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Friday, 5 December 2008

From Today's Papers - 05 Dec

From Lt Col (Retd) Harbhajan Singh Cheema

Peace rallies at Mumbai and number of other places to express solidarity with the people of Mumbai are reflection of people’s anguish and feeling of disappointment for loss of lives in Mumbai terrorist attack. Two aspects are very evident in these rallies. One that whole of India is one in times of crises. They have a will to rise above divisive forces. The other important feature of these rallies is that these were totally apolitical directed against our political class. The spontaneous response of the public in all corner of the country speaks volume for the feelings of hurt it has caused to the common man. It is release of energy directed against the terrorists and feeling of total alienation with the politicians belonging to all parties. But this force to be effective it needs to be channelized and have a clear direction. To defeat the design of the terrorist various social and religious organizations must take a collective vow not to be provoked on divisive lines. The society must consider that the terrorist is just a terrorist and cannot belong to any religion. The terrorists may try to identify themselves with a particular religious community but the people must remain stead fast in their resolve to remain united. The second important feature of the rallies is apolitical nature of these rallies with feelings of alienation against class of present politicians belonging to all parties. In order to show doors to such politicians who have failed to come up to the people’s expectations they need to be defeated at the hasting. This may not be easy as they may be asked to choose between one of the two unacceptable candidates. So what could be done? The answer is not simple. It requires new dedicated leadership to emerge. Let the young energetic people with service to society as their mission take a plunge in to the politics. It is a noble service made dirty by the typeof people we sent to various elective bodies The people must also put pressure to have a right to recall as their fundamental right which has been suggested by many right thinking persons. The result may not be instant but seeing the enthusiasm in the rallies they can compel the political parties to include this in their election manifestoes. It is the people who should decide as to what they expect from their politicians and not other way around. Let the forces released by the rallies find a clear direction to make our lives safer and of course more livable.

Admiral Mullen in Delhi, Pledges US Support
in Terror War

New Delhi
Admiral Mike Mullen, the senior-most officer in the US armed forces, Thursday reiterated the American military's commitment to work closely with Indian forces to combat terrorism in the region.

Mullen made the assertion during meetings here with Defence Minister A.K. Antony and other senior Indian civilian and military leaders to discuss the security scenario in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, "offered his condolences for India's losses in (the) attacks and reiterated the US military's commitment to work closely with the Indian armed forces to combat terrorism in the region," a statement issued by the US embassy said.

"He also repeated Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's offer of US assistance in the investigation (into the Mumbai attacks)," the statement said.

Rice made the offer during a visit here Wednesday to express US solidarity with India in the wake of the attacks in Mumbai that killed 172 people and injured 248. Nine terrorists also were killed and one caught alive.

Mullen "thanked Indian officials for their restraint and their desire to cooperate with Pakistani officials in the pursuit of those responsible for the attacks."

"Admiral Mullen urged all parties in India and in Pakistan to collaborate against the increasingly sophisticated threat of militant extremism in South Asia," the statement said.

Mullen's agenda included meetings with National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, and Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who is also the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The Indian defence ministry was silent on the visit.

Chinese Army Team Arrives
for Anti-Terror Drill with India

Belgaum (Karnataka)
Indicative of the growing military-military cooperation between India and China, a 137-member team of the People's Liberation Army arrived at this cantonment town Thursday for the second joint anti-terror drill with the Indian Army beginning here Friday.

The drill, named Exercise Hand-in-Hand 2008, "is aimed at expanding and strengthening military-to-military ties between the two armed forces," a defence ministry statement said.

During the course of joint training that will last till Dec 14, the Chinese troops from an infantry battalion of the Chengdu Military Area Command and Indian Army troops from for a Maratha Light Infantry battalion "will undergo joint tactical maneuvers and drills, interoperability training, and joint command post procedures, culminating in a joint counter-terrorist operational exercise with a simulated enemy.

"The exercise is planned at mixed company group level with command and control elements from the respective battalions' headquarters," the statement added.

A joint directing panel of officers of both the armies will supervise the training and maneuvers.

"The helicopter assets of the Indian Air Force will also be incorporated for conducting special heli-borne maneuvers and assault operations," the statement said.

A high-ranking PLA delegation, as also senior Indian Army officers, are expected to visit the exercise venue as observers.

A 13-member Chinese delegation led by a senior colonel - equivalent to an Indian Army brigadier - was in India Oct 21-23 to attend the initial planning conference and discuss details of the exercise.

