All through Thanksgiving at the Chopra house, we discussed vigorously the terrifying situation in Mumbai.
All intelligence so far points to the fact that the perpetrators of these attacks belong to Islamic militant sects. How shocking. Keep in mind that no specific organization (save for some fringe group that no one seems to have heard of) has claimed responsibility as yet. Nor have they made any demands. That suggests that the terrorists’ intention were really to maximize attention, gain the notice of the world, and visibly strike at the heart of India’s most populous city. In that case, mission accomplished.

And of course, there is the brewing suspicion that India’s neighbor Pakistan is involved in some way, if nothing else than serving as a launching ground and base of operations for the attackers. The sophistication and complexity of the well-coordinated attack — akin to the 9/11 attacks — suggest that whomever was behind these brazen assaults had tremendous resources and infrastructure to plan it over a significant amount of time. It’s not just money that is required to do something this large, but considerable intelligence gathering skills, tactical strategic planning, and organizational layering so that word of an assault doesn’t leak out beforehand by mistake and tip off the target.
For those that know, all of the above points to Pakistan’s intelligence organizations the ISI who for decades has been deeply integrated into various Islamic organizations that lurk in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and have been rumored to get financial and moral support from wealthy Islamic nations in the Gulf, notably Saudi Arabia. The rumor that they are now going to be involved in the investigation of these attacks is both ironic and obliquely irreverent. Are we seriously supposed to trust that the ISI has India’s interests at heart?
Alas the real debate that’s been raging in our household is whether “fanaticism” is the real source of this sort of terrorist menace or “Islamic fanaticism?” Surely there are MANY terror organizations around the world not associated with Islam — the FARC, LTTE, IRA, ETA, not to mention the brutal regimes that operate all over the African continent. But for every non-Muslim based terror organization (which by the way are mostly secular), I can find you ten Islamic ones that pose a great global menace. It’s far too politically incorrect to single out Islamic fanaticism from the rest, but in truth there clearly is a vastly disproportionate amount of rage brewing within Islam than within other major faiths. And certainly as it relates to the amount of resources the world has to devote to deal with these problem places, there is NO comparison. Is it racist to say so or just a statement of fact?
Frankly, the more we talk about “religious fanaticism” as opposed to “Islamic fundamentalism”, the more time we waste in my opinion and the more this all becomes a debate in theory rather than one with practical and useful applications. That does not mean that we condemn the entire faith (nor the 1.65 billion that subscribe to it) which would be unreasonable and impractical, but that we – and more importantly Muslims themselves — ask the hard questions as to why the Islamic faith has distinguished itself so. Increasingly nations like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran find themselves out of the “mainstream” of the world, their economies marginalized and increasingly irrelevant to the world.
Other Islamic nations like Saudi and Gulf states seem only to be of relevance to the rest of the world because of their oil richness. But increasingly the rest of the planet is realizing oil a limited resource and our addiction to it clearly has enormous security consequences. So both from the outside of Islam and the inside as well, now is the time to do a deep examination of where we are headed. The vociferous Imams and Islamic clerics that recruit young boys to be the agents of all this terror preach from Mosques from North London to Tehran to Peshawar to Quetta about the increasing divergence of interests between the orthodox Islamic world and everyone else. Sadly, it appears they may not be so far off.

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