Inside Mumbai, Was Early Warning Wasted?

Sunil, a resident of Mumbai, has agreed to become a free foreign correspondent for The Lunch Counter. I will be posting whatever updates he may send regarding the current terrorist and security situation in Mumbai. In the interest of full disclosure, Sunil is not a journalist. Neither am I for that matter. I worked with Sunil for seven years in New Jersey in the 90’s. He is a professional person who works in the financial and international shipping industries. His report follows.

Mumbai, Nov. 30, 2008

Well its over in one sense, but the fear in the common man remains. The roads are still comparatively empty as are theaters and cinema halls. Most movies released on Friday had dismal openings. People just don’t seem to be in the mood to indulge in anything entertaining and understandably so.

Also most people we meet seem to think that the actual body count is much more, probably closer to 2000 people, but official figures being quoted are much lower, because of the fear that higher figures would in fact provide motivation to the very wrong people.

There is a combined sense of anger even in the most timmidest common man and the hope that something will be done to stop the training camps and the flow of funds. There is an absolute disbelief as to how they could just walk/sail in to the city carrying so many arms and ammunition and it wasn’t noticed. Well in a sense it was, but heed wasn’t paid.

Listen to this. We have a friend staying around the area where the terrorists had put up and apparently they used to buy chicken from the same source. The terrorists used to ask for LIVE chicken EVERY DAY saying they would kill the chicken themselves. The vendor obviously found something fishy about it so informed a local corporator who informed the local police station, but the question asked by the police officer was what complaint do I write? That there are some people who want to kill chicken?

Not to deride or ridicule anybody in my country right now but just a statement to the effect that change has to come from the top. Apparently the boats were spotted by local fishermen and a letter was sent by their organisation but again no heed was paid.

Writing this mail to you on Sunday evening, when i would normally be out for a movie and dinner.
your foreign correspondent

It seems that Mumbai, India has just had a ‘9/11’ experience of their own. The main difference being, on 9/12 we knew who the perpetrators were and what their motives were. In Mumbai, all that is still unfolding. Even though the casualty count is not as high, the mood of the public is pretty much the same as it was here after 9/11. And no one thinks it is over. As as result of these attacks, India’s equivalent of our Homeland Security cabinet member has resigned.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who has become highly unpopular during a long series of terror attacks across India, submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who accepted it, according to the president’s office.

Let’s hope that authorities will pay closer attention to citizens that report unusual behavior like Sunil mentioned. Like Americans have been told over and over, and for good reason, I’m sure the people of India will be similarly advised to keep your eyes open for suspicious behavior. What you see could be instrumental in foiling another attack. In this case, the citizens seem to have done their part, but someone higher up dropped the ball.

President Bush has offered help from the United States. Hopefully that will include cooperation in helping India develop security measures similar to what the Patriot Act has given us, if they’re not there already. The people of India need to also have the confidence that their leadership will leave no stone unturned in getting those responsible and in preventing future attacks. That is one part of Bush’s legacy that, for political reasons he gets no credit for, yet is so well deserved. The terrorists have been on defense ever since he took the fight to them.

It all remains to be seen, by Americans and Indians, just what kind of coordination and cooperation the new Obama administration will provide in that respect. Especially since Obama had run on discontinuing the Patriot Act. All that will depend on whether his skin is tough enough to withstand the heat that will come from his far-left supporters that expect him to abolish the Patriot Act and cancel the War On Terror.

related links: India security chief resigns after Mumbai attacks| Bush, Obama condemn Mumbai attacks, U.S. offers help | Specific intel warnings were ignored