The death toll is still climbing in Mumbai, India where Islamo-fascist terrorists struck Wednesday, targeting American and British citizens, Jews and police. News reports say the carnage and chaos were well planned, and the targets were pre-selected.
Among the dead in the initial moments of the assault were police officials who would have been in a position to direct a coordinated counter-assault. As a result the terrorists roamed freely, killing, taking hostages, and digging in for a protracted battle.
The attacks in India point out tragically just how simple it is to turn normal life into unthinkable horror. And they underscore the extent to which free societies must exert themselves if they are to deliver a death blow to terrorism.
Although security officials believe the attackers were members of an extreme Islamo-fascist organization based in Pakistan, and presumably had terrorist dollars and organizational capabilities backing them up, their weaponry was mostly small arms, grenades, and assault rifles. Mumbai, formerly Bombay, sits on the shore of the Arabian Sea and the attackers arrived aboard motorized rubber rafts.
Depending on the point of origin and the route taken, it is about 600-800 nautical miles from the shore of Pakistan to the water's edge in Mumbai, far too long and uncertain for a voyage entirely by motorized rafts. Thus, Indian security officials surmise that the rafts were launched from a larger ship.
But even arranging for sea transportation is not that difficult in areas of the world where pirates roam. In short, although there was significant pre-planning and intelligence gathering to launch the assault on Mumbai, the level of organization necessary to do it was not that complicated.
With US forces victorious in Iraq, and the Iraqi parliament approving an agreement outlining responsibility for its own security, it is obvious that worldwide terrorist organizations are looking for softer targets. They also need some form of "victory" to draw attention away from their overwhelming losses in Iraq.
As the assault continued into its third day, international news organizations reported on the possible identity of the attackers.
Foremost among the organizations blamed was Lashkar-e-Taiba - which in the depth of hypocrisy means Army of the Righteous. Attempts were made to shift the blame to a heretofore unheard of domestic (Indian) terror group, calling itself Deccan Mujahideen, but evidence indicates that the attacks originated with Pakistan/Afghanistan based "traditional" terrorists.
Although the terrorists claimed to be citizens of India, analyses of tape recordings between the attackers and the media indicated they were speaking with Pakistani accents.
Lashkar-e-Taiba reportedly originated in Kunar, Afghanistan, on the border with Pakistan, adjacent to the wild and Taliban/Al Qaeda friendly Tribal Areas. Regardless of which splinter group actually did the shooting, it is obvious that with Al Qaeda defeated in Iraq, there is a shift in emphasis to targets closer to its last remaining stronghold on the Afghan/Pakistan border.
Herein lies the reference to Scotland. One of the saddest chapters in Scottish history is the brutal end of the clan system by which the Scottish Highlands were emptied of inhabitants, their way of life, the homes, their language, and their culture.
Scotland and England ceased to be separate countries beginning with the Union of the Crowns in 1603 - which actually placed a Scottish king on the throne of England - and their Parliaments united in 1707. Nonetheless, there was still animosity between and within both countries, based to a large degree on religious issues as well as politics and nationalism. Catholicism was favored by some, opposed by others, and wars were fought and monarchs toppled over the question of whether Scotland would accept Catholicism as its state religion.
(To this day the National Church of Scotland is Presbyterian, although it is not considered the "state" church.)
This animosity, and efforts to restore a Scottish monarch, led ultimately to the Battle of Culloden in 1746, in which the pro-government forces (backed by England) brutally defeated the outnumbered and significantly outgunned Scottish Jacobites. The loss on the battlefield was only the beginning, and the real impact came in the following years during the Highland Clearances, more than a century of unchecked brutality.
During this time land speculators from England, backed by the English Army, invaded traditional Scottish Clan lands, threw the inhabitants out of their homes and communities, shot many, hanged many, and forced others to the coasts where they lived in abject penury. Tens of thousands were forced onto ships heading anywhere else in the world.
To accomplish this the Highland Scots were ordered to disarm, a violation of which brought instant death. To facilitate the army's access to the highland clans, many located in inaccessible areas where they had thrived for centuries, the English built roads and bridges to enhance the movement of troops.
But one of the most effective tactics used by the English in the Highland Clearances was not the brutality, which often has the affect of uniting the afflicted, but the practice of separating the clan chiefs from the clans.
The English did this by inviting the highest and most powerful chieftains to London, where they were assimilated into the English society. Their children, especially those born in England, were educated in English schools, taught English customs and within one generation any attachment to the Highlands was removed from their collective consciousness.
Today, if you travel north along Scotland's east coast, and then inland from the town of Helmsdale, to the lands once populated by the most northern clans you will find ... next to nothing.
If you go to the Helmsdale home page on the Internet you will find references to the emptiness of the land between the coast and the next inland settlement. Where the clans once thrived, now there are only scattered domiciles, and little to remind travellers of what once existed there.
I am not advocating using these tactics on the inhabitants of the Tribal Areas on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. I don't advocate ripping people away from their homes, their families and their heritage.
But if the leaders of those tribes are going to conspire with extremists seeking world domination, then I do advocate separating the head from the body. One way or another, the leaders of these vicious attacks have to be separated from the people they are recruiting for their dirty work.
The Highland Clearances are a historical blot on the history of England, and a devastating era in Scottish history. But, from the standpoint of English rulers who wanted to ensure that they were never again threatened with invasion from the wild clansman of the Scottish Highlands, they were devastatingly effective.
The attacks in Mumbai have shown that no one in the free world is safe from terrorist attacks, launched by zealots who use murder, torture and mayhem as a means of imposing their will on everyone else.
But if free world forces can figure out a way to achieve the same level of effectiveness as the Highland Clearance, separating the head from the body and redirecting the energies of those doing the fighting - without brutalizing innocent civilians - there may still be some hope for the human race.
Friday, November 28, 2008