Friday, December 19, 2008

More on fighting terrorism

Here I am trying to answer some of the questions raised in the comments on Terrorism: A shocked nation awakens
1. By asking for more proof that the 26/11 plot was hatched in their country, the Pakistanis are probably trying to probe how much details India has in its possession. It is also an attempt to confuse the issue. Not revealing all the cards we hold may be a wise policy at this juncture.
2. India allowed the Americans and the British to interrogate the surviving terrorist. Pakistan possibly cannot follow this example because they have not made any meaningful arrests linked to 26/11. They are just trying to fool the world.
3. Mug shots of the dead terrorists, DNA etc., can link to the records archives of our agencies as well as those of friendly countries. Also, the items recovered from them do tell tales.
4. We should be grateful that at least one terrorist was caught alive. There could be still more information to be extracted from him. Bringing him to trial has many benefits. Firstly, we are committed to the rule of law and cannot resort to lynching culprits. Secondly the trial would help in sustaining public attention on the question of terrorism. Thirdly, the solid evidence that India claims to have would be subjected to judicial review and more credibly presented to the world.
5. Kandahar was an avoidable bad dream. But the politicians who were involved in that episode keep blabbering loud about fighting terrorism.
6. The handling of 26/11 by the officialdom, at least in the initial stages, was inefficient, to say the least. Proper analysis of the mistakes should help us to streamline our strategies, tactics and operational procedures for the future. The controversial media reporting of the tragedy has been taken note of and the News Broadcasters Association has issued guidelines for future coverage.
7. To take a pessimistic view of the prospects of India is self-defeating. As Happy Kitten has rightly pointed out, to feel that India is finished would amount to surrendering. Morale has to be kept high. Winston Churchill's famous 'We shall fight' speech on June 4, 1940 was one of the major factors that turned the WW II around. Britain was almost on the verge of collapse at that time. India is nowhere near that situation. What we require is not oratory but the courage of conviction and concerted action.
8. Surgical or pre-emptive strikes by India should be resorted to if they become essential but such operations require Entebbe-like planning and precision. That in turn needs quality intelligence. Hopefully, the proposed National Investigation Agency would provide the necessary input.
9. AR Antulay might have put his foot in his mouth, but on one point he is right. It is incredible that in a warlike situation three top police officials were caught together in one car. That was a fatal mistake. Some of you might recall the entire AC Milan champion football team perishing in an air crash some decades ago. In very prosaic terms – never put all your eggs in one basket.
10. It is possible that there might be more terror attacks on India causing further loss of men and materials. We should be prepared – it is an undeclared war on the country that may not end with one battle. We are a strong nation and we shall overcome.

(You can read Churchill’s famous speech at It is said that after the formal last sentence of the speech over the BBC, Churchill covered the mike with his hands and concluded with words to the effect – and if everything fails we shall hit them over the heads with empty beer bottles which is about all that we have got to fight with.)
Also see:
Mumbai: The Last Post and after


Mysorean said...

I am puzzled about your posting. I do not see any parallel with 1940 Britain. It appears that Indian govt ignored the warning given to them by the Western intelligence agencies months before the incident. , NYTimes and many Western papers report that intelligence was passed on to Indian govt giving details of the probable sea route the terrorists would take, months before the incident. The reports say terrorists piled up an arsenal of weapons, took up jobs in the hotels involved. How were they able to do it? Who gave them references?
The mini war went on for a couple of days. It gives an indication of the size of the arsenal at the terrorists disposal. The Western interest is to ensure that their ethnic Pakistani citizens are not involved and to find out the links if any with their own citizens.

The first time the AK-47 was seen in Mysore and used in Mysore was by a Tamil Tiger terrorist. If you cast your mind a few years back, Karunanidhi invited the Tamil Tiger Thambis who brought heaps of weapons with them and these Thambis dispersed into neighbouring states. When a policeman in Mysore challenged a man who was behaving suspiciously, he was shot dead with an AK-47. The perpetrator was a Tamil Tiger and the matter was hushed up quickly at the request of Tamil Nadu govt. My sister escaped a serious train accident near Trichy when the train in which she was travelling plunged into a mud bank. It turned out that a section of the train track was found missing, terrorism by Tamil Tigers was suspected. The passengers who were unharmed were told to forget the incident, when they were visited later by police squads. Karunanidhi suppressed further reports on this incident.

