by Austin Bay
July 12, 2006
Terrorists didn't need to conduct a detailed reconnaissance. The
commuter trains of Mumbai (Bombay), India, classify as a "very soft target."
According to Indian government statistics, 6 million people a day ride
Mumbai's commuter trains. Checking every bag and briefcase is simply a
As an operation, India's 7-11 repeats methods and techniques
exploited in London's 7-7 and Madrid's 3-11 -- serial bombs detonated on
mass public transportation. The Madrid Method is a proven, blood-soaked
concept -- scatter a few time bombs on city trains, and high explosive
wreaks its deadly evil. The Mumbai attack also echoes the 9-11 attack on
lower Manhattan, for Mumbai is India's financial center. Bombing a financial
center exacts an immediate international economic cost.
As I write this column, no terrorist organization has "claimed
responsibility" for what Indian police describe as a "coordinated" terrorist
act. Initial police reports indicated the bombs exploded over a six-minute
period during the evening rush hour. Several Indian states placed their
police and security forces on high alert to prevent further attacks.
Americans will immediately think of al-Qaida and point to the
hideous numerology -- 9-11, 3-11, 7-7, 7-11 -- as a clue. Roll sevens and
11s on the dice table, and the shooter wins. Terrorists use mass murder to
create fear and chaos. If the public begins to dread seven and 11 on the
calendar, international terrorists will consider that a psychological
Al-Qaida, or an al-Qaida affiliate, may well be involved in the
murders. Polyglot, poly-ethnic India, however, confronts an array of
homegrown ethnic, religious and political zealots with track records in
Violent Hindu separatist groups have been implicated in past
bomb plots. The terrorist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are based
in Sri Lanka -- the island nation off India's southern coast. The Tigers
tend to focus their terror on fellow Sri Lankans. In May 1991, however, they
assassinated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi. The LTTE arguably invented
modern suicide terror attacks. The Tiger assassin wore a suicide explosive
belt. Ghandi was killed while campaigning in India's state of Tamil Nadu.
Islamic radicals have repeatedly attacked India. For 50 years,
India and Pakistan have been battling over Kashmir -- and in 1965, the two
nations fought a full-scale war over the religiously divided region. In
December 2001, Islamist gunmen attacked India's parliament building in New
Delhi. Islamist radicals consider Kashmir to be one of the holiest of holy
wars. They seek to derail any Indian and Pakistani diplomatic rapprochement.
Launching attacks in India stymies any peaceful resolution.
Mumbai attracts attention in India. The city is wealthy. It's a
media center and the headquarters of the Indian "Bollywood" movie industry.
In the early 1990s, Mumbai suffered a series of bomb explosions that Indian
government later blamed on criminal gangs. In 2003, a bomb killed 11 people
on a train there. In August of that year, two car bombs killed 60.
In the last decade, India's economy has grown -- at times
spectacularly. As the world's largest democracy, India serves as a political
example to other developing nations who confront ethnic divisions,
illiteracy and poverty.
Terrorists of all stripes despise democracy, for democracy means
having to respect the interests of human beings who are political opponents.
Rattling India seeds doubt in the fragile nation-states of the developing
But don't expect India to waver. New Delhi is already an ally in
the War on Terror. In fact, Indians argue that the United States is the
Johnny-come-lately to the war against Islamo-fascists.
In a public statement following the attacks, Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh vowed to "fight and defeat the evil designs of