India The Web and Technology

Technology Aided Terrorists

The group appears to have used complex GPS systems to navigate their way to Mumbai by sea. They communicated by satellite phone, used mobile phones with several different SIM cards, and may have monitored events as the siege unfolded via handheld Blackberry web browsers

The legal petition also follows unconfirmed reports that Faheem Ahmed Ansari, a suspected militant who was arrested in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in February, said he was shown maps of Indian locations on Google Earth by members of Lashkar-e-Taiber, the Pakistan-based terrorist faction that Indian officials are convinced was behind the Mumbai attacks. [my emphases]

So – to prevent another similar attack, the plan is to get rid of one brand of map that one of the terrorists may have been shown according to unconfirmed rumors – at least that’s the plan of the petition in Indian court.

Somehow, the various handheld communications devices and the GPS positioning seem to be more significant.

Foreign Policy India National Security Politics The Opinionsphere The War on Terrorism

Like Small Children

In my piece yesterday about the New York Times coverage of the Indian response to the Mumbai massacre, I was struck by the comparison to America’s response to 9/11. I didn’t realize that the person cited in the column, Vir Sanghvi, had actually written a column on this subject:

[In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, Indians believed that the] real heroes of 26/11 were the men in uniform, the navy commandos, the Army, the Mumbai police and the ATS. Therefore, we should put our faith in these people not in politicians.

Others simply say that democracy has failed India and that we need a strong leader. Some talk openly about a benign dictator (a commodity on par with virgin prostitutes) and some demand an abridgement of the universal franchise that, they say, has led us to this mess…

I’m not saying that any of this is dangerous—no dictator is going to seize power because of discontent in Malabar Hill or Cuffe Parade—but it is certainly silly. Not only does it demonstrate that we have forgotten the lessons of the Emergency but it also shames the Indian middle class and shows up the cowards that are some of its most vocal members.

Like small children we crave the security offered by men in uniform every time we sense danger. We lose our nerve, abandon the only real functioning democracy in the populous states of the Third World and long for a leader who will fight the terrorists in the manner of Superman. Like frightened rabbits scurrying for cover, we lose all perspective and all common sense.

Contrast our responses to those from America after 9/11. The President was a dimwit, a man who had just stolen the election, and who reacted bizarrely to the news of the strikes and then took to his plane. But Americans did not abandon faith in their democracy. They came together and resolved to fight terrorism as one nation.