Friday, November 28, 2008

Questions about the Mumbai attacks

After 48 hours sporadic combat is still taking place in Mumbai so it is way too early to try to analyze what happened. Still, there are some questions which come to my mind which I would like to share with you and, if you have any clues as to what the answers to these questions might be, I ask you to share them with me. My questions are:

a) how it is possible that the Indian intelligence community was, apparently, caught totally off-guard by these attack?! After all, in terms of size this is a far bigger operation that 9/11 and, unlike 9/11, this was a very predictable development (I am referring to the official version of 9/11 here, for the sake of comparison, not as an endorsement of the official version). And it's not like the Indians did not know from which circles such an attack might come. The fact that such a major operation was totally missed seems to point to a total, unforgivable, intelligence failure on the part of the Indian intelligence community.

b) why did negotiations not take place? after all, news reports seem to indicate that the attackers took hostages, which implies some desire to negotiate. The Indian security forces were involved in what appear to be pitch battles almost immediately after the attack was discovered. Who gave the order to immediately attack the hostage takers?

c) what kind of forces does India have specifically trained for anti-terrorist hostage/rescue operations? From what I have seen in the various news reports, a mix of so-called "commando" forces were used, which is probably the single worst option in such a situation and, moreover, none of these forces seem to be of a dedicated anti-terrorist hostage-rescue profile like, say, the Russian "Gruppa A". Does India have real, specialized, anti-terrorist hostage-rescue forces and, if yes, how many would be available for a major city like Mumbai?

As I said, these are questions to which I have found no answers so far. All I can say is that so far my impression of the Indian response is very bad and I fear that this entire situation was grossly mismanaged.