Thursday, October 28

Maximum Carnage: scouting Washington, DC Metro system for bombing targets, and the planned death toll for 26/11

The 26/11 planners intended to kill 5,000 people, not a few hundred

Even before the 62-hour seige of Mumbai in November 2008 was ended, two boxes containing 8 kg. RDX bombs had been found near the Taj Mahal Hotel & Towers, and two 8.8 kg bombs were later found at Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station. Both the Taj and CST were among the targets for the 10 terrorists' shooting rampage, but the question is why the bombs weren't detonated. One theory is that there was an 11th terrorist, one who was never found, and who was tasked with detonating the bombs.

Reportedly other undetonated bombs were found -- inside the Taj, inside Nariman House, and if I recall correctly inside the Trident hotel -- although I don't know the size and type of the bomb material in those bombs.

Why weren't the bombs detonated? I don't know; all I know is that at some point during the attacks the handlers who were directing the terrorists by cell phone came to suspect that the Indian authorities were monitoring the conversations, and that within minutes of zeroing in the phone exchanges the Indian government was fairly certain about the identity of the terror group that was directing the attacks: the LeT, which had close ties to Pakistan's military and its ISI branch, and that after interrogating the captured terrorist they were certain.

That is why, on day 2 of the siege, India's prime minister asked his counterpart in Pakistan to send the head of the ISI to New Delhi to explain what he knew of the attacks.

This caused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was dispatched to Islamabad, to chirp that she was satisfied with Pakistan's commitment to fighting terrorism: "I found a Pakistani leadership that is very focused and I think very committed for its own reasons."

There has been disagreement about the primary target of the 26/11 terror attacks but the number of casualties -- 173 people killed and at least 308 wounded -- is misleading in light of the fact that the planners intended to massacre at least 5,000 civilians. This means the differences of opinion are moot. The planners intended to inflict maximum carnage, irrespective of the victims' religion, ethnic makeup, social standing, vocation, and nationality.

It is the same for Farooque Ahmed, of Ashburn, Virgina, the Pakistani-American who was caught in a FBI sting to flush out people willing to engage in terrorist attacks on Americans. Ahmed not only scouted locations for bombings on Washington, DC Metro subway stations, he also advised how to inflict maximum carnage:
In July and August, Mr. Ahmed conducted surveillance and recorded videotape of the Arlington Cemetery, Pentagon City and Court House Metro stations in Washington's Virginia suburbs, the indictment says. He also did surveillance of a hotel in Washington, to study security and determine the busiest periods at the locations, the indictment says.

At a meeting in September, prosecutors allege, Mr. Ahmed told the contact an attack could cause the most casualties between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. He suggested placing bombs on trains at the three stations he had cased and proposed using rolling suitcases in simultaneous attacks in 2011, the indictment says. The suburban stations Mr. Ahmed allegedly scouted are often crowded with contractors and military personnel who work in offices affiliated with the nearby Pentagon.
The trains going through those subway stations are also packed at rush hour with people who do not work at the Pentagon or as defense consultants, and the Arlington Cemetery station sees large numbers of riders who are tourists or Americans paying respects to dead relatives. Given his place of residence there is no way Ahmed did not know that. Again, maximum civilian deaths and maiming, not an attack on defense personnel, was his aim.

A few minutes ago the McNorman blogger sent me a news report that rocket launchers and bombs hidden in Lagos, the huge metropolis and former capital of Nigeria, had been found by authorities. Her covering note: "Don't blow a gasket."

With all due respect and great sympathy for law-abiding Nigerians -- and Indians -- I do not live in Lagos, or Mumbai. I live in Washington, DC, which is ground zero for the next major terrorist attack on the United States. And my commuting route in Northern Virginia was messed up by the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.

But just to show McNorman what an even-tempered gal I am, this is the clean version of my remarks for Admiral Mullen, the CIA, FBI, MI6, U.S. and British foreign offices, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Atlantic Council, Council of Foreign Relations, RAND and the rest of the alphabet soup of think tanks and academic institutions on both sides of the Pond that have ever once cranked out apologies for Pakistan's regime:

Ya'll better get your heads out of your asses because if there's a major terrorist attack on the USA on your watch, you will be lucky if the editor of the Mashed Potato Falls, Wyoming gazette agrees to publish your op-eds.

With regard to the British government -- because I am such a sympathetic person, I fully understand that the British Isles, which cover a small land mass, cannot absorb many large-scale terrorist attacks. However, the government needs understand that cutting off your fingers to feed a tiger will not prevent it from making a meal of you.

To make sure we're all on the same page:
Before starting his visits to India, he had taken a new passport under the name David Coleman Headley in place of his previous passport under the name Daood Gilani in order to conceal his Pakistani origin from the Indian consular and immigration authorities.

The FBI would have been expected to share this information with the Indian authorities, but it did not do so. Had the FBI done so, the Indian authorities might have been able to establish the details of his Indian network, arrest and question him and pre-empt the [2008 massacre in Mumbai].
-- B. Raman, October 17, 2010, Headley Case: Indian distrust of FBI will increase


Anonymous said...

Well I'll be a monkey's jumping mat...Pundita, you are one calm cookie!

I don't think I can reach a zen state after these posts. LOL

Pundita said...

Thank you, thank you. Just doing my part for world peace