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>> The Wall Street Journal


MURDER IN MUMBAI

The Wall Street Journal - November 28, 2008 Targeting Westerners and India's weak antiterror defenses. We will learn more in the coming days how terrorists invaded India's financial capital Wednesday night, killing more than 100 innocents and wounding hundreds more. But there are already two lessons emerging: The war on terror is far from won, and it is migrating to democracies with weak antiterror defenses. India is home to the world's second-largest Muslim population after Indonesia, and it has struggled with jihadist violence for two decades. But Wednesday's assault was particularly brazen. Jihadists attacked at least 10 sites across Mumbai, including two five-star hotels, a hospital and a Jewish center. As we went to press, at least 119 people had been reported killed and some 300 injured, amid conflicting reports about operations to free hostages at assorted sites. An Islamic group called the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility. The attacks are a reminder that India is at the top of the terror target list. In this case the jihadists targeted Westerners explicitly, reportedly seeking out Americans and Britons after they stormed the hotels. But these scenes of horror have often been inflicted on Indians. Since 2005, India has suffered more than 12 attacks. This year alone, New Delhi, the tech capital of Bangalore and the tourist mecca of Jaipur were hit, among others. One reason is because India is an easy target. Its intelligence units are understaffed and lack resources. Coordination among the country's 28 state police forces is poor. The country's antiterror legal architecture is also inadequate; there is no preventive detention law, and prosecutions can take years. A lack of political leadership is to blame. Yesterday Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised that "every perpetrator would pay the price." Yet his Congress Party has done little more than bicker with its coalition allies over the past five years on how best to fight terrorism, as Sadanand Dhume writes here. Or it has tried to deflect responsibility by blaming Pakistan. It may pay a price for its incompetence at the national polls next year. India isn't the only place where the lack of counterterrorist capabilities has made it easier for jihadists to escalate their attacks. Across the border in Pakistan, terrorists have exploded bombs in almost all of the country's major urban centers over the past year, in a challenge to the newly elected government. While Pakistan's leaders quickly condemned the Mumbai attacks and promised support, terrorists continue to find far too easy refuge in that country. As in Pakistan, India's 150-million strong Muslim population is largely moderate and not easily radicalized. But that moderation can't be taken for granted. Islamic radicals have been broadly tolerated in India's free-flowing democracy. This can't continue. Wednesday's attacks should arouse Indians to better confront the terror threat, while reminding all democracies how dangerous that threat still is.





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