the Mossad team that came to help with the operation at Chabad House. And the reason a British intelligence officer who wanted to share information on the Al-Qaeda threat went back from New Delhi last year disappointed after being told by a top Security official, "Your problem with terror is not the same as our problem."
 
The problem with our own equipment is another blindspot. At ATS chief Hemant Karkare's funeral policemen after policemen expressed the same anguish- why are funds for police always so inadequate? According to one Home Ministry source all requisitions for new bullet proof jackets have been hanging fire for 5 years now. Others point to the lack of counter-insurgency technology like heat-seeking sensors, infra-red surveillance vans that would have aided our men. You need look no further for proof than the 'bullet-proof' canvas bags and ill-fitting helmet the valiant Mumbai Anti-terror squad chief wore, and the state of the car he rode in on his way to a tragic death. Shouldn't the ATS head's jeep have been bullet-proof too? Why is it that 8 years after a failed attempt to take hostages in our parliament- the Mumbai attackers drove through streets still manned by lathi-wielding cops behind flimsy barricades?

Heads have now begun to roll in the government over the attacks- but I fear that our leaders just want to be able to say "this too shall pass. The public's questions will blow over." We can't let that happen. Terror groups are learning new techniques to take us on everyday. We need to be ahead of the curve- to build on worldwide anger and the fact that their victims came from so many other countries to bring the world together to our aid and intelligence.

This too Shall Not pass.
First Published: December 1, 2008, 1:05 PM IST

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