A slow-motion shoot-out and siege that mesmerized the world’s news media

The Lessons of Mumbai, with emphasis on IO. Bolding and IO capability demonstrated added by me:

 Why Mumbai? Mumbai is India’s commercial and entertainment center—India’s Wall Street, its Hollywood, its Milan. It is a prosperous symbol of modern India[PSYOP]. It is also accessible by sea. From the terrorist perspective, the Taj Mahal Palace and Trident-Oberoi Hotels provided ideal venues for killing fields and final bastions. As landmark properties, especially the historic Taj, they were lucrative targets because of the psychological effect [PSYOP] of an attack on them. They were filled with people—foreigners and the local elite. The attacks on foreigners guaranteed international media coverage [PA]. The message to India was, “Your government cannot protect you. No place is safe.” And the international publicity [PA] would inevitably result in travel to India being cancelled or postponed with consequent damage to India’s economy. The selection of targets—Americans, Britons, and Jews, as well as Indians—suggests that LeT intended the attack to serve a multiplicity of objectives that extended beyond this terrorist group’s previous focus on Kashmir and India.


 The multiple attacks at different locations prevented the authorities from developing an overall assessment of the situation. Media reports consistently overestimated [PA, MILDEC] what we now know to be the actual size of the attacking force.


 Indiscriminate bombings, as in the London and Madrid bombings, have been criticized, even by some jihadists, as contrary to an Islamic code of warfare [PSYOP]. So it is possible that by relying on shooters, the 2008 attack would appear to be more selective [PSYOP], even though the vast majority of those killed in Mumbai were ordinary Indians gunned down at random. This pretension of selectivity [PSYOP] was underscored by the terrorists’ purported search for Americans and Britons, bythe brutal murders at the Chabad Centre, and by what appear to have been considered decisions to kill certain hostages. It also enabled the attackers to eventually engage the police and soldiers in what their supporters could portray as a heroic last stand [PSYOP].


An armed assault might also have been more attractive than suicide bombings to the attackers themselves. Once they opened fire, their fate was sealed, but the prolonged nature of the operation enabled them to engage in a sustained slaughter where they could see the results.

Still martyrs in their own minds, they could also think of themselves as being more like warriors than mere button-pushing suicide bombers [PSYOP] .



The attackers reportedly used cell phones and a satellite phone, both their own and others taken from their victims. They also carried Blackberries. A thoroughly preplanned attack, which Mumbai certainly was, would have required no communications between the terrorist operators and their headquarters. According to a dossier released by Indian authorities, however, the terrorists were in frequent contact with their handlers, presumably based in Pakistan, during the attack. In the transcripts of these phone calls, intercepted by Indian authorities and released in early January, handlers in Pakistan urged the attackers on, exhorting them to kill, reminding them that the prestige of Islam was at stake, and giving them tactical advice that, in part, was gleaned from watching live coverage of the event on television. Despite these exhortations to murder hostages and not to be taken alive, some observers believe—and there are reports that the surviving terrorist thought—that the attackers felt that somehow they were going to get out alive [PSYOP]. The terrorists called each other during the siege to discuss their routes of maneuver. They also talked to the news media via cell phones [PA] to make demands in return for the release of their hostages. This led Indian authorities to think that they were dealing with a hostage situation, [MILDEC] which further confounded their tactical response.



Given that the terrorists seek to maximize the psychological impact [PSYOP] of the attacks, we can expect that future attacks will aim at both large-scale casualties and symbolic targets. The jihadists have stated, and the Mumbai attack demonstrates, the determination of the terrorists to seek high body counts, go after iconic targets, and cause economic damage.

The terrorists will continue to demonstrate tactical adaptability, which will make it difficult to plan security measures around past threats or a few threat scenarios. Terrorists innovate. They designed the Mumbai attack to do what authorities were not expecting. There were no truck bombs or people attempting to smuggle bombs onto trains, as in previous attacks.

Since attacks against high-profile soft targets are relatively easy and cheap to mount, such institutions will remain targets of future attacks. The protection of those targets presents particularly difficult challenges [Physical Security]. Many of India’s older symbolic buildings were not built with security considerations in mind or are in exposed locations.

Suicide bombing has become passé. A thinking, adapting enemy will continue to come up with new and newsworthy ways to kill and destroy and gain the attention effective terrorism must have, aided, comforted and abetted by willing accomplices in the Global Media machine, who profit from 24/7/365 coverage of each incident.


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