The detailed planning and coordination for conducting the exercise were finalized during the visit of eight-member Indian Army delegation led by a brigadier to Chengdu Nov 20-23.

The Chinese contingent had earlier arrived in a military aircraft at Pune. After a brief reception at the Pune airfield, six Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft transported the Chinese army personnel and their stores were to Belgaum.

The joint exercise is the second in the series, the previous one having been conducted in Kunming, China late last year.

Earlier, India and China had held their first joint naval exercise in November 2003 off Shanghai on China's eastern seaboard. Subsequently, two ships of the Indian Navy made port calls at Qingdao and participated in a joint exercise with the PLA Navy in 2007.

Though Angry and Hurt,
Mumbaikars Do Not Favor War

By Devapriyo Bhattacharjee

Although there is palpable anger against Pakistan for the terror attack on Mumbai, most people here feel that a military operation against the neighbor is not the solution as it too has been the target of terror strikes.

"War is not the solution," was the common verdict of a majority of people who gathered at the city's historical Gateway of India monument to voice their protest against the terror attack of 26/11, which has led to a sense of insecurity among the people.

"A few people coming from Pakistan (for the terror strike) does not mean the whole country was involved in it," said actor Rahul Bose.

"Even they are facing a big confrontation between the extremists and the moderates within their own country, due to which even Benazir Bhutto was killed. If a few Indians go to some other country and do something wrong, that doesn't mean that we all are involved," Rahul told IANS.

Anil Behl, an engineer from Chembur who runs a manufacturing industry, said: "Going for a military action against Pakistan cannot be a solution. We have to strengthen ourselves from within to such an extent that no outsider can intrude our security."

"The money that would be spent in a military operation, if spent to strengthen our security would give much fruitful results," he added.

Columnist Anil Dharker said: "I think this act is a culmination. Finally one needs to say enough is enough. This should be taken as the last lesson as now it has gone beyond tolerance."

"There should be concrete steps so that politicians are made more accountable. Blaming another country for the whole act would not solve any problem," he added.

Bollywood director of "Golmaal Returns" Rohit Shetty, said: "It's high time that we come forward. I think every concerned citizen of India is worried about what has happened."

"Blaming Pakistan would not solve the issue as there are many things which need to be worked out internally," he added.

Attacking the politicians, Shetty said, "They should realize their responsibility and give respect to the people's trust."

Shetty was speaking to IANS Wednesday evening when around 200,000 people gathered to express their anguish over the terror attack in Mumbai, which left more than 170 people dead.

The unique mass gathering was the spontaneous reaction to social networking sites, SMSs, emails and phone, and not headed by any political leader, organizer or NGOs.

The unanimous verdict of the public was displayed in the form of posters and banners which questioned the efficiency and honesty of politicians.

The common target were Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, his deputy R.R. Patil, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Mahrashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray.

People were shouting slogans and held aloft posters that read "We would prefer a dog visiting our places than a politician", "Declare Pakistan as a terrorist state", "R.R. Patil Chhaka Hai", "Where is Raj Thackeray with his MNS sena?".

The peace vigil, which started at 4 p.m. and lasted till 9 p.m., was attended by people from all walks of life, including businessmen, professionals, government servants, Bollywood and theatre personalities, doctors, engineers, students.

The protesters, among whom were a significant number of Muslims and people from other religions, also filled the air with chants like "Vande Mataram", "Bharat Mata Ki Jai", "Hindustan Zindabad", "Jawans amar rahe". Many also rendered the national anthem.

Rice Sees No Military Standoff
between Pakistan, India

By Muhammad Najeeb

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she didn't see any Pakistan-India military standoff in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, as President Asif Ali Zardari promised to assist in the investigation into the strikes.

"The government will also take strong action against any Pakistani elements found involved in the attack," a statement from the presidential office quoted Zardari as telling Rice.

"Pakistan is determined to ensure that its territory is not used for any act of terrorism," Zardari told Rice.

On her part, at a media briefing at the Chaklala air base in adjacent Rawalpindi after her talks with Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and senior army officials, Rice said: "I found the Pakistani leadership very focused and committed."

Rice was here on a day's visit after travelling to New Delhi Wednesday to express US solidarity with India in the wake of the Mumbai attacks that killed 172 people and injured 248.

Among those she met here were Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Pakistan Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Rice said Pakistani officials said they would "extend full cooperation" in the Mumbai investigations.

