If this isn’t terrorism, what is?

November 30, 2008

* Amazingly – and disgustingly – The New York Times theorizes that the choice of the Chabad center by Islamist terrorists in Mumbai was “accidental”

* Islamists: All of India is stolen Muslim land

* Mumbai massacre was coordinated in a highly sophisticated way. The terrorists used BlackBerrys to stay in touch with each other during the siege

* Some prominent liberal media refuse to point out that this was a case of Muslims targeting non-Muslims. For example, Britain’s highly-regarded Channel 4 News said that the “militants” showed a “wanton disregard for race or creed”. (Quite the opposite is true: targets and victims were very carefully selected)

* IslamOnline, the highly influential website praised for its “spiritual inspiration” by BBC guests, blames Jews and Hindus for the massacres

(A shorter version of this dispatch will appear as a comment piece in The Wall Street Journal.)



1. If this isn’t terrorism, what is?
2. “Finally I see that BBC News is anti-Semitic, not just anti-Israel”
3. There is nothing remotely Zionist about Chabad
4. New York Times suggests Chabad may have been “an accidental hostage scene”
5. The BBC almost never covers Mexico. Why now?
6. “The world’s academics will already explain that the West is to blame”
7. Dramatic pictures
8. “I just grabbed the baby and ran”
9. Israel: India’s rescue efforts “premature and badly planned”
10. British security officials also criticize Indians
11. Mumbai massacre perpetrators: Are some British?
12. Terrorists monitored British websites using BlackBerry phones
13. Rabbi and his wife among 9 hostages killed at Jewish center
14. Islamists believe that India is a Muslim land
15. “Mumbai attacks are warning to us” (By Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph, Nov. 29, 2008)

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


At present, the death toll from the terrorist attacks in India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, which began Wednesday night and finally came to an end yesterday morning, stands at 172 (not 195 as stated in some news reports yesterday) though it is likely to rise.

Apart from India, more Israelis were murdered in the attacks than citizens of any other country, with eight Israelis killed – not five as stated in some media reports. (Nine persons were murdered at the Jewish center. Eight were Israelis, some with dual US-Israeli citizenship. A Mexican Jewish woman was also killed there. Some of the Jewish victims may have been tortured before being killed.)

At least 15 other foreigners were killed in the attacks, including citizens of Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia, Italy, Singapore, Thailand, Britain, and France.

What is not being made clear in certain prominent Western media is that this was a meticulously planned and well-organized operation on seven carefully-selected sites in India’s financial capital. Some of the terrorists arrived by boat on the night of the attack. Others had apparently been in the city for months gathering intelligence and there are reports that at least two of the terrorists had managed to get jobs at the hotels they then attacked, and two others were staying there as guests. This would have enabled them to plan the attack and gain an edge over security forces by familiarizing themselves with the layout of the labyrinthine Edwardian building that houses the Taj Mahal hotel.

The Times of India reports today that some of the terrorists had actually stayed on a rental basis at the Jewish center to scout it out, identifying themselves as Malaysian students.

Security forces seized a mass of grenades, bullet magazines for AK-47 machine guns and other equipment. Indian commandos said the attackers had demonstrated professional techniques, firing in short bursts, setting traps and even stocking up with almonds and dried fruit to keep their energy up during the siege. It stretches credulity to believe that these individuals were acting alone.

As I note below, the terrorists even used BlackBerry email devices to stay in touch with each other (and possibly outsiders) and exchange intelligence and information in different locations during the siege.


So, even though this was clearly an assault aimed exclusively against innocent civilian targets – two hospitals, two hotels, a tourist restaurant, a train station and a Jewish center – why did much of the media, including the British-based global networks BBC and Sky News, label the killers “militants” instead of terrorists? Why did The Guardian ape Al-Jazeera in calling them “gunmen” as though this was just some kind of random crime scene?

If The Daily Telegraph can call them “Islamic terrorists” why does The Times of London feel the need to refer to them as “militants” on its website? What is the motivation of journalists in trying to downplay these heinous atrocities? Do they wish to express some sympathy for these murderers?

There was no hostage stand-off. The terrorists didn’t want to negotiate. They wanted to murder as many Hindus, Christians, Jews and atheists as they could, and in as spectacular manner as they could.



Some of the reporting by the BBC – the world’s largest broadcast network, which has many TV and radio stations broadcasting in different languages around the world, and is lavishly funded by the British taxpayer – was disgraceful.

Particularly during the first day or two of the terror attacks, you would have to search very hard on the BBC to find a connection with Islamicism. It is a local Indian problem, the subcontinent has a history of unrest, the BBC repeatedly tried to persuade its massive global audience.

