Mumbai Is Burning and the Flames Could Spread

And the question in most everyone’s mind is, can it happen in Manila ?

Of course it can.

Any group with enough political motivation, a modicum of resources and sufficient planning can pull off the horrific attacks which has so far claimed at least 125 lives. Another 327 people were wounded in the terrorist assault, including British, American and Australian citizens. Extremist gunmen are still believed to be in two luxury hotels, the Oberoi Trident and the Taj Hotel, as well as a nearby Jewish center, where they have taken a still undetermined number of hostages, many of them foreigners. A previously unknown group called Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the outrage.

This is the Indian equivalent of the 9/11 attacks or the Madrid train bombings. Although there have been terrorist attacks in India which claimed an even greater number of lives, there has never been anything as brazen as this, striking at the country’s financial center.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggested the group behind the terror attacks was based outside the country, heightening tensions with neighboring Pakistan.

It is evident that the group which carried out these attacks, based outside the country, had come with single-minded determination to create havoc in the financial capital of the country.

India will never be the same after this.

And this may serve as a template for other terrorist attacks in other areas of the world, wherein a relatively small number of determined killers, estimated at a mere two dozen, could hold an entire country hostage. Our anti-terrorism forces, such as they are, should consider this as a wake-up call.

12 thoughts on “Mumbai Is Burning and the Flames Could Spread”

  1. Indians are never good at handling violence. Partition was just horrible. It would never happen here in the Philippines even if we had Partition.

    As a naturally treacherous people, Filipinos at least can rest assured the powers that be, no matter how insidious their personalities are, will never be blind-sided by terrorists. I have full confidence in the criminal elements in the military and the police. Unless of course bin Laden pays them.

  2. Islam is an intolerant religion and violence is inevitable even if the Indian subcontinent was not partitioned in 1947. In fact, the partition did not have anything to do with Islam at all. It was part of the British decolonization period when the empire was giving up most of its colonies.

    Violence is woven into the fabric of Islam. It is mandated in their Koran. Although there is the so called peaceful jihad (a kind of critical self examination or a conquest of the self theory) the dominant trend is the so called “jihad of the sword” an Islamic mandate to convert the infidels through violent conquest.

    Islam aims for world domination through violent Jihad. That’s how Muslims came to rule much of the Arabian Peninsula by the time of the Prophet Muhammad’s death. It’s how Muslims conquered a region from Afghanistan to Spain. It is the basis of Islamic conquests of such territories as the Balkans, parts of Africa, parts of India and most of Pakistan.

    Violent jihad has always been a central aspect of Muslim life. It is both a strategy and ideology of their hegemonic intent. That is why it is revolting to see our own government attempt to hand over part of our republic to Islamic jihadists. Arroyo and her government, so deeply mired in corruption, have also fallen into the scheme of a violent political-religious system.

    We recognize the golden age of Islam and its contribution to civilization when during the 10th to the 15th centuries it was in the peak of intellectual activity.
    But that was then, and the only way for Muslims to launch another Golden Age is to compete in the modern world’s marketplace of ideas. Islam can’t just impose its will and subjugate peoples through violence. The world just doesn’t work that way anymore.

    What happened in Mumbai can happen in Manila. No doubt about that. For all we know there may be sleeper cells in Muslim communities in Metro Manila or that so called “mujahideen” from Mindanao or some Islamic state will conduct operations in Manila. Its just in the nature of their religion for them to do that.

    There is nothing holy in Islamic jihad.
    No war is holy.

  3. The Philippines as the only Catholic nation in SouthEast Asia will be spared from acts of terrorism. Terrorism that has resulted in over 20 deaths has not happened in the Philippines in past 20 years and it will not happen in the next 20 years.

    Prayers saves the Filipinos.

  4. Oooops… I forgot about SuperFerry.

    The Philippines being Catholic is not that special; Mumbai can happen in metro-Manila.

  5. I’m not so sanguine, BrianB. The government does a great job of stifling legitimate opposition and murdering non-violent activists but is much less adroit in dealing with armed groups, specially those with a compelling political agenda and committed fighters. Witness how ineffectual it has been against the MILF, Abu Sayyaf and others of a similar ilk. Even known warlords’ private armies in the provinces cannot be touched, much less disbanded.

  6. Why do you ask “can it happen here?”… the question should be can it happen AGAIN.

    Or have you forgotten the Muslim-terrorist sinking of SuperFerry? Or failure-to-govern and “… over 150 dead” from Ozone-disco.

