By RAJEEV SRINIVASAN
The usual suspects in the Indian English-language media (ELM) were wrong-footed by the 7/11 Mumbai blasts that murdered 200 commuters. The chatterati were in a dilemma: they couldn’t possibly accept that this was the handiwork of Pakistan’s ISI, given that they have been pontificating for years about a chimerical “peace process” with that country.
On the other hand, despite the unmistakable modus operandi—this was identical to the Madrid and London bombings, which are widely acknowledged as the handiwork of Muslim terrorists—the ELM couldn’t accept the possibility that Mumbai was an indigenous effort by Indian Muslims either. That would give the lie to their assertion that if the Indian State continues to bribe Muslims with, for instance, Haj subsidies and educational benefits, they will somehow become nationalists.
In the event, the ELM, in a truly breathtaking example of pretzel logic, blamed the victims! Almost all the victims were Hindus, so the ELM said, triumphantly, “See, that proves the bombers were Hindus who just wanted to make Muslims look bad!” Others claimed that this atrocity was only aimed at Gujaratis, justifiable as Gujaratis are bad people anyway. A classic case of blaming the victim. And blatant racism.
Nevertheless, an operation of this magnitude, requiring much planning, could not have been carried out except with the help of local “sleeper cells.” For instance, ubiquitous “Kashmiri emporia” are a possible suspect. The logistics behind this, as well as the various other atrocities in Mumbai, like the 1993 bombings, were too complicated for outsiders.
The contention that no known al-Qaeda terrorists are from India is often trotted out to argue that Indian Muslims are somehow different. But this is meaningless, because al-Qaeda itself is a fiction dreamt up by the Bush administration. It is convenient for Bush to claim that only those he anoints as al-Qaeda are terrorists.
In fact, many terrorist Muslim organizations have Indian Muslim members. Most obviously, the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hijbul-Mujahideen, as well as SIMI (Student Islamic Movement of India). In Bush’s vocabulary, “terrorists” are only those who kill white people, but an impartial observer would suggest that anybody who kills civilian non-combatants is a terrorist. By this definition, there are plenty of Indian Muslim terrorists: one that leaps to mind is Ishrat Jehan, a woman shot dead in the company of two Pakistani terrorists on a suicide mission.
The perpetrators of the Mumbai massacre must have been people living locally and casing the joint, so to speak, so that they did not attract the unwelcome attentions of the local police. They needed logistics and supply chains, safe houses, and local intelligence. Without large-scale local connivance, this would have been impossible. Clearly an inside job.
Rajeev Srinivasan wrote this opinion from Bangkok.
* Yes, the Pakistani hand is all too visible
By S. GOPIKRISHNA
Do you always need a smoking gun to nail the culprit? Picture a broken glass, a puddle of milk on the floor, and a cat lurking in the background with a vehement “I’m not responsible” look. The cat is an automatic suspect.
Financing terrorism is no easy task. It requires money and access to increasingly sophisticated infrastructure and sustenance. The ability to provide such support has increasingly become the realm of governments and represents a shift from the times when individual organizations could raise funds from sympathizers.
Combine the above and it becomes breathtakingly easy to locate a suspect. When a Palestinian leader passes away because of a massive heart attack midway through a dinner, Israel is an automatic suspect. Behind every move by the Hezbollah you see the strategic intent of Iran and Syria.
Juxtapose all this onto 7/11 and the hand of Pakistan is evident.
There is obviously the question of intention. Pakistan has made it clear that it believes in bleeding India with a thousand cuts.
Since the start of the Kashmir insurgency, Pakistan has devised increasingly ingenious ways of fishing in India’s troubled waters. Well-trained “freedom fighters” materializing mysteriously in Kashmir were the first wave of state-sponsored terrorism; funding local groups was yet another phase and masterminding the hijacking of Indian planes was yet another evolution of the same process.
The enthusiasm for direct assaults on India seems to have been tempered in the aftermath of the Kargil debacle and the emphasis seems to have shifted back to financing and training terrorist groups. The fact that Pakistan has provided protection to Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim, prime suspects in the 1993 Mumbai blasts, proves it has no compunctions about assisting and masterminding terrorism. And then you have Pakistani Foreign Minister Kasuri condemning the bomb blasts vociferously but slipping in something about resolution of the dispute in Kashmir.
There is also the question of sophistication. Non-State actors are usually less competent.
It takes a coordinated effort to plant bombs simultaneously in so many places. The Pakistani “expertise” in coordinating such attacks was evident in the London bomb blasts of 2005 where the prime accused had visited Pakistan for “training”—ideological and infrastructural. While the ISI may not have been a direct trainer, madrasa-based terrorism training has always been carried out with its explicit knowledge.
To top it all, Pakistan expels an Indian diplomat after the Indian High Commissioner draws attention to evidence explicitly pointing to the Pakistani hand in the Mumbai blasts.
Agreed that the evidence may be circumstantial, but all available signs point to the bombers being nourished on the milk of imported terrorism as opposed to a local brew.
Toronto-based S.Gopikrishna writes on issues pertinent to India and Indians.