Even the Pakistani angle was presented as some kind of local Pakistani-Indian dispute rather than as a problem with militant Islam – this despite the fact that the gunmen themselves were screaming “Allah Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest) as they murdered “the Jews and the infidels” in line with Bin Ladenist ideology.



And in particular, the BBC went out of its way not to report that the Chabad Jewish community center was attacked. At one point when BBC correspondents did mention it, viewers were merely told that “an office building” had been targeted (referring to the Jewish community center as such).

On Friday morning, dramatic television pictures of Indian commandos storming the besieged Chabad center in Mumbai were broadcast by networks around the world. Heavily armed commandos, their faces covered by balaclavas, rappelled from helicopters onto the roof of the Chabad center while Indian sharpshooters in buildings opposite opened fire as a helicopter circled overhead. A huge crowd of onlookers could be seen looking aghast as they watched from nearby streets. Yet BBC World and Al-Jazeera alone avoided showing these pictures, almost pretending there was no siege at the Jewish center.

By then the Jewish center was one of only two sites that remained under siege in Mumbai and yet reporter after reporter on the BBC barely mentioned it.

Incidentally, there is nothing remotely Zionist about the Chabad Jewish center in India. Even fierce critics of Israel on this email list who have in the past disagreed with me when I have said there is an element of anti-Semitism in the way the BBC distorts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have told me in the last couple of days that for the first time they could clearly see that anti-Semitism, not just anti-Israelism, was at work in the way BBC news covers the world.



Meanwhile The New York Times wrote: “It is not known if the Jewish center was strategically chosen, or if it was an accidental hostage scene.”

Is this what passes for analysis at The New York Times?

Has The New York Times learned anything since the Holocaust when, even after the war ended in the spring of 1945, the paper infamously refused to report that the Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Germans and so on killed in the camps had been Jews, and killed as Jews.

Dozens of eyewitness accounts by local Indians said the gunmen shouted “Allah Akbar” from the Jewish center. It is housed in a non-descript block and is not obviously marked from the outside as a Jewish center. It is the one Jewish building in a densely crowded city of many millions. And The New York Times wants to let readers think it might have been an accidental target?

The New York Times has admirers who treat it with positively religious reverence, as though it were beyond criticism. But others can plainly see that for the Times to proclaim itself, with inimitable pomposity, as the paper of record is downright risible.

Even The New York Times’s British equivalent, The Guardian, began its news story: “The inclusion of the headquarters of an ultra-orthodox Jewish group was obviously intended to send its own message.”

Does The New York Times think that the seeking out and murder by the terrorists of the only New York rabbi and his wife in a Mumbai was “an accidental target”?

Indeed, there was nothing accidental about any of the seven sites that the terrorists attacked. And it was no accident that Mumbai (formerly Bombay) was hit. It is the most multi-religious city in India – with Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsees and Jews living in relative harmony.



Of course, there is a pattern to this. When people were murdered by al-Qaeda in recent years at synagogues in Jerba (Tunisia) and Istanbul (Turkey), and at the Jewish center in Casablanca (Morocco), and at many other locations, both the BBC and The New York Times avoided or downplayed the fact that terrorists were hitting Jewish targets, even though al-Qaeda video messages and websites congratulated themselves on specifically killing “Jews and infidels”.

Hours after the Mumbai attacks began, the Associated Press released an article carrying the demands of the Mujahideen group that claimed responsibility in e-mails to several media outlets. The AP headline, quoting the claim of responsibility, was “India should return Muslim land.” But it was hard to find this on the BBC.

Meanwhile yesterday morning, within a short time of the siege ending, with piles of bodies identified, and with much of the rest of the world media still dominated by stories related to the Mumbai attacks, the BBC World Service website headline was:

“Mexico in the narcotics era. With thousands of people dead and millions thinking about leaving the country – BBC uncovers the social impact of drug trafficking in Mexico.”



An editorial today in the Israeli paper Ma’ariv written by Ben-Dror Yemini (who is a long-time subscriber to this email list), suggests that an “intellectual terrorism” exists, and notes that, “The terrorists in India did not make any public announcements. There is no need. The world’s academics will already explain that the West is to blame, especially the Zionists”. He adds: “The free world must awake. The first stage in the fight against terrorism is a total suppression of the hate industry. No more incitement under the pretense of ‘freedom of speech’.”

Andrew Bostom, a scholar of Islamic Jihad and its responses in the West, notes: “The ‘coverage’ of the Mumbai massacres has been an appalling spectacle of ignorance, denial, and scapegoating – of the victims. If Hindus and Jews (and in the end, all potential non-Muslim victims of jihad) don’t realize their shared predicament – targeting by jihad hatred – after these events, then they never will, possibly hastening their separate destruction.”

