Why India needs to do a Israel

By Anu KurianIsrael and India have always been in the shadow of terror. While the Jewish heartland has improvised its counter-terrorism techniques, India is still grappling with the basics.

Why India needs to do a Israel
A Black September Palestinian terrorist at the Munich Olympics, 1972.

TIME: 4:30AM

During the early hours of September 5, 1972, a group of terrorists took 11 Israeli athletes hostage. As dawn broke, all the hostages were killed and so were five terrorists. Three were captured alive but were let off in exchange for a German Lufthansa passenger jet that was hijacked in October that year.

On November 26, 2008, Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai and attacked in a series of co-ordinated shooting and bombings across the city. The fight between the terrorists and security forces went on for three days, resulting in the death of 164 people and wounding more than 300. The lone surviving terrorist, Ajmal Kasab, has been sentenced to death, but has been allowed to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.
Israel was no stranger to terror, and same was the case with Mumbai. But, how the countries responded to terror was what has been seared in the consciousness of the world.
Before I get into that, it is essential that we take a short trip down the history lane. This is because you can discern from history itself how the two countries responded to terror.
Why India needs to do a Israel
German police try to move in on Black September Palestinian terrorist at the Munich Olympics, 1972
1972 Munich Massacre
On the dawn of September 5, 1972, the 'Happy Olympics' turned into a bloody site. Members of Black September (a terrorist organisation) entered the games village tracksuit-clad and were carrying duffel bags containing AKM assault rifles, Tokarev pistols and grenades. They climbed a two-metre chain link fence with the help of unsuspecting athletes. Once they were inside, they used a stolen key to gain access to the room where Israeli coaches were put up.
The terrorists shot and killed at least three Israelis. Some of the athletes and coaches managed to flee when they heard the cries of the ones who were caught. In all, the terrorists had managed to take nine Israelis hostage. Black September, part of a fidayeen group from Palestine, claimed that Yasar Arafat's Fatah had secretly endorsed the operation, something that has been denied till now.
The terrorists demanded the release and safe passage to Egypt of 234 Palestinians and non-Arabs jailed in Israel, along with two German radicals. Israel's reaction was immediate and absolute: No negotiation. However, the Germans had other plans. They ordered the German police, with no formal or specialized training in hostage crisis situations, to rescue the Israelis. They were even willing to offer unlimited money to the Palestinians.
The Israelis wanted to send in their own special forces unit, which was rejected by the Germans. Even as the hostage crisis played out, the games went on!! Incredible as it may seem, it was nearly 12 hours after the murder of the first Israeli that the IOC suspended the Games. The terrorists could see each and every move of the police team, thanks to the umpteen camera crews that were broadcasting their moves on live TV.
The rescue attempt was botched from the word go. Initially, the plan was to lure the terrorists to F├╝rstenfeldbruck, a NATO airbase. A Boeing 727 was positioned on the tarmac, where 5-6 German police officers were inside dressed as a cabin crew.
Snipers were stationed around the airport to spring a surprise assault on the terrorists. But, for some strange reason, the officers in Boeing abandoned their plan and failed to communicate it to the snipers. The results were for all the world to see. In the ensuing gunfire, all the Israeli hostages were shot dead. Some of the terrorists too died, while some were captured alive.
When Munich took place, Israel was outraged. Not to be the one sitting around twiddling their thumbs, they vowed to get every man who was involved in the bloody massacre. Prime Minister Golda Meir and the Israeli Defence Committee authorised Mossad, the country's premier secret service agency, to hunt down every one of the terrorists.
Why India needs to do a Israel
The remains of a Lebanese TMA DC-4 cargo plane after being destroyed by Israeli commandos at Beirut Airport, December 1968.
Even though the then Mossad chief Zvi Zamir was present during the hostage crisis, his expertise was not used at all. Three days after the massacre, an angry Israel retaliated. Israeli planes bombed ten PLO bases in Syria and Lebanon, killing 200 PLO fighters. That was just the beginning of Israel's wrath. Thus, began Operation Wrath of God, also called Operation Bayonet.
They created a target list of suspected Black September operatives and a wave of assassinations began across Europe. It is rumoured that Operation Bayonet went on for 20 long years! During the covert operation, they killed dozens of Palestinians and Arabs throughout Europe, launched a military assault inside Lebanon targeting high-profile Palestinian leaders.