Pakistan should act urgently and actively, Rice said and added that US would extend its full cooperation and assistance to Pakistan whenever and wherever needed.

To a question whether New Delhi shared any evidence of Pakistan's involvement in the Mumbai attacks, she replied: "Let me make clear that there is lot of information that can be shared."

Rice said the lines of communication between Pakistan and India should remain open and both countries should further improve their relations. She said both Pakistan and India have the commitment and capacity to deal with terrorists.

Rice termed the Mumbai blasts "terrible yet highly sophisticated", not earlier seen in this region, and stressed the need for urgency to bring the perpetrators to justice.

US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher accompanied Rice during her talks with Pakistani leaders.

Saying that the Mumbai attacks were alarming and that all sides need to work together to prevent such strikes in future, Rice said: "Everybody wants to prevent further attacks."

"Pakistan and the Pakistani leadership understands the importance of doing that, particularly in rooting out terrorism and rounding up whoever perpetrated this attack," she said.

Rice avoided a direct answer to a question on media reports that India may attack the headquarters of the Lashkar-e-Taiba that New Delhi blames for the terror strikes. She said Pakistan was ready to cooperate with India and "I believe negotiations should remain open."

Though all roads to Islamabad from the military headquarters where Rice met Kayani were closed for the public, she was flown from the GHQ to the presidency in a helicopter amid high security in the city that has seen several blasts since January, including the one in September that killed about 50 people at the Marriott Hotel.

Referring to Pakistan-India relations after the Mumbai attacks, Rice said these were improving, and with cooperation these should move forward with the exchange of information and bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai blasts to justice.

No intention to declare war on Pak: NSA to Germany

Press Trust of India

Thursday, December 04, 2008 11:40 PM (Islamabad)

India has no intention of declaring war against Pakistan in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai, India's National Security Advisor M K Narayanan was on Thursday quoted as saying by a senior German official.

Christoph Heusgen, Foreign Policy and Security Advisor to the German Chancellor, informed the Pakistan Prime Minister's Office over phone on Thursday that Narayanan had told him that "India neither had declared nor had any intention of declaring war against Pakistan".

A statement issued by the Prime Minister's House said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had directed Heusgen to contact the Indian National Security Advisor to "urge restraint and lowering of the ante against Pakistan in the interest of peace and security of the region".

Heusgen said Narayanan had "refuted the perception about the possibility of imminent armed conflict with Pakistan".

While conveying the Indian government's view that the perpetrators of Mumbai terrorist attacks apparently had external linkages, Narayanan reportedly assured Heusgen that India "only wanted unequivocal cooperation of the government of Pakistan for thorough investigation of the Mumbai incidents", the statement said.

Heusgen said the German Chancellor, who had been pre-occupied with domestic political engagements in the past two days, intended to talk to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "to urge lowering (of) tensions between the two countries".

Indian, Chinese troops to walk ‘Hand in Hand’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 4
For the first time India and China will conduct a joint army exercise on the Indian soil. A 137-member strong Chinese army contingent arrived in their service aircraft at Pune this morning to take part in the drill, which begins this weekend.

The Chinese army personnel and equipment were transported by six IAF aircraft to Belgaum, the venue of the exercise that has been named as “Hand-in-Hand 2008”. This joint training exercise is the second in the series, the previous one having been conducted in Kunming (China) last year.

The event aims at expanding and strengthening military-to-military ties between the two armed forces. During the course of joint training, the Chinese troops from the 1st company of infantry battalion of Chengdu military area and the Indian Army troops from 8 Maratha Light infantry battalion will participate. They will undergo joint tactical manoeuvre and drills, interoperability training; joint command post procedures, finally culminating in a joint counter-terrorist operational exercise with simulated enemy.

Ex-Pak Army officials helped Mumbai attackers: Report

PTI | December 04, 2008 | 10:03 IST

Former Pakistan Army officers and those from the powerful ISI helped train the attackers who targeted Mumbai last week killing over 180 people, a media report said today quoting a former Pentagon official.

However, no specific links had been uncovered yet between terrorists and the Pakistani government, the unnamed official said, according to the New York Times.

"A former Defense Department official said on Wednesday that American intelligence agencies had determined that former officers from Pakistan's Army and its powerful Inter Services Intelligence agency helped train the Mumbai attackers," the paper said.

It, however, did not identify the official, saying he had spoken on condition of anonymity.

