Thursday, September 8, 2011


Following the horrific Pakistan-based terrorist attacks that occurred in Mumbai [Bombay] in November 2008, the Indian government asserted that it would dramatically overhaul its counter-terrorism (CT) capabilities. Yet, three years and seven bomb blasts later, not a single suspect has been prosecuted.

Unfortunately, the briefcase bomb that killed 12 people at the check-in line for visitors at the New Delhi High Court on Wednesday ( September 7) demonstrates that India's ability to prevent and deter acts of terrorism continues to be poor, despite continuing threats. The 2008 Mumbai attack, which killed 166 people, had exposed India's dysfunctional and poorly prepared police system, but little has been done to upgrade CT capacity.

COMMENT: The Indian government prides itself in organizational design of new units, but continues to fail on execution. Although it established the National Investigation Agency (NIA), calling it India's counterpart to the FBI, it is poorly funded, poorly staffed and has not adopted technological initiative that will place it on a par with terrorist organizations, let alone enable it to surpass the resources of extremist groups.

Extremists have bombed a cafe frequented by foreigners in Pune, a cricket stadium just before a match, a Hindu prayer site and three crowded neighborhoods in Mumbai. There were also attacks outside a renowned mosque in New Delhi and what appeared to be a failed car bombing at the same court that was attacked on Wednesday.

The Indian government's approach to law enforcement and counter-terrorism is to through "bodies" at security problems, rather than properly training and equipping a lesser number of officers whose performance can be measured. It is common for Indian police officers to show up at serious incident with a baton in their hand when their adversaries are better equipped. Another example of inefficiency in cops in India is not being able to to communicate with other police units and not having technological and cyber superiority over the bad guys.

Even THE TIMES OF INDIA has criticized the country's CT infrastructure as being "woefully inadequate."Although India is a recipient of CT training provided by select foreign governments, this training has been largely ineffective because of inadequate commitment to funding police units and the need for organizational change. As an example, there were no surveillance cameras in the High Court. Had they existed, the individual who left the briefcase might well have been identified, enhancing the probabilities of making an arrest.

Unless India takes definitive action and adequately funds its police and the NIA in their CT capabilities, other bombings will occur and no one will go to jail.

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