This offensive must be viewed not only in the context of the traditional rivalry and hostility between the Muslim minority and Hindu majority in India, and also not in the context of the ongoing fight for control in Kashmir. The timing – right before Christmas – and the characteristics of the offensive – hostage-taking at major tourism sites, mostly focusing on Westerners – attest to the fact that the attackers objective was to carry out an ongoing mega-attack and hostage-taking operation, in order to secure several local and global aims:
o Bring about the release of all radical Islamic prisoners jailed in India
o Critically damage India’s tourism industry and economy
o Gain global resonance and urgency to the Muslim demand to take control of Kashmir
o The attack on the Chabad-Lubavitch center could indicate that one of the objectives was to deter Israel from providing military aid to India
o No less importantly – the offensive was meant to constitute an impressive show of force in the framework of militant fundamentalist Islam’s war against what it views as corrupt Western culture.
This mixture to objectives, as well as reports that the Muslim terrorists who raided Mumbai arrived from outside of India, by sea, could point to the fact that the offensive is a joint operation initiated by global Jihad forces (al-Qaeda) and Indian Muslim groups that operate in a local, religious, and political context. The organization that claimed responsibility for the Mumbai offensive, the Deccan Mujahidin, is largely unfamiliar, similarly to the Indian Mujahidin group that claimed responsibility for most attacks carried out in India in recent years. The use of the word “Mujahidin” attests to some kind of affiliation with global Jihad of the Bin Laden variety. Therefore, we can say that the Mumbai offensive is one of the major military operations of global Jihad against Western cultural and economic targets since the terror attack on the Twin Towers in New York in September 2001.
Based on the details we know so far, we can estimate that it was planned over a long period of time outside of India’s borders – apparently in nearby Pakistan, where at least some of the attackers arrived from. The central government in Pakistan is weak and Muslim terror groups operating in India – just like in Pakistan itself – at times enjoy the secret support of Pakistani security and intelligence agencies.
We can assume that had the attack been planned and prepared inside India, Indian security forces would notice the preparations. It is almost impossible to hide intelligence and logistical preparations for an attack like this, which involves hundreds of fighters and collaborators, even in a giant country like India. We should also keep in mind that India’s intelligence services have been on the highest state of alert in the past year in the wake of the series of attacks carried out across the country.
At the same time, it is completely clear that the attackers gathered intelligence information in Mumbai for a long time, and that the targets attacked were carefully selected. This raises serious question marks regarding the effectiveness of Indian internal security agencies and their ability to thwart such attacks. The response of security forces following the offensive also showed indications of certain confusion and helplessness.
As to us – at this time we cannot know whether the Chabad House was chosen as one of the targets because of the high profile Israeli-Indian military cooperation, or because of Jihad members’ basic desire to hit an Israeli-Indian target. We can assume that both motives played a role here. In any case, it is clear that at this time India is a much less safer place for Western tourists in general and for Israelis in particular.