Intelligence experts and Sunday morning talk show guests struggled over the weekend to make sense of the Mumbai terror attacks. The basic facts about the horrific events that riveted the world are now emerging and not so difficult to ascertain. The analytical contortions of national security chiefs, politicians, the mainstream media, and so-called Middle East specialists who all seem desperate to avoid calling this what it is -- Islamic Jihad -- are somewhat less understandable.
The basic facts seem to be these: Muslim commandos belonging to the Pakistani Lashkar-e Toiba terrorist organization, likely in coordination with Hindi-speaking attackers belonging to an off-shoot of the Indian Mujahideen (calling themselves the "Deccan Mujahideen"), launched a wave of terrorist assaults against Mumbai last week that has left some 200 people dead and over 300 injured.
A couple dozen highly trained, intensely motivated terrorists, perhaps with the logistical assistance of a Mumbai organized crime figure named Dawood Ibrahim, paralyzed a modern urban metropolis of nearly 15 million people for 60 hours. They used basic military assault tactics, employing small arms and grenades against carefully selected and meticulously cased soft civilian targets, including the Taj Mahal and Oberoi Hotels, the city train station, hospitals, and a Jewish cultural center.
Lashkar-e Toiba (LeT) is a Pakistani terrorist group founded in the late 1980s to early 1990s by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization to mount a terror campaign against the Indian government and Hindu civilians living in the contested Kashmir valley between India and Pakistan. LeT ('The Army of the Pure') is reported to be a member of Usama bin Laden's International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders, the loose network of Islamists that declared war in 1998 against America, the Jewish people, and liberal democratic civilians everywhere.
After LeT was implicated in the 2001 attacks on the Indian Parliament, the Pakistani government in January 2002 banned LeT, but its members simply went underground and continued to train in camps inside Pakistan and Kashmir. Indeed, even as the horrific attacks of last week were ongoing, it is now known from captured SIM cards and satellite phones that the young Islamist gunmen were making phone calls traced back to a LeT training chief inside Pakistan.
The previously unknown Deccan Mujahideen are likely affiliated with the Indian Mujahideen, which themselves are an offshoot of the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). After the May 2008 attacks in Jaipur, it was the Indian Mujahideen that issued a statement warning that more attacks would follow unless India decoupled itself from its strategic alliance with the United States. Whatever the many name changes effected by these South Asian terror groups, all of them are Jihadist groups with links back to al-Qa'eda.
It is the self-proclaimed jihadist nature of these groups that should leave no doubt about how they view themselves. Their ideological identification with Islam is not disguised; they are not ashamed of it, they do not attempt to deny it or hide it. Only we, who are their intended targets, do that.
Sen. Richard Lugar, a respected veteran Republican congressman from Indiana, actually called the Mumbai terrorists "dissidents." The Mumbai terrorists are not dissidents, nor are they merely criminal 'gunmen' or 'militants.' They are Muslim jihadis who believe they are following the doctrine of their faith, the example of the Prophet Muhammad, and the explicit orders of Allah to wage war against unbelievers. They have nearly six centuries of Arab Muslim razzias (or war raids) conducted from the seventh to the 13th centuries to serve as historical precedent, when the followers of Muhammad's early warriors launched wave after wave of savage military campaigns against India's Hindu and Buddhist populations.
The partition of British India in 1947 was intended to allow both Muslims and Hindus to live in a state where their own faith predominated. But there are still some 200 million Muslims living in India today -- and in any case, any territory once governed by Sharia under Muslim rule is considered by Islamist jihadis to be Muslim land in perpetuity, to be returned to Islam by force if necessary.
Discussion and analysis of the commando-style terrorist tactics employed by the Mumbai attackers will go on. Part will have to examine initial failures by some members of the Indian security services, who actually hid instead of confronting the assailants. The most important lessons to be learned are already clear, however: Islamic jihadis are adaptable and ruthless and all who stand in the way of their quest for domination will be their targets.
The recent attacks in Mumbai, India's largest city, its financial center, and its gateway to the globalized world, clearly are intended to inflict economic harm. By striking well-known landmark hotels such as the Taj Mahal, filled with foreign tourists, and demonstrating the ease with which the city's security forces could be utterly immobilized, the jihadis not only destroy physical infrastructure that will have to be rebuilt, but more importantly, they strike fear into the infidel enemy, whose business and tourists will be a long time returning to Mumbai and maybe India itself.
This is straight out of Jihadist military doctrine as documented by Pakistani Brig. S.K. Malik in his classic 1971 book, 'The Quranic Concept of War', in which he makes clear that terror is not just the means, it is 'the end itself'. In turn, as his book title indicates, Brig. Malik was only conveying what is commanded by Allah himself in the Quran, which is to 'strike terror into the hearts of the unbelievers' (Q 8:12).
By singling out American and British citizens and by deliberately targeting the Jewish Chabad House cultural center, these jihadis also made clear that their target is not only Hindus and not only India because it is democratic, free, and Hindu. The selection of these targets, as well as the complete absence of any demands made by the attackers in return for their hostages' lives, indicates the real nature and the real objectives of these jihadis. It is Americans, British, and Jews (including Israelis) because we lead the opposition to their murderous campaign of conquest and are the only ones who can stop it.
It is the U.S., the U.K., Israel and our allies that today man the front lines in the war against Islamic Jihad. Now India too must make the decision once again to stand against Jihad.
We who value tolerant liberal democracy must wake up and quickly. We are at war. We are at war whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we'd prefer to focus on education and health care or not. The enemy is Islamic Jihad. Jihadis formally declared war on us in 1996 and again in 1998. They are coming for us and intend to conquer our societies in the name of Islam, whether with gunfire and bombs or by the soft jihad of infiltration and subversion.
They already have come for us in Baghdad, Bali, Glasgow, Jerusalem, London, Madrid, New York, Washington, D.C., and now Mumbai. We defeated them in Iraq, and we are fighting hard to defeat them in Afghanistan. But this is truly a Long War that already has been going on for 14 centuries; it is not likely to end in our lifetimes. Yet if we wish to bequeath to our children and grandchildren the free societies of equal opportunity and individual liberty that we all cherish, we must confront this enemy across the globe.
We must stand and fight for each and every place that he chooses to contest -- because if we don't, those places will fall under Sharia and become bases like Afghanistan under the Taliban or the wild border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan today: places from which jihad will be waged against all of Dar al-Harb until it falls into Dar al-Islam.
The Battle for Mumbai is over for now. The Global War of Jihad goes on.