Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mumbai Revisited

Cross-posted by Gary Fouse

Last night, I watched HBO's documentary,"Terror in Mumbai", narrated by Fareed Zakaria. It is something that everybody should watch. It shows the carnage of the attack on Mumbai last year by Islamic terrorists out of Pakistan. The film featured interviews with police, witnesses and survivors as well as film of the attacks, much of which was captured on hotel surveillance cameras as the ten terrorists went about their work. The lone surviving terrorist is shown being interrogated in his hospital bed as he matter-of-factly tells how he was recruited in Pakistan.

In addition, intercepted cell phone conversations between the attackers and their controller in Pakistan were played. In these conversations, the controller gave running instructions to the attackers. There are conversations in which the controller calmly tells a terrorist to execute hostages-followed by the audio of gunshots. In one exchange, the controller tells a terrorist who was on his way to the Jewish Chabad House that the targets at that location were worth 50 of those killed in the other locations.

In addition, there are repeated references (in Urdu, I assume, which are translated by sub-captions)that contain constant references to God.

"God willing."

"God be praised."

"God's blessings be with you."

"You will be with God soon."

What profanities!

To be sure, the video is not for the squeamish. Victims are shown along with photos of the massacre sites covered in blood.

A Turkish couple was interviewed who recounted how they were spared from execution when they identified themselves as Muslims, then how they stood there and prayed for the murdered victims.

I compliment Mr Zakaria (who is a Muslim Indian-American himself-born in Mumbai) for making this film. I do have a couple of criticisms, however. First of all, I feel that the horror of what transpired at the Chabad House, where Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivki, were tortured, murdered and mutilated in front of their 2-year-old child, was underplayed.

Finally, I take some issue with Mr Zakaria's closing comments, in which he concluded (I am paraphrasing) that WE must give people in that part of the world a more hopeful future in order that they would turn away from terrorism. Here I have to dissent. It seems to me that over the past several decades (certainly all my life) the US and the West have poured billions, if not trillions of dollars of foreign aid into countries like Pakistan to improve their quality of life. This has taken the form of medical supplies, food, education, technology, disaster relief, and just plain old cash-much of the latter disappearing into the pockets of corrupt officials.

What has it accomplished? The poverty is still there. The corruption is still there. And what thanks do we get in return? We get Mumbai.

So with all due respect, Mr Zakaria, I have to disagree with you on that point. I personally prefer the reaction of Los Angeles Rabbi Marvin Hier, who fresh in the wake of the horror, responded this way:

Rabbi Hier's words are just as appropriate today as they were last year.

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