The disclosure came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held meetings with Indian leaders in New Delhi and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,

met their Pakistani counterparts in Islamabad, in a two-pronged effort to pressure the country to cooperate fully in tracking down the perpetrators of the bloody attacks, the paper said.

Pakistan has refuted Indian allegations that militants operating from its soil were responsible for the deadly attacks, with President Asif Ali Zardari terming them as "non-state actors".

Ammo dump blast kills 2 jawans

Ahmedabad, December 4
Two jawans were killed and five others injured when ammunition exploded in an Army cantonment in Gandhidham town of Kutch district of Gujarat today, the police said. “There was an arms and ammunition inspection on at the Gandhidham cantonment. Prima Facie, it seems that some accident took place there after which the ammunition caught fire and exploded,” Kutch district superintendent of police Vabang Jamir said.

“Two army men died in the incident while five others were injured and admitted to hospital,” Jamir added. — PTI

Prevent repeat of Mumbai
Combat the menace with innovative approach
by Lt-Gen Kamal Davar (retd)

With sickening and alarming regularity, terrorism has struck once again India’s commercial capital and its modern-day pride, Mumbai, leaving nearly 200 dead and many injured. It was a very deliberate and highly organised terrorist operation executed with military-like precision.

Combined action by our security forces — the Army, the Navy, the National Security Guards (NSG), the Air Force and the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad — was launched speedily and professionally with adequate synergy to eliminate or nab the perpetrators of this heinous crime. India’s worst terrorist strike was brought to an end with the intensive counter-terrorism operations, which lasted nearly 60 agonising hours with the attention of the entire world focused on India’s 9/11.

However, the frequent occurrence of such incidents across the length and breadth of the country makes the otherwise hard-pressed intelligence agencies and police forces look like rank amateurs, near-helpless and predominantly reactive (it pains me immensely to state this as I was also involved somewhat in the security business as the first head of India’s Defence Intelligence Agency).

We must appreciate that the phenomenon of terrorism is an inalienable part of our security scenario. The lethality coupled with the surprise element rests with terrorists, who have been inspired, trained, equipped and funded by certain countries inimical to India’s growing stature, both political and economic. They will continue to perpetuate such dastardly acts against Indian.

We need to also understand that the war on terror has to be exclusively fought by us utilising our own genius and resources, and with no conscientious dissenters or political brownie-point scorers among us in this national endeavour. The utterances of some of our politicians even during these tragedy-driven days were nothing short of being despicable.

With India’s growing linkages with the US, Israel and Afghanistan, we now will have to contend with increasingly greater threats from Al-Qaeda whose international footprint and terrorist innovativeness, including operational audacity, are growing by the day. Surprisingly, it has managed to win many converts in several countries, including governments and their security forces in the Islamic world.

It will be, perhaps, premature to comment, in a definite manner, on the antecedents of the perpetrators of Mumbai’s latest terrorist strike, but the foreign hand is distinctly evident. The tactics employed and the equipment used smack of a classic operation by special forces and naval commandos, or forces suitably trained by these organisations, inspired by Pakistan-based Lashkar elements in concert with Al-Qaeda, which has many sanctuaries inside Pakistan to plot and execute its nefarious missions.

The first images, as shown by one of the TV channels, of the terrorists in their flak jackets brandishing their automatic weapons clearly made them look like members of a special services group or those converts who have been specially trained by old professionals for such lightning raids.

Stealthily moving in a mother ship across the Arabian Sea and then in trawlers or speed boats and subsequently getting into small inflatable motor-powered boats of the Gemini variety, after earlier possible reconnaissance missions, could not be the handiwork of some misguided youth or SIMI enthusiasts by any stretch of the imagination. No matter what Pakistan says this time, there was no indigenous local militant in this raid.

The ever-pervasive hand of the old Mumbai underworld led by Pakistan’s main terrorist accomplice Dawood Ibrahim and his henchmen can never be ruled out. Nevertheless, conjecture must never replace professional analysis. It appears that for once, with so many leads, including the bodies and weapons of dead terrorists available, our security agencies will be able to speedily unravel the details of this evil deed.

It is the normal practice of sinister intelligence agencies like Pakistan’s infamous ISI and its proxy, Bangladesh’s Directorate of Forces Intelligence (the chief culprit in our North East), to cover their evil acts using innocuous-sounding names like the Indian Mujahideen or the Deccan Mujahideen, which has since owned responsibility for the Mumbai terrorist strike.

