President Obama will visit India for two days starting November 6, and will be in the company of hundreds, from the looks of it, while definitely running up the overhead, Barack and Michelle’s Mumbai darshan plans (emphasis added)
To ensure fool-proof security, the President’s team has booked the entire the Taj Mahal Hotel, including 570 rooms, all banquets and restaurants. Since his security contingent and staff will comprise a huge number, 125 rooms at Taj President have also been booked, apart from 80 to 90 rooms each in Grand Hyatt and The Oberoi hotels. The NCPA, where the President is expected to meet representatives from the business community, has also been entirely booked.
The officer said, “Obama’s contingent is huge. There are two jumbo jets coming along with Air Force One, which will be flanked by security jets. There will be 30 to 40 secret service agents, who will arrive before him. The President’s convoy has 45 cars, including the Lincoln Continental in which the President travels.”
Over 700 hotel rooms for a presidential visit? Why? What’s going on that the contingent is so enormous?
I want to know, will the White House provide a list of exactly who the people are that will be accompanying the POTUS on the taxpayers’ dime?
Rukhsana Kausar, 21, was with her parents and brother in Jammu and Kashmir when three gunmen, believed to be Pakistani militants, forced their way in and demanded food and beds for the night.
Their house in Shahdra Sharief, Rajouri district, is about 20 miles from the ceasefire line between Indian and Pakistani forces.
It is close to dense forests known as hiding places for fighters from the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which carried out the Mumbai terrorist attack last November.
Militants often demand food and lodging in nearby villages.
When they forced their way into Miss Kausar’s home, her father Noor Mohammad refused their demands and was attacked.
His daughter was hiding under a bed when she heard him crying as the gunmen thrashed him with sticks. According to police, she ran towards her father’s attacker and struck him with an axe. As he collapsed, she snatched his AK47 and shot him dead.
She also shot and wounded another militant as he made his escape.
Interestingly, the article doesn’t call the attacker the “t” word until the third paragraph from the bottom,
She may also receive a £4,000 reward if, as police believe, the dead terrorist is confirmed as Uzafa Shah, a wanted Pakistani LeT commander who had been active in the area for the past four years.
At least they used the “t” word twice in the title.
Terrorism in Pakistan has its roots in the culture of hate and the ethos of inequality on the ground of religious faith, leading to their being deeply ingrained in the Pakistani psyche and mindset.
One factor that has played a crucial role in creating this culture of hate is the educational policy of the government of Pakistan pursued since 1977. The officially prescribed textbooks, especially for school students, are full of references that promote hate against India in general, and Hindus in particular.
A cursory glance at Pakistani school textbooks – especially the compulsory subjects like Pakistan studies and social studies – gives an idea of how history has been distorted and a garbled version prescribed to build this mindset and attitude.
The objective of Pakistan’s education policy has been defined thus in the preface to a Class 6 book: “Social studies have been given special importance in educational policy so that Pakistan’s basic ideology assumes the shape of a way of life, its practical enforcement is assured, the concept of social uniformity adopts a practical form and the whole personality of the individual is developed.” This statement leaves no doubt that “social uniformity”, not national unity, is a part of Pakistan’s basic ideology.
Some of the stuff is quite astonishing, including this one:
“Previously, India was part of Pakistan.”
The article lists more, and I expect people familiar with Palestinian propaganda against Israel will be able to draw paralels to that:
On Indo-Pak wars, the books give detailed descriptions and openly eulogize ‘jihad’ and ‘shahadat’ and urge students to become ‘mujahids’ and martyrs and leave no room for future friendship and cordial relations with India.
Not to be underestimated is the “blame” mentality: I attended a lecture by the new Pakistani minister of the exterior a couple of months ago and his entire theme was blaming someone else: mostly Afghanistan and the US, but India was not spared, either.
Pakistan began moving thousands of troops from the Afghan border toward India, officials and witnesses said Friday, raising tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors and possibly undermining the U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
The country also announced that it was canceling all military leave in the aftermath of last month’s terror attack on the Indian financial capital of Mumbai.
India has blamed Pakistani militants for the terrifying three-day siege; Pakistan has demanded that India back this up with better evidence.
Pakistan’s latest moves were seen as a warning that it would retaliate if India launches air or missile strikes against militant targets on Pakistani soil – rather than as an indication that a fourth war was imminent between the two countries.
This changes Obama’s plan:
Any significant troop movement would likely dash President-elect Barack Obama’s strategy of having Pakistan concentrate on the threat emanating from the lawless tribal regions close to Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders are believed hiding out.
Pakistan denies the troop movement,
However, a senior Pakistani security official denied that the troops were being deployed to the Indian border.
He said a “limited number” of soldiers were being shifted from areas “where they were not engaged in any operations on the western border or from areas which were snowbound.”
“I was like…just take the baby and run,” she said. “Frankly, I don’t even know what I was thinking. I just picked up the baby and I ran, and that other worker was with me, Jackie, and we ran. Like mad we just ran.”
“When I hear gunshots, it’s not like one or two, it’s like hundreds of gunshots. 10, 20 grenades, bombs in the Chabad, so…I don’t think of fear,” she recalled. “Does anyone think of dying at that moment when a small, precious baby’s…no.”
At the Chabad House, the murdered Jews were described in almost all the Western media as “ultra-Orthodox,” “ultra-” in this instance being less a term of theological precision than a generalized code for “strange, weird people, nothing against them personally, but they probably shouldn’t have been over there in the first place.”
Are they stranger or weirder than their killers? Two “inflamed moderates” entered the Chabad House, shouted “Allahu Akbar!,” tortured the Jews and murdered them, including the young rabbi’s pregnant wife. Their 2-year-old child escaped because of a quick-witted (non-Jewish) nanny who hid in a closet and then, risking being mowed down by machine-gun fire, ran with him to safety.
