Both cities are vital economic centers, with lots of foreigners around. Wealthy foreigners.
Kill people and set fire to buildings there, and you're in the international news.
Looks like the experts agree with me. Well, one expert. Actually, it's an opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph, over in the U.K.
Here's what Peter Foster said:
"By choosing to attack Bombay's most opulent and iconic hotel, the Islamist terrorists have sent a powerful message to India's leaders, foreign investors and tourists as well as the country's new economic elite...."
Mr. Foster has quite a bit more to say, including:
"... Legend has it that its creator, a Parsi industrialist called Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, commissioned the building after being refused entry to the now-defunct Apollo Hotel, which had a strict Europeans-only policy.
"However with its colonnades of shops stuffed with the world's most expensive brands, what Bombay's rich set consider the ultimate in cosmopolitan luxury, would equally be perceived by Islamist ideologues as a symbol of Western decadence...."
"Western decadence?" Maybe: but it's also an opportunity for locals to cash in on the spending habits of foreigners whose pockets hold cash undergoing spontaneous combustion.
How 'Un-Islamic' Can You Get?!Assuming that it really is Islamic terrorists who are running this operation, those two hotels are natural targets: places where women run around without a burqa, and may even spend their own money and drive cars (shocking!).
Then, there's the matter of alcohol. The Al Qaeda end of Islam has more in common than they may think with some of the more stiffly starched American Protestants: Both outfits seem convinced that alcohol is bad. Period.
The Deccan Mujahideen Did This, Right?Maybe. Somebody claiming to represent the group seems to have said so. But, some 'experts' don't believe it. I can see their point. The Mumbai attack was a huge operation, very well planned and executed. The Deccan Mujahideen wasn't known (UPDATE November 29, 2008) before yesterday. You'd think that an outfit capable of killing so many people, and knowing where the elevators are, would have been on the radar.
Who and what killed well upwards of a hundred people in Mumbai will probably be discussed for quite a while. My guess is that the organization is on the same page with Al Qaeda.
Not because I think that all terrorists are Muslims.
India has a huge Hindu majority. This attack seems aimed at Indian interests. A few Hindus in India have blown up things and killed people, but their targets were, by and large, Muslim. Chauvinists among India's ethnic minorities have killed people, but I can't see them putting together an operation on this scale.
And, yesterday's attacks were aimed at foreigners. Particularly those with American or British passports. That, together with the indiscriminate bloodshed, is characteristic of the 'death to the' brand of Islamic activists.
Hitting the Taj Mahal: A Little Too Effective?Mr. Foster ends his op-ed piece with:
"...To have pictures of burning Taj Hotel broadcast around the world will have a deeper impact than even perhaps the terrorists intended, striking a blow against a symbol of Indian wealth and progress and sending shivers down the spine of some of the richest and most powerful people on the planet."
Which reminded me of what's happening in Somalia. The Somali pirates seemed to be getting along with Somalia's Islamic fanatics, until they hijacked a Saudi ship. Piracy is a no-no in Sharia law, apparently, if the victim is Muslim. According to one Somali group's version of the one true Islam.
Now, the pirates have most of the world against them: and a bunch of crazed Muslims in their own territory. And, may be interested in negotiating a way to stay alive.
It's too early to tell, but it's possible that whoever attacked Mumbai has ticked off too many of the wrong people.
- "Gateway of India? Taj Mahal Hotel - in Mumbai? What - and Where - Are These Places?"
(November 27, 2008)
- "Bad Night in Mumbai: Islamic Terrorists This Time"
(November 26, 2008)
- "Who is to blame for Mumbai attacks?"
CNN (November 27, 2008)
- "Bombay terror attacks: Why the Taj Mahal Hotel was chosen"
Telegraph.co.uk (November 27, 2008)
UPDATE (November 29, 2008)
A comment on this post encouraged me to do some checking. Sure enough: Something-Mujahideen have a history in India.
There's what comes into English as the Indian Mujahideen; and there's the Deccan Mujahideen. "Deccan Mujahideen" means "Southern Jihadists" - according to a Mark Dunn, writing in the heraldsun.com.au.
It's possible that the two names both refer to the same group, or that the groups are closely associated.
These articles give a little background:
- "Deccan Mujahideen is a name written in blood"
heraldsun.com.au (November 28, 2008)
- "Indian Mujahideen owns responsibility for Jaipur blasts"
Deccan Herald (May 15, 2008)
- " 'India's 9/11' - Who Did It?"
(November 28, 2008)
- "Markets, Hindu Temples Bombed in Jaipur, India "
(May 13, 2008) "The War on Terror: India Has Troubles, Too"
(January 1, 2008)
- "Terrorism East of Lahore"
(original post January 16, 2008: routinely updated)
- "Sarkaar Raj - India going towards Hindu Talibanization?"
Pak Tribune (November 27, 2008)
- "RSS, Bajrang Dal are not terrorist groups: Britain"
Hindustan Times (November 19, 2008)