‘I was told to kill to my last breath’: Was the Mumbai attack a probing attack?
Azam Amir Kasab, 21, from Pakistan, said the attacks were meticulously planned six months ago and were intended to kill 5,000 people.
He revealed that the ten terrorists, who were highly trained in marine assault and crept into the city by boat, had planned to blow up the Taj Mahal Palace hotel after first executing British and American tourists and then taking hostages.
According to the account of Kasab’s interrogation, given by police sources, the terrorists were trained over five months in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, then had a month off before the attacks. At some stage, they also received intensive instruction in ‘marine assault’ operations.
Kasab and the nine other terrorists, who communicated using BlackBerry mobiles, began their journey to Mumbai on November 21.
Initially unarmed, they left an isolated beach near Karachi in a small boat, before being picked up the following day by a larger vessel.
At this point they were each given eight hand grenades, an AK-47 rifle, an automatic pistol and ammunition. And in anticipation of a lengthy siege, they also carried dried fruit.
Four of its crew are missing while the fifth has been found dead, apparently beheaded. Its owner and his brother are being questioned by police.
On November 23, after reaching Porbandar in the Indian state of Gujarat, 310 nautical miles from Mumbai, the insurgents were intercepted by two coastguard officers. The group hoisted a white flag and allowed the two men to board their boat.
According to Kasab, one of the militants then attacked one of the officers, slitting his throat and throwing him overboard. The other man was forced to help the group reach their destination before being executed as the vessel drew near to Mumbai.
For most of the journey, Kasab’s friend, 25-year-old Abu Ismail, a trained sailor, steered the vessel using GPS equipment. Three speedboats met the Kuber a mile and a half from the Mumbai seafront on Wednesday. After waiting for the light to fade, they moved off, later transferring to two inflatable dinghies to go ashore.
The article has a lot more details on the terrorists’ operation.
As I read, there is a question that has been bothering me for several days now (which I didn’t have the opportunity to ask in yesterday’s excellent SAJA podcast):
Look at the details and notice,
- Training and preparation: not only the terrorists were trained, the logistics were worked through well ahead of time – including the access to weapons and ammunition.
- Use of sea routes, with the boats used to reach the urban peninsula.
- Multiple targets: hotels, train station, hospital
- A new variety of suicide attack: the lengthy siege.
- All carried out by a small number of personnel, organized into buddy pairs.
And, as the captured terrorist said, the purpose was to kill 5,000 people.
All this points to me to the likelyhood that the attack was a probing attack, a dress rehearsal, if you allow the term since this was the first time this tactical approach was used in a large scale setting, for the terrorists to see what went wrong when they couldn’t kill the number of people they were after. They will study the events of the last four days and will use this information in a future attack elsewhere (in another capital which will be a business and communications hub, with access by a body of water) where they will kill 5,000.
What to do, then? Three things first come to mind:
First of all, the police and armed forces must have the training and the mindset, or they will be completely ineffective:
Sebastian D’Souza hears the gunfire at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus from his office across the street at the Mumbai Mirror tabloid. He follows the sound through the sprawling station, slipping unseen through parked trains. When he first catches sight of the young men, he doesn’t realize they are the gunmen. They look so innocent. Then he sees them shooting. “They were firing from their hips. Very professional. Very cool,” says D’Souza, the newspaper’s photo editor. For more than 45 minutes he follows as they move from platform to platform shooting and throwing grenades. Often, D’Souza isn’t even 30 feet away. The few police at the station are either dead, in hiding or had long fled.
An armed, aware citizenry: Richard Fernandez points out,
When whole populations come under siege, as is the case in Israel, the unnatural instinct to resist eventually becomes part of the culture. The instinct to fire back supervenes over the natural inclination to flee.
The most important effect of the Second Amendment is that it it implants the germ of the idea that resistance is a viable option. It’s a germ which must be nurtured by a little training. The gun is an easy thing to find. It’s the making of a shooter which is harder.
The third, striking at the funding and at the terrorist supporting states, is larger problem for our time.
And then, exterminate the terrorists.
On a related story, Gerard VanderLeun prays Kaddish in memory of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who Rabbi Holtzberg managed to cover her body with a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) before he himself was killed. Their son Moshe turned two yesterday.