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Mumbai terror attacks

July 13th, 2006

Yet another terror attack, with 200 killed. All such crimes, whether committed by terrorist gangs or national governments, should be condemned without reservation. The idea that causes such as national independence, religion or political ideology justify the murder of ordinary people going about their daily business is utterly pernicious, as is the view that similar killings (whether directly intended or inevitable ‘collateral damage’) are justified in retaliation for such crimes.

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  1. July 13th, 2006 at 21:44 | #1

    It was likely to have been an Islamic Group. As several commentators pointed out the interesting inference is that these hateful jihadists have turned their attention to Hindus as well as infidel Jews and Christians.

    It is hideous – we don’t need very refined elaborate moral codes in this world. Crude ones go a long way. Crude Precept: Leave innocent civilians who are going about their everyday life (and not concealing terrorists) alone.

    Were it not for an accident of birth they could be your brother or sister, wife, husband, child, uncle or auntie. Don’t kill them. Don’t harm them.

  2. milano803
    July 14th, 2006 at 05:48 | #2

    Harry, good thought. The question then is, can we co-exist with people who hold the opposite view?

  3. Spiros
    July 14th, 2006 at 08:19 | #3

    Muslims and Hindus have been mass murdering each other in India since forever Does anyone know wherher this was domestic terrorism, or the international (Al Qaeda inspired) variety? Or is the distinction no longer meaninful?

  4. snuh
    July 14th, 2006 at 09:11 | #4

    As several commentators pointed out the interesting inference is that these hateful jihadists have turned their attention to Hindus as well as infidel Jews and Christians.

    interesting factoid: muslims are actually supposed to hold jews and christians in higher esteem than hindus, on the basis that jews and christians are “people of the book” (although, in the treatment of hindus when india was under muslim control, there is some support for hindus also counter-intuitively being viewed as people of the book).

    but anyway, the fact that muslims and hindus don’t always get along in india is news to approximately no one. this sort of thing is hardly unprecedented in india. if indeed this is the work of a muslim group, i think it would be a mistake to try and place it outside of the context of long-standing muslim-hindu animosity in india. that this was the work of al qaeda strikes me as extraordinarily unlikely, given india’s history.

    that said, i wouldn’t be too quick to finger any “hateful jihadists”, whether or not linked to al qaeda, as there is no shortage of groups in india with the inclination to carry out such an attack.

  5. still working it out
    July 14th, 2006 at 09:33 | #5

    India has recently been moving alot closer to the US. The US is trying to win Indian support for its strategic policies by supporting India’s nuclear ambitions.

    If this was done by Al-Qaeda, then they were probably trying to counter this. They have been very careful in choosing the victim their attacks, focusing on a strategy of trying to isolate the United States by attacking its closest allies.

  6. stoptherubbish
    July 14th, 2006 at 10:12 | #6

    Looks like Pakistan to me, no doubt miffed by the US turn to india, and away from its ‘ally in the fight against terror’ in Afghanistan! Musharref is probably looking for a top up of funds to assist him in his campaign to stay put against all comers, and a couple of billion to fight ‘terror’ would come in handy right now. What better way to demonstrate the need for more money to assist in the fight against the terror, than to blow up the neighbours.

  7. Ros
    July 14th, 2006 at 10:14 | #7

    That groups in India who have previously murdered Indians were at the time local in their form and outlook does not mean that those same groups have not joined the virtual organisation Al-Qaeda and hence become something different. That is it seems reasonable to make the assumption that the thugs are networking and providing financial and organisational support to each other, and therefore “the locals� would have greater resources and pose a greater danger. The killings in India cannot be relegated to a Hindu/Muslim/India thing in the face of the globalisation of the Islamist jihad. Just as the Islamist jihad and its fellow travellers will consider the murders a victory for them.

    The emergence of India (Hindus) in the front line for global jihadism is not only demonstrated by the threats of Osama.

