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Archive for November, 2008

Recommended Reading Part I.

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

                     In solidarity with the people of India

No “top billing” today. I thought perhaps I would separate this edition into Mumbai and non-Mumbai sections, gathering some of the most interesting posts on the former and giving the reader a break from that topic with the latter.

Part I: On the Mumbai Massacre:

Naxalite Rage –  Mumbai Overrun

Shlok Vaidya deserves high praise for being all over this story with unique insights and explanations generally unavailable anywhere else, on his blog, twitter and other forums.  The rest of the blogosphere was following in his wake.

PunditaMumbai Massacres: At the intersection of piracy and terrorism , Nov 30 John Batchelor Show on The Battle of Mumbai and More on “A disquieting response to India’s 9/11 from Bush and Obama”

Pundita’s call to pick the brains of Lt. Gen. Paul van Riper makes me think that, like the Roman Senate commissioning Pompey to destroy the pirates of the Aegean, it would simply be easier and quicker to give van Riper an anti-Piracy command on the Horn of Africa. Unfortunately our system does not work like that. Also note in the second post by Pundita, she draws attention to Shloky’s radio appearance on the John Batchelor Show.

SWJ BlogHow the Mumbai Attack Differs

Analysis by Bill Roggio.

Abu Muqawama –  It was “Gangsta Gangsta” at the top of the list, then I played my own s*** it went something like this

AM catches some heat in the comments.

Kings of WarSome Answers… And a Few Burning Questions

First rate commentary on Lashkar-e-Taiba.

HG’s World –  Mumbai Questions?

Round-up and commentary by HG99.

Chicago BoyzMumbai Musings

Looking at Mumbai from a different perspective.

WhirledviewMumbai: A Roster of the Horrified-and the (Evidently) Not So Horrified

As opposed to the Turks,  Iranians, Malaysians and Indonesians, the Sunni Arab states (Kuwait excepted) are conspicuously silent  on the massacre in Mumbai.

That’s it.

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From Frank Miller and Will Eisner: The Spirit

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

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Spree Terrorism

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

I lack sufficient depth and familiarity with the Indian political context to comment intelligently on the origins and ultimate aims of the shadowy Islamist group that carried out the Mumbai Massacre. I’d love to hear Olivier Roy speculate on the ideological aspect but in terms of organization, I’d bet heavily on a “modular” structure of transnational and indigenous personnel – a strategic alliance between groups or a hybrid operation.

What I can comment sensibly on is the use of “Spree killings” as a tactic by terrorist groups. Spree killings are an attractive tactic because they are easy to initiate, impossible to anticipate and can be massively effective in driving media attention.

Spree killers like Andrew Cunanan or John Muhammed  “the DC Sniper” riveted the attention of an entire nation or acheived international news coverge. Cunanan, while on the run from a national manhunt for earlier murders managed to assassinate celebrity designer, Gianni Versace before committing suicide; Muhammed and his junior partner managed to murder ten people in a metropolitan area blanketed with local, state and Federal law enforcement despite having gandiose plans that were the product of a confused and agitated mental state. “School shootings“, another form of spree killings, have almost become a macabre rite of Spring in the United States and the late 1990’s bank robbery gone awry in Los Angeles, that featured a heavily armed, body armored, pair of criminals holding off dozens of police in a savage shoot-out that may have been inspired by a scene in the Robert DeNiro movie Heat.

Spree killings, though rare, have previously been used to forment terror both by non-state actors as well as by states. A few examples:

 In 1997,  Gamaa Islamiya massacred 58 foreign tourists at Luxor, Egypt an action that led the Egyptian regime of Hosni Mubarak to crush Egyptian Islamist groups as harshly as Nasser had once cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1990, the Tamil Tigers killed 147 Muslim men and boys at four mosques in  Katthankudi, Sri Lanka ( the Tigers are a highly effective and innovative terrorist-insurgency, having pioneered both suicide bombing and naval-terror operations).

In 1941, the radically fascist and fanatically anti-semitic Iron Guard in Romania attempted a coup d’etat against the nationalist dictator and Nazi ally, Ion Antonescu, which featured wild street violence by Legionaires and a ghoulish pogram against Romanian Jewry so horrific that even German SS commanders on the scene in Bucharest were appalled. Despite having made use of such tactics himself in the Kristallnacht and the Night of the Long Knives and having his own genocidal program for the Jews, Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht and SS to assist Antonescu in crushing the Iron Guard revolt.

Spree killings have almost never produced long term positive effects for the groups using them and we can expect that the Mumbai massacre will have negative consequences for both Pakistan as well as Indian Islamist groups. Despite this, we can expect that the likelihood of spree terrorism will increase when groups become sufficiently radicalized because any semi-open society presents almost ubiquitous oportunities for random mass-murder on a modest budget and the terrorists’ own extremism blinds them to how their actions will be interpreted or perceived.

From an email with security expert Steve Schippert of Threatswatch.org, ( see Schippert’s Mumbai commentary here and here ) I learned that the terrorists in Mumbai were unable to or never targeted any systems in India’s center of capitalism – water, power, internet, road arteries etc. – were left untouched. That in my view is a future danger, terrorists using the all-consuming attention generated by spree terrorism as a trojan horse or distraction to conceal a strategic systems-level attack.

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Mumbai Complex Terror Op

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

India is definitely not my bailwick but what is unfolding in Mumbai is not, I will wager, an entirely indigenous operation. Here are my recs for commentary:

Top Billing!  Shlok Vaidya at Naxalite Rage

Second Best!: The Counterterrorism Blog 

Next:

DesiPundit   Twitter   Outside the Beltway   Pundita  The Newshoggers  Danger Room

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It’s Gates

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

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