There have now been 12,327 other acts of jihad terrorism (i.e. terrorism based upon supposed Koranic doctrine) since Sept. 11, 2001, he says.



Here is a particularly dramatic set of pictures from The Boston Globe of the three-and-half-day terror rampage in Mumbai. Some of the pictures are graphic, but you have to click to view them.



Twelve hours after gunmen stormed the Chabad Jewish community center in Mumbai, the community’s Indian cook, Sandra Samuel, made a dramatic escape, dashing out from the room in which she had barricaded herself. But as she did so, she put herself in additional danger by grabbing the blood-soaked 2-year-old old son of the community’s rabbi.

She and the baby, together with one other center worker (Zakir Hussein, 22, the Jewish center’s caretaker, who is incidentally a Muslim), managed to escape.

“I just grabbed the baby as I ran out,” said Samuel, 44, who has worked as a cook for the center for the last five years.

The two-year-old was unharmed and the blood that covered him belonged to the other dead and wounded hostages inside. He is now an orphan after both his parents were confirmed dead.



Israel defense officials have criticized the way Indian security forces handled the terror attacks in Bombay, after India turned down their offer of help and advice to defeat the terrorists. Israeli security chiefs were concerned given the many past cases of botched attempts by foreign security forces to rescue Jewish hostages, for example by German commandos at the Munich Olympics.

Officials from the Israel security agency the Shin Bet said the Indian troops had prematurely stormed the besieged hotels and other locations, risking hostages’ lives in the process.

“Indian counter-terrorist forces were well trained but failed to gather sufficient intelligence before engaging the terrorists,” one Shin Bet official said.

“It appears that the Indian forces showed up at the scene and immediately began exchanging fire with the terrorists instead of first taking control of the area,” he said.

Others said the Indian commandos made the basic mistake of storming the Jewish Center in daylight hours. No one was found alive in the building though it is not clear yet whether they were all killed before the Jewish center was stormed, or during the rescue mission.

Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak had offered assistance to Mayankote Kelath Narayanan, India’s National Security adviser, but it was turned down.

Indian media have reacted angrily to criticism from Israeli defense officials of the Indian commando operation.

The two countries have close defense ties. India has bought more than $5 billion worth of Israeli equipment since 2002.



British officials also said that Indian security forces had “bungled” their response to the attacks. One told The Daily Telegraph: “They are supposed to set up a command center in complete control as their first priority. Instead they arrived and went in with guns blazing. It was blind. They didn’t have maps of the hotels, yet the terrorists had done enough reconnaissance to use the service facilities to maneuver.”

A senior Indian special forces source said: “There were far too many command centers with each one trying to best the other which led to confusion and delayed operations. There appears to have been a lack of detailed, precise planning.”



News reports quoting Mumbai’s chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and others suggest that a number of British passport-holders were among those who carried out the attacks. The British government has cast doubt on these reports. But if they prove accurate, it would not be the first time that British citizens had perpetrated acts of Islamist terrorism abroad.

Among those I have written about previously are:

* Omar Sheikh, a 27-year-old former LSE (London School of Economics) student* convicted of the murder of the Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002.

* Asif Mohammed Hanif, a 21-year-old from West London and Omar Khan Sharif, his 27-year-old accomplice from Derby in the British Midlands, who was studying at King’s College London*, who murdered three Jews and wounded 65 in a suicide attack at “Mike’s Place” bar in Tel Aviv in April 2003.

Others include:

* Sayyad al-Falistini, 18, from London, who was killed after a failed suicide attack in Bosnia in 1995. He is believed to have been Britain’s first attempted suicide bomber.

* Khalid Shahid, from Birmingham, Britain’s first “successful” suicide bomber, in Afghanistan, 1996.

* Bilal Ahmed, 25, from Birmingham, killed eight people in a suicide bomb attack in Kashmir in December 2000.

There are many other more recent examples too, but the mainstream British press are reluctant to write about this phenomenon.

Douglas Murray, the director of the Center for Social Cohesion (and a subscriber to this email list), points out: “Since the 1990s Britain has been one of the global centers of Islamist radicalization and yet successive British governments have failed to stop those who preach hate and incite violence against anyone who falls outside of their radical interpretation of Islam.”

* Tom Gross adds: the fact that several of Britain’s suicide bombers targeting Jews abroad were students from the very same British universities where university authorities have allowed anti-Zionist hysteria to spill over into anti-Semitism, is probably not a coincidence.

