The recent Mumbai attack is a reminder that terrorism is a continuing evil in the world. In spite of successes, there are those that wish to destroy democratic societies, while at the same time enjoy and exploit the benefits of capitalistic societies they claim are evil. The attacks in India should not be seen as an unfortunate incident - somewhere else. - Continuous attacks against free societies across the globe are assaults that are in a sense, against the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the multitude of free nations striving for the betterment of their citizens.
The November 26th attacks places Pakistan in a quandary. The killing appears to have been done by Lashkar e Taiba (LeT). The group was initially funded by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI) during the 1980’s to help fight against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Afterward, the LeT continued receiving support from the ISI to address issues in the Kashmir region. Recent open source reporting indicates that the gunmen received Special Forces training by the ISI. Now the Pakistan government says they were not involved in the Indian attacks. Perhaps not, but a seed planted by the Pakistani government years ago may be the source of 170+ innocent deaths and scores of injuries in Mumbai. Two now nations face one another with a nuclear capability. This attack isn’t somebody else’s problem.
This incident shows that using common weapons and small boats, a city can be assaulted in multiple locations driving law enforcement, fire and other first responders in multiple directions while the attack rages on. In recent years, U.S. cities participated in a variety of mass conflagration exercises utilizing the collaborative skills of multiple agencies. This is a good thing. Yet, many of those exercises have taken place in specific areas bounded by jurisdictional lines. Given the recent Indian attacks in such a large city, we now need to expand the envelope even further and consider contingencies that include attacks in broadly regional areas. For example, how do we handle a large-scale attack occurring in Buffalo, NY and Toronto, Canada simultaneously? Do we just remain behind our own jurisdictional borders and handle our own problems or do we collaborate with a joint command posture?
Incidents like this evoke the actions of copycats and sometimes empower those with terroristic aims against the free world. It’s likely that in the days ahead an Al-Qaeda message will give warnings to the world claiming no one is safe. With even the best law enforcement, intelligence and security posture, vulnerabilities exist. We need to study those areas within this incident where things could have been different and then, apply them to our own jurisdictions and develop strategies (and backup strategies.) This is not an attempt to be the armchair quarterback, only an after-action review.
Here in the U.S. we could begin addressing the ease which small, unlicensed boats can enter ports without challenge. Looking back at the incident at the Taj Hotel, management and security personnel did a good job of ensuring a safe egress of many of the hotel guests, in spite of an ongoing incident and eventual hostage situation. We need to focus upon those egress actions and establish rescue tactics amidst such an event.
We should be mindful that during those three days in November, many innocent citizens were killed or their lives were changed forever. Like the attacks of 9/11, we feel mad, hurt and cheated that selfish murderers took away our own. The Indian people are likely feeling the same pain. Our cultures and religions may be different and we may not look the same, but we all have the same hopes and dreams of living freely in this world. The fight against terrorism is a global fight. The attacks are over, but we are now given a new picture of terrorist tactics and given opportunities do something about them.