The Times was being silly in suggesting this was just an “accidental” hostage opportunity – and not just because, when Muslim terrorists capture Jews, it’s not a hostage situation, it’s a mass murder-in-waiting. The sole surviving “militant” revealed that the Jewish center had been targeted a year in advance. The 28-year-old rabbi was Gavriel Holtzberg. His pregnant wife was Rivka Holtzberg. Their orphaned son is Moshe Holtzberg, and his brave nanny is Sandra Samuels. Remember their names, not because they’re any more important than the Indians, Britons and Americans targeted in the attack, but because they are an especially revealing glimpse into the pathologies of the perpetrators.
In a well-planned attack on iconic Mumbai landmarks symbolizing great power and wealth, the “militants” nevertheless found time to divert 20 percent of their manpower to torturing and killing a handful of obscure Jews helping the city’s poor in a nondescript building. If they were just “teenage gunmen” or “militants” in the cause of Kashmir, engaged in a more or less conventional territorial dispute with India, why kill the only rabbi in Mumbai? Dennis Prager got to the absurdity of it when he invited his readers to imagine Basque separatists attacking Madrid: “Would the terrorists take time out to murder all those in the Madrid Chabad House? The idea is ludicrous.”
And yet we take it for granted that Pakistani “militants” in a long-running border dispute with India would take time out of their hectic schedule to kill Jews. In going to ever more baroque lengths to avoid saying “Islamic” or “Muslim” or “terrorist,” we have somehow managed to internalize the pathologies of these men.
The following post contains a rant. Proceed accordingly.
Years ago PBS was running Deepak Chopra infomercials during their begathons, which is one of the reasons why I stopped watching PBS – anyone who fires Louis Rukeyser and hires Deepak must be out of their minds.
In his CNN interview, he was no less clear. What happened in Mumbai, he told the interviewer, was a product of the U.S. war on terrorism, that “our policies, our foreign policies” had alienated the Muslim population, that we had “gone after the wrong people” and inflamed moderates. And “that inflammation then gets organized and appears as this disaster in Bombay.”
Dorothy Rabinowitz does a great job of ripping Deepak up one side and down the other, but for the record allow me to say that anyone who lives in our country, the best country in the world, and who benefits and profits from the myriad opportunities we offer and enjoys all our liberties, including abusing freedom of expression to insult the US, is a thankless jerk with no credibility, and should probably go back to the underside of the rock he crawled out of.
Now that I got that off my chest, I feel much better.
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):
Was the Mumbai attack a probing attack?
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.
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.
Mumbai is all about dhandha, or transaction. From the street food vendor squatting on a sidewalk, fiercely guarding his little business, to the tycoons and their dreams of acquiring Hollywood, this city understands money and has no guilt about the getting and spending of it. I once asked a Muslim man living in a shack without indoor plumbing what kept him in the city. “Mumbai is a golden songbird,” he said. It flies quick and sly, and you’ll have to work hard to catch it, but if you do, a fabulous fortune will open up for you. The executives who congregated in the Taj Mahal hotel were chasing this golden songbird. The terrorists want to kill the songbird.
Al-Qaeda websites on Thursday were swamped with messages from people who were celebrating the devastating Mumbai attacks which have left over 100 people dead and 281 injured. “Oh Allah, destroy the Hindus and do it in the worst of ways,” was one of the comments that appeared on Islamist forums on the Internet immediately after the attacks.
SAJA HQ on Blog Talk Radio is doing a 2-hr podcast at 10AM and 10PM Eastern, moderated by Sree Sreenivasan, Colombia U School of Journalism professor. Be sure to catch it: excellent coverage, top-notch analysis from world-reknowned guests
The attacks came 48 hours after Pakistan’s new president, Asif Ali Zardari, practically threw away 50 years of Pakistani policy by announcing his readiness to end the dispute with India over Kashmir.
Zardari is an ethnic Baluch who, unlike previous Pakistani leaders who had Indian backgrounds, has no direct family history in pre-partition India. As a result, he is not as sensitive on Kashmir as his predecessors.
The Bombay attacks could be a message to Zardari that, though he may be uninterested in Kashmir, the issue is still central to many in Pakistan.
The new label used may also be significant. Deccan, a region in south-central India, was the intellectual and cultural capital of Indian Islam for centuries.
By using the term “Deccan Mujahedin”, the terrorists may be trying to pass two messages. First, that the Islamist movement is no longer interested only in Kashmir but intends to strive for the reconquest of the whole of India for Islam.
This runs in line with the new pan-Islamist thinking that propagates the will to recover all lands once ruled by Muslims – from India to Spain and southern France, passing by Siberia, parts of Russia and the Balkans. “Deccan” designates a movement that has universal aspirations precisely because it claims local roots.
The designation is also intended to show that India now has a home-grown Islamist terror movement.
Officials in India, Europe and the United States said likely culprits included Islamist networks based in Pakistan that have received support in the past from Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.
Analysts said this week’s attacks surpassed previous plots carried out by domestic groups in terms of complexity, the number of people involved and their success in achieving their primary goal: namely, to spread fear.
Several analysts and officials said the attacks bore the hallmarks of Lashkar-i-Taiba and Jaish-i-Muhammad, two networks of Muslim extremists from Pakistan that have targeted India before. Jaish-i-Muhammad was blamed for an attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.
Both groups have carried out a long campaign of violence in the disputed territory of Kashmir, which India and Pakistan have fought over for six decades. The roots of the long-running conflict are religious: A majority of India’s population is Hindu, while most Pakistanis are Muslim.