Two Indian Prime Ministers were killed by terrorists. In the case of Rajiv Gandhi, the Tamil Tiger suicide bomber was able to hide in the local community in Tamil Nadu before she struck.

Coming back to the Mumbai terrorism, Bollywood has had history of strong links with Muslim Mafioso and some say possibly terrorists. My relative from Tamil Nadu who is a retired high-ranking police officer says drug cartels have strong links with Tamil film industry too. While in office he suspected money laundering by Tamil Tigers. He could not progress with his investigations and was advised to take retirement. He moved to Delhi
to escape the constant queries by
suspicious govt of the day. He now gets the centre's protection.

Nehru could have solved the so called Kashmiri problem, if only he let the army commanders do their job of evicting Pakistanis in the occupied territory and had annexed Kashmir then. Instead, he let his verbose friend Menon to argue in the biggest talkshop of all, called the UN.

Nebu said...

Reliable sources say that there definitely was useful information that was available. If an input says that a ship carrying terrorists has left from Karachi, the Navy and Coast Guard cannot say we want the name of the ship and the names of the terrorists so that we can intercept them. What they should have done is to send out a message to subordinate formations and ask them to step up surveillance and board a few ships at random so that the terrorists would know that they were taking a major risk of being apprehended. If the terrorists managed to land despite such checks, the Navy and the Coast Guard could then have said that with the available intelligence we did what we could.
This is not to say that the intelligence agencies did all they could. However the technical competence of our intelligence gathering, especially the external intelligence gathering, is very high. They can’t go to town crowing about their supremacy for it will compromise our sources of information as well as intelligence gathering techniques.

Anonymous said...

Interesting news,

India couldn't have asked for anything better.

This attitude is self defeating, as if we don't have any other choice.

Mysorean said...

Every terrorist incident is the result of failre of intelligence. In the case of 9/11 the intelligence failed because of communication failure between units and in the case of London 7/7 intelligence failed because, the intelligenc agencies did
not think that citizens of muslim extraction could be so doctrinated as to be pushed to become suicide bombers. These two countries learned from the failures. In America , the Home Land security framework works, in Britain, the MI5 and Scotland Yard cooperate to keep watchful eyes arresting terrirism suspects almost every month.

However, there is one important difference. In 9/11 and 7/7, no heavy weapons were used by the terrorists. But in Mumbai case, the terrorists were armed to their teeth with artillery smuggled into
the country. And , I come back again to the fact that they were able to do all this, including taking jobs in hotels, hiding their
weapons etc.. with consummate ease.
This points to terrorist cells hiiden in local community. Given 150million muslims in India,their communities in every hamlet, town and cities, intelligence-gathering becomes a nightmare. Added to this, is the Islamic politics at play.

India should learn from the mistakes and move on to tighten up the security. That is the best
homage for the fallen commander and commandos.

Anonymous said...

Kudos Mysorean for your post. Just yesterday I was watching on television these thousands of school children taking an oath in Mumbai to "fight/ defeat" terrorism. We are a defeated nation and we have started finding solace in oaths from children; we drag them into this controvery which has been raging like anything and which we are not able to control. Children taking oath, that too against terrorism; sounds very childish, funny, and ironical. We turn a blind eye to the problem we have in hand, and by doing so we think we have overcome the problem. A government that has its own share of an blabbering Antulay, an robotic/ inactive Patil (thankfully, now, terminated), and goons and goondas can't take on terror. Those who can, are not in the government. This in unfortunate; otherwise could you have imagined a Pakistan not the size of our Uttar Pradesh (with due apologies to Raj Thackery, I mentioned only this state) takes on a huge nation as ours. India is/ has been under a state of shame ever since we created our own Parliament. The only option for it is to go for a war against Pakistan; if it doesn't,Pakistan will... and, alas, that time India will have absolutely no option left.

Dad remarks correctly: "If whole of Uttar Pradesh urinates at a time within Pakistan whole of that country would be flooded above danger mark. That's the reality, but that is what our aging and ailing netas don't understand, and instead they get pissed off by that pint-sized country time and again.

