What Would Happen If A Mumbai Attack Happened Here?

November 27, 2008 / 9:18 pm • By Dr. Melissa Clouthier

Watching the spectacular horror continuing in Mumbai, my thoughts turn to American cities. Could this happen here and what elements would have to be in place for it to happen?

1. Terrorists like drama and dense populations. So, that would favor a city. Some cities are more suitable–Chicago, DC and New York come to mind. Los Angeles and Houston are spread out. So is Miami. Tight quarters are target rich.

2. So let’s a assume a city. Terrorists like unarmed inhabitants. Well, criminals everywhere are armed, of course. But New York, DC and Chicago all have unfriendly gun laws. Perfect! I was thinking about this sort of thing happening in Houston. It wouldn’t last long. I don’t know the number of people with CHLs (concealed carry handgun licenses), but the number is high. That tends to make the populace less willing to comply.

3. Terrorists like symbolism. The Twin Towers were symbolic of our economic and infrastructure strength. Like two ugly (to design gurus eyes) beacons, they represented towering power. The Taj, likewise, symbolizes wealth and the new India:

To have pictures of burning Taj Hotel broadcast around the world will have a deeper impact than even perhaps the terrorists intended, striking a blow against a symbol of Indian wealth and progress and sending shivers down the spine of some of the richest and most powerful people on the planet.

When I watch the police response in Mumbai, it’s wholly inadequate. This is not to cast aspersions. I remember being outraged at the impotence of the police during the Virginia Tech attack and in Columbine. In both cases, there were just one or two culprits, and by the Mumbai standards, they weren’t heavily armed, but the police were held at bay. Their rules of engagement would not allow them to burst in to rescue anyone–booby-traps and whatnot. But saving police officer’s lives superseded saving unarmed civilians and that seemed wrong to me. Watching the police surrounding a building while hearing people being executed: not acceptable.

The terrorist operations are more like guerrilla combat. High school kids weaned on video games and armed to the teeth might have a better chance against such a well-trained enemy. I mention this because American police forces simply aren’t prepared to deal with street warfare, unless there have been massive training exercises I’m not aware of. (A very good possibility, and I welcome any and all input, since I’m neither a soldier nor a law enforcement officer.) One thing that is heartening: Hopefully Iraq and Afghanistan vets are taking jobs within police forces. They’d have the sort of combat training needed.

And the thing is, with the element of surprise and the energy of fear, terrorists can do significant damage even if law enforcement is prompt and perfectly competent. The only chance people have is to be armed.

But who is armed? Even in Texas there are laws against bringing guns into hospitals. So hospitals make very soft targets. The security guards don’t exactly inspire confidence. I’ve spent plenty of time at hospitals, too much, and during my stay a woman was raped in the hallways. Not exactly a safe environment.

In Mumbai, people were attacked in a hospital, hotel, a synagogue, and by a marauding hi-jacked police van. How could this attack be stopped here? Armed individuals. That’s it. That’s all I can come up with. Anything less and intervention is too delayed, too impotent.

An armed populace trained to fight back would go a long way to increasing security. The old fashioned notion of militias sprang to my mind just now. Maybe that’s the answer: civilians who band together and train for these situations.

Thoughts?

P.S. The power of individuals defines this new age. Twitter has (unconfirmed) non-stop information streaming from Mumbai. Since the new organizations have been slow on the uptake and confusion has reigned, Google Maps, Flickr and Twitter have become the vehicles to carry data–including naming terror suspects. This is a new world. Law enforcement will need to adjust and use the cutting-edge technology to their advantage. Currently, they are asking for a stop to Tweets–a potential rumor, still unsubstantiated (depends on the news source you believe). Can they use them beneficially, instead?

Also, from Pajamas, Bridget Johnson explains the threat Pakistan poses to the world. She brings up an excellent point: Americans, Brits and Jews were specially sought out. That is Islamic terrorism and an act of war–not a criminal act. One of the commenters, CoolCzech over at Right Wing News said:

I wonder if the Daily Koz tells the Indians that this is “just the politics of fear,” and insist that no matter, the armed assault teams must be tried in civil court?

I wonder what their reaction will be if such teams come ashore in lower Manhattan one of these days??

More here on whodunnit.

  • Pingback: What If Mumbai Happens Here? | The Sundries Shack

  • http://queer-conservative.blogspot.com KevinQC

    You mention the threat Pakistan poses… I’ve never been a big fan of counting Pakistan as an ally in the War on Islamic Terror. Their entire government is shady at best, in the pocket of Al Qaeda at worst. Pakistan is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • http://www.paxparabellum.com/ Steve in TN

    “The terrorist operations are more like guerrilla combat. High school kids weaned on video games and armed to the teeth might have a better chance against such a well-trained enemy. I mention this because American police forces simply aren’t prepared to deal with street warfare, unless there have been massive training exercises I’m not aware of.”