  7. My thinking is that insurgency is a cash cow for elements in the military, that’s why they still exist. I remember Trillanes said this during oakwood.

    Also, our insurgents aren’t exactly the principled types.

  8. @ Capolegis, certain fringe groups within Islam may be responsible although I doubt if the mainstream would subscribe to their extremist ideals. As pointed out by Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria ( incidentally a native of Mumbai and a Muslim), it remains unclear whether any Indian Muslims were involved with these attacks, but it is quite possible that the terrorists had some small pockets of support in the country.

    The problem is a complex one , and the cancerous rise of fundamentalism and radicalism that has swept up Muslims everywhere has not spared India (Zakaria’s words). Add to this the historical political and economic marginalization of Muslims in many parts of the world. It’s not just a simple question of ideology or religious zealotry. There also the matter of the legitimate aspirations of an oppressed people.

    But I agree that this is not just India’s problem. It’s the entire world’s concern as well.

    @ Antonio Villarama, we have thankfully been spared the worst of the large-scale terror attacks so common in South Asia and the Middle East. But as the old saying goes, there’s always a first time.

  9. Whenever jihadist violence is at issue I think the words “fringe” and “mainstream” do not produce the opposite meanings that we normally construe from those two concepts. Or at least the distinction is blurred.

    When the Palestinians (i.e. mainstream) celebrated in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda operatives (i.e. fringe) I think the two concepts gained mutually supportive meaning in reality. Also, the transnational nature of jihadist terror strips these groups of their “fringe” character. That is why it is not uncommon for members of a jihadist group from one country to join in the terrorist operations of another jihadist group in another country.

    The Hamas, formerly a fringe group, garnered overwhelming majority of votes in the Palestian territories during the 2006 elections and formed the government there. A classic case of mainstream support to a fringe group. In Britain, 25 percent of British Muslims said the July 7, 2005 terror bombings in London were justified. One in four justifying terror may not be a majority but its not a small fringe either.

    In Lebanon, 80 percent of the population said they support the terror group Hezbollah. Six out of ten Palestinians are in favor of firing rockets at Israeli cities and towns. One in seven Muslims in France, Spain and Great Britain feel that suicide bombings against civilians can sometimes be justified to defend Islam.
    In Jordan, Egypt and Nigeria at least 40 percent of the Muslim populations believe terror attacks are justified. Osama bin Laden has the support and confidence of at least 50 percent of the populations of all Muslim countries.

    Support for terror groups by significant number of Muslim populations is widespread and therefore the “fringe-mainstream” dichotomy in the context of jihadist terror is vague at the very least.

    I agree it is a complex matter and the religious backdrop of the terror also feeds on existing poverty and political oppression in most Muslim countries.

    The Mumbai attackers may have been from London, Cairo, Khartoum, Paris, Checnya or Mindanao or from all those areas. That’s the global nature of terror. But Kashmir is so close by and Kashmir India is a hotbed of Islamic radicalism. Pakistan-based extremists have long played a part in the conflict over Indian-controlled Kashmir. Experts say that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency supported Kashmiri militants in the past, and Indian media as well as Indian officials contend the intelligence agency continues to do so. And finally there are islamic mujahideen from India itself battling Hindu (majority) exteremist groups. Its logical that the Mumbai attackers came from the neighborhood (i.e. Pakistan, Kashmir and India itself).

    To digress a little bit, I think Fareed takes an overly optimistic almost romanticized view of what actually is a quagmire in today’s Islamic world. While there may have been some democratic advances in some Muslim countries I seriously doubt if there could ever be a Western-style democracy or a neoliberal culture in any of them. Neo-Islamofascism maybe but neoliberalism never as long as they have their Quran.

    In everything else, Fareed Zakaria is tops.

  10. Pingback: A Wake-Up Call
  11. @ Capolegis, those are compelling stats. However, I hesitate to conclude that the Islamic mainstream subscribes to the same program of action expoused by extemist jihadists like the Mumbai attackers. To cite just two examples where democracy, however tenuous, and the rule of law still prevails: Indonesia (where some of the Bali bombers who were proven guilty were recently executed) and Turkey.

    On another note, you should should seriously consider setting up your own blog. Your views deserve a more extensive platform than that afforded by comments posts. Check out http://www.filipinovoices.com/ for the pulse of fellow bloggers on politics and other current concerns.

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