• Eyal Pinko

12 years since the Mumbai terror attack

On the evening of November 26, 2008, a group of ten terrorists made their way on board a fishing boat to the Mumbai port. The ten terrorists, members of the Lashkar e-Taiba organization (close to al-Qaeda and other jihadist organizations), underwent intensive training for about a year and a half in Pakistan and gathered intelligence about their targets.

The terrorists have been at sea for five days since they left Karachi's port in Pakistan and before reaching India. After two days of sailing in a boat from Pakistan, and without being detected by Indian navy ships, the terrorists took over an Indian fishing boat and killed its four fishermen crew, leaving one crew member to help them navigate the boat to its destination.

About seven miles from Mumbai Harbor, the terrorists killed the remaining crew member and left the fishing boat behind, after unloading two rubber dinghies from its deck.

Undercover of descending darkness, they sail on their gear towards the Indian shore.

The group of the ten terrorists raided ten targets in Mumbai. For over sixty hours, until November 29, they operated in Mumbai in a bloodshed race, in which more than 200 people were murdered, and over 690 others were injured.

Of the ten terrorists who carried out the attack, nine were killed. One surviving terrorist, a 22-year-old Pakistani man, was sentenced to death in May 2010 after being convicted on 86 different accusations and executed by hanging in November 2012. Two Indian citizens, who were prosecuted for aiding the terrorists, were acquitted. According to a later publication in the London Times, the attack involved five other people, whose traces have disappeared.

It was one of the worst terrorist attacks India has known and one of the saddest days in Indian history, as defined in recent days by the Indian Minister of Finance.

These were a series of failures, exposing the Indian security forces in their nakedness. Indian intelligence failed to provide information about the intentions of the attack, the Navy which did not detect and stopped the terrorists on the fishing boats they used throughout their journey, and the security forces, operated inside and outside of Mumbai, lacking equipment and training, and failing to deal with and stop the terrorist team in a short time.

Following the attack, India demanded Pakistan to act decisively against the terrorist infrastructure in its territory and hand over to it dozens of terrorists wanted by India as involved in the bombing in Mumbai and staying in Pakistan. The Pakistani government denied its responsibility for the attack (despite its late acknowledgment that the attack was planned and carried out from its territory) and has sought to soften rising tensions with India, both declaratively and by arresting members of the Lashkar e-Taiba terrorist organization and their supporters.

At the time of the attack, there was high military and political tension between the countries. It was only six years after the two countries were on the verge of war, following a terrorist attack in 2002 carried out by the terrorist organizations Lashkar e-Taiba and Jaish Muhammad in the New Delhi parliament building, in which four people were killed. Only US and China political efforts have been able to calm the war winds between the countries and prevent war.

India was recovering relatively quickly from the attack. Following the attack and the shock of the terrorists' daring and the aftermath of the attack, a special organization, the National Investigative Agency (NIA), was established in India, which was given extensive powers to fight terrorism.

Besides, the security forces were upgraded in their equipment, weapons, developing operational doctrines against terrorism, and the operational forces' training in various scenarios to fight against terrorism, including carrying out operations to eradicate terrorism outside the country.

One of the special forces set up in India following the incident was "Force One," an operational force to counter-terrorist attacks and activities, set up with the assistance of the Israeli Border Guard.

The Indian Navy has also been upgraded. The coastal detection capabilities were upgraded with new coastal radars (made by Israel Aerospace Industries) and integrated command and control system. Another major upgrade was implementing aerial reconnaissance capabilities, including unmanned aircraft (including Israeli-made) and maritime patrol aircraft, which helped build the marine picture far from shore.

Mumbai's attack led to a change in Indian public opinion and the adoption of a strict policy towards terrorists, especially during the Moody era, including the imposition of a death sentence on terrorists.

The attack on India is one factor that helped warm up the relationship between Israel and India, following the murder of the six Jews in the Mumbai Chabad House and Israel's support in India with implementing counter-terror doctrines training, and advanced military equipment.

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