    There has been a fundamental change in strategy and tactics for LE confronting “active shooters/killers” since Columbine and VaTech. Current thought is evolving and the doctrine of each LEO actively engaging the shooter(s) as soon as each arrives on the scene is gaining prominence.

    See: http://tinyurl.com/6gyf7q and http://tinyurl.com/6coyee

  • Lipsticked pig

    An interesting analysis of potential targets and, for the terrorists, their easy to achieve gains such as maximum impact in a small area.

    Of course wall to wall TV coverage gives their ’cause’ extra bite and in a sense multiplies the impact. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be told, but these people gain from being on the airwaves so much.

    Any terrorist these days needs to get maximum exposure, and they would need to gain time to increase that. Holing up in a complex and large hotel does that prfectly. The Mumbai situation is notable for the length of time it has been going, and may continue for a while yet.

    Terrorists would also need to recce any potential targets and learn the layout, so the terrorists would need ultimately to be fairly local and devote a lot of time to map-making and resources, maybe even stockpiling some ammunition in certain places. A job therefore in a hotel as one of the cleaners gives them chance to do all sorts of things.

  • http://elmtreeforge.blogspot.com Firehand

    From what I’ve been reading, the most attractive targets are
    In big cities where private citizens being armed is either frowned upon or as restricted as possible.
    In buildings where, even in 2nd Amendment friendly places, carry is banned.
    In cities where much of the population has a PC and ‘violence is always bad’ mindset that would discourage individual action. It’s hard to have sheepdogs acting when you’ve worked hard to pull their fangs.

    And if/when it does happen, lots of politicians and ‘guns are bad’ types will immediately use it as an excuse to call for bans, registration, etc. Won’t matter if armed citizens play a big role in stopping/limiting it, the braying will be “If we had more laws, it wouldn’t have happened.” As if the terrorists would obey ANY laws.

  • wdnorman54

    The killing of 23 people in a Luby’s in Killeen years ago finally got the Texas Legislature to allow anyone a conceled carry license.

    Gun totin’ people in the Luby’s had left their weapons in their car’s because of current laws.

    One person with a gun could have stopped that massacre !

    If that-don’t-beat-all… One of the first businesses I saw that put up a “No Concealed Weapons” sign on the door BEFORE the law was passed was the Luby’s right here in central Texas.

    Not evn GOD will help those who don’t help themselves.

    I will not go into a business that has that sign on the door. I’ll call and tell them so !

    (Ironic that law is named “Penal Code Section 30.06″ (My favorite rifle round))

  • Ringo

    You’ve written an interesting piece and it’s along lines I’ve been thinking about the last few days as I watch in wonder at the attacks in Mumbai. What we’ve seen so far is that the “terrorists” have intentionally targeted Brits, Americans, and Jews. They’ve targeted Western interests in an Eastern country. Then we ask, “can it happen here”? It can and I strongly suspect, it will, and more than once. And much as you’ve layed out, it will be a densely populated U.S. urban center. I would guess that we’ll see at least two significant results, the first being, that like the Katrina event which was significant not only because of the widespread damage, but as well because it layed bare for the world to see the inefficiancy of the Federal response, the response to a concerted, well planned terrorist attack in the U.S. will demonstrate the gov’t's lameness in handling the situation. The second result will be that elements in U.S. society will actually revel in the moment, proclaiming proudly that “America’s chickens have come home to roost”. The combination of those two responses will have a profound effect on the societies response to subsequent such emergencies, primarily that the public, lacking confidence in the gov’t and suspicious of anyone and everyone around them will, at the first sign of trouble, run for the hills…literally. What then? Much as we’ve seen the gov’t respond to hurricanes, my guess is the gov’t will try to control the panics with varying degrees of success.

  • http://www.chl-tx.com TX CHL Instructor

    “Even in Texas there are laws against bringing guns into hospitals.”

    In Texas, hospitals, amusement parks, and must post the Low-IQ (30.06) sign letting armed criminals know that they are soft targets, in order to exclude law-abiding citizens with guns. I’ve seen a number of cases where the folks who put up the Low-IQ signs in hospitals were too stupid to do it properly and put them up at the rear entrance, so that’s where I always enter a hospital.

    http://www.chl-tx.com Rights that are not exercised are eventually lost. EVERY law-abiding citizen should carry a gun.

