Future terrorist attacks are likely, USD panel believes By Randy Dockendorf
Yankton Media, Inc. Last weekâ�?�?s terrorism attacks in India serve as a reminder that the United States needs to remain vigilant, according to three local men with ties to India. Area businessman Rikesh Patel and University of South Dakota professors Eric Jepsen and Kumoli Ramakrishnan spoke Friday at a USD forum on India and terrorism. Patel and Ramakrishnan were born in India, while Jepsenâ�?�?s ties to the nation include a visit to Mumbai (formerly Bombay), which was the site of the recent attacks. Jepsen told the Yankton Press & Dakotan he sees the possibility of stepped-up terrorism around the world, including another 9/11-style attack on the United States. â�?�?There is no reason for it not to return,â�? he said. â�?�?There is a great deal of world tension.â�? The Mumbai terrorists made a definite statement by focusing on tourist spots, a Jewish center and other public places, Jepsen said. â�?�?There is the targeting of soft targets and showing civilians are fair game,â�? he said. The terrorists were seeking greater media attention by searching for Americans and Britons, Jepsen said. â�?�?I think that was a tactical (tool) to increase international awareness and to raise the profile of the attack,â�? he said. â�?�?It was sustained on TV for three or four days. It gave exposure close up.â�? The small band of terrorists received extensive training and funding from other sources, Jepsen said. He believes the Mumbai group was trained by former Pakistani military members. â�?�?These were 10 very well trained terrorists,â�? he said. â�?�?For this (attack) to be accomplished in the United States, they would have to receive training as well, and they would have to (receive their instruction in other nations and) come from elsewhere.â�? The Mumbai terrorists regarded themselves on a suicide mission, Jepsen said. â�?�?They came not to negotiate but to make a maximum impact and die,â�? he said. Ramakrishnan sees a great deal of â�?�?anger and angstâ�? in neighboring Pakistan, which fuels that nationâ�?�?s long-standing dispute with India. The Pakistani unrest comes from both economic and political uncertainty, Ramakrishnan said. On the one hand, Indian Muslims are doing better than many of their Pakistani counterparts. In addition, India has developed closer ties to the United States and Russia. â�?�?Pakistan is feeling isolated,â�? he told the Press & Dakotan. India and Pakistan also have different cultural histories, Ramakrishnan said. India has taught tolerance for thousands of years, with a long-standing presence of Christians and Jews, he said. In contrast, Pakistan has remained strongly Muslim. â�?�?(Pakistanis) are receiving funding from the Middle East for the madras (Islamic schools) and mosques. People are taught and trained there,â�? he said. During Fridayâ�?�?s forum, Ramakrishnan gave a background of Indiaâ�?�?s government and history. India, a former British colony, has developed as a democracy and secular state. In contrast, Pakistan was created as a Muslim nation. When the nations were partitioned, the Hindus migrated to India and the Muslims â�?�? particularly those who were rich and established â�?�? moved to Pakistan. While many Muslims migrated to Pakistan, India still has one of the worldâ�?�?s largest Muslim populations and has elected two Muslim presidents, he said. Indiaâ�?�?s large population, soft targets and easy movement makes it an easy terrorism target, Ramakrishnan said. â�?�?They are not able to have enough security to prevent attacks,â�? he said. â�?�?India moves (the equivalent to) the population of Australia by train every day.â�? Indian society would change greatly with massive security measures, he said. â�?�?It wouldnâ�?�?t be India,â�? he said. However, those attitudes may be changing, Ramakrishnan said. At the United Statesâ�?�? urging, India has show restraint against terrorism attacks, primarily because of the U.S. desire to build better relations with Pakistan, he said. â�?�?But restraint is seen as weakness,â�? he said. â�?�?Terrorism doesnâ�?�?t stop, and it becomes more brutal.â�? The current Indian government is seen as weak on terrorism, Ramakrishnan said. Voters may replace the leadership with the BJP, or Indian nationalist party, which brought India into the nuclear age. â�?