A Counter-Narrative

Mumbai Terror Attack

Barun Das Gupta

The memory of the serial terror attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008,  has not faded from the public mind. One hundred and sixty-six persons, including foreign nationals, were killed and more than 300 wounded. The terrorists came by boat from Pakistan, were controlled by their handlers in Pakistan as they went on a killing spree.

 Elias Davidson, the author of the *book under review gives a counter-narrative. He says that the approach to the terror attack that he has chosen to adopt "is that of a defence lawyer challenging the prosecution's case." He differentiates terrorism between "Authentic" and "Synthetic." Authentic terrorism, according to him, "is accompanied by concrete and plausible (or reasonable or realistic) political demands, expressed either explicitly by the attackers or their organizations, or implied by previous political demands by the same organization. ...Authentic terrorists are therefore often celebrated by members of their society as freedom fighter, heroes or martyrs."

Synthetic terrorism or "false flag terrorism", he explains, "refers to operations that are staged to appear as authentic terrorism but whose planners are armed forces, intelligence agencies of public forces, acting covertly at the behest if a State to discredit an opponent." In other words, synthetic terrorism is State-sponsored terrorism. The author insinuates, without explicitly saying so, that the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 fall in the category of synthetic terrorism. To buttress his contention he finds gaps in the prosecution case, like inadequate or doubtful evidence.

True, there are instances of State terrorism. People are familiar with many cases of so-called "encounter killings" in which the victim is murdered in cold blood and then a story is dished out that the victim was a dangerous terrorist or criminal who had attacked the myrmidons of law and died in an exchange of fire. Often, the victims of encounter deaths are found to have been shot in the back, not in the chest. No explanation is given how the victim of an encounter death had bullet wounds in his back. But the Mumbai terror attacks were not fake. They were real.

In this lengthy book the author spins a counter-narrative of the Mumbai terror attack. He says there is no evidence that the terrorists came from Pakistan, that they came by boat, that they were not even identified and the evidence tendered against them in court is doubtful and not tenable. In other words, the whole thing was a massive State-sponsored, stage managed false terrorist attack.

This is too monstrous a narrative to be believed or accepted. No government will carry on destruction of the country's property on so large a scale and kill innocent people including foreigners by the dozen to discredit an adversary whose identity the author never makes clear. That the terrorists were Pakistanis was established beyond doubt. The author contends that "The Indian authorities, including India's Prime Minister, immediately blamed Pakistani entities for the attacks, i.e., before any investigation had even started." He goes on to argue that "No organization is known to have claimed responsibility for the complex operation conducted in Mumbai."

It has been well established that Ajmal Kasab, who was the only terrorist to be caught alive and hanged for taking part in the terrorist attacks, was born at Faridkot in Pakistan and joined the terrorist outfit Jama'at-ud-Da'wah, the political wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba. There is also no doubt that the terrorists were being constantly instructed by their handlers in Pakistan by wireless. The intercepts of their conversation by Indian agencies leave no room for doubt about their Pakistani origin.

The author contends that there is no incontrovertible evidence that Pakistan was responsible for the Mumbai attacks. He insinuates that the Indian State was responsible. But he has failed to adduce any credible and documented evidence in support of his contention. Nobody in his senses will ever believe that the Indian State will stage such a massive fake terror operation and kill so many people just to discredit Pakistan. Gaps in the evidence of witnesses notwithstanding, the Mumbai terror attacks were undoubtedly committed by Pakistani terrorists. There is no getting away from that plain fact.

The bias of the author becomes evident when he suggests that "State officials deliberately planted diversionary stories in the media" without an iota of evidence. The reader ends the book with a vague impression that the author wanted to give—for reasons best known to himself—Pakistan and its non-State actors an alibi for the horrendous crime they committed on Indian soil.

Back to Home Page

Vol. 53, No. 45, May 9 - 15, 2021