  • Trish

    You know where they’d attack here? A big school. How many schools are “gun-free zones”? All those vulnerable kids gathered in one place. . .It doesn’t bear thinking about, but we have to.

  • grubbsi

    A youngster I know who grew up down the street did 2 tours in iraq with the 4th ID. now he’s a Austin cop. We have Iraq vets on the force here in San Marcos.I hope we can get these types of vets to run for office and get a lot of the dead weight out of congress.

    When seconds count, the police are just minutes away

  • MP

    Hi I am MP from India. Reciprocation of Mumbai attack in US is great precautionary forethinking. I am sure once Pakistanis inside US accumulate enough ammunition and information, they can surely attack some conglomerate inside the US. US knows that all terrorists are manufactured in Pakistan Terrorist Training camps, but they are still not doing anything. US will pay for this Pak love very soon.

  • Naqamel

    If by here. you mean Texas – we’ll shoot back.

  • http://mickchew.blogspot.com/ michael

    Hi Melissa,

    I am based in Hong Kong and I too am worried if something similar happened here.

    I tend to agree with you that the response of the security forces seems inadequate.

    Alos I am a firm believer in the either or argunebt when it comes to fire arms.

    Either governemnets ban all fire arms and have the means to enforece it or:

    All are allowed to “carry” (excluding persons with a record of course).

    With this event in mumbai and CALTECH last year I am pretty sure that if there were a few citizens with weapons (even pistols) the perps would not have been able to inflict so many casualties.

    For instance if the same thing that happened in Mumbai happened say in LA, the numbers killed would not have been 195 even if we allow for inadequate responses from the police or law enforcement organizations.

    Convresely if there was a ban on fire arms with equal means to enforce it then the 10 terrorists would not have found it so easy to enter mumbai with fire-arems and ammunition.

    Regards

  • Paul Gordon

    See Somebody Get Me A Gun

    The hero of the story is Sebastian D’Souza, a picture editor at the Mumbai Mirror, who took one of the most famous photos of the terrorists in action:

    “There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything,” he said. “At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, ‘Shoot them, they’re sitting ducks!’ but they just didn’t shoot back.

    What is the point of having policemen with guns if they refuse to use them? I only wish I had a gun rather than a camera.

    If Mr. D’Souza ever wants to emigrate to the United States, we’ll take him.

    -

  • asif

    Attack India is by Rss and Indian Army.

    The attack in the indian financial capital has may be carried out by Terrorist from Pakistan. But But there are lots of things to be verified
    The ATS cheif killed with in 10 minutes of the attack,
    The Army get in to play
    The boys might have been hired by indian army and RSS from pakistan which is ready to so any thing for money.
    Indian navay not aware of itruders
    tata group which is always away from saffron politics is a target
    Its clearly RSS and indian army’s joint action to save both rss BJP and army who has been accused of the terrorism

    Don blame pakistan investigate using an international agency and know the real truth of saffron politics and real face of army even congress in maharashtra has an hand in it.

    Dont put your blame on the neighbours check the inside people.

  • Nanda

    The world is unsafe now. Almost every suicide bombing has a Pakistani Signature. The world especially (West and USA)are better equipped to handle the situation, but due to political compulsions is not enforcing racial profiling which is the need of the hour.

    India, due to proximity with Pakistan shares a large border through which the explosive material is smuggled in. Along with that the Indian Politicians are weary to bring in tough anti terror laws to prevent displeasure in the muslim popalace.

  • Nanda

    The world is unsafe now. Almost every suicide bombing has a Pakistani Signature. The world especially (West and USA)are better equipped to handle the situation, but due to political compulsions is not enforcing racial profiling which is the need of the hour.

    India, due to proximity with Pakistan shares a large border through which the explosive material is smuggled in. Along with that the Indian Politicians are weary to bring in tough anti terror laws to prevent displeasure in the muslim popalace.

  • Brijesh

    So far US government has been providing all the military and financial help to Pakistan in the name of terror fighting but all that money is being used by Pakistan in funding terrorist camps for their activities in India.But they are not going to be restricted to India. Sooner or later they will come after American interests in America and overseas. Its time US govt. should rethink its policy towards pakistan.Pakistan is cradle for terrorism.All of them are being trained in Pakistani camps while money is flowing from middle eastern countries.This needs to be stopped.

  • Kanye Cjalm

    Asif,
    What a good excuse to hide notorieity of Pakistan. If terrorits would have anything to do with RSS, the caputred terrorist would have told the sleuths.

    Its good that one terrorist was caputred alive and he has uncovered the vicious face Pakistan in front of the entire world.

