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Interesting to note that the Mumbai terrorists did not make any formal demands or request any ransom despite holding foreign hostages and having the world’s attention focused on their actions. With the exception of one offer to release hostages in return for the release of ‘mujahideen’ held in India’s jails made to an Indian TV station, no specific demand or coordinated request appears to have been made. Here was an opportunity for the terrorists to list their grievances possibly live on air to an international TV Channel and highlight their concerns which was not taken up. There was no mention of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan or the suffering of Muslims in India. Instead they held some hostages preferring UK, US and Israeli nationals and continued battling against the Indian Forces.
Do the terrorists have any demands or is what they desire non-negotiable and only satisfied once their power hungry and murderous ideology is in power? The goal of the Mumbai terrorists was to simply kill as many people as possible, fight until their ‘martyrdom’ and gain as much publicity and political capital among other Islamists around the world as possible. They had no wish to negotiate, or desire to live. Their aim was to send a message of fear, whether that was economic, social or religious to India and the rest of the world – do as the Islamists demand or else. And it matters not whether you are a Muslim and hold similar religious beliefs, they will kill indiscriminately to get their political message across.
The Islamist ideology’s oxygen is its terror and hatred. It seeks to attract sufficient Muslims to its cause to enable it to strike anywhere in the world. It seeks for its young and often vulnerable recruits newer and more rewarding and satisfying methods of battle. Trivial demands and ransoms are irrelevant when compared to martyrdom and the desire of Islamist global domination. The Islamists seek a total surrender to their political beliefs and nothing else will suffice and that is why anyone who thinks that negotiations with these people will lead to peace is deluded.
The warped notion of the terrorists that they are soldiers of a religious army battling against soldiers of a non-Islamic force and engaged in Jihad is satisfied by engaging in the Mumbai type of attack especially when compared to suicide missions. This is more honourable and overcomes the prohibition against committing suicide in Islam and undoubtedly gives the Islamists a larger base of potential recruits – what more could Islamists use as recruitment propaganda than death at the hands of a ‘Kuffar’ soldier?
The Mumbai attack could easily be replicated elsewhere by terrorists living locally who would know their area well. All Intelligence Agencies need to improve their intelligence gathering and learn how to prevent such an attack; and all Governments need to combat the global Islamist ideology whose goal is to kill as many people as possible in the hope that democratically elected Governments lose the will to fight and hand over failed states such as Afghanistan and Somalia to Islamists who rule according to their own rules and who export terror and hatred to all corners of the world. The stakes have most definitely been raised.
While terrorists were carrying out atrocities in Mumbai and most counter terrorist teams around the world were observing and no doubt learning about a worryingly new tactic that these terrorists had deployed, our counter terror police in London were busy arresting a Member of Parliament and raiding his parliamentary and constituency offices for revealing statistics and other relevant information of public interest which the Home Office refused to disclose.
The arrest of Damian Green by counter terrorism officers is a huge embarrassment for counter terror Police and the Government. More worryingly, it represents a dangerous step towards reducing the role of a parliamentarian and especially one belonging to the opposition.
We have long suspected that the Labour Government’s natural instincts are authoritarian. It relied on the Police to support its argument of wanting to hold terror suspects without trial for up to 90 days. It’s created hundreds of new criminal and civil offences and continues to introduce legislation whenever it gets a chance and especially when if feels this might be popular with voters. It introduced the Freedom of Information Act yet does all it can to withhold relevant information citing national interests and other such excuses as a defence. The list is endless. Now we see an attempt to silence and prevent a Shadow Minister from effectively doing his job! If a journalist obtained statistics or data which showed the Government not being totally honest he would be congratulated for getting hold of a major scoop and for effective journalism. A Shadow Minister obtaining and using similar information is ‘conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.’
How can we have confidence in our legislation and in counter terror Police when we read about such behaviour? Surely someone at counter terrorism command would have looked at this and concluded that this case wasn’t one needing counter terror police or any other police for that matter?
Ian Dale has written a couple of excellent posts on this which everyone should read.