They know and we know that it is all hogwash! Pakistan, which is widely acknowledged the world over, including by its US mentors, as the fountainhead of global terrorism and with its own existence as a stable nation now at stake, has much to ponder over if the ISI’s involvement gets proven by the many leads which will emerge in a few days from now.

Even though the new Pakistan government under President Asif Zardari has been speaking the language of peace, but it lacks the ability to rein in the ISI and cut its connections with the Taliban-Al-Qaeda elements in Pakistan. Some semblance of improvement in our relations and peace and stability in the region are possible only when Islamabad is bale to tame the ISI. The reversal in the Pakistan government’s decision of sending the ISI chief to India to share information with our intelligence agencies shows its lack of control over the notorious agency, which still appears to be all powerful.

Nevertheless, it will be rather na├»ve for India to expect Pakistan’s cooperation in the fight against terror. They are well on the path of self-destruction and let us leave them to their own fate as we have to ensure our security preparedness with great deliberation and sincerity. We need to send out a very strong message to Pakistan that “enough is enough” and the Government of India may consider taking some stern diplomatic steps.

Meanwhile, the government has to carry out a totally holistic review of our security preparedness as regards internal security, and formulate a strategy to minimise such recurrences as the one in Mumbai on November 26. The fight against terror unquestionably lies along an arduous and a long road. It will only succeed if India determinedly implements a “ zero tolerance” policy towards it, enacts tough anti-terror laws and both the state governments and the Centre embark on this mission in a united and cohesive manner.

Prophylactic and preventive measures against terrorist strikes must be given the maximum resources and attention at all levels, from the macro to the grassroots. Vigilance adopting all modern tools of surveillance, monitoring and interception covering the land, sea and aerial frontiers need to be put into place.

Importantly, all security organs and intelligence agencies of the country must adopt an innovative and well-coordinated synergetic professional approach to combat this evil. Accountability must be given its due importance, for the country’s prestige and honour is at stake.

The Americans after 9/11 have not had any recurrence of terrorist strikes and we need to thus replicate some of the measures (even if some of our civil liberties protagonists disapprove of these) they have adopted to ensure a safe environment. India must take the lead to get not only willing South Asian countries but the rest of the world also together to wage a successful battle against the scourge of terrorism. We owe it to ourselves and to humanity at large.

The writer was the first Chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency.

Delhi Durbar
Naval annoyance with media

At the annual press conference the Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, virtually “pulled up” the media and heaped a few complaints against its unprofessional work. Reacting to media reports that he had been “pulled up” by Defence Minister AK Antony, the Admiral added with dry humour “you people have written it so many times that I have been pulled up. By now I should have gained a few inches in height”.

He was also unhappy with two TV journalists for disregarding the embargo and airing his interview ahead of the scheduled date. “I could chop their heads off…”, the Admiral thundered and termed the act as a breach of privilege. Admiral Mehta said operational details of the counter-attack in Mumbai were shown live on TV and this was wrong.

TOP ARTICLE | Keep A Tab On The Funds

5 Dec 2008, 0000 hrs IST

The carnage in Mumbai marks a new phase in the terrorist war against India. The monthly bomb blasts in one major city or another have now been escalated to a full-fledged commando strike at the heart of India's commercial capital.

The politicians have continued to dish out their usual platitudes, either making alibis or pointing fingers at each other, while the intelligence apparatus and the security czars have proved themselves to be utterly incompetent in coping with the challenge. It is high time to bring in new people and new ideas on how to win the war against terror.

Gautam Adhikari argued convincingly in these columns a few days ago that it is necessary to save Pakistan to save us all. Much of the discourse post-Mumbai terror attacks is about what is to be done with our security arrangements at home.

However, nothing that we can do within our borders can be as effective as striking at the base of terrorism in Pakistan itself. But how is that to be accomplished? Surely not by military force. Look at the protracted wars that the world's greatest military powers have fought, and never won, in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The military option is not an option at all in Pakistan. The only option available is to stabilise Pakistan, strengthen democracy in that country and help its civil society strike at the heart of terrorism.

India has little leverage to push this, though it would be a major beneficiary of such an outcome. However, it can nudge the US and other global powers towards this shared goal through diplomacy. The IMF has approved a $7.6 billion loan to Pakistan. Billions of dollars of additional assistance are being planned by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other bilateral donors, adding up to a sizeable aid package.

