This one is not just going away. A final death toll has not emerged at this writing, but it has reached 200. Mumbai (Bombay), a city already battered by terrorism, is slowly coming to grips with the enormity of what happened. The horrific imagery of the blast rivals that of 9/11, and the comparisons have already begun:
"Gruesome scenes from Tuesday's attacks dominated Indian television, which began referring to the day as 7/11. Images of a middle-aged man, his body severed in two, crying for help as his fellow passengers carried him away, were broadcast repeatedly."
If the "falling man" who jumped from the World Trade Center is the signature image of that awful day, then the broken body of that man may take on a similar grim importance in India. One suspects the Indian media will not be so shy as ours is about showing such an awful reminder as the hunt for the suspects begins.
There are two main suspects in Tuesday's train bombing. Either way, one man will bear some responsibility for them. And it is possible the country that has harbored him will pay as well.
Lashkar-e-Taiba is a radical Muslim terror group with ties to al Qaeda. It has also received heavy funding from an Indian crime lord named Dawood Ibrahim, another suspect in the bombings and a terrorist in his own right. Ibrahim is regarded as the mastermind behind Mumbai's 1993 bombing that killed 257. His gang, called D-Company, planned the first attack and smuggled in the RDX explosives from Pakistan. (I discussed his operations for The American Spectator online here and here.)
Both Lashkar-e-Taiba and D-Company are suspects in the 7-11 bombing as well. Ibrahim also has close al Qaeda ties, according to our Treasury Department, and it is likely no coincidence that this serial attack took place on the 11th of the month. I suspect that Osama bin Laden and the leadership levels of al Qaeda were not involved in this attack, but that it was carried out by home-grown terrorists (with Al Qaeda's advice and approval) as occurred in London a year ago.
For the sake of peace in the region, however, it doesn't matter which group was behind it -- both are supported by Dawood Ibrahim. And Ibrahim (and possibly elements of L-e-T) are helped by Pakistan's Intelligence Service, the ISI. Ibrahim is widely reported to live like a king in Pakistan today, controlling his criminal empire and immune from extradition to India. (Pakistan denies that he is in the country.)
At one point the ISI were staunch American allies against the Soviets. Since then, they have given us Kashmiri separatists, Dawood Ibrahim, A.Q. Khan and his nuclear network, and their attempt to create a pliable proxy state in Afghanistan: the Taliban. Elements within Pakistani intelligence have relentlessly advanced the cause of Islamic fundamentalism in the region and imperiled the world with their support for terrorists and for the distribution of nuclear technology. While they continue to assist us in capturing terrorists now and then, it is becoming more and more difficult to overlook these faults, and it will be even harder to ignore their cozy relationship with the chief suspects in the second Mumbai attacks.
That relationship hasn't escaped one senior Indian politician, L.K. Advani, who in the wake of the bombings has called on Pakistan to surrender Ibrahim to face justice in India, noting that Ibrahim is to 7/11 as Osama was to 9/11. But Pakistan has been content to ignore such demands before.
This time India's demands may be more forceful. Saisuresh Sivaswamy, a columnist for India's Rediff News, began to look around the world to formulate an appropriate response:
India has been engaged in a peace process with the very neighbour it knows is out to dismember it through any and every means available to it.
Is it any surprise that terrorists continue to attack India with impunity?
Contrast this with the way America has gone about its business since September 11, 2001, and you will see why that nation has not faced any attack in the last five years. Osama may fume and fret from his mountain hole, but there's little more than that he and his terrorist hordes have been able to achieve against the only remaining superpower.
That is because America understands that war can only be won through war, it cannot be won through peace, a belief India has been labouring under for so long.
India, like the United States, has been at war with Islamist terrorists for years now. And as with the United States after 9/11, it has every right to hold nations responsible for harboring and abetting the terrorists who attacked it. However, the risks of this confrontation are potentially much more grave: one hopes that two nuclear powers, and two allies of the United States, can be deterred from an all-out confrontation over this issue.
If Pakistan is serious about avoiding a war -- possibly a nuclear war -- with India, it should hand over Dawood Ibrahim to face Indian justice. The United States, in its efforts to maintain the peace between the two nations, should insist on no less from Pakistan. And if Dawood Ibrahim's testimony brings down the Islamist wing of the ISI, the world will be a better place for it.