Ashvin said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, just one question. Assuming our intelligence agencies and police force were on the ball, caught and killed all the terrorists before they killed so many people. Obviously the terrorists would have to be killed for they would not have surrendered. And a policeman in a situation or kill or be killed would choose the former.... Where would those policemen be now ? Being questioned by 'human rights' activists.... facing suspension for use of 'brute force'.... the same state government and central governments (for both I hold no brief) being questioned in the assembly and parliament as to how and why this was allowed to happen.... Shabana Azmi leading sit down protests..... Arundhati Roy writing bleeding heart articles on the state trampling cibil rights .... I could go on and on....

Abraham Tharakan said...

Apparently the confusion mentioned by Mysorean arose because I was responding to comments on an earlier post. I had mentioned that at the outset of this post. The objective of mentioning the Churchill speech was to stress the importance of morale at times of crisis. It makes good reading too.

Our intelligence agencies had also given warnings about possible terrorist strikes from the sea. Whether the attackers took up jobs in Taj and Trident is dubious. If they were working at those places, they could not have arrived by sea shortly before the attack.

Certainly the other places like CST and Nariman House which were attacked could not have employed them.

Nebu is right about our intelligence agencies. They cannot respond even when wrongly accused. They are the silent, unseen lot.

Reportedly, every Sri Lankan Tamil working outside his country makes a monthly financial contribution to the LTTE. There is an efficient collection system. It is also possible that LTTE raises funds by other methods.

Successive governments in India have failed to suppress the underworld.

I agree with Mysorean that the Nehru government made a mistake by going to the UN before the army could finish the job in Kashmir.

Let us not forget that terrorist attacks in India have not been made by Muslim organizations only.

Whether it is Antulay or Jaswant Singh, people in responsible positions should refrain from making indiscreet statements. I mention Jaswant because he is reported to have stated that he would repeat Kandahar if that situation arose again.

The people of India elect their government from time to time. No government so far has succeeded in tackling acts of terrorism which included attack on the Parliament and 26/11.

Ashvin has a point. I remember what a police officer in Kerala told me once. Whenever police resort to firing, there would be a hue and cry and an enquiry, sometimes even judicial.

But what the cops involved fear most is the customary departmental enquiry in which the questions are (1) how many rounds were fired? (2) how many hits were scored? (3) who trained the firing squad?

Mysorean said...

"Whether the attackers took up jobs in Taj and Trident is dubious. If they were working at those places, they could not have arrived by sea shortly before the attack"

I live in the West. Reports here says that the arms were stacked in the hotels and that the terrorists took up jobs there.

The incident looks like careful planning. They could not have arrived by sea and started shooting and taking hostages in a Jewish place. Seems like a carefully plabnned operation. I tend to believe in the reports here.

About intelligence: One intelligence expert said here in the West " We have to be right all the time, but the terrorists have to be right just once"

Kariyachan said...

What happened cannot be reversed, we need to accommodate and fine tune the necessary mechanisms to prevent this such incidents to a maximum in future.

Already our Govt and policymakers are taking solid steps or are in the process of devising futuristic strategies to prevent and avert disasters/terrorist activities of this magnitude.

Terrorism in India didn't just take birth by the recent Mumbai saga, instead from 1947 onwards we were subjected to terror one way or other including Kashmir ,Punjab, Nagaland, Assam,Tamil Tigers, Maoism , Organized Dacoity, Organized Crime (Underworld), Rouge politics etc.

Aside these issues, only in our country could one see the likes of Phoolan Devi etc getting elected to the parliament.

Terror doesn't belong to a specific community, nor is it a novelity in India.

Short sighted politicians from time to time slept over the issues for the sake of power and votes in elections , and now our nation has reached the 'Moment of Truth', that there is no running away or ignoring the issues and what we are faced with is grave danger.

But then; after 1947, there were significant improvements and developments in our country despite all these insurgency and unrest, and we as a nation deserve a pat on the back for having survived all these issues and have become more of a better place for the greater majority in India, even though there are still many many issues to be solved.

Countries or establishments who want to stall our economic growth and progress or to influence our foreign policies by forming mass opinion; are making use of the generic term "Terrorism" and are engaging with various anti-national elements and is trying to create havoc all over India.

Anonymous pointed out ..
"Children taking oath, that too against terrorism; sounds very childish, funny, and ironical"

Mind you Anonymous, From my experience,I remember while at school we singing National Anthem and taking The Pledge every day, and no matter what; those exercises had a profound effect in forming my psyche.