This gives considerable clout to the Pakistan aid consortium to influence the shape of things to come there. That leverage has been greatly enhanced by the refusal of both China and Saudi Arabia, two of Pakistan's closest and richest friends, to bail out the country from its present crisis. Clearly they want to work together with the international community in Pakistan, not separately. Both countries have serious terrorism concerns. China because of separatist movements in Xinjiang and other parts of western China, and Saudi Arabia because its Faustian bargain with Wahhabi fundamentalism has come home to roost.

How best can the international community use its decisive leverage in Pakistan? It could waste this leverage in narrowly promoting policies for economic stabilisation or it could use the leverage to push for the stabilisation of democracy along with the economy.

The former would be a waste because an economic stabilisation programme can never work when the state itself is either weak or failing. The strengthening of democracy is essential as much for economic stability as for political stability.

Strengthening democracy is fundamental for striking at the heart of terrorism in Pakistan. Though an elected government is in power, it has little power vis-a-vis the generals and the ISI. Like the KGB in the former Soviet Union, the ISI is a state within a state in Pakistan, and the civilian government has little control over it.

General Kayani started well in refusing to back his erstwhile patron General Musharraf, keeping the army in the barracks, and withdrawing his officers from senior positions in the government. But would he or General Pasha, the head of the ISI, agree to take their orders from the civilian political authorities? Unlikely. The Indian authorities tested the limit of civilian power in Pakistan in requesting that the ISI head be sent to India to help with investigations in the Mumbai attack. The civilian political leadership initially agreed, only to retract the offer the next day. Evidently, the Pakistani president or prime minister cannot decide whether or not to send Pasha to India.

The civilian government in Pakistan is engaged in an internal struggle to reclaim real power from the generals and the ISI. The international community, in its own interest and in the interest of the people of Pakistan, could greatly strengthen the hands of the civilian government through the instrument of aid.

Pakistan is depending on the billions of dollars of foreign aid for its economic survival. Only the first IMF tranche of $3.1 billion has been disbursed so far. The rest should be made available on the implicit condition that the defence forces take their orders from the elected government, and that the ISI dismantles its terror infrastructure in collaboration with (read 'oversight of') the US as a representative of the donor community.

The ISI and the army will fight such conditions tooth and nail. Political opponents and even allies of the government may protest that this will infringe on Pakistan's sovereignty. But Pakistan needs that aid and it has to give something in return. It won't be easy, but even partial success would be valuable.

Even the ISI can be tamed by gradually pulling the financial plug in the event of non-compliance. No doubt the ISI has its own sources of revenue, apart from budgetary support visible or invisible but withdrawal of budget support would still hurt. There will also be attempts to hoodwink the donors. However, Robert Gates, who will continue as Barack Obama's defence secretary and once headed the CIA where he served for over 25 years, should know a thing or two about that.

From the New York Landmarks Plot to the Mumbai Attack

December 3, 2008

By Fred Burton and Ben West

Related Special Topic Pages

On the surface, last week’s attack on Mumbai was remarkable for its execution and apparently unconventional tactics. But when compared to a plot uncovered 15 years ago that targeted prominent hotels in Manhattan, it becomes apparent that the Mumbai attack was not so original after all.

