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Mumbai: 2

Over on The Yorkshire Ranter Alex has some interesting insights into last week's events in Mumbai. Notably: it wasn't a suicide mission (high risk, yes: suicidal, no — the attackers were carrying credit cards, money, and false passports), the claim that the attackers came from Deccan is wrong (else they could have simply caught the train rather than messing around in boats), and, surreally, they appear to have lifted their tactics from The Dogs of War (hat tip to Ajay: read Alex's explanation before you cry foul).

So: someone from outside the area organized a commando raid (with at least a nod towards enabling the raiders to disperse and exfiltrate after achieving their objectives) using the sort of tactics that folks with connections into the likes of Sandline International might go for.

I have no idea what this means, but here's a random question: were any wealthy business tycoons (with enemies with deep pockets, natch) killed in the attack? What peripheral events took place while attention was focussed on the Taj hotel and the orthodox Jewish centre (assuming these were distractions)? What else was going on, beside the obvious?

Alternatively, some interesting reportage on where the terrorists come from ...

64 Comments

1:

What do you think of this alternative view from Paul Cornish over on the BBC website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7755684.stm

?

2:

were any wealthy business tycoons (with enemies with deep pockets, natch) killed in the attack?

Yes. Ashok Kapur, the chairman of Yes Bank, according to the NY Times

3:

SORRY BUT …

Aircraft, even at 1 or even 10 £miillion a throw are A LOT CHEAPER than pilots.
This was true in 1940 & it’s still true now.
Expensive desk-jockeys are easier to keep (alive) than REAL pilots.

No problem.

How many RPV’s did you want?

As for casualties wasn't a "British" (naturalised Cypriot) high-roller businessman "accidentally" killed in the operation?

4:

I should just like to note that I might be falling for the besetting failure mode of intelligence analysts everywhere: detecting false positives when searching for patterns in the noise.

But this does look rather weird to me; it's not a regular Lashkar-e-Taiba operation (although there's no law that says LeT can't possibly try something new).

5:

I'm a 3rd year undergrad Literature student with four essays due in next week. I'd have something a little bit insightful to say if I had the time to watch more news or read the Guardian...

As an expert on new technologies and the internet, I was wondering if you had anything to say about something I'm writing at the moment. I'll just post the relevant excerpt:

''The book, it is revealed, has the power to reset people’s ‘moral compass’, to force them to change, to have a difference and more traditional sense of ethics and morality. By uploading the contents of the book before handing it over, Mike has saved the American people from being changed against their will. His journey is, up to that point, one which places him in a position where he can make this right decision. In the beginning of the novel he considers much of American subculture as being weird, disreputable, obscene. By the end of the story his journey across the continent has taught him that these things which he initially thinks of as underground, are in fact mainstream. The dichotomy between hidden subculture and mainstream culture is one of the main themes of Crooked Little Vein. In the closing of his story, Ellis implies that there really is no discernable difference between the two, at least, not anymore. With the advent of the information age, especially the internet, practices which were once secretive are now on show, for everyone to see. This is perhaps the underlying moral of the novel – the open domain of the ‘net’ has forever changed our societies, the way in which we interact, and the availability of all kinds of scatological and tangential views which might have otherwise remained taboo.''

What do you guys think?

6:

No offence, but surely there are easier and more cost-effective ways of killing wealthy business tycoons than launching what was, in effect, a full-scale commando raid?

7:

What about this alternative view from Chatham House:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7755684.stm

- is this plausible? 'Malcontents' without any particular agenda? Doesn't seem likely to me, but I'm pretty sure Paul Cornish knows more about these things than me...

As for using boats: if you wanted to bring a large quantity of guns and grenades into a city, wouldn't it be a bit daft to try to do it on the train (for example) - surely somebody would notice... though I suppose you could just pile the stuff into a car and drive in instead. In any case, I would guess that going by sea would be less likely to raise suspicions until it was too late.

8:

"No offence, but surely there are easier and more cost-effective ways of killing wealthy business tycoons than launching what was, in effect, a full-scale commando raid?"

