From Munich to Mumbai

December 22, 2008

Given the complex nature of the attacks in Mumbai, the Indians should be praised, not criticized, for their careful gathering of intelligence and planning of counterattacks. Ami Pedazhur, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin, is the author of the forthcoming book “The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism,” in the New York Times:

taj_sketch1NOW that India and the world are over the initial shock of the terrorist attacks last month in Mumbai, efforts to understand what happened and prevent future calamities are being hampered in ways familiar to Israelis like myself, who have lived through far too many such events: pointless efforts to place blame, and a failure to put the attacks in the proper historical context.

First, contrary to much punditry in India and the West, these attacks did not indicate the emergence of a new form of terrorism. Actually, after decades in which terrorism had evolved mostly in the direction of suicide bombings, Mumbai was a painful reminder of the past.

The multiple hostage-takings and shootings, carefully planned and executed, were a throwback to the wave of hijackings and hostage situations that were the trademark of terrorists in the Middle East from the 1960s until the 1980s. The most famous of these events, of course, was the attack on the Israeli delegation at the 1972 Olympic Games.

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