At the same time, to state the obvious, although there are many Muslim extremists in Britain, the vast majority of British Muslims are entirely peaceful and law-abiding.



Adding to the speculation that at least some of the attackers may have British links, The Daily Telegraph reports that during the three-day siege the terrorists monitored international reaction to the attacks on British newspaper websites and on Arabic websites popular in the north of England.

A senior officer in India’s elite Black Cat commando unit said suspicions of a British link were first raised when investigators examined BlackBerry email-and-phone devices seized from some of the captured terrorists, which they had used to monitor the internet.

General Noble Thamburaj, head of India’s southern command, said: “There was a lot of content from the English media, not just in London but the Urdu and Arabic sites that are very strong in the north of England.”

Gen. Thamburaj said at least five of the terrorists had used BlackBerrys to monitor British websites – and to check on the police response.

The availability of news updates and live TV streams from Indian and foreign media is thought to have given the hostage takers an advantage during the siege.


Other reports say that one captured terrorist joined the Lashkar a-Tayeb (“Army of Believers”) group a year ago. In the past, the group had strong links to Osama Bin Laden, and its members trained in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Abu Zubaydah, considered one of the most senior Al-Qaeda officials being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, was captured in March 2002 in a joint operation by United States and Pakistani intelligence forces at a Lashkar a-Tayeb safe house.

Some reports say the sponsor for the Mumbai massacres is thought to have been an Indian businessman living in Saudi Arabia, who has been under intelligence surveillance for a year.

The sole surviving terrorist told authorities that the plan was to kill 5,000 people.



Israeli officials said that nine bodies were removed from the Chabad House in Mumbai and taken for identification. The bodies of the Israelis are being brought to Israel for burial.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said some of the bodies found there had been tied up and abused, and the three women who were slain had been killed many hours before the men. They were found in a pool of blood.

“Our world is under attack, it doesn’t matter whether it happens in India or somewhere else,” Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, in remarks not carried by the BBC. “There are Islamic extremists who don’t accept our existence or Western values.”

Witnesses to the scene of the carnage reported ghastly images of blood everywhere and live hand grenades still lying amid the bodies. Only after the grenades were neutralized were the bodies finally removed.

You can see pictures of some of the bloody scenes if you scroll down on this page, and click through the photos.

Very few foreign leaders have conveyed condolences over the attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions to Israel. One who did call Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last night to express condolences was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Jews in Istanbul have also been targeted by al-Qaeda.



On the same day (Friday) that the siege of the Jewish center was ended in Mumbai, eight Israelis were also wounded when a mortar shell fired from Gaza hit Nahal Oz in southern Israel. One 21-year-old Israeli conscript from Beersheba lost his leg in the attack. Doctors at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon are still trying to save his other leg as I write. At least one other of the wounded Israelis has severe injuries.

Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, claimed responsibility for the attack – even though The Guardian comment page, lying as usual, wrote recently that Hamas hasn’t been responsible for any of the attacks on southern Israel since the supposed ceasefire went into effect last June.



Below I attach a comment piece by Charles Moore, a distinguished former editor of The Daily Telegraph. As Moore, who is a subscriber to this email list, points out “Islamists believe that India is a Muslim land, which was stolen from them. If they had their way, the world’s largest democracy would come under the rule of Sharia.”

“... Perhaps because of our media obsession with Palestine above all other places involving Islam... we do not understand what is happening [elsewhere],” he adds.

-- Tom Gross



Mumbai attacks are warning to us in Britain
By Charles Moore
The Daily Telegraph
Nov. 29, 2008

In the newsrooms of our national papers, there is a phrase about a story whose interest for the readers needs to be clearer. “Put a Union Jack on it,” we say: people are more likely to read it if it has a British angle.

When the terrible attacks began in Bombay, the media did indeed seek out British victims. But at a deeper level, they have failed to put the “Union Jack” on the story. They do not consider how these horrors relate to the British past, and the British future.

Perhaps out of political correctness, most media outlets call the city in question Mumbai. It was renamed thus in the 1990s by Hindu nationalists anxious to efface British links. But a great many Indians including, I notice, the army chief interviewed on Thursday, still call it Bombay.

Similarly, the railway station in which passengers were massacred has an official name which the BBC struggled to pronounce but is known locally as “VT”, which stands for Victoria Terminus. It is a 19th-century, Gothic, British building which makes St Pancras look restrained.

So what you might call Mumbai-jumbo obscured the drama of the setting for the attacks. It seems that the terrorists landed their inflatable boats by the Gateway to India. The Gateway to India was built nearly a century ago for King George V to disembark for the visit which culminated in the Delhi Durbar, the high point of the Raj.