    The conspiracy theory that it was India in cahoots with Israel and the USA that let off the bomb that caused the tsunami to kill Muslims is part of the developing story of the jihad against infidels. And Osama very often follows as well as leads in the attack on the modern world. The internet is his as well as the other Islamist jihadists stalking ground. India is not just dealing with a local and ages old enmity, whoever the killers were they would no longer be a stand apart mob of bastards.

    The involvement of the terrorists in India with Al-Qaeda seems highly probable, whether direct or supporting, and these bombings are different in meaning and purpose. And will provide positive feedback to the Islamist jihad cause.

    To hope that this is merely a shot across India’s bow to make it turn away from the USA is to minimise the danger and determination of the global Islamist jihad. Apart from the fact that Al-Qaeda targets Muslims as well as infidels, yes, Al-Qaeda is careful in its targets selection. Like Christians, Jews, Hindus and democracies and the rest.. The jihadist movement is of course opportunistic and no doubt prioritises. But I doubt that China for example is resting on its laurels and assuming that cuddling up to Iran would mean terrorism security was an unnecessary expense. Eg, this report in December 2005

    “In mid-September, Al Qaeda diverted a small but potent force from Iraq to a new mission: the opening of a new front in China. The unit was smuggled into the Chinese border town of Kushi in the Xinjiang Uygur province in November, after a meandering journey traced by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terror sources. There, the terrorists were quickly absorbed by the al Qaeda infrastructure of local Uygur Muslim extremist cells. “

    How about anybody who doesn’t agree to a medieval world dominated by the Islamists.

  8. July 14th, 2006 at 10:18 | #8

    I place the blame squarely on the Indian government.

    If it hadn’t been so incompetent and left Indians to live in squalor and poverty there would be few reasons to be attracted to the insane goals of terrorist groups.

    Terrorism in India is overwhelmingly home-grown. The world media only reports the foreign sponsored attacks because they’re usually the largest.

  9. July 14th, 2006 at 10:26 | #9

    “In mid-September, Al Qaeda diverted a small but potent force from Iraq to a new mission: the opening of a new front in China.”

    Doesn’t this fly in the face of the theory that AQ et al will attack western targets first because they are perceived to be soft and reactions restrained? I mean if I was a minority in China the last thing I would want to do would be to bring down the wrath of the dominant groups upon me seeing as they have the reputation of not being at all squeamish about knocking about those that put their heads above the parapet.

    (nb – this isn’t an argument merely a question)

  10. July 14th, 2006 at 10:31 | #10

    milano823, I think religious belief and strong priors are very devisive factors. They need not be but they are. A person is a Muslim or a Catholic invariably because they were borne one not because they made a choice among alternatives and decided one choice was best. Nevertheless despite this flimsy basis for the views they can be led to kill others who hold contrary views. This is complicated by the fact that irrational religious beliefs seem hard-wired into large segments of the population.

    My own approach is to try to undo the ‘hard-wiring’. I favour dumping religion and trying to rely on non-ambitious human values that many cultures more or less accept. Don’t harm people who are doing you no harm, don’t pretend that you have a monopoly on the truth and the right to kill for it etc etc.

  11. Simonjm
    July 14th, 2006 at 10:47 | #11

    Slightly off topic but can someone tell me how the West went from Total War within living memory with the bombing/targeting of non-combatants as justifiable to what I consider self-righteous hypocrisy when others target civilians?

  12. Ros
    July 14th, 2006 at 11:01 | #12

    President Mahmoud Abbas raised the alarm earlier this year about Al-Qaeda moving into Palestine. His view if I recall correctly was that Al-Qaeda was having recruitment problems plus was trying to re-establish itself as pre-eminent in the Islamist world. They obviously see opportunities in China. And that it is about positioning long term. There are rumours/stories I thought that China has been extremely ruthless in suppressing Uygur groups so I wouldn’t want to take them on, but I guess that’s a bit further out yet for the Islamist jihad. And being there is not the same as launching attacks, yet.

