Wednesday, December 03, 2008
More Thoughts on Mumbai
Courtesy of Instapundit, the following piece on Kausfiles seems well worth quoting:
Here's a Saturday Belfast Telegraph story about Sebastian D'Souza, the photographer who took a now-famous photograph of one of the Mumbai terrorists in the process of gunning people down in a train station:
But what angered Mr D'Souza almost as much were the masses of armed police hiding in the area who simply refused to shoot back. "There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything," he said. "At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, 'Shoot them, they're sitting ducks!' but they just didn't shoot back." [E.A.]
Got that? As has been noted earlier, the problem was not that armed policemen were not on hand; the problem was that policemen on the spot had firearms, but didn't use them.
Here's a Sunday New York Times front pager about the "troubling questions" the attacks raised about India's "ability to respond":In other words: if you thought the New York Times was biased only about the 2008 election, think again.
[T]he most troubling question to emerge for the Indian authorities was how, if official estimates are accurate, just 10 gunmen could have caused so much carnage and repelled Indian security forces for more than three days in three different buildings.
Part of the answer may lie in continuing signs that despite the country’s long vulnerability to terrorist attacks, Indian law enforcement remains ill-prepared. The siege exposed problems caused by inexperienced security forces and inadequate equipment, including a lack of high-power rifle scopes and other optics to help discriminate between the attackers and civilians. [E.A.]
Read the Times story and you'll see a numbing litany of "systemic" problems with Indian security, including "Ill-paid city police [who] are often armed with little more than batons," and "little information-sharing among law enforcement agencies" and all that inadequate equipment, including "old, bulky bulletproof jackets" and lack of thosehigh-power scopes and "no technology at their disposal to determine where the firepower was coming from ..." [E.A.] It reads like the budget-increase proposal submitted by the Mumbai police bureaucracy--The Indian Omnibus Anti-Terror Funding Act of 2009. Nowhere in the NYT story will you learn what American blog readers learned a day earlier when Instapundit (among others) linked to the Belfast story: Police had lots of guns, and no problem seeing who and where the terrorists were, but they wouldn't shoot at them.I'm used to a sort of Liebling-like hierarchy of news sources, with twitterers and bloggers being fastest, but maybe less reliable, while the grand institutions of the MSM weigh in later with more comprehensive and accurate accounts. But that's not what is happening with this Mumbai story. The "fast" sources are telling you what happened. The "slow" MSM sources are using their extra time to sanitize what's happened, to build euphemistic assumptions into their very reporting of the events themselves--in this case, it just so happens, liberal assumptions...
Then again, I've had my issues with the New York Times for a while now.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
This is ridiculous to the point that I have difficulty believing it. But apparently, yes, MSNBC news anchor Alex Witt was truly expecting terrorists to lay off the attacks for awhile, as part of the universal joy that attended the election of Barack Obama:
ALEX WITT: You know, John, and it’s interesting because there are many who had such an optimstic and hopeful opinion of things, and you certainly can’t expect things to change [snaps fingers] on a dime overnight, but there are many who suggested that with the outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration there would be something of a lull in terrorism attacks. There had been such a global outpouring of affection, respect, hope, with the new administration coming in, that precisely these kinds of attacks, it was thought — at least hoped — would be dampered down. But in this case it looks like Barack Obama is getting a preview of things to come.Yes, this is guarded with the journalistic "there are many who suggested" phrase. But it seems clear to me that she's expressing her own opinion here as well.
It is left to the correspondent, John Yang, to remind Ms. Witt that many terrorists don't care who is running the United States. And frankly, I think that, rather than experiencing a "lull", I think we'll see the opposite -- terror attempts that will test the new President. Whether he cracks down hard on them, or soft-pedals them, they will respond appropriately, once they've decided -- by their lights -- what sort of leader Mr. Obama is.
(By the way, I'm not sure who Ms. Witt has in mind for her "many who suggested" that Obama's election would calm things down. But the Vice-President-Elect would no doubt disagree with her.)