�?If the BJP comes to power, I think you will see a much quicker response (to terrorism),â�? he said. Even if the Indian government doesnâ�?�?t take action, Ramakrishnan predicted tension between the Hindu majority and the nationâ�?�?s 150 million Muslims. â�?�?If the government doesnâ�?�?t do anything to protect the country, the citizens will do it,â�? he said. â�?�?Then you will see the extra expense of increased security and a limit on individual liberties.â�? Pakistan appears headed to become a â�?�?failed stateâ�? with even closer ties to rogue governments and terrorist groups such as the Taliban and al-Qaida, Ramakrishnan said. And the Chinese lurk in the background, he added. India has a number of options, Ramakrishnan said. â�?�?They can do nothing and hope. But as Hillary Rodham Clinton has said, hope is not a strategy,â�? he said. â�?�?And the longer time goes on, the more difficult (action) becomes.â�? India has given up the right of first strike with nuclear weapons, Ramakrishnan said. A Pakistani nuclear strike on the Indian capital of New Delhi would kill 30-40 million people and produce full Indian retaliation against Pakistan, he said. The most likely Indian response to future terrorism will be a limited military response, Ramakrishnan said. â�?�?If there is a war, we hope for a limited war and a quick conclusion,â�? he said. â�?�?I donâ�?�?t think it will be nuclear.â�? India has a long history with terrorism, Ramakrishnan said. â�?�?Thatâ�?�?s why, when this latest terrorism occurred, the Indian people said, â�?�?We will deal with it,â�?�?â�? he said. â�?�?The forces of evil are state-sponsored. They need to be confronted and countered.â�? Patel sees one major purpose of last weekâ�?�?s attacks. â�?�?At Mumbai, the object of the terrorists was to produce shock, fear and anxiety, and to destroy the system that is there,â�? he said. â�?�?I hope this doesnâ�?�?t turn into a civil war.â�? Patel strongly believes that outside nations and forces were behind last weekâ�?�?s attacks on Mumbai. â�?�?There is no reason not to connect it to Muslims or Pakistan. They have training camps. They use terrorism as a tool,â�? he said. â�?�?Osama bin Laden has called for jihad against India. (These terrorist cells) are not connected to al-Qaida but they are getting the message.â�? Jepsen agreed that terrorism is not new to India. He pointed to the November 2001 attack on the Indian parliament building. â�?�?It killed 14 people and came close to taking out high profile ministers and parliament members,â�? he said. â�?�?It didnâ�?�?t get as much coverage in this country, probably because it was just after our own 9/11.â�? India has seen high profile bombings in the last 12-18 months, Jepsen said. However, the Mumbai attacks were different in an important aspect, he said. â�?�?It was the personalized nature of the attacks,â�? he said. â�?�?It wasnâ�?�?t leaving bombs in backpacks or on bikes. People were looking people in the eye and killing them. And there was the brutal killing in particular at the Jewish center.â�? The Indian reaction has also been different, he said. There has been strong questioning of why security forces werenâ�?�?t already stationed in Mumbai rather than waiting nine hours for the arrival of officers from other parts of the nation, he said. â�?�?What made this different is a large outpouring of people who were upset on the ground in Mumbai and in other parts of India,â�? he said. â�?�?The Indians want the extradition of high-profile terrorists. They are calling for shutting down terrorist training camps.â�? U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice quickly traveled to Pakistan and India in response to last weekâ�?�?s attacks, Jepsen said. He also noted that President-elect Barack Obama has said he will pay greater attention to the region, particularly to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The high number of deaths and injuries from the Mumbai attacks will likely encourage even more terrorism, Patel told the Press & Dakotan. â�?�?There is a wave of terrorist activity, and I donâ�?�?t see it stopping in … the near future,â�? he said. â�?�?The grievances by Muslims are so deep down. You can clean up one cell or terrorist group, and there will be others.â�?