Mumbai attack 'a warning to world'
Manama, December 14, 2008
Last month's attacks in Mumbai could signal the start of a new form of terrorism that could erupt in any country, at any time, a leading security expert said on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue.
International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) senior fellow for South Asia Rahul Roy-Chaudhury said the involvement of civilians armed with hand-held weapons could be part of a deliberate strategy to move away from large-scale bombings.
Nearly 200 people died and hundreds were injured when terrorists fired on crowds at several locations and took foreigners hostage at India's famous Taj and Oberoi hotels.
"I think we are looking at a new form of terrorism," said Roy-Chaudhury, who specialises in political issues, regional terrorism, energy security, maritime and naval affairs and civil and military relations.
"What we have seen in Mumbai is unprecedented. It was a very bold and brazen attack. In this case the terrorists were not worried that their identity would be disclosed, they did not cover themselves."
"We have never seen this before and it is a lesson not only for India but all the countries, that a group of well-planned and co-ordinated armed men can create havoc in a situation like that," he commented.
"In the past what we have seen is bomb attacks where people left them and disappeared. This was a siege (that went on) for 60 hours."
Roy-Chaudhury warned the style of attacks which devastated Mumbai could be replicated in other countries, including the Gulf.
"The difference is that India in many ways was a soft target in terms of its intelligence and preparation," he told the Gulf Daily News, our sister paper.
"The Gulf countries are more secure in terms of preventing people coming and ensuring security. "I don't think it would be easy for someone to replicate Mumbai in the Gulf but it is a warning to the world at large."
Roy-Chaudhury said another major concern facing the Middle East was the growing threat of piracy which, he revealed, had increased by 300 per cent since last year.
The official revealed more than 300 crew members were still being held captive for ransom, including those belonging to the Saudi supertanker the Sirius Star - the largest vessel ever captured with a cargo of oil worth more than $100 million (BD37.8m).
Roy-Chaudhury said despite the best efforts of the US and other nations a more effective co-ordinated approach would be required to solve the issue.
"This should not be an ad-hoc approach," he said. "It has to be institutionalised and we have to prepare for it."
However, Roy-Chaudhury does not expect piracy to spread to the Gulf. "The pirates who operate on sea have a base on land in Somalia which is torn by conflict and poverty and is lawless," he said.
"In the Gulf we are unlikely to see such a situation where a country will become a failed state. "What could happen is that a number of Gulf ships could be affected," he added.-TradeArabia News Service