Finally, Ms. Witt shows clearly where her priorities are:
WITT: Okay, John Yang there in Chicago, following President-elect Barack Obama’s Thanksgiving Day dinner having been interrupted by all of this news from Mumbai. John, thank you very much.Clearly, the story here is not a terrorist siege -- which she describes flippantly as "all of this news from Mumbai". No, the real story here is that Barack Obama's Thanksgiving dinner was interrupted.
Sorry, Ms. Witt... the President of the United States must be prepared to be interrupted at all hours of the day or night, whether he likes it or not.
(Does President-elect Obama shake his head and wonder, "Where do I get such silly-minded followers?" I hope he does.)
hat tip: Ed Driscoll.
My hat's off to Iowahawk for showing the ridiculous just how ridiculous they are.
MUMBAI - Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole surviving member of the 10-man team of Pakistani gunmen that left hundreds dead or wounded after a bloody three day rampage in Mumbai, today blamed the mayhem on an "email mixup" that left him and his colleagues unaware that Barack Obama had won election as President of the United States.
"What? Oh bloody hell, now you tell me," said Kasab, as he was led away in handcuffs by Indian security forces.
Kasab, 21, apologized to Indian President Pratibha Patil, explaining that no one in his group had known about the recent U.S. election results.
"Boy, talk about having egg on the face," said a visibly embarrassed Kasab. "If we knew Bush was on his way out, obviously we would have called off the crazy random baby-shootings and martyrdom stuff, and signed on with the Peace Corps or Habitat for Humanity. At this point I guess all I can say is 'my bad.'"
(hat tip: LGF)
Monday, December 01, 2008
Thoughts About Mumbai
This past weekend, in the United States, was Thanksgiving, traditionally celebrated with turkey and stuffing, time off from work, and department-store holiday sales.
The real news over this weekend, however, was the horrifying drawn-out drama of hostage-taking in Mumbai, India.
Personally, I find it horrifying on several levels. Out of a city of 20 million people, the terrorists chose a Chabad House as one of their three targets; this tells us clearly who the terrorists are, and what they want. (The Jews of the world remain the canary in the coal mine. As history has repeatedly shown, a group that doesn't care about the civil rights of Jews will, soon enough, not care about civil rights at all. And if you make a list of terror organizations and state sponsors of international terrorism, you will find that antisemitism is one of the few threads common to them all.)
As if it wasn't horrifying enough that well-organized terrorists, rampaging in India, zeroed in on one of the very few Jewish targets available there -- well, there's this:
Asked what was different about the victims of the incident, another doctor said: "It was very strange. I have seen so many dead bodies in my life, and was yet traumatised. A bomb blast victim's body might have been torn apart and could be a very disturbing sight. But the bodies of the victims in this attack bore such signs about the kind of violence of urban warfare that I am still unable to put my thoughts to words," he said.How badly were the hostages tortured? No doubt information will come out eventually. If it's enough to horrify emergency-room doctors, it must be very bad indeed.
Asked specifically if he was talking of torture marks, he said: "It was apparent that most of the dead were tortured. What shocked me were the telltale signs showing clearly how the hostages were executed in cold blood," one doctor said.
The other doctor, who had also conducted the post-mortem of the victims, said: "Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was clear that they were killed on the 26th itself. It was obvious that they were tied up and tortured before they were killed. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again," he said.
Corroborating the doctors' claims about torture was the information that the Intelligence Bureau had about the terror plan. "During his interrogation, Ajmal Kamal said they were specifically asked to target the foreigners, especially the Israelis," an IB source said.
And please note that the hostages were killed early on; the terrorists were not interested in trading them for demands. They wanted to torture their victims and then kill them.
