Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mumbai and 9/11: Links Run Deep

The recent terrorist attack on Mumbai was meant to be India’s 9/11, claimed Azam Amir Kasab, 21, the only surviving gunman. This is just one connection between the terrorist attack in Mumbai and the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York. In both attacks authorities and security agencies were warned beforehand. However, in both incidences, security was decreased just before the strikes.

Prior to the recent attacks in Mumbai the US intelligence warned India of a possible plot by terrorists to launch a waterborne assault, according to CBS. India was also warned that terrorists were planning to attack monumental and symbolic sites, such as the Taj Mahal. Security at the Taj Mahal was increased as a result. Taj Mahal security is operated by the Tata Group, India’s largest private corporation. But, instead of keeping security tight at the Taj Mahal, Tata Group decided to scale down previously added security measures prior to the attacks. “It's ironic that we did have such a warning and we did have some measures," Rattan Tata, Tata Group’s CEO, told CNN.

"People couldn't park their cars in the portico where you had to go through a metal detector… But if I look at what we had -- which all of us complained about -- it could not have stopped what took place”. Tata claims that the attackers had not gone through the entrance of the hotel, which previously had metal detectors, therefore claiming that scaling down the Taj Mahal security measures was inconsequential to preventing this specific attack.

Ironically, before 9/11, the US government had received intelligence of a possible terrorist attack using hijacked planes. Just before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Vice President Cheney ordered the Air Force to stand down. The US government was also criticized for its slow response time. Some critics such as essayist, Gore Vidal in his book Dreaming War: Blood For Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, claimed that the Bush administration purposely ignored warnings of the attacks.

Another common thread between 9/11 and Mumbai is American International Group (AIG), which had been in the news for receiving $85 billion in US government bailouts. AIG is the majority shareholder of Kroll Associates, the company in charge of security at the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks. AIG also has links with Tata Group, who was in charge of security at the Taj Mahal. Tata Group had teamed up with AIG to form Tata-AIG, which insures the Taj Mahal and other hotels against terrorist attacks.

The attacks on the World Trade Center resulted in a declared “War on Terror” by the Bush Admistration. This lead to war in Afghanistan followed by war in Iraq. Kasab claims that he and his fellow gunmen were a part of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a jihadist group based out of Pakistan.

This has caused increased tension between India and Pakistan. This alarmed the world community because both India and Pakistan possess nuclear weapons. India and the US had just signed the 123 Agreement, which allows the US to exchange equipment and information to aide India in developing nuclear power. Coincidentally, AIG, even while asking for a government bailout, was still spending millions of dollars to lobby congress to sign the 123 Agreement. The US government denied Pakistan’s request for a similar agreement.

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