Who staged Mumbai?

Par Madhav Das Nalapat le 18 décembre 2008

First, a matter of terminology. Although the Mumbai terrorist attacks began late evening of November 26, 2008, the siege lasted three days, and hence it would be more accurate to take 11/27 (the midpoint) to indicate the attack. On December 1, www.upiasia.com carried an analysis by this writer on the attacks, pointing out that they were seemingly masterminded by regular elements within the Pakistan army. This was based on information from within the South Asian region that was credible and at levels senior enough to know the facts. While the December 1 report is necessarily an abbreviated one, keeping in view editorial requirements for the site, a more complete account of why the Mumbai attacks may have taken place is presented here. The sources within South Asia who are the basis for this assessment are emphatic as to its authenticity and accuracy. Reports subsequent to the publication of the December 1 analysis have only confirmed the truthfulness of these extremely well-informed sources in elucidating the origin of the attacks.

Just as the assault on Kargil was planned in 1999 by Pervez Musharraf, then Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff, the Mumbai attacks appear to have been carried out on the instructions of the present COAS, Ashfaq Kiyani, who transmitted his operational orders via a senior Corps Commander to the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence, who in turn passed them along to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, an organisation ancillary to the Pakistan army,which has technically been banned but in actuality operates without hindrance throughout that country. A few days ago, a window-dressing designed to once again deceive the Bush administration, a few Lashkar operatives were "arrested" (they even have mobile telephones available to them in the special "cells" in which they are temporarily lodged) and one of the numerous front offices of the Lashkar shut down, again on a temporary basis.The "arrested" terrorists will soon be free to join others of the tribe enjoying the protection of the Pakistan army, while the office closed down will be opening next month under a new name. Of course,such cosmetic measures have proved enough to satisfy the US for decades.

The Mumbai attacks were specifically intended to kill several hundred of the Indian economic elite, together with a substantial number of foreigners, which is why the Taj Mahal and Oberoi Trident hotels were chosen as targets. The other major structure attacked,Chhatrapati Shivaji (railway) Terminus, was included solely as a diversionary measure, to dilute the attention of the security services. The orders for the duo sent there were to kill large numbers of commuters and create a citywide panic, while in the case of the Taj and the Trident, the orders were to kill (in that order of priority) wealthy Indians, Jews (hence the attack on the Jewish Community Center), Americans, British and other foreigners. Killing the nationals of Israel, the US and the UK would, it was expected, ensure that Washington shifted the focus of its interaction with Kiyani's men from Afghanistan to the Indian border. Hence the deliberate targetting of foreign nationals, for the first time in India outside Kashmir.

What could have been the  strategic objectives for the Mumbai terror attacks? The short-term motivation was to secure an excuse to withdraw completely from the Afghan border. The Pakistan army has never sundered its links with the Taliban, and the decline in its influence in that country - and the increase in the Indian presence - have fuelled the thrust within the Pakistan army to get the Taliban back into office in Afghanistan. Highly placed elements in the Pakistani secutiry-military complex wanted to:

(a) Lower the military pressure on the Taliban by shifting troops to the eastern border, so that the terrorist militia could recuperate and succeed in winning back those parts of Afghanistan from where they were dislodged by US bombing strikes and the advance of the Northern Alliance in 2001;

(b) Choke off the supply route through Pakistan to NATO forces in Afghanistan by denuding the area of Pakistani army soldiers and thereafter claiming that it was no longer possible to secure supply convoys meant to reinforce NATO troops,and that such traffic should therefore be discontinued.This would severely impact NATO's capabilities in the region;

(c) Ensure that NATO be made to engage in a dialogue with the Taliban, of course unde the "neutral" mediation of Kiyani, that would lead to a pause in coalition operations and hence allow the militia to replenish its strength. General David Petraeus,the much-hyped hero of Iraq, is believed to be in favour of Kiyani's suggestion that NATO disengage from combat and engage the Taliban only verbally;

(d) Reinforce the capabilities of the Taliban by stealth,so that the militia displace the Hamid Karzai administration by 2012 and once again establish Wahabbi rule over the country, naturally under the leadership of Mullah Omar, who has for decades been linked to the Pakistan army, since 9/11 covertly so.

To ensure that the Taliban be enabled to retake Afghanistan, it was essential to shift the focus of US attention from the Afghan border to Kashmir.The groundwork for this was being prepared by friends of the Pakistan army in the US,such as Shirin Taher-Kheli, Stephen Cohen and Teresita Shaffer, all of whom have been advising the incoming Obama administration to make "resolution of the Kashmir issue" the primary focus of US diplomacy in South Asia. According to them, Susan Rice,one of President-elect Obama's key advisors,has signed on to such a "Kashmir First" strategy