This tragedy has been referred to as "India's 9/11", and in this respect, the analogy is apt. Before we have always assumed that terrorists taking hostages will have demands, which must be met for the hostages to be released alive. No more. Henceforth, the victims of a Mumbai-style attack must assume that they are already as good as dead, and that they have nothing whatever to lose.
We can hope that Indian security forces, among others, will therefore be less cautious about their work. Of course, it's terrible when a hostage dies, particularly when the death is attributed to the forces supposed to be rescuing them; but "friendly fire" accidents are well known, and are a part of combat. Far better to run the risk of accidentally injuring a noncombatant, I think, than to have armed policemen hiding and refusing to shoot back.
Perhaps the Indians have learned that lesson. From the link above:
On the other hand, there is enough to suggest that the terrorists also did not meet a clean, death.That's not the mark of a professional soldier, in my opinion. On the other hand, it does tend to indicate that, once it was all over, the Indian security forces finally understood what they were up against.
The doctors who conducted the post mortem said the bodies of the terrorists were beyond recognition. "Their faces were beyond recognition."
There was no way of identifying them," he said. Asked how, if this is the case, they knew the bodies were indeed those of the terrorists, he said: "The security forces that brought the bodies told us that those were the bodies of the terrorists," he said, adding there was no other way they could have identified the bodies.
An intelligence agency source added: "One of the terrorists was shot through either eye."
A senior National Security Guard officer, who had earlier explained the operation in detail to rediff.com, said the commandos went all out after they ascertained that there were no more hostages left. When asked if the commandos attempted to capture them alive at that stage, he replied: "Unko bachana kaun chahega (Who will want to save them)?"
As Mark Steyn points out, this opens a new chapter in the history of asymmetrical warfare -- and, sadly, this will no doubt be seen as a victory by the terrorists (even though they apparently planned to kill 5,000 or more). So we can expect more of this. And, with a new President about to start work in late January, we can expect the terrorists to test his reactions, too -- against American interests at home and abroad.
In other words, there's never been a better time to watch your back.
Advocates of an armed citizenry will find their suspicions confirmed by Mumbai, because India has very strict gun-control laws:
I guess the point [...] is that when the law abiding are completely unarmed, the lawless will always have the upper hand. If anything, they are emboldened because they know they face no resistance.Indeed. And those who, like me, are used to being horrified at press coverage of terror incidents, will find no surprises here:
A South Wales couple caught in the Mumbai terror attacks claimed last night that CNN put their lives at risk by broadcasting where they were.I remember this clearly from 1991, when Saddam Hussein was flinging Scud missiles at Israel with carefree abandon. Israel had to explain to incredulous journalists that, yes, the exact locations of missile landings was classified. Worse, at least a few journalists assumed that the regulations made no sense and ignored them... thereby volunteering as unpaid spotters for Saddam, helping to make his missiles more accurate. And we saw the same thing in 1972, when television crews broadcast live coverage of the hostage crisis in Munich, including of the commando team trying to take the terrorists by surprise... with disastrous results.
It's getting scary out there, folks. And we must take note, not just of the wolves, the sheep, and the sheepdogs, but of the wolves' unwitting allies: those who make it more dangerous for the rest of us, even though they too are targets, because they can't think of a good reason not to do so -- or because they think something else is more important.
Call them Crazy Eddies. They always do the wrong thing for excellent reasons, and it always leads to disaster, and they never learn. They are the journalists who insist that "the people have a right to know" what their military is doing, even when it compromises a military rescue mission. They are the anti-gun activists who insist that we have far more to fear from an armed (and trained) population than we do from armed terrorists facing a crowd of the disarmed. They are the unarmed security forces, and the armed security forces fearful of taking a shot, and the politicians who think that this time, perhaps, appeasement will work.
It's getting scary out there, folks.
UPDATE: Some are now casting doubt on whether the Jewish hostages were tortured. Follow the link for details.
I think we need to treat this as a developing story. However, given the Jewish custom of burying the dead as quickly as possible, we may soon learn all we're going to learn about the victims at Chabad House.