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The 2008 Mumbai Terrorist Attacks refer to a series of eleven consecutive attacks that were carried out by unidentified terrorists in Mumbai City, the largest city in India. The Mumbai attacks occurred on the twenty sixth night of November 2008. The coincidence of the number of the attacks with the month it happened gave it the name “26/11” attacks. The attacks consisted of eleven well coordinated shootings and bombings. According to a report compiled by BBC News, the terrorists are believed to have Islamic background (Rabasa, 2009). Most of the terrorists were killed in counterattacks by Mumbai police. Only one terrorist was captured alive. It was further reported that the terrorists must have received adequate assistance and support by external forces before executing the shootings and bombings. One of the suspect terrorists, Mr. Ajmal Kasab, who was the only attacker captured alive, confessed to Mumbai police that the terrorists received support from Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). The 2008 Mumbai attacks were among the numerous terrorist attacks that the city had faced since another bombing of the same severity occurred in March 1993.

Background Information

The Mumbai 2008 attacks occurred on the Wednesday night of 26th November 2008. The attacks were very severe and lasted for more than sixty hours. They involved cruel counter attacks between security agencies, police and the terrorists. Most of the shootings and bombings were carried out in the southern part of Mumbai. The terrorists had primary target places which had huge gathering of local citizens as well as foreigners, for instance, the Taj Hotel, Cama Women and Children’s Hospital, Metro Cinema and St. Xavier’s College. Another explosion occurred at Mazagon port. The terrorists also managed to attack other secondary target areas.

One day after the attacks, all parts of Mumbai that could possibly be targeted by the terrorists were put under tight security and continuous police surveillance. On the third day after the attacks, the National Security Guards (NSG) conducted an operation dubbed Operation Black Tornado to get rid of the attackers. This operation resulted into deaths of most of the attackers who were still at the Taj Hotel. Mr. Ajmal Kasab, who was the only attacker captured alive, confessed that the terrorists belonged to a militants’ group called Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is based in Pakistan. Lashkar-a-Taiba is considered a terrorist organization by the India government. When the Pakistan government was asked about the nationality of Mr. Ajmal, the Prime Minister agreed that he was a Pakistani. Mr. Ajamal was later arraigned in court and sentence to death.

Human Impact

The 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks resulted into various human impacts. First and foremost, most of the victims who survived have been suffering from trauma for a very long time. They get traumatized by the bombing experience and the scenes that were associated with it, for example, shooting of innocent friends or relatives by the terrorists. Additionally, most survivors suffered from serious body injuries that have rendered them physically disabled. This has further distressed the victims. The post attack effects were very devastating at both personal and family levels.

According to Kronstadt, the terrorist attacks in Mumbai instituted a climate of great fear and terror amongst the people. The attackers took hostages in the target hotels, shoot and killed several people (Kronstadt, 2011). Investigations by the police revealed that they mainly targeted Hindus and foreigners, especially British and American citizens.

In addition, the attacks resulted into hatred and rage between America and Pakistan. For instance, in late 2010, various family members and relatives of American victims who died or got injured during the attacks sued Pakistan and the leader of its Inter-Service Intelligence unit, General Major Ahmed Shuja Pasha for mass killings of blameless persons.

Infrastructure Damage and Losses

The Mumbai bombings also resulted into astonishing and shocking destruction of the City’s infrastructure. First, the great and symbolic Taj Hotel was seriously destroyed, burned and reduced to ashes. Kronstadt asserts that the hotel was a great emblem of architectural work in India (Kronstadt, 2011). Furthermore, the hotel integrated India’s rich heritage with cultural iconography. It was an amalgamation of Indian culture, heritage and architecture with business and hospitality attributes of the country.

Secondly, another hotel which was destroyed during the attacks was the Oberon-Trident Hotel, which served as luxurious meeting point for the rich and most influential people of Indian. Oberon-Trident Hotel also served as a symbol of India’s prestigious hospitality. It was also a sign of India's growth and prosperity in economic activities. The destruction of Taj and Oberon-Trident hotels was a great setback in the hospital industry of India.

Thirdly, Chatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus also suffered infrastructural damage. Chatrpati Terminus was a major railway station in India. Thousands of commuters from both local and international communities used this railway terminus regularly. It was ever busy and fully crowded. In my view, it was targeted by the attackers so that they could cause massive killing of persons and widespread destruction to humanity. Its destruction was a severe setback to India’s transport system.