    Anyway isn’t Antartica the only continent that they (the Al-Qaeda grouping in the virtual organisation of terror) don’t have a presence in. Not many can beat these boys for long term planning and determination to reach their goal of a world wide umma.

  13. snuh
    July 14th, 2006 at 11:03 | #13

    The involvement of the terrorists in India with Al-Qaeda seems highly probable, whether direct or supporting, and these bombings are different in meaning and purpose.

    apart from facile differences (first class train carriages v business targets), it’s difficult to see how this bombing differs from the 1993 mumbai bombings.

    at a deeper level, i am mystified at the determination of commentators to put this attack in the context of al qaeda’s attacks on western targets. india has a long history of terrorism, sectarian religious violence, and violent independence movements. surely that is the context in which a terrorist act in india should be viewed (unless there is very strong evidence to the contrary).

    i mean, you wouldn’t automatically say a 2002 suicide bombing in jerusalem was the work of al qaeda, so why do it here?

  14. July 14th, 2006 at 12:09 | #14

    To be honest it would not actually surprise me if these are the work of the Naxalite / Communist insurgents. The bombs have been going off in Bombay / Mumbai for a long time; longer than Al Qaeda has been using these tactics. The targetting also seems to be more against the rich when the bombs could have been placed in the more crowded 2nd and 3rd class compartments for maximum deaths.
    No one has yet been charged over any of them so, for the moment, it is pure speculation.

  15. Mork
    July 14th, 2006 at 12:14 | #15

    snuh: exactly. Anyone who would instinctively see the hand of Al Qaeda in this doesn’t know anything about Indian history.

  16. still working it out
    July 14th, 2006 at 12:17 | #16

    Normally I would think it is domestic. But India’s movement closer to the US has been very prominent recently and is quite significant. It is something Al-Qaeda would very much want to prevent.

  17. Ros
    July 14th, 2006 at 12:51 | #17

    Pakistan daily News reports Al-Qaeda in KandJ.
    As do Indian papers. Al-Qaeda Kashmir has claimed credit. Opinion appears to be that Qaeda couldn’t get the membership in India because of Indian Muslim resistance and those who would are already players with the likes of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). . However they do deal with each other in Kashmir. Whether the LeT and SIMI have been recipients of expertise or money from Qaeda, what are the chances that Kashmir branches at least don’t have a problem with the global spin being put on the event

    “As to the July 11 attacks, however, al Qaeda’s involvement, if any, was as a source of funding and advice to LeT and SIMI, possibly through Dawood Ibrahim, the Indian Muslim gangster behind the 1993 Mumbai bombings.â€?

    And it is suggested would be aiming for future joint attacks.

    One article suggests that Kashmir was attractive because of Al-Qaeda’s sliding strength and success elsewhere.

    This attack is therefore different in purpose meaning and outcomes. The murder in India is now associated with the global aims of the Islamist jihad, as well as the “local�, and there is no reason to suppose that the local groups weren’t more than willing to become agents and share the glory.

    Guess it comes down to whether a global unbounded terrorist system has emerged which is stronger in the sum. And hence more dangerous. That while the various components may at times compete they also co-operate and hence India has been drawn into the global jihad.

    The creature grows, its victims increase. The Islamists in the virtual organisation Al-Qaeda increase their membership and their glory and their capabilities. Doesn’t matter much which bit of this global monster hit India, their history of national troubles have moved beyond the local to make them victims of the global order of death.

    Or times have changed and history isn’t repeating itself.

  18. July 14th, 2006 at 14:23 | #18

    Simonjm, there’s some fairly obvious differences between Mumbai in 2006 and, say, Dortmund in 1943 that one really shouldn’t need to have pointed out to them.

  19. Chris C
    July 14th, 2006 at 14:56 | #19

    Yes, Ros – what a shame the West has spent decades propping up strongmen in Muslim countries that suppress their people to the point that you get violent blowback, then fails to realise it is part of the problem.

