Monday, November 23, 2015

Mumbai Was Critical Model for #ParisAttacks

In more ways than one.

Not only did terrorists organizations, most likely Islamic State, grasp the tactical significance of Mumbai for terror campaigns, but police and intelligence agencies worldwide seized on the Mumbai attacks to upgrade training and readiness.

A fascinating piece, at USA Today, "Mumbai was big lesson in Paris-style attack":
WASHINGTON — While the dead were still being tallied at multiple terrorist targets in Paris, security analysts were drawing immediate comparisons to coordinated assaults seven years earlier in India.

The Mumbai attacks, carried out by Pakistani members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group at 12 locations across the city, served as a stunning warning to counterterrorism officials throughout the world, including the United States, and exposed the vulnerability of so-called soft targets —transportation centers, restaurants, hotels and sports arenas, among others — to rolling, multiple target attacks.

Within days after the November 2008 attacks, the New York Police Department staged elaborate exercises to mimic the four-day assault, which left more than 150 dead across Mumbai. In Boston, Mumbai commanders were brought to Massachusetts to prepare special bomb and SWAT units for the prospect of coordinated attacks there. And in Seattle, Mumbai is prominently referenced in a vulnerability analysis by the Office of Emergency Management as part of a “maximum credible scenario.’’

The method of attack in Mumbai — the deployment of heavily armed gunmen and the use of explosives, like in Paris — prompted one of the most dramatic reassessments of the terrorist threat since the Sept. 11 attacks, law enforcement officials and security analysts said.

James Waters, chief of the NYPD's Counterterrorism Bureau, said lessons learned in Mumbai have "without question'' heavily influenced how the nation's largest police force now responds to the current threat.

"It (Mumbai) was a watershed moment in counterterrorism,'' said Mitchell Silber, the NYPD's former director of intelligence analysis. "Before Mumbai, the focus of attention was on spectacular 9/11-style attacks or single-target bombings. Mumbai was essentially a raid by teams fanning out across the city. It is so eerily close to what occurred in Paris; it is almost like (the Islamic State) watched the documentary and sought to re-create it.''

Mumbai offered a simplistic yet lethal strategy that, like 9/11, ignited widespread fear.

Directed by a control group in Pakistan, 10 heavily armed gunmen arrived by boat and dispersed to targets throughout the city. Among them: the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, a local train terminal, a hospital and a Jewish community center.

Casualties mounted, analysts said, as the terrorists succeeded in confusing law enforcement's response.

For U.S. authorities, Mumbai brought into sharp and sudden focus how such a low-cost operation could have such high impact...