Fourthly, in the south of Mumbai was Nariman house which was destroyed probably because it housed many Jewish leaders. Before the attacks, already there were tensions and minor conflicts between Jews and Muslims. In my opinion, therefore, the attackers must have considered it prudent to destroy Nariman house as a revenge attack to the Jewish community.

Last but not least, the Mumbai bombings and explosions resulted into destruction of residential places, roads and business premises. Communication channels such as telephone lines were also destroyed.

Community Effects

At communal level, the attacks resulted into great terror amongst the citizens of India. Various communities were afraid of possible future attacks by the either the same terrorist organization or attacks from other groups related to Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Mumbai terrorist attacks also led to accusations, extreme revulsion and wrath between India and Pakistan. India pointed fierce fingers towards Pakistan government for alleged involvement in the attacks. Pakistan refuted these accusations. However, in February 2009, a minister from Pakistan asserted that parts of the attacks were actually planed and coordinated from Pakistan. This further widened the rift, enmity and hostility between the two countries.

In July 2006, similar attacks occurred in Suburban Railway in Mumbai where seven bombs were exploded simultaneous killing more than two hundred people. Investigations by the Mumbai police revealed that the attacks were conducted by Lashkar-e-Taiba in collaboration with Students Islamic Movement of India. This resulted into negative attitudes towards the Islamic students in India. Muslims were hated and received discriminations from the indigenous community regardless of whether one was involved in the bombings or not. It also led to inter-community clashes.

Furthermore, the attacks resulted into harsh and unbearable relationships between Pakistan and India. At first, Pakistan denied its involvement in the attacks, but later accepted India’s accusations on her involvement in the Mumbai bombings when she was supplied with adequate information relating the weapons used during the attacks, police interrogations and records of telephone calls that were made during the attacks. Reports compiled by the Indian government after a series of investigations revealed that Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, provided support to the terrorists. Severe tensions rose between India and Pakistan.

In addition, local communities condemned India’s political leaders and security forces for their negligence during the attacks. Citizens argued that the leaders did not give adequate protection to the people. On the other hand, the security agencies were blamed for incompetence and weaknesses in disaster response. This cropped into poor relationships between the citizens and their leaders.

Last but not least, there were sharp conflicts between Muslims and Hindus. The Islamic religion received global condemnation for causing deaths of innocent persons. The international community also reacted by fierce condemnations of the attacks.

Direct and Indirect Loss

In my opinion, some of the direct losses incurred as a result of the attacks include loss of lives, severe injuries to survivors, destruction of both private and public properties such as hotels, business premises, and infrastructures such as railway lines. It also caused internal displacement of persons as people were moving to areas that were considered safer.

On the other hand, indirect losses include poor relationships between India and Pakistan, hatred between followers of Hindu and Islamic religions and reduced economic activities and development in Mumbai.

Gross Domestic Product

In addition to the above mentioned effects, the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks had stern negative effects on the economy of Mumbai City and India as a whole. Most business organizations responded to the attacks by reducing their investments in India. There were observable changes in the trade, hospitality and transport industries.

Moreover, those businesses that did not close their premises or relocate to other cities had to incur additional expenses in acquiring self-defense mechanisms to shield themselves from possible future attacks. Businessmen and traders had to dig deeper into their pockets so as to meet such additional costs. Businesses had to spend again the little profits they had earned on hiring and improving security. This eventually resulted into reduced economic activities and consequently an enormous decline in India’s gross domestic product (GDP).

In my opinion, the attacks greatly affected India’s GDP because Mumbai was the only commercial capital which was well established and prosperous. According to Rabasa, Mumbai was India’s financial soul. It was a city of growth and economic development for India (Rabasa, 2009). It accounted for more than ten percent of India’s tax income and approximately fifteen percent of India’s gross domestic product. It was an important financial and commercial hub for India. Besides, the places that were targeted by the terrorists were popular tourist attraction sites. This led to decrease in foreign exchange revenue from tourism since many tourists were not willing to visit Mumbai after the attacks. Tourists who had planned to visit Mumbai changed their plans and cancelled the trips. The international community was scared, and so were the tourists.

I may put forward that one of the main goals of the terrorists was to impede and slow down the rising economic growth and development of Mumbai. The key industries of India’s economy were the targets, and thus were rigorously affected. This includes hospitality, tourism and transport industries. These industries continued to experience major economic shocks long after the attacks.