Having moored, the terrorists ran into the Taj Mahal Hotel, built a few years earlier than the Gateway by a member of the Tata family, allegedly in defiance of the Apollo Hotel, which had refused him entry because he had a brown face.

One must assume that attacking where they did, the terrorists knew what they were doing. They were striking at a place that symbolises former British power and new Indian pride. It most vividly represents the link, made chiefly by trade, between India and the world.

Under the British, and continuing since independence, Bombay is also the most multi-religious city in India – with Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsees and Jews. So it was natural for the murderous fanatics to seek out the Jews, as well as Westerners in general, and kill them.

On Friday, I spoke to a friend lying on the floor 100 yards from Nariman House, where the rabbi and his wife were being held. He said he thought it was wrong to say the attackers were targeting foreigners alone: they were targeting all connections between foreigners and Indians.

Islamists believe that India is a Muslim land, which was stolen from them. If they had their way, the world’s largest democracy would come under the rule of Sharia. The Gateway to India would clang shut.

Perhaps because of our media obsession with Palestine above all other places involving Islam, we take little advantage of our historical experience. We do not understand what is happening.

Channel 4 News said that the Bombay killers showed a “wanton disregard for race or creed”. On the contrary, they deliberately attacked people and places where such disregard for creed and race is, in a friendly sense, a way of life.

Channel 4’s Jon Snow said, on his daily email, “I suppose the nearest parallel would be the school killing at Columbine, near Colorado”.

No! The Columbine killings were isolated actions of two young minds disturbed. They were not the product of a paramilitary, worldwide, politico-religious ideology.

After Columbine, websites of international religious organisations were not buzzing with conspiracy theories to excuse the killers.

But during the Bombay attacks, IslamOnLine, the website which supports Ken Livingstone’s old friend and spiritual inspiration to the Muslim brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, gave space to messages blaming Israel, or the CIA, or Hindus, or all three.

It was reported that some of the terrorists attacking Bombay were British citizens. Even if this turns out not to be the case, what happened there will blow back here and – which we find even harder to understand – what happens here, blows back there.

After the London Tube bombings of July 7, 2005, attention turned to the madrassas, the Muslim schools churning out extremists in Pakistan.

With some justice, Pervaiz Musharraf, then president of Pakistan, turned the point round. Look at the appalling fanaticism being encouraged in some Muslim institutions in Britain, he said. There is a terrible traffic, and we are part of it.

By far the largest part of the British Muslim population, and of our Hindu and Sikh populations, descend from the Indian subcontinent. The tensions, over Kashmir, for example, are strong.

Pakistan now has the Bomb and the greatest terrorist-inspired instability in the world. The subcontinent divided because Britain departed. We took part of the problem home.

In the wake of September 11, 2001, the greatest Islamist terrorist threat seemed to be coming from Arabs in Britain; but since 2004, police have had to focus on the links with the Indian subcontinent. Mohammed Siddique Khan, the British-born leader of the “7/7” suicide bombers, is the best known example.

Because of these problems, our Government realises that it must act against extremism. It has a programme called Prevent to do so. But a theory dominates Prevent which says that “violent extremism” has no link with other extremism, and that we should engage all those extremists who are not actually killing people.

The Muslim Contact Unit of the Metropolitan Police has devoted most of its “counter-terrorism” work to favouring such “moderate” extremists – the sort of people who applaud suicide bombs in Israel, but condemn them here.

Bob Lambert MBE, the unit’s recently retired leading light, has published an article saying the Islamists and Salafis (extreme literalist puritans) are actually the good guys, whereas moderates like Ed Husain, the author of The Islamist, who exposed the hate-filled, grievance-based ideology, has succumbed to “the lure of celebrity status”.

Faced with young Muslims who sympathise with violent terrorism, the police, Mr Lambert thinks, should adopt a “non-judgmental” approach.

When you think about it, this strategy is weird. It is like going to the BNP, which is, formally, non-violent, and saying, “Look, your views are close to those of violent racists, so please let us give you public money to try to control them.”

Non-judgmental, all right – to the point of creating a moral vacuum about our own values which extremists are only too happy to fill.

Two things happen. The first is that the Government sets up a perverse incentive, by which Muslims know that they must raise grievance and warn of even worse conflagrations unless the state coughs up.

The second is the denial of the basic truth that extreme ideas tend to produce extreme actions. Recent government guidelines say that ideology can be a cause of violent extremism but is “seldom the most important”.

Doesn’t the history of the 20th century suggest that bad ideas lead to the most horrendous violence of all? Shouldn’t the events in Bombay bring that home to us once again?

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.