    It seems that terrorism is Pakistan’s biggest import.

    US people wake up. Ask your leaders not to give arms to pakistanis.

  • MAddy

    It was 26th nov 2008 I was sick and came to home early. On that day there is a cricket match between India and England. As I reached home England finished their innings and the target for India was 271. So I was watching match India batting Indian openers given very good start. So match was interesting, suddenly I received a call from one of my friend and asked me to watch news channel Mumbai was attacked by the terrorists. I changed the channel and watched the TV. In many places they opened fire. Many people were killed and many were injured. It was a horrible position for Mumbai people.

    Why this happen? Our government was totally failed. What I think is few politicians also included in this attack. If political leader are not involved in this attack it is not easy to the terrorists to come that much easily to the Mumbai.

    What to say about Mumbai. These people think those are the most talent guys in India without the help of other state people they them self solve all the problems. That’s why Raj Thekery who is the local leader asked other state people to leave the Maharashtra. But those people only saved Mumbai from terror attack. All NSG guys are from south and north India. Where is Raj Thekery terror attack the Mumbai? After Mumbai was saved successfully from the terror attack from NSG and ATS Mr. Raj was upstanding.
    At least now I ask Mumbai people to treat all Indians are same. Don’t come and fall for the leaders words and spoil your relation with rest of the country.

    Hay guys join Hands to kill the Terrorism. When we all Indian think we are equal. No country in the world dares to come to fight with our mother land.

    Jai Hind … Venda Mata ram.

    salute the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to save mumbai and the soldiers who fight with the terriorts

    Maddy

  • MAddy

    It was 26th nov 2008 I was sick and came to home early. On that day there is a cricket match between India and England. As I reached home England finished their innings and the target for India was 271. So I was watching match India batting Indian openers given very good start. So match was interesting, suddenly I received a call from one of my friend and asked me to watch news channel Mumbai was attacked by the terrorists. I changed the channel and watched the TV. In many places they opened fire. Many people were killed and many were injured. It was a horrible position for Mumbai people.

    Why this happen? Our government was totally failed. What I think is few politicians also included in this attack. If political leader are not involved in this attack it is not easy to the terrorists to come that much easily to the Mumbai.

    What to say about Mumbai. These people think those are the most talent guys in India without the help of other state people they them self solve all the problems. That’s why Raj Thekery who is the local leader asked other state people to leave the Maharashtra. But those people only saved Mumbai from terror attack. All NSG guys are from south and north India. Where is Raj Thekery terror attack the Mumbai? After Mumbai was saved successfully from the terror attack from NSG and ATS Mr. Raj was upstanding.
    At least now I ask Mumbai people to treat all Indians are same. Don’t come and fall for the leaders words and spoil your relation with rest of the country.

    Hay guys join Hands to kill the Terrorism. When we all Indian think we are equal. No country in the world dares to come to fight with our mother land.

    Jai Hind … Venda Mata ram.

    Salute the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to save Mumbai and the soldiers who fight with the territories

    Thanks,
    Maddy

  • http://www.harrycool.com Harry

    its the schools that will be attacked if ever in the US. extremly vulnerable and highly impactful situation from a terrorist point of view. a very easy target that will give them the maximum attention. but i doubt if muslim/islamist terrorists will do that. what i know is that one thing that they don’t do is kill kids knowingly.

  • mohant

    Zoinist RSS hindu connection,Mumbai attack
    The family of a Chabad Center victim has refused to accept an Israeli representative in their son’s funeral, saying he was anti-Zionist.

    The family of Hasid Aryeh Leib Teitelbaum, who was killed in Mumbai attacks last week, also refused to allow the coffin of their son to be covered with Israeli flag.

    “Holding a Zionist funeral for Teitelbaum, who was a Satmar Hasid, would desecrate the dead man’s honor,” Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot quoted a family member as saying.

    “I’m sending a message from the family. We don’t want the State to meddle in our grief. Suddenly Israel has an interest to show the world that it is also a victim of global jihad, so it decides to throw a big ceremony with a coffin wrapped in a flag. We object to this. It pains us and offends our values,” Shmuel Pfenheim of the Haredi Community anti-Zionist stream was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

    He added that he himself had been an American citizen, and although he had a resident in Israel he wasn’t an Israeli national.

    Unidentified gunmen attacked Mumbai’s Chabad center on Wednesday night. At least nine people were killed in the attack.

    THE TRUTH EXIST FOR THOSE WHO TRULY CARE

  • http://le-chronicle.co.cc Tanuj Lakhina

    Hi.I really liked this idea you raised and would like to use this posts’ link on my blog located at http://le-chronicle.co.cc
    Hope that’s alright.
    Nice work.
    Tanuj

  • http://melissaclouthier.com Dr. Melissa Clouthier

    Tanuj,

    Feel free to link!