Early Warning Signs

The 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks had various warning signs which if they could have been keenly observed, appropriate prevention measures could have been taken to stop it. First and foremost, there was widespread communal rioting towards the end of 1992 when Hindu nationalists destroyed Babri Masjid in Ajodhya. This led to a massive repercussion of Muslims in Mumbai.

Besides, there were killings of several Hindu workers in South Mumbai which resulted into counter-violence by the Hindus. Consequently, Muslims counteracted by bombing several parts of Mumbai in 1993, including the Bombay Stock Exchange. These violent and harsh activities experienced between 1992 and 1993 caused massive migration of people. The local communities were divided along religious lines. Muslims moved to cities where their majorities lived. Hindus too migrated to towns where their majorities lived. In my view, the repeated attacks in Mumbai City by Muslims exposed and symbolized deep-rooted hatred and hidden tensions and violence between the two religious groups.

Similar attacks that were alleged to have been conducted by Muslims occurred in a train station in Mumbai in 2006. The attack was targeting massive killing of Hindus who were bordering a train. It was an attack of revenge meant to claim Hindus’ lives. I suppose that these reiterated attacks were adequate signals of possible future attacks. They indicated that something was wrong between the communities of Mumbai. I would further assert that the 2008 terrorist attacks came at a time when India was already struggling with internal threats from minority terror groups.

Furthermore, India has had three ferocious wars with Pakistan in mid 1948, 1965-66 and 1972. This resulted into a bitter rivalry between the two nations, and thus a possibility of terrorist attacks from either country. All these were early warning signs of possible terror attacks.

Systems of Attacks

The 2008 Mumbai attacks were well planned and coordinated. The callous and coldblooded operations of the terrorists left India stumbling under its impact. The attacks entailed a mixture of urban warfare techniques and terrorism. It employed both traditional methods of killing targets by hand-thrown grenades as well as post-modern techniques of using auto-explosive bombs. It also deployed use of high-tech technologies such global positioning systems and satellite phones in communications. The satellite phones were used by the terrorists to communicate with their chief organizers and facilitators in Pakistan. They also employed Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to facilitate their communication and exchange of information. Additionally, it also mixed both land-based and sea-borne terrorism. The attackers first hijacked a ship in Arabian Sea, killed its crews before heading to shores of Mumbai.

Furthermore, the attacks employed numerous tricks of terrorism such as firing guns, use of explosive grenades and taking people hostages. The terrorists focused at implanting confusion amongst the people and the security forces. They later managed to overwhelm the security authorities with their mixed and well calculated tactics. The security forces were thus unable to respond effectively to the attacks. According to Rabasa, the terrorists attacked a total of ten target places, five of which were major targets. Attacks on these target locations were carefully crafted and meticulously planned (Rabasa, 2009). These target places were of importance to India, and thus the terrorists had specific and solid reasons to target them.

Mitigation Analysis

The Indian government was criticized for its delayed response during the attacks, poor disaster preparedness and delay in arrival of the National Security Guards. In order to moderate the severity of such attacks in future, Indian police must be given adequate funds and proper training to improve its capacity and performance. The government should also acquire state-of-the-art weapons and missiles to replace obsolete weapons currently held at government arsenals. The Indian parliamenterians should also push for proper and full implementation of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendments Bill which would help boost security in the country. The security forces along the coast and at border regions of Indian should be enforced. They should be well equipped.

Additionally, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) from United States of America predicted a possibility of terror attacks in India. However, these warnings were taken less serious. The government of India did not take any preventive measures either. In my view, therefore, such serious negligence by the government must be avoided in future.

Similarly, private partnerships can formulate their own techniques of ensuring high security within their business premises, for instance, through installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems. The laxity of frontline security at the entrance of major buildings gave the terrorists chances of entering into the hotel buildings with their grenades and guns without detection by metal detectors at respective hotel entrances. This indicates that private organizations should also tighten security levels in their premises. Similarly, India should be willing to incorporate external assistance in times of disasters. For example, in the 2008 attacks, little efforts were made to seek external assistance from neighboring countries.

In conclusion, the 2008 Mumbai attacks is a good example of how evil terrorism can be. It is, therefore, important for a government to provide adequate security to its citizens and be prepared enough for the unseen.

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