Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thoughts on Mumbai Attack from Fareed Zakaria

Zakaria, who is a native of Mumbai, was interviewed on the recent attacks. Some of his thoughts offer insights not found in most of the reports we're getting, so I thought I would share them here.

NEWSWEEK: The events on the ground are unfolding rapidly. But knowing the country as well as you do, what strikes you about the reports we've heard so far?
I think one of the misconceptions we're seeing so far is the assumption that these attacks were aimed primarily at foreigners. Look at their targets. The two hotels they attackedthe Taj and the Oberoiare old, iconic Indian hotels. It used to be true that these places were affordable only by Westerners. But this is no longer true, and it's one of the big changes over the last ten years in India. The five-star hotels today are filled with Indians. Businessmen, wedding receptions, parties…these are real meeting places now, and even those who cannot afford to stay there often pass through the lobby.

So you think if the aim was to hit Americans, Brits or other Westerners, there would be more target-rich environments?
Absolutely. There's a Marriott, and a Hilton, a Four Seasons….The big American chains all have hotels there, and there are many more distinctly American targets. The Taj and the Oberoi are owned by Indians. My guess is that there will be a lot of Indians involved, and that this will generate a lot of domestic outrage.

The group that claimed responsibility called itself the Deccan Mujahedeen—a name that doesn't seem to register with many of the terrorism experts quoted in news accounts thus far. Does it mean anything to you?
This doesn't strike me as Deccan (the Deccan plateau stretches over much of central and southern India). I would be very surprised if the people who did this actually came out of the area. It's not an area of any particular significance for Islamic terrorism. It isn't as though there's a Deccan separatist region.

Any insight into where the terrorists might come from, then?
An Indian businessman who says he heard the attackers said he didn't understand the language that the young men were speaking. That means that it wasn't Hindi or Urdu… most Indians would recognize the major languages even if they couldn't speak one of them. But most Indians would be unfamiliar with what's spoken in parts of the Kashmir. That's a source of much of the terrorism. My guess is that ultimately this will turn out to be some outside jihadi groups who might also recruit among disaffected Muslims locally.


Anonymous your culture guide for the third eye said...

It is very dissapointing that something such as this had to happen in order to bring light to a problem such as laxed and unprepared security. A problem that has existed in Mumbai for quite some time and for tourist such as myself who frequent Mumbai often, we knew it was inevitable by looking at the many bombings that have occured there in India.

3:33 PM  

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