  • Kalpesh Vedak

    This is world war 3 not like the same as the first two. Remember the scientist story who invents a machine or a giant and it goes behind the scientist. USA created Osama now he is gone mad and is biting back. Pakistan is controlled by such fundamentalist. People worship Osama ans Suddam in Pakisan. I will not say all people, but there is a chunk of them who do. These chunk have roots in the main government. So if some one needs to rule pak needs to hold to these roots.In turn they are caught in a cycle. People of all countries get ready every one will be affected by it. I have a question what do we do when our body part is infected we cut it out. When we cut that part not all the cells in that part are infected but some are so we cut the part. We need to kill and destroy the whole of middle east and pakistan. When the leg is cut head must be paining, heart must be also getting hurt. Hence when this destruction happens some countries will be destroyed in the aftermath. But once the infectd part is removed it will at least continue to live. It will limp but it will live.

  • common citizen

    the storm of darkness coming from middle east and welling from years of neglect by western powerful nations, will soon engulf the mankind. there will be no dawn of enlightment in the whole indian sub continent as it will be covered by cloak of ever lasting darkness. there will be no rights for women, no education for girls, no place for democracy, no televison, no films, no science, no scientific development, eye for eye justice, brutal treatment for liberals. the human race will come to an end soon and only zoombies will be seen walking. hail George Orwell!

  • http://www.webtree.in Webtree: Hosting Fight against Terrorism

    As an Indian and a country as a whole we have had our share of barbaric and brutal terrorist attacks. The recent terror attack in Mumbai was something first of its kind given the scale of devastation and casualties. As a nation we went through a trauma that perhaps no Indian can ever come out of.

    It left the entire nation reeling in desolation and deep grief. There was anger amongst people and each and everyone joined hand to fight against terror. While most of them contributed in their own little way, Webtree has decided to take a step forward.

    Webtree has started a movement to continue the fight for a worthwhile cause. Webtree has planned to contribute 2% of its earning from each registration to the National Defence Fund (NDF). This activity will be carried out till 15th August 2009. The amount collected would then be deposited to the Prime Minister’s National Defence Fund.

    “We at Webtree believe that people have not had their opportunity to contribute wilfully for this noble cause. Therefore, this small yet effective step has been taken” Say’s the CEO of the company.

    “Do people need any other reason to make a contribution? This is the time to unite and fight terror by joining hands and no Indian can be left behind” say’s Khem Raj, another key official.

    After all we can not thank our security forces enough for laying down their lives so that we feel protected. This time it is our chance to show a little more respect to our security personnel’s and their dependents.

    Feel proud to be an Indian and let’s together take the pledge to turn down terror on its face.

    For more information, contact us at webmaster@webtree.in or visit our website http://www.webtree.in/ or contact us at +91-9311235656

  • Debojit

    Dear friends from USA

    I am an Indian and like my fellow country men/women am still am licking the wounds inflicted on my phyche by the Mumbai attacks. Please understand all terrorism emanates from Pakistan. The reason being, Pakistan is a country which lives in a dillusion of being successors of the Mughal empire, who in the past used to rule India and was one of the most prosperous rulers of that era. So, they have never been able to reconcile to the fact that their country is smaller/weaker to India and is now begging for aid from western powers. So till they exist they would want to gain an equivalence to India, that leads to non-linear, gurrila style warfare strategy by them, cuase they cannot beat India in conventional warfare.
    So, we are here fighting against an idea. Just like in second world war the fight was against the idea of Nazism and Japanese militarism. Here we have to comprehensievely defeat Pakistani Army and Intelligence as a 1st step. To do that during such a war we need to take out their nuclear weapons, here we need USA’s help (USA has pretty good idea of their location). Secondly after the war has been comprehensievely won,there should be a ban on Pakistan maintaining an Army for the next 20 yrs and its defence requirement should be met by a UN force. Thirdly, under the supervision of UN there should be a free and fair election where people with no link to mullahs & mualvis should only be allowed to participate in the election. I think, in such a war Nato forces should enter from Afganistan and India from Pakistan’s Indian border. I think this war if fought will be a just war, a war that will be fough to save future generations from terrorists all over the world and not just India, though India has the primary responsibility to fight this war. Unless we take this hardship willingly, next time they will send 200 terrorists (instead of the 10-12 this time) and no one will be alive to see how your city looks after such an attack. Its an existential fight.
    Jai Hind