The siege ended on Saturday 29/11/2008 after the remaining terrorists were killed. The death toll stands at 195.
Update at 19.45pm 28/11/2008: The Taj Palace Hotel still remains unsecured with a few terrorists continuing to battle against Indian Forces. It appears that the terrorists are very well trained and equally well armed and able to take the siege into a third night.
Update at 15.10pm 28/11/2008: 155 people now being reported as killed with 327 wounded. The seige at the Jewish Centre has ended with 5 hostages and 2 terrorists reported as killed. Fighting is still ongoing at the Taj Palace Hotel.
Update at 12.50pm 28/11/2008: UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says the government has no information regarding reports that some of the gunmen may have been British citizens. ‘It’s important that we make judgements on this on the basis of the fullest possible knowledge and intelligence – and that’s obviously what we are working on at the moment.’
Rumours persist of someone from the UK being involved. I suspect there is more to this story than what the official Government line is.
Update at 10.00 am 28/11/2008: All hostages have been released at the Oberoi Hotel according to CNN. Commandos have abseiled onto the roof of the Mumbai Jewish Centre and the operation is ongoing. Another huge explosion heard at the Taj Palace Hotel.
There are rumours that one of the gunmen may have been British and a lot of finger pointing is going on at Pakistan with the Indian foreign minister saying that ‘elements with links to Pakistan’ were involved.
Update at 16.15pm: 24 hours after the siege started and gunfire is still being heard from the three sites in Mumbai where the hostages are holed up. Not very clear what is happening due to conflicting reports and differing versions of events.
Update at 15.00pm: CNN is reporting that the death toll from the Mumbai attacks stands at 125 with 327 injured.
Update at 14.00pm: One British national among the dead in Mumbai attack according to Foreign Office. A fire has broken out at the Oberoi Hotel and there are conflicting reports on the hostage situation and whether any have been released.
It remains unclear who the Deccan Mujahideen are and whether this name is being used by an existing terror group seeking to hide its identity.
Update at 12.20pm: India’s PM Manmohan Singh has said that he will take whatever measures are necessary to track down those responsible for the Mumbai attacks. He added that the perpetrators were based outside the country and that India would not tolerate neighbours who provide a haven to militants targeting it. A bit reckless and premature to be pointing the finger at Pakistan when the siege hasn’t even ended?
Update @ 10.40am 27/11/2008 : The hostage situation is still ongoing with explosions heard at the Oberoi Hotel. The Times is reporting that the terrorists are demanding that all ‘mujahideen’ held in Indian jails are freed before they release the hostages.
All financial markets in India have been closed as well as all public places in Mumbai. My relatives have managed to get to Mumbai Central Railway station and are on their way home after a delay of 90 minutes.
Update @ 22.30pm 26/11/2008: It is being reported that there are three separate hostage situations the authorities are dealing with.
Update @ 22.50pm 26/11/2008: Up to 50 people have been rescued from the fire at the Taj Palace Hotel. Gunfire continuing to be heard at the Oberoi Hotel.
Update @ 22.25pm 26/11/2008: The Taj Palace Hotel is on fire and a group calling itself the ‘Deccan Mujahideen’ has claimed responsibility for the attacks. (A group calling itself ‘Indian Mujahideen’ claimed responsibility for the attacks in Ahmedabad in July 2008)
My relatives in Mumbai have twice had the vehicle they were travelling in stopped and searched by Police before being allowed to move on.
At least 78 101 people have been killed and 250 have been injured in multiple shootings across Mumbai by terrorists. CNN is reporting that hostages including western tourists have been taken at the Taj Palace Hotel and the Oberoi Hotel. The army has been called in to deal with the terrorists holed up in several locations. Three very senior police officers including the head of Mumbai’s anti-terrorism unit have been killed.
I have had contact with relatives who are currently in Mumbai who inform me that the situation is very tense.
The attack appears extremely well coordinated with eight ten sites frequented by western tourists being targeted by the terrorists. More later