Polonium sandwich?

Cheers!

Jim

9:

As Jim points out, it entirely depends on what kind of message you're trying to send. (As "flamboyant and brutal nuclear-capable state actor was here -- official" messages go, it's hard to beat $200M of exotic radioisotopes in the soup ...)

10:

While there may be more effective ways of killing tycoons, disguising an assassination as part of a terrorist attack does disguise the motive for the attack and possibly the attacker's identity. Another bonus is that a failed assassination won't reveal that the tycoon was individually targeted. The downside of such an assassination is its high profile, which ensures it will be investigated and might ultimately reveal the assassins responsible. The terror attack is also more complex and more likely to fail than a "normal" assassination.

11:

Plus, it risks extreme government responses, such as provioded by Mossad.

12:

Hm. You see, I can follow this as an attempt by Indian malcontents at destabilising the Indian government. I can see it as an attack by Pakistani militants. But an assassination attempt wrapped up in a commando raid? I can see where you're coming from, but...nah, surely not.
Mind you, I thought the manner of Litvinenko's murder was almost too baroque to be credible, so what do I know?

13:

Dave, it depends on how deniable you need it. If you can arrange through four layers of intermediaries for this to happen, it is very unlikely you'll ever be connected to it. The guy is dead, and they know who killed him -- he's also dead, just over here where the military sniper got him. Whole categories of questions do not get asked.

Given the present total lack of information, near-total lack of survivors, and very odd methodology, I'd expect that you had a highly motivated group of uniformly young men, and that the objectives they were given had only peripheral involvement with the objectives of their sponsors.

I very much want to know what they did with the ship; presumably the Pakistani registry freighter really was OK, so where did those zodiacs come from?

(Well, either that or this is a covert op by some pro-war Indian faction, and the boarding officer was in on it.)

14:

The fact that no group has claimed credit for the attack as yet is an indicator that their motives may not have been "ordinary terrorism". Terrorism always works from a base of support in some population that considers itself oppressed; terrorist acts are usually made against the oppressor or its ally, and credit is claimed immediately so the oppressed group can rally behind the terrorist organization.* For a group not to take credit implies that they want the credit to go to the most obvious (to the attacked country) source, in this case Pakistan. That implies to me that someone wants to heat up the India-Pakistan conflict (and the Indian army has gone on high alert, so it's working).


* Most counter-examples I know of involve leaders who are more into the violence than the political effect, e.g., the late head of al Qaeda in Iraq, who was not well-liked by bin Laden and al Zawahiri from what I've heard.

15:

Graydon @ 11: That's a good point, that the motives of the foot-soldiers don't need to have any relationship to the people running the operation, or those bankrolling it. As long as you can convince the guys at the sharp end that what they're about to do will advance their own agendas, they will typically assume that your motives are the same. If caught and interrogated, they'll most likely reveal their assumptions as fact, and given a careful arrangement of cutouts, the guys behind the curtain won't have anything pointing to them.

16:

Charlie, I don't want to take away from the gravity of the horror in Mumbai or the speculation of the commentators on your blog. But I would like to ask you something, since Alex probably won't respond to me.

Which is, quite simply, a question. Do you ever find him incomprehensible? I honestly many times cannot understand what he's trying to argue. The words make sense, the sentences are grammatical, but the allusions lose me. And without understanding the allusions, I can't follow the argument.

I suspect that it is a problem of style rather than substance. Is it a British thing? Am I alone among his blog-readers in this? I find it frustrating.

17:

Hmm I think I am leaning to setup.

I always think that whenever a crime similar to this is committed all things are not as they seem. I guess we should be asking who has the most to gain from this terrorist act and what peripheral things were going on when all of this went down.


My heart goes out to all the Indian folks who lost family as well. I have a number of good friends from India.

18:

Bruce @12:
Actually, the only survivor claims to be part of a Pakistani based group called Lashkar-e-Taiba.