As Ms Rice does not know Urdu, she may be excused for not being aware that for the jihadis in Pakistan that are being nurtured by the Pakistan army, Kashmir is but the appetizer. The main course is the rest of India.Once Kashmir is converted into a Talibanized state under the effective control of the Pakistan army,it would be simpler to facilitate terror attacks across what remains of India, so that the country may finally dissolve into the violent chaos so desired - and openly so, in spoken and written words - by the generals in Pakistan.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan would be followed by the talibanization of Kashmir and the steady descent of India into societal and economic meltdown. Apart from the Pakistan army, such a development would also be welcome to the Chinese Communist Party and the Peoples Liberation Army, both of whom regard India as an even bigger threat to the Peoples Republic of China's domination of Asia than Japan. Sadly for Stephen Cohen or Teresita Shaffer, both seem to believe that this modern-day version of the Nazis can be satiated by throwing at them the Sudetenland of Kashmir. Taher-Kheli is from a different school. Her father was a member of the Razakars, a religious militia that had as its central focus the permanent servitude of the Hindu majority in the state of Hyderabad. Once the Indian army disbanded the militia, Ms Taher-Kheli's parents left the country, but their daughter has not forgiven India for defeating the Razakars, and has for decades been an apologist for the generals in Pakistan.

Once the Taliban retook Afghanistan, it would become easier to pry Kashmir loose from India, and thereafter focus on creating terminal chaos in what is even "normally" a somewhat unsettled country. This was the strategic goal of Operation Vision Mumbai.

The tactical purpose of the Mumbai attacks was to ensure that India's government react to it in the same way as Manmohan Singh's predecessor Atal Behari Vajpayee did in 2002 (after Pakistan-trained terrorists almost succeeded in killing numerous Members of Parliament inside the premises of that institution. Although he had zero intention of going to war, Vajpayee decided to try and bluff the Pakistan army into believing that war was imminent, by mobilizing nearly 300,000 extra troops on the border with Pakistan. This gave the generals in Islamabad the reason they needed to hold off the full-scale assault on the Taliban that they had promised to NATO,and led them to withdraw troops from there to face the (substantively inexistent) threat from India.

Unfortunately (at least this time around)  for Pakistan, India's Prime Minister is a pacifist who would not respond with force even in the event of a nuclear attack. Manmohan Singh refused to jump to the bait offered to him by the attackers,and instead made clear that India would not go to war,but would instead rely on the US to apply sufficient pressure on the Pakistan army to get them to desist from further terrorist attacks on India. 

What exactly is the chemistry of this army that is so beloved of the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA and (not coincidentally) the Saudi Royal Family? It is an awowedly Wahabbi force, explicit in its identity as a "religious" rather than a professional army, designed to protect and spread the Wahabbi faith.

The Mumbai attacks were conducted by Wahabbis from Pakistan trained by the regular army. But who are these people and what is their ideology? There can be no doubt that the Wahabbis are the successors to the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), or Nazis, as the world knows them. Wahabbists and their Khomeinist twins have the same racial and geopolitical outlook as the Nazis did.They consider themselves superior by far to the rest of humanity,which the are prepared and indeed eager to enslave and eliminate. The same psychosis that infected Germany during the inter-war years ( 1919-1939) has now spread across huge blotches of the populations of numerous countries, forming an Archipelago of Terror across the globe. Unfortunately,as during that period, most international statespersons are following a policy of appeasement rather than confrontation with this killer virus, none more assidously than those within the US.

Since Zbigniew Brezesinski formulated the strategy of assisting Wahabbis to defeat the Soviet armies in Afghanistan, the US has broadly followed the same policy towards this modern variant of Nazism as the UK and France did towards Nazi-controlled Germany till 1 September 1939. In 1979, especially in view of the overt manifestation of Wahabbist-Khomeinist virulence in Iran (again, a result caused in large part by the Carter administration's tolerance towards Khomeini and the withdrawal of security backing for the Shah of Iran), caution ought to have been exercised in arming,funding and training Wahabbis.

Brezesinski, coming as he did from Poland, ought to have been more sensitive to the dangers of undiluted fanaticism, for the country of his birth was riddled with islands of anti-semitism that led to collaboration on a significant scale with the Germans in annihilating the Jewish community in the country. Instead,he took the advice of the Patron Saint (if such a term can be used for a set of individuals known to be among the most hedonistic in the world) of Wahabbism, the Saudi Royal Family, and permit the Pakistan army (which openly advertises Jihad as its official motto) to funnel billions of dollars in assistance to themselves and to fanatics of the most degraded kind. Had Pashtun nationalists been backed against the Soviet Union instead of Pashtun and other religious fanatics, we would not today be fighting the War on Terror.