    Just when I thought we had realised it and we were going to support democratic movements in these countries, we revert to the “strongman is my friend” model when we dont like the democratic outcomes.

    That is what you were getting at, wasnt it?

  20. July 15th, 2006 at 10:41 | #20

    Simonjohn says: “Slightly off topic but can someone tell me how the West went from Total War within living memory with the bombing/targeting of non-combatants as justifiable to what I consider self-righteous hypocrisy when others target civilians?”

    Far from needing this to be pointed out (as BruceR says), “there’s some fairly obvious differences between Mumbai in 2006 and, say, Dortmund in 1943 that one really shouldn’t need to have pointed out to them”.

    I think that it is high time we did wake up to the fact that states, including many of the Western states, have been guilty at various times of war crimes, targeting civilians, forced removal of civilians, creating fear among civilians. This idea of reserving the “t” word for non state actors is too clever by half. It is often used by apologists for Israeli atrocities. The list of violations of this nature by the USA fill a few books (William Blum’s ‘Rogue State’ for example).

    US forces terrorise Iraqi civilians on a daily basis. It jars on me that our government has nothing to say against this.

    Back to Mumbai, I have a vain hope that, with casualties more than double those of London, our media will pay nearly as much attention to the stories of the people who were harmed by this horrible crime. (Yes this and other terrorist attacks on civilians are crimes – and should lead to prosecutions- no carpet bombing).

    Willy Bach

  21. Simonjm
    July 15th, 2006 at 11:44 | #21

    BruceR please enlighten me.

    Interesting from couple of points; firstly so I take it if it meets certain criteria you think it is acceptable to target civilians if circumstances are similar to WW2?

    BTW this goes both ways so you are on the horns of a dilemma whatever you choose.

    So what are those circumstances? Could they be fighting for the survival of your national or cultural grouping, by opposing those that want to occupy or actually do occupy your territory and take away your self determination?

    One can argue on Kashmir on the historical ties of the region, ethnic makeup, interference by Pakistan etc but for the sake of argument if the majority want at the very least independence and that is denied is that not enough reason given others in that same region had that choice ?

    One would think in regard to representative democracies that while it may be your governments policies that could be bringing about abuse of rights you are ethically tied to the consequences of those actions. So if you argue that the German civilians deserved to be targeted due to either their democratic or functional support or acquiescence to the policies of the Nazis then so are the citizens of the US, Russia, India or Israel valid targets.

    #Note while militants can go past the original foundational reasons for fighting into extreme ideology that does not invalidate those original reasons.

    Or should one lump occupation and passive or out right oppression and respect the right to life of others when they don’t respect your rights especially when you hold those rights so dear but only for yourself?

    I find it interesting that people who have these rights especially from colonial backgrounds are some quick to be self righteous when their countries are founded on the theft of land, intentional or unintentional genocide and negation of the right of self determination.

    Not to mention that even within living memory they practised the targeting of civilians but wish to rationalize it away due to circumstances that suit them.

    Personally on a meta-ethical or psychological/cognitive level I don’t think ethics can be constructed or applied as 100% consistently but that another argument but you can still work with common ethical precepts and them apply them to both sides to show the inconsistency in the arguments.

  22. rainbowstar
    July 17th, 2006 at 22:44 | #22

    Well,

    How are we sure who are behind all these, one incident after another, but all blamed on some target (scapegoat) groups. This is an old game. Why they dont play a different trick? Answer: the masses are already hooked on the media without question. It is not about the truth of the matter, but rather, it is what the media want the masses to believe – so it becomes the truth. Until now so many things are are unanswered – right from the famous crucifixion, to 911, to Bali, to Madrid, to tsunami, to London, and now to Mumbai. I am not a conspiracy theory nut, but history has proven how the dirty hands have got the upper hands to decide the fate of mankind. Lives mean nothing, people die without knowing why. This sounds real scary. But this is our world now, a reality. What’s coming next? Exactly – the attack on Lebanon. What’s next?.. coming, I am waiting!

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