The 1993 New York Landmarks Plot

In July 1993, U.S. counterterrorism agents arrested eight individuals later convicted of plotting an elaborate, multistage attack on key sites in Manhattan. The militants, who were linked to Osama bin Laden’s then-relatively new group, al Qaeda, planned to storm the island armed with automatic rifles, grenades and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In multiple raids on key targets combined with diversionary attacks, they aimed to kill as many people as possible.
The planned attack, which came to be known as the “Landmarks” plot, called for several tactical teams to raid sites such as the Waldorf-Astoria, St. Regis and U.N. Plaza hotels, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, and a midtown Manhattan waterfront heliport servicing business executives and VIPs traveling from lower Manhattan to various New York-area airports. The militants carried out extensive surveillance both inside and outside the target hotels using human probes, hand-drawn maps and video surveillance. Detailed notes were taken on the layout and design of the buildings, with stairwells, ballrooms, security cameras and personnel all reconnoitered.
The attackers intended to infiltrate the hotels and disguise themselves as kitchen employees. On the day of the attack, one attack team planned to use stolen delivery vans to get close to the hotels, at which point heavily armed, small-cell commando teams would deploy from the rear of the van. Stationary operatives would use hand grenades to create diversions while attack teams would rake hotel guests with automatic weapons. The attackers planned to carry gas masks and use tear gas in hotel ballrooms to gain an advantage over any security they might come up against. They planned to attack at night, when the level of protection would be lower.
The targeted hotels host some of the most prestigious guests in Manhattan. These could have included diplomats like the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who traditionally keeps an apartment in the Waldorf-Astoria, or even the U.S. secretary of state, who is known to stay at the Waldorf during U.N. sessions. They also host various business leaders. If successful, the attackers doubtless would have killed many high-profile individuals key to New York’s stature as a center for financial and diplomatic dealings.
Meanwhile, the plots to detonate explosives in the Lincoln and Holland tunnels would have blocked critical transportation infrastructure, sowing chaos in the city as key escape routes were closed off. And VIPs seeking to escape the city via the midtown heliport would have been thwarted by the attack planned for that location. In fact, the heliport attack was planned to be carried out using watercraft, which also could have been used to target transport ferries, further disrupting transportation in and out of Manhattan. The New York City Police Department could plausibly even have quarantined Manhattan to prevent the attackers from fleeing the city.
With the city shut down and gunmen running amok, the financial center of the United States would have been thrown into chaos and confusion until the attackers were detained or killed. The attacks thus would have undermined the security and effectiveness of New York as a center for financial and diplomatic dealings.
At the time, U.S. counterterrorism officials deemed that the attack would have had a 90 percent success rate. Disaster, then, was averted when federal agents captured the plotters planning the Landmarks attack thanks to an informant who had infiltrated the group. Along with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing just four months earlier, which killed six people but was intended to bring down both towers, the United States dodged a major bullet that could have been devastating to New York.

The Nov. 26 Mumbai Attack

A little more than fifteen years later, the Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai closely followed the script of the New York plot. Militants armed with AK-47s, grenades and military-grade explosives carried out a very logistically sophisticated and coordinated attack on the financial capital of India.

Clearly, the Mumbai attack involved extensive preoperational surveillance. Attackers had maps of the targeted hotels, and according to the Indian Marine Commandos who raided the Taj Mahal hotel, the militants moved around as if they knew the hotel’s layout by heart. Advance members of the attack teams had already taken up positions in the hotels, stockpiling firearms, ammunition, grenades and food that were quickly accessed and used to maintain the attackers’ positions in the hotels. One of the attackers reportedly also had taken a job as an intern chef in the Taj Mahal hotel kitchen, so his movements raised less suspicion and he had a detailed knowledge of the entry points and corridors. For such attacks, preparedness is key, and escaping alive is a long shot. The attackers therefore must have been highly motivated and willing to die — a rare combination that requires immense amounts of training and ideological zeal.
At least two teams entered the city by watercraft, breaking up into smaller groups as they made their way to the Taj Mahal hotel, Oberoi-Trident hotel complex and Nariman (also known as Chabad) House, a Jewish center in the same area of Mumbai. These tactical teams dispersed across the city, attacking prominent sites where foreign VIPs were sure to be present. They infiltrated the hotels through back entrances and kitchens, thus enhancing the element of surprise as they opened fire on guests in the dining areas and atriums of the hotels.
Beyond killing people and holding hostages in Mumbai’s most prestigious hotels, other attack teams assaulted additional strategic sites in Mumbai, creating a sense of chaos and confusion over the whole city. Mumbai’s main train station, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, as well as Cama Hospital, offices of The Times of India newspaper, restaurants, a theater, and bars frequented by foreigners also were attacked. The attackers’ excellent coordination — the multiple attacks took place nearly simultaneously — thus ensured maximum confusion and chaos, frustrating police responses. This could explain in part why operations like those at Nariman House and the hotels lasted for more than 48 hours.

