On the 26th of November, 2008, a group of armed terrorists attacked the city of Mumbai. Over the course of four days, terrorists; related to an Islamic terrorist organization, carried out some attacks, it involved shooting and bombing all over Mumbai. The attacks, which drew condemnation from across the globe, resulted in 164 people being killed and at least 308 wounded. On the 29th of November, India’s National Security Guards launched Operation Black Thunder. The operation was successful in killing all the attackers and ending the attacks. This report is based on this event. It covers the reasons why such an attack became possible. It also includes the issue of a repeat of such an incident and what might be done to avoid such an event in the future.
In November 2008 a group of terrorists attacked the city of Mumbai; the financial hub of India. The attacks were a chain of events that took place all over the city, resulting in the mass murder of ordinary Indian citizens(“10 facts to know about 26/11 Mumbai Attacks,” n.d.). According to the Indian intelligence, the attacks were carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic terrorist organization from Pakistan.
The attacks were launched by a group of terrorists, who carried out a series of 12 related incidents of shooting and bombing. These attacks lasted for four days and resulted in the murder of 164 people, with 308 people wounded. Of these, 8 of the attacks took place in South Mumbai; at the Taj Palace and Tower, Chatrapti Shivaji Temple, Cama hospital, Leopold Café, the Nariman House, St. Xavier’s College, Oberoi Trident, behind the Times of India building and at the Metro Cinema. There were explosions at Mazagaon, in a taxi at Ville Parle and Mumbai’s port area(“26/11 Mumbai terror attacks,” 2016).
It took India’s National Security Guards to conduct a high-level operation; Operation Black Tornado, to kill all the attackers. The last place where the attackers fought a gun battle against the National Security Guards was the Taj hotel, which was cleared by the 28th of November.
Since the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, in 1992, several non-state attacks have been conducted in Mumbai. In 1993, Mumbai witnessed 13 correlated bomb explosions that killed around 257 people and wounded 700. Since then several raids have been done in Mumbai that has killed almost 270 people and injured hundreds more.
It is believed that the attacks of 26/11; popularly known as Mumbai attacks, were also a reaction to the demolition of Babri Masjid(“Preventing Another Mumbai | Combating Terrorism Center at West Point,” n.d.). The fact that the incident was conducted by Lashkar-e-Taiba adds to the proof that it was so. Lashkar-e-Taiba is an Islamic terrorist group that is known to have been based in the neighboring Pakistan. Intelligence reports claim that the attackers were given advanced military training, survival training, training in swimming and sailing and high-end weapons and explosives training. According to reports, the instruction was given by retired Pakistan Army personnel.
According to intelligence reports, the attackers were members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which operates from Pakistan. The reports claim that the attackers traveled by sea, from Karachi via the Arabian Sea to Mumbai. They hijacked the Indian fishing trawler “Kuber, ” and after killing its crew, they forced its captain to sail to Mumbai. Upon reaching a safe distance from Mumbai, they murdered the trawler’s captain and proceeded in a rubber dinghy.
The intelligence reports claim that the attackers received their training in Karachi. Members of Lashkar-e-Taiba; like David Headley, traveled to and from India to familiarize himself with the geography of Mumbai to lay down a blueprint which would help the attackers. Reports also claimed that the Lashkar members had been trying for the attacks for quite some time. However, before November they were not as fortunate. Somehow their previous plans were not able to materialize.
Despite, the intelligence’s reports, the Pakistani authorities denied any responsibility for the attacks. They said that the raids were conducted by Indian criminals instead. However, later Pakistan accepted that Ajmal Kasab; the only attacker arrested, was a Pakistani. It was done after the Indian Government supplied evidence of Kasab being a Pakistani.
Reports claim that attackers were familiar with the terrain of Mumbai. It is because some people associated with the attack had visited Mumbai earlier to learn about the territory. Besides, the attackers used Google Earth, which helped them a lot in finding their way. Kasab confirmed that attackers received information relating to the attacks from the residents of Mumbai.
