In what will be remembered as India’s 9/11, terrorists on November 26 attacked ten separate targets in the commercial capital of Mumbai – formerly known as Bombay. The nature of the attacks should give Americans pause, as should the timing.
This is the peak of the Mumbai tourist season during which Westerners gravitate to the thriving financial hub of newly-capitalist India. But it also has occurred close to a major shift in power, as have many terrorist actions.
Think about the February 26, 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, which came only about one month after Bill Clinton took office; the 9/11 attacks came 8 months after George Bush entered the White House; the Madrid train bombings were executed just a few days before the Spanish election, throwing that election to the anti-Iraq-war prime minister; on September 20, 2008, one month after pro-American Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf resigned, terrorists set off a massive truck bomb outside the Marriot Hotel in the capital city of Islamabad; and now Mumbai, just three weeks after the election of Barack Obama.
Terrorists operate on psychology and this attack was planned for maximum effect – to hit tourists off their guard, and to unnerve the West at a time of transition. But fortunately, until terrorists develop the network to deploy something much worse, the physical effects of their attacks generally are less severe than the mental aftershocks. Which is why they call it terrorism.
Still we must be on guard. But we have not been in the past. In the wake of that 1993 attack on the World Trade Center – in which a truck bomb was detonated in the parking garage underneath the North Tower in hopes of weakening its structure and bringing it down – the Clinton administration virtually ignored terrorism during its 8 years in office, leading to 9/11.
Clinton officials even chose to prosecute the 1993 WTC attackers as American criminals, not as international terrorists. This led to a civil trial in which secret information was made public through the customary court process, leaking valuable intel to terrorists worldwide. Through that case Osama bin Laden discovered that his satellite phone was being tapped, and so he stopped using it.
When the 9/11 attacks hit, most Americans were relieved that Bush had won the 2000 election because Democrats and liberals are traditionally lax on national security. Now Bush has kept us safe for 7 years, but that never satisfies the anti-American left. He has been under savage attack for his tough tactics on terror including the holding of several hundred enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay and the use of eavesdropping on calls from potential terror suspects overseas to American phone numbers.
Let us just thank God that Bush has been tough.
Less than 12 hours in, the Mumbai attack was being traced to a boatload of terrorists coming from Pakistan and using high-speed dinghys to land on the Mumbai coast. The terrorists simply charged specific targets with guns blazing, including the luxury Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels and the Café Leopold – all hot spots for foreign visitors. They singled out Americans and Britons, along with their attack on an Orthodox Jewish Chabad House outreach center.
Overall, it was another attack on the West and its economic and political might, and our ally Israel.
Islamic terrorists have much in common with communist terrorists in places like Peru, Colombia, the Far East and everywhere else. They wish to demolish systems that they do not control. It certainly is infinitely easier for a group of angry, uneducated islamofascists to kill innocent people in New York or Bali than to methodically build up their own nations and their own economies.
Many of these radical Muslims really are ashamed of the destitute nature of their peoples and wish to bring down the West rather than build up their own societies. But ultimately they do not wish to build up, because they know that economic growth will tie their nations into a global economy which may bring Christianity or, infinitely worse, the grotesque Hollywood-style secular materialism and decadence that they despise.
This Mumbai attack also may be tied to an anti-capitalist movement in India to slow or halt the nation’s striking economic growth, which traditionalists, religious and otherwise, see as changing the very nature of their country. The recent riots around the Tata Motors plant, which was producing the world’s smallest and cheapest car, ostensibly were a dispute over land, but they may well have been part of an anti-capitalist and anti-Western crusade which is being surreptitiously joined by terrorists out of convenience.
The nature of the Mumbai attacks should be a warning to us all. New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly said on Thanksgiving Day that concurrent threats against the New York subway system were “plausible but unsubstantiated”. Still, New York is on pins and needles and for good reason.
Mumbai shows that terrorists can organize attacks and execute them without much warning – no busy airfields, radio chatter or discernible troop movements to tip off the good guys. So what today in America could stop a small band of secretive anarchists from shooting up the New York Hilton?
Intelligence can, that’s what.
That is why the Bush approach has been successful and must be continued. We must err substantively on the side of caution if we are to fight this shadowy enemy because all the arms in the world cannot stop a dedicated but free-floating band of murderers from doing their deed. Intelligence is the key to fighting this new kind of war. And if president-elect Obama listens to his far-left base and abandons the types of hard Bush-era intelligence gathering of which liberals have been so critical, we easily could have a Mumbai-style attack here.
And we will not be able to say that we had not been warned.
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