Were Mumbai attacks inspired by al Qaeda?: CNN Commentary

Commentary: Were Mumbai attacks inspired by al Qaeda?
LONDON, England (CNN) -- The Indian media have described the Mumbai terrorist siege as India's 9/11.

The targets for the attacks, many of them symbols of Mumbai's growing power and wealth, were not randomly selected and were intended to send a direct message to India, Israel and the West.

Indeed, the Mumbai attacks had all the hallmarks of a powerful transnational terrorist group inspired by the ideology of al Qaeda.

Mumbai is no stranger to terrorism.

On March 12, 1993, a series of 15 bombs exploded across several districts of India's financial capital, killing 257. On July 11, 2006, a coordinated bombing spree on the city's transportation system killed 209 people.

Uniquely disturbing about the recent Mumbai attacks, in addition to killing locals, is the deliberate targeting of restaurants and hotels used by Westerners and a Jewish cultural center.

Mumbai is to India as New York is to the United States or London to the United Kingdom. The city is driving India's economic boom.

It is the commercial and entertainment capital of the country, where the "Bollywood" film industry is based. It is the heartbeat of India. What happens there vibrates throughout the nation.

Three factors may help explain the timing of the attacks.

First, they occurred on the eve of America's Thanksgiving, as hotels in Mumbai were preparing for the event by putting on functions for the Americans living, working and on vacation in Mumbai.

Secondly, a major international cricket tournament, the Twenty20 Champions League, was going to take place the following week. Some of the matches were going to be played in Mumbai, but the attacks resulted in the tournament being postponed.

Thirdly, important state elections are taking place in parts of the country. They are being closely contested between the major political parties, and security was a key election issue. The events in Mumbai have left the nation divided as to how to respond.

In fact, in the past 12 months, India has endured more terrorist attacks in more parts of the country than in any previous recorded period. Cities such as Bangalore, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and the capital, New Delhi, have been hit. However, those attacks involved rudimentary timed-explosives left in public places.

The latest events are different in terms of method and scale, with cells of well-armed men involved in synchronized assaults.

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For an "Interesting" View, see
Al-Qaeda 'hijack' led to Mumbai attack - Asia Times

Also See:
Commentary: How U.S. should respond to Mumbai attacks - Peter Bergen, CNN
A journey into the Lashkar - The Hindu
The Mumbai Tragedy: Beware of Innuendo Concerning Pakistan - Washington Times


Factors like the global recession, the recent Mumbai terror attacks and the stringent security measures have weighed heavily on almost every industry and the hospitality industry is no different. Very near to the financial capital of India and touted as the next big thing in the Indian financial and technical scene, Bangalore would have a quite and sober welcome for 2009. Reputed to be the party hub of India, the Bangalore hotels usually dish out extensive, expensive and rocking New Year parties every year. However, this year would be a totally different affair owing to the above mentioned factors. Economically and emotionally dented, the environment is hardly one of partying hard. Most of the reputed and big hotels in Bangalore are not planning a New Year bash this year. Unlike the other years the hotels are fraught with tight security measures and the situation is grim and tense with the Mumbai terror attacks still fresh in the mind of every Indian. Being very near to Mumbai the hospitality industry of Bangalore has therefore decided to have a quite New Year this Year.

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