Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The evolution of a Mumbai terrorist

The Mumbai terror attacks of 11/26 were a major shock for the world. Every nation fears the prospect of armed terrorists attacking civilians, and here were these 10 well armed terrorists who held the armed forces of a nation at bay for 3 days. How do you protect against terrorists who emerge from the night (from a vast coast), disperse swiftly into the night to their various pre-planned destinations, and attack civilians at will with automatic weapons and grenades. No matter what the security level, there is a more than even chance that some of them will evade detection and managed to attack. Today this happened in India, but given the ease by which the attackers managed to enter, and with some local support, the scenario is replicable to many countries which are on the cross-hairs of global terrorism.
If you read this article in TIME magazine (and I recommend reading the article), you will realize how easy it was for this youth in Pakistan to become a terrorist; there are institutions present everywhere that will feed a disgruntled person and make him feel valuable, and will then guide him on the path of taking up guns and willing to become a suicide terrorist, somebody who has no qualms about killing innocent people.

It was in Rawalpindi that Mohammad Amir Ajmal Qasab, the surviving gunman from the terrorist massacre that claimed 165 lives in Mumbai last November, took his first step toward infamy. In 2007 he visited a market stall run by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), an Islamist extremist group that has been blamed for the Mumbai attacks, among others. Understand Qasab's story and you begin to understand why young men throw in their lot with Islamic extremists, why Pakistan may be the most dangerous country in the world.
In 1990, Muslims in Kashmir — the Himalayan territory that India and Pakistan have been arguing and fighting over since 1948 — rose up against Indian rule, and the mujahedin soon found a new cause. The Pakistani military used the jihadi movement, hoping that guerrilla warfare would destabilize its enemy India where conventional warfare failed. Jihadi groups in Pakistan collected donations for Kashmir. Young men signed up for training camps, where they concentrated on physical fitness and learned how to use weapons. Jihad wasn't just a diversion from ordinary life; it was a rite of passage.

When you read the article, it makes it seem so easy. Here is a person who has rebelled away from his family, fled to a city. He comes into contact with a militant group while trying to learn how to live a life of crime, and is sufficiently brain-washed and impressed that he will go in for arms training and learn how to be a terrorist. This is sufficiently scary, but when you combine this story with how it seems so easy for this to happen, how arms training happens right under the umbrella of the state and the army in Pakistan, and you start to realize the dangers. What is to stop such a similar incident happening in a country like Great Britain which has a radicalized minority among its Muslim population, and it is easy enough to plan such an attack.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 12:49 PM