Monday, November 23, 2009

Now it's on HBO-- Terror in Mumbai

Now that it is showing on HBO, with Fareed Zakaria presenting, maybe Dan Reed's documentary "Terror in Mumbai" will actually be seen. When it was first aired on Britain's Channel 4 this summer, no one in the United States seemed to know or care.

For those who still don't know what "Terror in Mumbai" is: it is a brilliant, gripping documentary about the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. In the words of director Dan Reed:

Of all the material which I acquired in the course of making my documentary, Terror in Mumbai, it is the phone intercepts - recordings by Indian intelligence of mobile phone traffic between the young gunmen and their handlers back in Pakistan - which I found the most chilling.

The close-up rustling, the tense silences, the gunshots, the amazement at the luxury of the five-star hotels which continued to amaze me every time I played back the recording during the edit. And above all the horrifying, dead-pan practicality of the preparations for taking the lives of innocents.

(Link to his notes at Channel 4 web site).

HBO adds a presentation by Fareed Zakaria, who says,
Much as the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. did in 2001, the events that unfolded last November in Mumbai served as a terrifying wake-up call, not just to India but to the rest of the world. It broadened the spectrum of our enemies and brought attention to the number of different terrorist groups that exist, who may be bigger and better organized than we ever imagined. The fact that a small group of gunmen was able to inflict so much pain, and the government of the second most populous nation on earth was unable to stop them for three days, should change our sense of the dangers out there.

Here are the schedules for the HBO showings. Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Headley Affair

Indian newspapers have been abuzz for weeks about the arrest in Chicago of two men of Pakistani origin: David Coleman Headley (aka Daood Gilani), and Tahawwur Hussain Rana. These two stand accused by the FBI of a conspiracy to do violence against the editors of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper in Denmark that published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

It seems that both Headley and Rana had traveled multiple times to India, possibly to scout locations for terrorist attacks. So, India's new NIA wants to investigate them for links with Lashkar-e-Taiba.

But the most explosive significance of their arrest is not mentioned in the unsealed complaint---not only is Headley accused of collaborating with Lashkar-e-Taiba, but that he worked closely with two ex-military officers in Pakistan; he regularly visited Pakistan, where he was born and attended school. A New York Times article yesterday said,
The case is one of the first criminal cases in which the federal authorities seem to have directly linked terrorism suspects in the United States to a former Pakistani military officer, though they have long suspected connections between extremists and many members of the Pakistani military. Intelligence officials believe that some Pakistani military and intelligence officials even encourage terrorists to attack what they see as Pakistan’s enemies, including targets in India.
(Link to NYT article).

This thing is what the Pakistan Inter-Services Public Relations (IPSR) typically calls "a sensitive matter", not to be discussed in polite company. The FBI, unlike the CIA or the U.S. military, is likely to follow the threads to their logical conclusions. The next few days should produce significant findings, especially if Headley is cooperating.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In Deep Denial

Even for Pakistan, the suicide bombing last week (Oct. 28) in Meena Bazaar in Peshawar was especially horrific. Mostly women and children were the target. They died in large numbers and are still being dug out.

But more horrifying than the attacks themselves is the reaction of so many ordinary Pakistanis:
Many Pakistanis said only foreigners were capable of such devastating attacks...

"I'm telling you categorically -- the people behind this bomb are the Indians and Mossad," an oil trader, who has relatives in the United States and whose building was damaged, said.
(Link to UPI story.)

Where does this abiding suspicion of India come from? Perhaps from the 1971 war, in which India helped break up Pakistan, says commentator Khurram Hussein.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban attempted to deny responsibility for this bombing. (See full report in The Times of London).