In what was called Operation Spring of Youth, three top ranking PLO officials were killed in a surprise attack. More than a 100 were reported to have died during the operation.
Details have been sketchy about the covert operation. Black September retaliated, targeting Israeli government offices around the world. Israel was criticised widely, for its tactics, targets and overall effectiveness. But, it didn't stop them for going ahead the killing the perpetrators of the Munich massacre.
Coming back to Mumbai. Since the memory of 26/11 is too fresh in our minds, I'll skip the main details. What we do know as of now is that Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist caught during the Mumbai attack, has been in Arthur Road Jail and probably has more security than our prime minister.
The new modern India is keen to prove a point to the world, which is looking upon her to be the next superpower. However, our response during the 26/11 attack
leaves much to be desired.
Even though Mumbai was no stranger to terror, the Indian trait of being complacent and ill-prepared at all times came to the fore. When the news broke out, the government did do the right thing by sending in the fearsome Black Cat commandos. Unfortunately, the Black Cats reached Mumbai only nine hours after the breakout of fighting among the terrorists and the Mumbai police!!
As the NSG camp was located at Manesar, they travelled to Delhi by road and then boarded a flight to Mumbai. All this because the base/city did not have an airstrip! Imagine, the country's premier commandos (probably our equivalent of the Navy SEALs) did not have a helicopter or a plane to get to the scene of action.
Why India needs to do a Israel
The Taj under attack in Mumbai during 26/11.
Not only that, on 26/11, they had to wait for a crucial one hour at the Palam air force station as no plane was available and an aircraft had to be requisitioned from Chandigarh. The NSG at present does not have a dedicated aircraft! Contrast this with what happened at Abbotabad and you get the picture.
Then, not only were they not briefed about the number of guests and terrorists in the hotel, they had no idea about how to organise a counter-offensive operation against the terrorists as they did not have the hotel blueprints. This led to a loss of time for the NSG as they had to check each floor and each room.
As was reported, the terrorists had hit mutiple targets at the same time: The Taj Hotel, The Oberoi and the Trident, Chabad House, CST station and Metro Cinema. The terrorists managed to take advantage of the chaos and held out for three days. It was only after the 60-hour battle that the government realised how the NSG was operating wtih woefully outdated technology. This elite commando force is now in the process of procuring night-sight equipment for its SIG (SWAT) assault rifles, laser listening devices and light support weapons. To put in perspective, these weapons are already being used by the SWAT team in the US.
Counter-terrorism is not just having hi-tech weapons or conducting covert operations, something we definitely are not good at. It is also about the political will to hunt down the terrorists, irrespective of which party comes to power at the Centre. It is also about the will to never negotiate with terrorists. We cannot afford to have another Kandahar.
Why India needs to do a Israel
The Kandahar episode was not only the result of India's diplomatic failure, but also an intelligence failure. The Indian Airlines Plane with 174 passengers and a 11-member crew on a flight from Kathmandu to Delhi was hijacked on December 24, 1999 while it was flying over Lucknow. The crisis ended on December 31 when the Indian government decided to free dreaded terrorists Maulana Masood Azhar, Sheikh Omar and Mushtaq Zargar in exchange for 158 people.
The aircraft had touched down at Amritsar, Lahore and Dubai before proceeding to Kandahar. The Indian government could have ordered a counter-offensive when the flight was at any of these airports. And to think that Dubai was a US base, which India could have used to its advantage. The plane had stopped at Amritsar for refuelling. Punjab police were planning to immobilise the aircraft and probably storm the aircraft, but the crucial go-ahead from Delhi never came through.
Contrast this with what happened in Entebbe in 1976. On June 27, 1976, four militants seized an Air France plane flying from Israel to Paris with 250 people onboard. The hijackers diverted the plane to Entebbe, Uganda, where is landed on June 28. They demanded the release of 53 militants held in jails in Israel and elsewhere. In fact, Uganda's President Idi Amin supported the hijackers and supplied them with extra troops and weapons. On July 1, they did release some of the hostages, but about 100 of them still remained on the plane. Three days later, Israeli commandos sprung a surprise attack. About 200 elite troops stormed the airport building and after a 35-minute battle freed the hostages, killed all the seven hijackers and 20 Ugandan soldiers.
We need to take more than a leaf out of Israel's history. We can't fight terror with weapons alone. We also need to back that up by taking some really hard decisions when the D-Day comes.
Source: India Syndicate