Thursday, November 27, 2008

Which Murderous Bastards?

Due disclosure: I've been at scenes of terrorist attacks, and I've been to war. So I'm personally empathetic to the sentiment of the American GIs in WWII who invented the term Snafu (Situation Normal All Fucked Up).

I doubt the same can be said of Ms. Christine Fair, senior political scientist and a South Asia expert at the RAND corporation, cited in today's New York Times, in an article that tries to understand who those murderous bastards in Mumbai are:

[S]he insisted the style of the attacks and the targets in Mumbai suggested the militants were likely to be Indian Muslims and not linked to Al Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba, another violent South Asian terrorist group.

“There’s absolutely nothing Al Qaeda-like about it,” she said of the attack. “Did you see any suicide bombers? And there are no fingerprints of Lashkar. They don’t do hostage-taking and they don’t do grenades.”...

“There are a lot of very, very angry Muslims in India,” Ms. Fair said. “The economic disparities are startling and India has been very slow to publicly embrace its rising Muslim problem. You cannot put lipstick on this pig. This is a major domestic political challenge for India.

“The public political face of India says, ‘Our Muslims have not been radicalized.’ But the Indian intelligence apparatus knows that’s not true. India’s Muslim communities are being sucked into the global landscape of Islamist jihad,” she said. “Indians will have a strong incentive to link this to Al Qaeda. ‘Al Qaeda’s in your toilet!’ But this is a domestic issue. This is not India’s 9/11.”

(Predictably, this article was cited approvingly over at Daily Kos).

How do you even start? The shooting in Mumbai isn't even over, no-one knows the number of the dead yet, nor the number of attackers or even if any of them have been arrested and if so who they are, and from the other side of the world Ms. Fair knows who they're not and what their agenda is. For all I know, she may even prove to be right, eventually - a week from now, or a month, or a year. Equally likely, she'll prove to be totally wrong.

Then you've got her "context" explanation: the Indians are nasty to their own Muslims, so of course, the Muslim extremists are murdering tourists, normal folks in Mumbai some of whom must themselves be Muslims, and Jews. Two hotels, a train station, a hospital and a Chabad house: that's pretty much what you'd expect from irate Muslim Indians, isn't it?

Where do they grow these "experts"?

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