broken ladder

perhaps this is a very generalised, naive interpretation of one of the mumbai terrorist's confessions, but after reading the article, these are my initial impressions (stream of consciousness - spelling / grammar mistakes & all). I replied to the mail list with most of below (but have added extra thoughts since). it made me sad to read this article as I cannot understand how this person could be thinking.

the guy comes from a troubled home, goes from getting Rs200 per day (roughly AUS$6/US$4) working, wants to make more cash. meets a friend & they decide to rob houses to make more money. they look for weapons to use in the robberies but don't know how to operate them either then come across a LeT stall (Lashkar-e-Taiba a.k.a. "The Army of Medina" / "The Army of the Pure and Righteous" - a U.N. recognised Pakistani terrorist organization) at a market / bazaar & decide to sign up. then he gets paid Rs200 to goto a training camp where he then gets food, accommodation, has time for prayers / Namaz & religious teachings, weapons training & hangs out with other guys/mates. do the guys do this for free or get paid, or do they do it for accom&food/an alternative to paying for rent elsewhere? (it didn't mention if he got paid whilst training).

maybe the govt needs to look at this as a cause - what other options are there for wayward kids instead of them going to these training camps? it almost makes it sound like he got caught up with the wrong crowd - he should have stayed with the catering/labouring jobs. plenty of others would be paid as little as this & not revert to training camps & then go off & kill people. how popular are these camps? & does anyone try to shut them down? do the kids know these are effectively suicide training camps? or do they think they're going to come back and then leave the group & go on to rob houses or something else with their weapons training. if it wasn't so awful it'd almost be sad that he/they reverted to this and couldn't try other options like working for a living. (obviously there'd be a lot of things going on not mentioned in the transcript).

his story/transcript brings back the thought that he's a person doing these terrible things instead of the nameless 'terrorists' label which almost seem impersonal/non-human. it makes me sad even more, not only for the people lost but for the people who feel this is their only option and the ones leading them who must have so much hate in their lives to cause so much destruction. to me it's not a religious issue as no religion I've come across condones this type of behaviour so it makes me sad too when people are mistakenly associated with these things too when they seem worlds apart.

how do these people become so broken? if there were no kids in the training camps to perform these attacks, could it lessen the power of the leaders trying to brainwash them? is it purely a social issue? or a lack of money? not enough education mixed with easily manipulated people looking for an escape? at which point in the training, when they start talking about shooting other people, do the students ever say 'that's enough, I'm not doing it'. what happened to the initial three guys who ran away from the camp? are they the strongest of character from this group because the chose to say no?

according to the article, the training seemed to take between 8-12months all up, including a couple of trips home to visit family. so it was an extended operation, not a quick, last minute activity that the guys were caught up in. were they forced to return to the camp somehow? what did you do this year? could you imagine spending the best part of a year learning to use weapons & preparing to attack people. (& not being part of an official armed forces unit). I know I couldn't.

this article, for me, almost has an un-real quality to it. I almost feel like I was reading a fiction novel - especially after reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" earlier this week & seeing the best and worst of human kind simply & hauntingly described in it. if the Mumbai attack hadn't actually happened, it's almost like reading about a character in a book. are we so far removed from these things that reality seems like an alternative reality or otherworld?

this article also made me think of the Yeshiva attack in Jerusalem when I was there and how the person who did that could walk into a school before the holiday season celebrations and follow children / students into the library and shoot them in the back. what sorts of thoughts must go through a person's head to make them do this - and continue to do it once started. I had similar thoughts at this time. one thing I wondered, perhaps a little too flippantly, was why there weren't more social acitivities for the boys to do - play soccer / football & get involved in team sports to focus their energies elsewhere. maybe even scouts groups? these guys seem to like to work in groups and follow rules. so a similar path could be scouts, then the army, though perhaps in their minds they have joined the army - just an unofficial one and perhaps this is the case. what other options? community service? there's no 'dole' in pakistan or india (that I'm aware of). so no 'work for the dole' programs like we have in Australia. is it a poverty issue? will the end of poverty mean the end of terrorist attacks? or will it mean more? is it a boredom issue? like the group of 9 or so taxi drivers that killed local passengers in Gurgaon in 2006 with mentions in the papers of them saying they were bored and didn't have much else to do - it can't have been about the money every time as they didn't collect much from their victims in some instances [via gurgaon search & trails of terror - one & trails of terror - two - I can't find the article with quotes from the driver's saying they were bored - I think it was Times of India as that's what I used to read on the weekends at breakfast]

& back to the article, what happened to his friend Muzzaffa Lal Khan & his brother Afzal - they didn't seem to be in the list of 10? were they part of the 13 (10 names in list + Afzal + Muzzaffa + Ajmal (confessing)) then dropped from the mumbai team? and the 2nd team list has Abu Umar (Ismail in original list of 10) but he says he & Ismail were partners (1st team). and the others in the camp not selected for the mumbai team.

in response to article posted on Sarai Reader list regarding article @


related articles :

Youth, Violence and Terrorism: Why this fatal attraction? by Anita Ratnam

people advised to stay indoors - blog post during the event


update : 21/07/2009 one of the suspects has confessed & pleaded guilty. it sounds like he is worried about going back to Pakistan to be punished so would rather be punished in India - I'm not sure that going back to Pakistan is even an option for him..


update : 21/09/2009 uploaded archive of the news articles I've saved related to this event / online reports ::: html files ::: images 01 ::: images 02 ::: images 03 ::: articles saved in 2009

update : 16/10/2010 : FBI was warned about key terror figure

[quote]The wife of a key figure in the 2008 Mumbai attacks warned US federal agents three years beforehand that her husband was training with a Pakistani militant group, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

Citing sources close to the case, the Post said the wife of David Coleman Headley warned FBI agents in August 2005 that her husband had undergone intensive training with Lashkar-e-Taiba and was in contact with extremists.

Headley is accused of having scouted locations for the coordinated attack, which terrorised the Indian city over the course of three days, leaving 166 people dead and over 300 others wounded.[/quote]

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