At the time of the last posting, events were still sorting out and real information, as opposed to journalistic speculation, was thin on the ground. So I deliberately avoided any attempt to be a pundit (one of the many English words deriving from Indian languages, incidentally) about larger political meanings or probable consequences of the Mumbai terrorist assault. The events reinforced a belief I have not been shy about proclaiming before: that allowing Muslim immigration into the West in general, and the United States in particular, is sending out an urgent request for more trouble. And I stand by that.
A day later, what do we know? Officially, not much, other than the stomach-turning facts on the ground. So the following thoughts have to be tentative.
It is reported that at least three of the (militants) (insurgents) (terrorists) -- take your choice of terminology -- have been captured alive. Given the huge number of (militants, etc.) involved, probably a few more than that have not yet collected their virgins in Paradise. How could the planners of this operation, which involved probably hundreds of (militants, etc.), have imagined that it would be otherwise? These people strike me as both clever and stupid.
The Indian security forces will not be interviewing the captives across a table with a lawyer present. It's safe to assume that within hours they will know everything the captives can tell them, and while the captives may have belonged to cells ignorant of one another, meta-analysis of the intel from various sources will probably soon present a coherent picture.
Indian security isn't necessarily going to reveal what they discover. Not to you and me. I'd guess they will whisper it into the ears of a few trusted friends in the CIA and MI-6.
Common sense suggests that this was at least in part an outside job. It required too much weaponry and ammunition, was too carefully organized to be purely a strike by mad dissidents from the villages where rapid transit is an energetic ox.
The obvious question is, AQ or ISI (the Pakistani intelligence agency, widely acknowledged to be AQ running dogs)? Or a joint venture?
Let's say the Indians have proof positive that ISI or some other official level of the Pakistani government was calling the shots. (I doubt very much that what passes for the head of state in Pakistan was behind the Mumbai rumble; that would have been sheer lunacy as a risk-reward proposition.)
We can only guess at this point how it will play out. But I'll suggest one possibility.
This could be a game changer. The jihad johnnies have gotten used to dealing with Euro-weenies. Europe's dithering and appeasement have gone to their heads. But India is no longer one of the world's 98-pound weaklings. And it's fed up with having sand kicked in its face. Moreover, India hasn't feasted on the West's guilt trip: it was the colonized.
So maybe India has no political correctness running through its veins, a nuked-up, world power with no compulsion to show its understanding and tolerance of its tormentor. Which means it can identify a target and blow it to buggery and then walk away -- delivering the message that "if you mess with us, you're going to pay big time and we're not going to hang around as an occupation force you can take your revenge on." That is, what our gormless Geo. W. Bush should have done to AQ in Afghanistan, had Geo. been a strategist instead of a neocon tool.
That's only a possibility. India's leaders may be, like ours, desperately anxious for the approval of a world containing many who hate it and want to see it part of the worldwide Caliphate. It could sink into Israel-like quicksand of an endless "heads you win, tails I lose" peace process.
Speaking of Israel, the Indian counterterrorist authorities are no doubt going to take a lot of heat for refusing Israeli help in rescuing the hostages at the Jewish center, the hostages being killed during the Indian commando assault. Well, the Israelis are the best in the world for that kind of operation, but it's not clear what they could have done that the Indians could not. We'll never know.
But look, if there were a hostage situation in your city or town, how would you feel about handing it over to Canadians or French (assuming you are not in Canada or France)? I suppose Israeli forces could have been kitted up and flown to Mumbai in five or six hours; what if the terrorists got bored with the situation or figured there was no way out once the Israelis arrived, and killed their hostages in the meantime? If it was your call, try explaining that.
Anyway, pending further developments, it looks like the jihadists might have made a very bad play, their own bridge too far, out of fanaticism or desperation. We will see.