My own thought is that this is the natural extension of the paramilitary arms race. If you were writing a playbook to enable your group to create maximum carnage with small arms and man-portable conventional explosives you would:
(1) Assassinate the local anti-terrorism coordinator
(2) Steal a police van to enable free movement in the ensuing chaos and not have anyone glance twice at men carrying rifles and duffels disembarking.
(3) Attack multiple targets of high value simultaneously.

It was a well-planned and well-executed platoon sized attack on a semi-hardened target followed by squad sized attacks on softer targets of opportunity. It would work in Miami or Rotterdam as well as Mumbai. I expect to see more of this in the future.

All of the above to say that I think the West tends to underestimate the tactical capabilities of terrorist organizations. If they have a couple of acres of land, 200 sheets of plywood, 1000 2x4s, and surplus ammo, they can replicate the approximate training facilities of any tactical paramilitary police force in the US. There is more than enough literature on paramilitary tactics out there for them to absorb a solid understanding. What terrorist organizations have tended to lack was the disciplined training of more formal organizations.

I think there is enough documentation of US, UK and ANZAC units fighting and defeating equally well armed and equipped forces in the last five years that adaptable bad guys would be able to draw the conclusion that discipline and tactics are critical. This would be especially true in the Afghani theater where air support and reinforcement are less available.

I find the 'deeper motive' theory comes up short with the hand of Lashkar-e-Taiba exposed. I almost wish I could believe it. Because if we have to worry about platoon-sized terrorist groups that can shoot straight, understand fire-discipline and coordinated assaults, and are trained in the same; we should all buckle up for a 'V for Vendetta' style existence where the analogous V is blowing up the people instead of the government.

19:

Hi Guys-
Not exactly on topic..but the general feeling of the world going to hell with these two (India and Pakistan) about to be back at each others throats reminds me of a fairly pessimistic (but funny as hell) website I visit on occasion....As I "like my Ganges without Plutonium" (damn I love that line)..I hope things dont get any worse...
http://www.joebageant.com

20:

Brett L@16

Good points. But how did they learn to shoot straight all of a sudden?

21:

Brett L@16

Good points. But how did they learn to shoot straight all of a sudden?

22:

Bruce @ 12 someone wants to heat up the India-Pakistan conflict (and the Indian army has gone on high alert, so it's working).

Similar thoughts have me wondering if either countries' nukes are mobile, and how likely are they to be moved around during a state of emergency?

Imagine a group who wants to get their hands on one, and they are near, or in, two nations with a history of animosity who both happen to have nuclear weapons. Perhaps trying to start a war, or at least increasing tension, so that said weapons are on the move, and possibly more vulnerable.

I don't think that is what's going on, just a thought.

Unrelated, 60 Minutes had a story tonight on internet poker cheating, involving untouchable servers on an Indian Reservation in the middle of Canada. Something amusing about it.

23:

A few data points:

*) There are reports that the Jewish victims were extensively tortured before execution --- not quick work. That suggests they were more than distractions at least to the operatives on the ground, if not to their backers.

*) Pakistani journalist Ahmad Rashid was on American radio (NPR) this weekend pointing out that increased tension between India and Pakistan is a predictable consequence of this operation, and isn't in the best interest of anyone in Pakistani officialdom (or at least, not anyone sane), so he doubts it had sponsorship from either the government or insubordinate revanchists in the ISI.

*) On the other hand, it's also worth noting that while Lashkar-e-Taiba used to have official Pakistani sponsorship, the Pakistani government banned them in 2002 (at least officially), under heavy American pressure, and some breakaway elements have attacked the Pakistani government since.

24:

Brett L @ 16

Actually, the only survivor claims to be part of a Pakistani based group called Lashkar-e-Taiba.

And that may be true, but the operative word is "claims". As Graydon pointed out, it's possible that what the foot-soldiers believe about their group is completely wrong. Some corroboration would be nice.