Similarities between New York and Mumbai

The similarities between the Landmarks plot and the Nov. 26 Mumbai attack are quite obvious. In symbolic terms, as the Mumbai attack unfolded, many onlookers said that an attack on Mumbai is to India what an attack on New York is to Americans. In more concrete terms, the targets, methods, weapons and geography involved were similar (if not identical), and the unconventional style of the attacks points to a common author.
U.S. counterterrorism forces in 1995 detained Landmarks plot mastermind Ramzi Yousef, who remains in U.S. federal prison. But his ideas obviously did not stay behind bars. This illustrates how a plan’s initial failure does not mean the threat has been eliminated. Indeed, Stratfor observed in 2005 that the 1993 Landmarks plot (among others) should not be discounted, as al Qaeda or other terrorist groups are known to return to past targets and plot scenarios.
The similarities between the Landmarks plot and the Mumbai attack exist at several levels.
The first relates to the target set. Both New York and Mumbai are the respective financial centers of their countries and home to their nations’ major stock exchanges. In both cities, the planners had picked out high-profile soft targets — sites that have less security personnel and countermeasures than, say, a military installation or key government building. Softer security means gaining access to strategic assets and people is easier. Stratfor has long stressed the importance of maintaining vigilance at soft targets like hote ls that cater to international guests, as these are likely targets for militant Islamists. Both plans also involved infiltrating hotel staff and booking rooms in the hotels to gain inside information and store supplies.
The second similarity involves how both plans included peripheral targets to cause confusion and chaos and thus create a diversion from the main targets. In Mumbai, transportation infrastructure like the city’s main railway station was attacked, and militants detonated explosive devices in taxis and next to gasoline pumps. Meanwhile, roving gunmen attacked other sites around the city. In a country where coordination among first responders is already weak, the way the attackers fanned out across the city caused massive chaos and distracted security forces from the main prize: the hotels. Attacking Cama Hospital also sowed chaos, as the injured from one scene of attack became the targets of another while being rescued.
A third similarity exists in the geography of the two cities. In both plots, the use of watercraft is a distinctive tactical similarity. Watercraft gave militants access at unconventional locations where security would be more lax. Both Mumbai (a peninsula) and Manhattan (an island) offer plenty of points where militants can mount assaults from watercraft. Such an attack would not have worked in New Delhi or Bangalore; these are landlocked cities where militants would have had to enter by road, a route much more likely to encounter police patrols. Being centers of trade and surrounded by water, both Mumbai and New York have high levels of maritime traffic. This means infiltrating the area from the water would raise minimal suspicions, especially if the craft were registered locally (as was the case in the Mumbai attack). Such out-of-the box tactics take advantage of security services, which often tend to focus on established threats.
A fourth similarity lies in transportation. In addition to using watercraft, both plots involved the use of deceptive vehicles to maneuver around the city undetected. The Landmark plotters used taxis to conduct surveillance and planned on using a delivery van to approach the hotels. In Mumbai, the attackers planted bombs in taxis, and at least one group of militants hijacked a police van and used it to carry out attacks across the city. Using familiar vehicles like taxis, delivery vans or police vans to carry out surveillance or attacks reduces suspicion and increases the element of surprise, allowing militants to stay under cover until the moment of attack.

An Off-the-Shelf Plan

As indicated, the striking similarities between the Landmarks plot and the Mumbai attack suggest that Ramzi Yousef and other early al Qaeda operatives who helped prepare the Landmarks plot in New York authored the Mumbai plan. Considering that the militants launched their original attack from Karachi, Pakistan, and the previous involvement of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency — which has connections with al Qaeda leaders in western Pakistan — it is very likely that al Qaeda in Pakistan at least provided the blueprints for this attack. On-the-ground operations like training, surveillance and the actual attack appear to have been carried out by the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba in connection with Indian Islamist groups.
Here we see more evidence of the existence of an ideological or strategic battle space that exists in the radical Islamist world, which has been greatly influenced by al Qaeda. Like a contingency plan that might sit on the shelf for years or decades before it is useful, terrorist plots (especially good ones) can have a long shelf life and be applied in various scenarios. In fact, plans that sit on the shelf longer might actually be more effective as security officials focus their attention on evolving threats and forget old ones.
Just because a plot has been disrupted, the threat has not been eliminated. Once terrorists happen upon a successful model, they are likely to follow that model. This can be seen in al Qaeda’s return to the World Trade Center in 2001, eight years after the initial truck bomb attacks in 1993. It can also be seen in the fact that Mumbai has been the target of multiple attacks and threats, including train bombings in 2006 that killed approximately 200 people. Though the tactics might have differed, the target set remained the same. Various parts of the attack cycle can change, but rarely does an attack occur that is completely novel.
Ultimately, the biggest difference between the Landmarks plot and the Mumbai attack is that the Mumbai attack succeeded. The failure of the Landmarks plot probably provided key lessons to the planners of the Mumbai attack, who were able to carry out the stages of the attack without detection and with the full element of surprise. Gauging by the success of the Mumbai incident, we can expect similar strategies and tactics in future attacks.
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