Children taking oath, that too against terrorism is never childish ,funny or ironical, instead this is how the good morals and feeling of unity and nationalism are instilled in young minds, your generation is almost done with , and these children taking oath are the tomorrows leaders and this such anti-terror oaths can serve a great deal in raising a future generation with anti-terror mindset.

Pradeep said...

1) Fighting and finishing off terrorism is not as easy as it looks. The near-invisible nature of the perpetrators of violence make the task difficult. Unlike communism, the state support to this ideology is behind a facade. War might achieve a short-term objective, but the problem may not go away.

2) One way of overcoming the problem is to ensure that there is no climate in which violence can breed. Again, it's easier said that done. Terrorists usually take advantage of indiscipline and disorderliness in the society. Indian society is chaotic and disorderly. One rumour via SMS is enough to throw our society into chaos. Will we be able to change that?

Rajesh Hanbal said...

@ pradeep
Cannot agree more with you about ensuring the right climate to prevent terrorism.

@ anonymous
"but that is what our aging and ailing netas don't understand "
It is our job to make them understand!

Mysorean said...

It is not realised that to perpetrate a terrorist act, the terrorists take time to prepare,
collect arms and explosives and above all work hard to know the territory that they intend to strike. For this, they have to set up cells within the country away from the target,and in a densely populated country like India should win tacit approval from the community in which they set up the cells. Above all, they need funds-hard cash, lots of it.

This happens time and again in the case of LTTE. This act in Mumbai is not as if the terrorists travelled via sea and started shooting. That argument is infantile. In a country like India with diverse religions and languages, without infiltration of communities to disover the terrorist cells, I do not see how any steps will be successful. As I said earlier, this means keeping watch on thousands of villages, towns and cities, an impossible task. The best anti-terrorist expertise is found in Israel and India will not take their assistance. Terrorists cannot be beaten by army-style confrontation but only through intelligence.

Merely blaming Pakistani govt which is not in control of NW territory achieves no purpose. War will see Pakistanis getting desperate to use their N arsenal. There was a time when Indian govt should have killed off their N programme and it did not happen.

I remember in 1960s during Bangla war, a doctor in Mysore, a muslim, born, bred and studied in Mysore Medical College, practiced in Mysore whose clinics my neighbours went was arrested and jailed as a spy for Pakistan. Later it turned out that in his home roof top he had installed a long antenna for communication and bribery to police meant that they turned a blind eye to it. Corruption is a stumbling block in any endeavour in India.

The film industry in India is reportedly financed by crime syndicates which will be linked to if an act of terrorism is planned. Loads of cash talk well! I do not see where the solution comes from.

Kariyachan said...

Credible, young and energetic leadership is needed. The ministers should be appointed based on experience and not out of political loyalty or blood line.

Defense and Home portfolios should be handled by people with prior experience in Army or any of our Intelligence wings.

Especially the Ex Chiefs of Raw or Army Chiefs or people who has experience with defense or security should be considered to be Ministers of Home and Defense.

Proven diplomats should be made Ministers of External Affairs.

I firmly advocate the likes of Hormis Tharakan should stand in politics and contest to Lok- Sabha.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Mysorean, certainly a great deal of planning and preparation has gone into the Mumbai terror attack. I like the comment by the intelligence expert. It is so true.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Kariyachan, an objective view.
You are so right about children. It is very important to imbibe the right values in them. The practice of children taking oath has been prevalent in many countries for a long time. In India it caught on rather late.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Pradeep, you are right. But let us not forget that terrorist attacks are not confined to India. It is a cancer that has gripped the world. It would take long and sustained efforts to overcome it.
Having said that, I must add – Pakistan claiming to be victim too is humbug.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Rajesh Hanbal, thank you for the comment.

Prakash said...

Terrorism is inscribed in their religion- Islam.
Now ,the wahabbi/salaafi teaching which means direct interpretation of their koran/hadees will reflect more violence from islamists in kerala too.
I am talking about NDF/PDP,SIMI etc who are funded by saud wahaabi's for terror.
read more :
Today ,India cannot wage a war at pakistan as done in yesteryears .the reason is 25% Islam population in India which constitutes of a majority of illegal immigrants from bangladesh,pakistan etc.
India is Helpless.Only thing which can be done is force apostate Indian Muslims to leave Islam.
Good Luck!