WEAPONS USED IN MUMBAI ATTACKS
The attacks were launched with grenades and AK 47 assault rifles. Both of these helped create panic among the citizens(Bloxham, 2010). Later, terrorists also used 9mm pistols which were used to cover a shorter range and vehicle-borne weapons. Apparently, all of these guns are conventional weapons. The fact that these traditional armaments created havoc and helped the terrorists achieve their aim is an important one. The AK 47 assault rifle is very commonly used by average terrorists for short range targets. It shows that the terrorists were related to a terrorist organization and not to a government level network. Such weapons are usually found among terrorist groups.
In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the armed military officers; who came to the rescue of the people of Mumbai, killed the terrorists. Hence, cleaning up the city and putting an end to the attacks. Though, one terrorist; Ajmal Kasab, was captured. After the attacks, people came out to thank the members of the Special Forces, for their effort. They also went to the areas that were the battle zone for the attacks; Oberoi Hotel and Taj Hotel, to identify dead bodies of their loved ones.
Political leaders from all over the world condemned these attacks and expressed their sorrow for the innocent lives laid to rest. The global leaders also called on their respective military and law enforcement institutes to come up with a strategy to avoid such attacks in their countries. Investigations were conducted by; both the Indians and the Interpol, to find the identity of the attackers and their motives.
After the attacks, the Indian Government made the decision that the role of National Security Guards would be extended outside of Delhi, to other cities. Furthermore, the NSG commandoes will get new military training; to handle anti-siege operations, to cater to an incident in which terrorists might take hostage anybody in any building.
LESSONS FROM MUMBAI ATTACKS
Between 2007 and 2012, The United States has seen as many as 25 mass shooting incidents that have killed and wounded several people. These mass shootings may not have been done by hardcore terrorists, but the government cannot deny the fact that it is a possibility. The United States is currently the only superpower on the planet and is fighting an unpopular War on Terror. Hence, a Mumbai styled terrorist attack is highly possible in the U.S.
Government officials and politicians alike are asking that such sophisticated attacks required pre-planning and substantial funding. If that was the case, then how come Indian intelligence was not able to find out about this attack beforehand? Hence, to prevent such a future offense, we need to make our intelligence agencies more active and vigilant(Carafano, n.d.).
In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, police departments all over the world, especially in the U.S have voiced their concerns. The primary care is to fight terrorists in such an attack and neutralize them. To do so, police needs to be trained in advanced military skills and pulsing tactics. It has also been emphasized that such attacks cannot be handled by the police itself, military support is needed.
The attacks carried out on 26th November, in Mumbai were done so by an Islamic terrorist organization, probably as a result of India’s activities against Muslims. These attacks were either in response to the demolition of Babri Masjid or the atrocities in Kashmir. These attacks resulted in a large number of people being killed and life coming to a standstill in Mumbai.
It has become quite apparent that if terrorists can conduct such activities in India, then other countries can also be targeted. Considering the United States, it is involved in military operations against several terrorists all over the world. Hence, it is vulnerable to such an attack. To prevent such attacks, the U.S should prepare a force, which is well-prepared and well-trained in handling such situations. Besides, the intelligence needs to be more active in trying to pick up information signaling any terrorist activities. Being prepared beforehand can help us fight terrorism.
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26/11 Mumbai terror attacks: Here’s what happened at Taj Mahal Hotel, Trident-Oberoi, Nariman House. (2016, November 1). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from http://indianexpress.com/article/26-11/timeline/2611-mumbai-terror-attacks-heres-what-happened-at-taj-mahal-hotel-trident-oberoi-nariman-house/
Bloxham, A. (2010, September 29). How the Mumbai terror attacks changed British anti-terror tactics. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/8031719/How-the-Mumbai-terror-attacks-changed-British-anti-terror-tactics.html
Carafano, J. (n.d.). Lessons from Mumbai: Assessing Armed Assault Threats to the United States. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from /homeland-security/report/lessons-Mumbai-assessing-armed-assault-threats-the-united-states
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