25:

codefreak @18 & 19

That's really quite simple. The US Marines have been teaching farm boys how to shoot straight for a couple of centuries. In the specific case of Central Asians, US trainers of both Afghani and Iraqi soldiers over the last 5 years have complained of a cultural habit of trainees to be partial to a "pray-and-spray" method of shooting - literally - from the hip. Snugging the rifle to one's shoulder and aligning the front and rear sights brings one bullet distribution from 3-5m to about 1m at a range 50m. Inside of 10m, aligning one's sights on the center of mass almost guarantees a hit if you brace the butt. Firing a couple thousand rounds at targets can bring the distribution down to inches (for an AK-47 built God-knows-where with iron sights, that's probably the error tolerance of the weapon). Especially if they were firing the guns they trained with, which is standard practice in most armed forces.

26:

I'm going to go with "Pakistani millitant group deciding to see if they can cause another india-pakistan war"

Because they want to bring about the apocalypse. - there is no need to invoke conspiracy to explain mad actions taking place in the vicinity of a madhouse. - Pakistan has a lot of rather crazy groups in it, and very poor control of what they do.

27:

@ #23 That seems the most likely.
It is to be hoped that the India & Pakistan guvmints realise this.

The extreme religious nutters (think "rapture ready" in the US, as another example) WANT an apocalypse, so that the "true faith"TM will rule the new, pure world.

Remarkably like you-know-whom, back in the 1930's in fact (Godwin warning).
But then the rhetoric of the extreme, even by their standards, islamiicists is horribly similar to that of the Nazi party, and with good reason, if you look at the historical links.

Nasty.

28:

Noel @14: Alex has a very British style, but makes perfect sense to me. You're probably just missing the embedded cultural alusions (which are a particular kind of British that doesn't really get exported because it's not part of the BBC/media complex's Home Counties bias). We get a lot of US cultural exports from different regions, but you don't get a lot of British cultural exports other than stuff with a pronounced South-East bias. Think of the way "Trainspotting" required subtitles in US cinemas ... then try to imagine the same, only for cultural references rather than accents.

29:

Another telltale sign of sophistication: apparently terrorists used Blackberrys to monitor police responses and the world's reaction to their attacks.

30:

Misha Glenny has a fascinating talk-piece in the Grauniad today on the Mumbai criminal underworld and their connection to the terrorist attack -- pointing the finger at local organized crime syndicates and increasing religious polarization, stoked by the ISI and aggravated by the BJP.

31:

Hey, I'm not at all surprised at that. One of these days I'll tell you about the time they invited a Bollywood director to 3GSM who was actually on the lam from the Central Bureau of Investigation in a case related to Dawood Ibrahim at the time.

The other thing that worries me is that, looking through multiple reports, I'm fairly sure there are spare terrorists unaccounted for. 4 gunmen at the railway station. 3 at the Taj. 2 more at the synagogue. Another pair at least at the Oberoi. Assuming the same people did the hospital as well as the station, and the same people did the cafe as well as the Taj...4+3+2+2=11. (9 corpses+1 prisoner)-11 = Oops. Then there are two boats; they were found some way north up the shore from any likely landing place, so at least two people must have sailed them there. And there's the taxi that exploded near the airport.

32:

Well with all the miscellaneous crap flying around my personal bet on the general "WTF?" is on Thomas' militant group @26.

It fits niccly with Occam's razor, doesn't involve shadowy figures in the background with thier inscrutable plans and doesn't involve signifiant actors going insane/stupid.

As an exercise in insanity, I tried working out how much it would cost to train, plan and execute such an operation if given 10 lunatics willing to die for the cause. Upper limit is about £150,000 (actually probably somewhat less) - or about the same as the average house in the UK.

33:

A point we overlook at our peril is that Mumbai has a population of around 25 million -- it is huge by western standards. (More people than the Netherlands; same as New York and London combined.) There's plenty of scope for local issues to loom on even a national scale. This might equally well be a local affair that went large as an international affair that went local.

34:

I think the purpose of the attacks was simply to draw the Pakistani army away from the Afghan border and allow the Taliban/Al quaeda to run amok.

35:

Today's Wall Street Journal adds some more eyewitness accounts suggesting that the attackers on the ground, at least, were Muslim radicals:


"Why are you doing this to us?", a man called out. "We haven't done anything to you?"


