* RAND Corporation releases report titled ‘The Lessons of Mumbai’, says attacks likely to inspire more terrorists
* Says attacks targetted people and facilities with ‘emotional, political value’
The Mumbai attacks suggest the possibility of an escalating terrorist campaign in South Asia, and “India can expect more attacks with high body counts and symbolic targets”, a study by the RAND Corporation – a leading US think-tank – has predicted.
The RAND study, part-funded by the Pentagon, identifies the tactical features of the military-style Mumbai attacks – “planning for which may have begun way back in 2007” – also highlights weaknesses in India’s counter-terrorism structure and weighs in on the implications of the attacks for India, Pakistan and the US.
“India will continue to face a serious jihadist threat from Pakistan-based terrorist groups, and neither Indian nor US policy is likely to reduce that threat in the near future,” said Angel Rabasa – lead author of the study and a political scientist with RAND.
Inspiration: “Other extremist groups in Pakistan likely will find inspiration in the Mumbai attacks, and we can expect more attacks with high body counts and symbolic targets.”
According to researchers, the selection of multiple targets – Americans, Britons and Jews, as well as Indians – suggests that the terrorists intended the attack to serve ‘multiple objectives’ that extended beyond their ‘previous linear focus on Kashmir’.
Target: “The goal was not only to slaughter as many people as they could, but to target specific groups of people and facilities with political, cultural and emotional value. This indicates a level of strategic thought – a strategic culture – that poses a difficult challenge: not whether we can outgun the terrorists, but can we outthink them?” said Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior adviser at RAND.
Former US ambassador to India Robert Blackwill; Ashley Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and five other South Asia experts have contributed to the study.
India holds the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LT) responsible for the attacks and is looking for a way to punish Pakistan to deter future attacks.
The report acknowledges that both countries have nuclear weapons, making any military action ‘a dangerous course’, but warns if India does not respond, that “would signal a lack of Indian resolve or capability”.
“Without an appropriate response, Pakistan, or at least those elements of its military and intelligence leadership that are supportive of the activities of groups like the LT, are likely to conclude that these operations, in some measure, yield benefits that exceed the cost,” said RAND while releasing the study titled ‘The Lessons of Mumbai’.
For these and other reasons, US researchers say, India is likely to remain a “target of Pakistan-based and indigenous Islamist terrorism”.
The US think-tank also says the focus on Pakistan should not obscure the fact that the terrorists likely had help from inside India. “Local radicalisation is a major goal of the terrorists, and will be a major political and social challenge for India,” it warned.
Source: Daily Times, 21-Jan-09