Forty years later, little has changed. The day when 9/11 took place, this writer was in New York, some blocks from the felled World Trade Center. Several times that day and in subsequentl days, he warned policymakers in the US not to rely on the openly jihadist army of Pakistan to fight Osama bin Laden. He pointed out that it was this army that was the single most significant prop of Al Qaeda, and that its echelons were honeycombed with sympathisers of the Yemeni. In the days ahead, he watched in horror as the US administration allowed the escape of senior Al Qaeda commanders from Kunduz, and continued to refuse for weeks after 9/11 to buttress the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. Finally, Masood's men moved in on Kabul,but were halted at the boundaries of Southern Afghanistan by a warning from the US, a warning inspired by the Saudi protectors of Wahabbism. Not accidently,it is this region - left out of the reach of the Northern Alliance - that subsequently became the breeding grounds for a regenerated Taliban. Helped, naturally, by the Pakistan military, that "stalwart ally" of the US. It would be interesting to investigate as to exactly what after-shave is used by the jihadi commanders of the Pakistan military that have so charmed their US counterparts. Needless to say, the Taliban has made a comeback in Afghanistan,while Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden continue to seek to demolish the civilised world, secure in the protection given by elements of the Pakistan military. Had such support been withdrawn, the Yemeni and his organisation would by now have become history. The decision of George W Bush to once again place all the responsibility for Afghanistan on the Pakistan army - despite the experience of the fallout of the Afghan war - is inexplicable

Amazingly, this irrational view of the region has permeated even the media. Just after Mumbai, the New York Times ran an editorial in which the newspaper seemed to fault India for its work in Afghanistan (building roads and schools), and sought "transparency" even in the intelligence operations conducted by Delhi. In that country - where India is one of the few regional players to have sent treasure and men to help them rebuild - to follow such advice would be to ensure the death of several individuals.Not simply a few intelligence operatives, but workers engaged in projects. The NYT 's advice is straight out of the playbook of the Pakistan army and the Taliban,who would like nothing better than "transparency" in the numerous efforts being made by the US,India and other countries to improve conditions on the ground. Even today,after the reluctance of the Pakistan army to seriously fight the Taliban has been made manifest, opinion makers in the US continue to pin their hopes on this institution.

Why is the US playing the monkey to the Pakistan military's organ-grinder? Only experts in group psychology can give a reply to this question. What is clear is that this myopia is leading towards a series of terrorist attacks in the US on "soft" targets such as shopping malls. The tactics used by the Mumbai terrorists can easily be replicated in the US,where even assault weapons can be easily procured. Once David Petraeus gets his wish, and consents to the detente with the Taliban urged on him by Kiyani, the generals in Rawalpindi expect that within three to four years,the Taliban would get installed in Kabul. Should that happen,the country would once again join Pakistan in being a launch pad for terrorist attacks across the world. There can be little doubt that such operations would be high on Omar's agenda, marinated as he is in hatred of the West.

What is the path to victory? This is a World War, and needs to be battled globally. The major democracies need to pry the generals in Pakistan loose from their death-grip over the country and return them to the barracks, which is where a professional force belongs. The first precondition for stability and security in South Asia is the de-jihadization of the Pakistan army and the return of full control to civilian authority. Simultaneously, the authorities in Pakistan need to be prodded into breaking up the numerous terrorist nests in that country that have been set up by the army. Unless this is done, Pakistan will itself go down the tube well before it succeeds in pushing India in.

Will the monkey finally free itself of the chains of the organ-grinder? On the answer to that question rests the future of the War on Terror. Should we see more of the same Saudi-inspired policy of cosetting the Pakistan army - and by extension its numerous terrorist afiliates - the world is going to witness many more terrorist acts than even the many that have been seen since Brezezinski first unleashed the poisonous genie from the bottle in 1979.         It may be argued that this “gamble” - the courage to take it and the passion to convince citizens of its worth – is the authentic conscience of the liberal ideal. Empathy, to Ignatieff, is the spark for bold political imagination to rise above brittle political will. For it is always opposed by those who  would leave inequities to be resolved by  private benevolence   In “The Broken Contract”  Ignatieff answered that argument in words that are  testament to our common humanity. “Private benevolence”, he wrote, “cannot heal the wounds of humiliation and abandonment caused by government failure. All lives are worth protecting …worth protecting at the highest standard.“

What strikes one about Ignatieff’s social vision is that it compels us to be mindful  that the just society which people of goodwill seek to build is predicated on a recognition of a claim of equal  opportunity on the stock of welfare of the land by all, and that this recognition has not yet found full expression in the social contract between our government and our people. Ignatieff frames his arguments on rights and responsibilities in both “The Broken Contract” and “The Rights Revolution” in a refreshing restatement of classic industrial liberalism.

A liberalism , that first and foremost, holds to the proposition that the political governance of society must be done in a manner allowing for the fullest expression of individual possibility.  A liberalism that strives for the broadest equality of opportunity to enable the fullest flowering of that possibility. A liberalism that understands that there can be little opportunity unless we raise people from poverty, but not at the expense of their liberty. A liberalism that accepts that there can be little equality if we do not reward individual enterprise, but not with untrammeled privilege and preference. And finally, a liberalism that comprehends  that there can be little possibility if we constrict the breadth of personal rights, certainly  not with politically correct pandering to collectivist chaos.

Canada needs this vision. Perhaps now more than ever.  The irony is that to champion this liberalism, Ignatieff must free himself to be himself. To lead Liberals, while at the same time expounding liberalism. That is no mean feat. Liberals and liberalism are not always  synonymous. But,  if he succeeds, he may become, in Harold Laski’s words, “...the warm gentle breeze of compassion that is prelude to the renewal of a bright spring... rather than the cold stinging frost of complacency that signals entry into a long night of winter...”



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