Mumbai Terrorist Attack

Using the base resources provided in the Module, the syllabus and supported by additional individual research for credible government, academic and grey literature sources, address the following questions in a properly formatted APA paper of at least 1,000 words and no more than 2,000 words (generally between 5 to 8 pages in length in APA format – double-spaced in 12pt. Times New Roman font).  The word count does not include the cover page, abstract or references. The paper should not be written directly answering the questions below, yet as an integrated academic paper that addresses each dimension.

  1. Understanding the characteristics of terrorism. Identify the 3 or 4 characteristics that you think most define terrorism? Use an example from the Mumbai attack to support your choices.
  2. What are three unique characteristics (i.e., tactics, operations, or strategy) evident in the Mumbai attacks that make this a different kind of terrorist operation?
  3. There are concerns surrounding the possibility of a Mumbai-style attack in the US. Considering the terrorist threat today, do you consider these concerns legitimate? Why or Why not
  4. Using the five mission areas of the National Preparednes Goal (2015), assess India’s response to the Mumbai attacks?



  1. Rizvi, S. & Kelly, J. (June 2015). The Continued Relevance of the November 2008 Mumbai Terrorist Attack: Countering the Next Attack. Homeland Security Affairs 11, Article 6. Retrieved from

Main Argument: This text sought to analyze the use of modern technology in the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks in 2008. The goal of the article was to provide recommendations for homeland security professionals to address similar future attacks based on lessons learned from this particular attack. The text is focused on the technology used not the geo-political climate that fostered the attack. In summary, “To further increase situational awareness during fluid events, emergency responders must now expand their sources of information to include social media and other developing networks..”

Why Included: Technology is a constant, albeit constantly evolving, tool available to those that wish to threaten the safety and security of the United States. However, instead of rejecting technology or being fearful of it, homeland security professionals can counter technology with technology by embracing, understanding, and employing it to counter the enemy. As noted in the title of the article, lessons learned from the Mumbai Terror Attack are still relevant to the homeland security enterprise


The attack was not the first time Mumbai had been targeted nor was it the last. In 2006, 209 people died when a commuter train was bombed. In July 2011, more than 20 people were killed and over 100 injured when three IEDs exploded. Located on the Arabian Sea, Mumbai is a thriving symbol of modern India. It is the country’s financial and entertainment center that attracts a large number of foreign visitors and has landmark properties such as the Taj Mahal Palace and Trident-Oberoi Hotels. All of these may be reasons why the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)chose Mumbai but it also may have had more global goals. Originally created by the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, LeT was a convenient asymmetric means to confront India’s “unlawful occupation” (according to Pakistan) of Kashmir. Certainly the Mumbai attack served traditional terrorist goals of reminding the world of theunresolved dispute over Kashmir, maintaining Pakistani fervor and support for the Kashmir issue, and encouraging recruits to the organization.

However, the November 26, 2008 attack was different. It demonstrated military-like training and operational control. The LeT showed a new level of capability that enhanced its legitimacy as a participant in the global jihad, a commitment it had recently made. And, it illustrated how terrorism is integrating new technologies to enhance command and control, intelligence, and exploitation of events. The location had been reconnoitered, first by an American, David Headley, who conducted surveillance in 2006, 2007, and 2008 and then by others just prior to the attacks. During these periods some weapons were pre-positioned. After entering the city via the dinghy from a hijacked trawler, Kuber, ten men, divided into four teams, attacked the central train station, the Cama & Albless Hospital, the Leopold Cafe, a favorite of westerners, the Chabad Center, and the two hotels. The sequential roving attacks held the city of Mumbai hostage for 62 hours and resulted in 172 dead. The primary weapons were small arms and improvised explosive devices which fit well with the teams’ highly mobile strategy, reminiscent of military squad training. Their mobility was further facilitated by their use of cell phones, a satellite phone, and blackberries allowing the attackers to coordinate maneuvers, talk to the media to make hostage demands, and maintain contact with their external handler, who plays the role of a commander, encourager, and ultimately orders the attackers to commit suicide as security forces close in.

The Indian response has been characterized as a strategic, operational, and tactical failure. Although Indian officials received intelligence regarding a probable attack from both the US and their own sources, the information was deemed not to be sufficiently reliable to share broadly. The ease with which the attackers entered Mumbai from the sea indicates a lack of capability by the coast guard to effectively monitor the coastline. Security forces, who initially confronted the terrorists, were ill equipped, lacked specific training for setting up command posts and containing the event.& However, the method of attack would severely test any cities ability to establish a perimeter. Moreover, the lack of proper equipment and logistical deployment also slowed the response by the National Security Guard (NSG), the country’s prime counter-terrorism force. Stationed near Delhi, the capital, rather than being disbursed in bases around the country, the NSG does not have its own airlift capability. Overall, the Indian first responders lack inter-operability, training, and communications. The government failed to control the media by neither projecting an image of controlling events nor limiting reports from various points around the city that provided the terrorists with real-time intelligence as well as adding to the chaos by inflating the size of the attacking force.



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