"Remember Babri Masjid?", one of the gunmen shouted...


"Remember Godhra?" the second attacker asked...

The references are to sites of anti-Muslim activity by Hindu fanatics...

36:

I wouldn't put much stock in the reports of traumatized eye witnesses. Memory is a very plastic thing in general and more so in the presence of traumatic events.

Also, the Wall Street Journal is a Murdoch paper; nothing in it should be trusted without corroboration from a reliable source, especially not something highly politically charged.

Note that even in a source such as http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/11/captured_mumbai_atta.php we don't have anything that isn't coming from "Indian intelligence sources" or "senior US intelligence officials", which is not a sign of credibility. (We know both groups lie to the public tp achieve their particular goals as a matter of policy.)

I'd want to see all of the fake ID, myself; whose picture is in there? Are these consistent with the "Pakistani jihadi" story? (I'm betting not.)

So far, this is all lamentably consistent with a causus belli for a US/India deal to partition Pakistan, a known neocon strategy and a potential parting gift from Darth Cheney to the Obama administration. Since everyone in Pakistan's ruling classes is worried about that, it's also lamentably consistent with some loop who wants a sub-continental nuclear war.

Going to be very difficult for calmer heads to walk this one down.

37:

Good eating, these past few days. But for you hominids a thought: it seems to me that someone is trying to provoke a war, either between India and Pakistan, or perhaps of wider scale.

38:

BTW, I don't think it was the Pakistani government. Why would they want to give India an excuse for all-out war?

Caw!

39:

Coverage at Juan Cole's blog. There are so many articles that I don't want to permalink them all, so here's the December and November archives.

Caw!

40:

Charlie, I think you got it right. Everything points to be a diversion maneuver. Question is to know what the organization of this commando attack wanted to divert world attention from...
.
The closest events in recent history were the Breslan assault against a school and the assault against the Dubrovka theater. In both cases there were commando attacks but the terrorists had very explicit messages and demands. And, in both cases they seemed to be suicide attacks from the beginning. Involved people knew they wouldn't be able to walk away.
.
In the Mumbai events, most of the "troops" seemed to be soldiers of fortune. They were expecting to get out (passports, money, etc). Perhaps they were not expecting the kind of reaction Indian government had... perhaps they were simply crossed.

41:

I too am very skeptical about 'debriefing' information from a captured terrorist. We have to bear in mind the possibility that he's part of a non-govt organisation in Pakistan, or one with only low-level operatives in the state's service, which _wants_ to embroil more of the Pakstani state in conflict with India and thus he's telling them pre-packaged lies about his level of state support.

Alternatively, he's saying something completely different (down to 'ow') but his interrogators are assigning a confession to him that is politically convenient for them ("We told you so. End the peace process."). Or they will only stop hitting him when he tells them this, which comes to much the same thing in the end.

So I would discount 'They came from Pakistan and had state support there because he said so.' They may have had some degree of support from some people paid for by the Pakistani taxpayer, but the interrogation isn't evidence either way. The example of Bukharin, inter alia, implies that even if he's paraded in public and says this, I still won't be convinced.

If you have time, google the Pakistan election commission's website, and look up the results for 2008's general election. These show the Islamist parties getting wiped out at the ballot box. Spread this fact around, because no* fucker seems to know it, and it's more than a little important.

*For many values of 'no', including, but not limited to 'not Alex'.

42:

As Jim points out, it entirely depends on what kind of message you're trying to send. (As "flamboyant and brutal nuclear-capable state actor was here -- official" messages go, it's hard to beat $200M of exotic radioisotopes in the soup ...)

As opposed to the American boring corporate-style brute efficiency of the Hellfire from out of nowhere, the Israeli "don't fuck with us" semiotics of the home invasion and emptying of clips into bodies, or small precision bombs, or the Chinese PR-friendly approach of never being caught.

43:

The Taj Mahal hotel is possibly the top hotel in Mumbai and Mumbai is the financial capital of India.

I think it would be quite surprising if there weren't some wealthy business tycoon killed.

44:

An illustration of poor weapons training, and consequences thereof, here. Extremely poor shooting form in an urban environment where bad guys and good guys may be in close proximity. Given that the man's finger is on the trigger there, it seems likely that he actually fired from that position. There's no excuse for that.

45:

D'oh. #42 above, I meant to say 'excluding, inter alia, Alex'.

46:

The sad fact is, that if the Pakistani state had nothing to do with it, it means that the civilian government has virtually no control over what goes on within their borders. Usually people wouldn't care too much, but once your mess starts spilling outside.... well, just ask the Taliban how well that went.

They're between a rock and a hard place too. They cave in to India's demands, and they don't survive the next election. The face down India and move troops to the Indian border, and the US expands operations further across the border -- and they lose the next election. They lose the next election, and India and/or the US invade.

48:

# 38, 40, 46.
OF COURSE the Pakistani government, not any senior person in their admin. wants a war with India.
This is not to say that people IN Pakistan (and elsewhere) DO want such a war, preferably with nukes used, so that the Caliphate can come sooner, and the whole planet becomes part of the Ummah.

Yes, Virginia, they really ARE that insane.

Here's an example of the christian equivalent

If you can destabilise finances, and get even more turmoil, by knocking-off a really wealthy businessman or two, that's an added bonus.

Who says that the two threads running here have to be incompatible?
If you are a seriously insane religious nutter, who is otherwise a careful planner and agitator - then how many birds CAN you kill with one stone?

49:

G. Tingey: the batshit insane faction also got stomped in the last Pakistani election: you will please take note.

They're a lunatic fringe, like the Christian Dominionists in the US.

This isn't to say that they're not dangerous, but they're (a) a minority, and (b) they're not in charge.

50:

Charlie - I'm quite aware the batshit-insane faction lost, heavily.
BUT
They hold considerable power at the peripheries (NW Frontier province) and in uenmployed and unemployable young male muslims, brainwashed by the Madrassahs, and have lots of small-arms, if nothing heavier.
They want power back.
The other way for them to do this is the sort of creeping islamicisation that is taking place in Bangla Desh / East Bengal, where women are hounded out of public offices, and also have acid thrown in their (uncovered) faces. And this is happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well.

For instance, it is virtually certain that the majority of the population in Swat don't want the islamic fascist nutters running their area.
But said nutters have the guns and the ghastly preachers on their side, and, because Pakistan is an openly "Ilsamic" state, they feel their hands are tied, because any REAL clampdown on these bastards will immediately be denounced as "christian" or "un-islamic" or any other pejorative ....

It's SO depressing.

Actually, it reminds me of part of Scottish history, when the equivalent nutters, the extreme Presbyterians/Covenanters were wholly or partly in charge. Clamping down on anything that looked "sinful".
Of all people, someone who is not normally thought of as a "moderate" started to put a stop to that nonsense: Cromwell (!) at the battle of Dunbar.
But it took another 38 years to get it finally sorted out - with quite a lot of blood spilt in the meantime, at places like Drumclog, Bothwell Brig, Killiecrankie, and Dunkeld.

51:

Actually the book the terrorists should have read is "The Weapon" by Michael Z Williamson - http://www.di2.nu/200812/02b.htm

52:

Barkingly insane libertarian alert @51.

53:

50 - actually, they got stamped (or even stomped) in the NWFP as well, winning 4 out of 35 seats - albeit that's still better than they did elsewhere. Overall they got 2.2% of the vote.

Your general point about the guns etc is true though.

54:

Re. Libertarian wingnuttery @51:
There seems to be an unnamed Godwin-like Internet Law that as soon as there is a discussion of a gun-related incident anywhere in the world, there will be an American who posts on how 2nd Amendment rights/armed citizens with concealed carry etc Would Have Stopped It. The exact same sentiment appeared on Ellis's Whitechapel a couple of days ago.

Some people watch Die Hard too often, I suspect.

55:

Cat, I agree.

I'm not anti-gun ownership; I think the UK regime is ridiculous and should be relaxed considerably, preferably to the pre-Hungerford situation, albeit with more thorough background checks (and no work-arounds for friends-of-cops). But the 2nd amendment freaks are just ... words fail me. Guns are not a panacea! Armed citizens aren't a solution to a corrupt government, or to a hostile occupation, or even to rampant street crime. Organizational structure is the solution.

56:

According to at least one account I have seen, there were armed police officers present at the Mumbai railway station.

In the days after Hungerford I knew one old man, with a lawfully-held rifle, who said to me that he would have shot the guy. He'd been in the Home Guard with my grandfather, who was a veteran of the trenches.

I'm inclined to believe he would have.

But the point is that "good guys" with guns still have to be willing to shoot.

57:

Erm ... getting back to the original thread.

It is, of course fairly well-known now, that:
IF conditions in a state are sufficiently chaotic,
AND the populace a royally pissed-off with the state of affairs ...
THEN a well-organised small group can (fairly easily) take that state over, and run it, for quite a considerable time. ( Like 73 years )

The islamicists are as well aware of this as anyone else.
Especially since the OTHER easy way of taking-over a state, and subverting it from within, quasi-legally (as Mussolini & Hitler did) is closed off to them in India, at least. They are well on the way to achieving that in East Bengal, but that's another story.

58:

I agree that arming the general population isn't likely to help in these situations. In the unlikely case that an armed group attacks a location with armed civilians, a gunfight seems the most likely outcome. In this case, trained attackers have the advantage, as they know who's friendly and who isn't. The civilians, however, do not. This means that the civilians may wound or kill each other in the confusion of the attack. Furthermore, when the police or other armed response groups show up, how are they going to differentiate between armed terrorists and armed civilians?

In a worst case scenario, the attackers could initiate a firefight between groups of civilians and discretely pull out before there's a police response. The police then show up to find only trigger-happy civilians mistakenly firing at each other, which is a recipe for disaster.

Certainly, an armed population may deter some attacks and in some cases prevent attacks, but untrained and independently acting civilians aren't a suitable solution. Confusion and chaos combined with an armed and scared population is not

59:

Charlie @55, recently some football (our kind) player shot himself in his leg. Famous sports/music/entertainment people seem to need guns and they shoot themselves regularly. Such good examples.

60:

Marilee @59
Yeah, talk about shoting yourself in the foot. Hopefully Plaxico Burress will be ready in january, when it really counts in the playoffs.

Anyway, I wanted to say that I'm impressed by the cool headed way the Indians are handling this. The best way to beat these killer assholes, is by making India as rich as USA and western Europe, as soon as possible.

61:

Plaxico Burress is a good example of how messed up gun laws are in the US. He legally had a gun permit in Florida, and where he had recently moved in New Jersey. However, in New York City they won't give permits to non-residents or even most residents. So he's charged with the crime of illegal handgun possession for a gun he had legally until he entered New York. With the mandatory sentencing laws he's looking at over 3 years of jail time for bringing his gun to a place where he might actually need it as opposed to leaving it at home where it's no good to him...

62:

Though since he had the gun tucked into the elastic waistband of a pair of sweatpants, maybe he deserves the sentence for stupidity alone.

63:

Andrew G. @61: PB didn't have a NJ permit either, so that's no excuse. NJ's gun laws are quite restrictive, especially wrt ammo type and magazine capacity. It's his responsibility to maintain proficiency and legality if he's going to own. The real question is "wtf was his agent?" If I'm getting 20% of a superstar, I'm making sure he gets driven EVERYWHERE to avoid DUIs, has a member of his entourage ALWAYS carry his stash, and not get busted with illegal guns in the most infamously restrictive jurisdiction in the country. How much does a couple of bodyguards cost?

64:

"So he's charged with the crime of illegal handgun possession for a gun he had legally until he entered New York."

Forgive me for calling this a bit ridiculous. *Of course* a violation of State A's laws doesn't generally occur until one *enters* State A.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on November 30, 2008 12:17 PM.

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