Amos Harel After Mumbai, the War Against Terror Has Changed

In light of Mumbai terrorists' quality of training, maybe training camps should again be West's targets.

Now that the criticism in Israel of the way the Indian authorities handled the Mumbai terror attack has died down a little, it seems like a good time to begin examining the practical lessons that can be learned from what happened.

The next big thing. It's doubtful that just 10 terrorists were responsible for the well-planned attacks, as India claims. It is very likely that assistance from other terrorists was necessary, and it's clear that the Muslim organization that was responsible has set the bar high for copycats the world over: simultaneous attacks in several sites, with hostage-taking and explosives and grenades, which paralyzed an enormous city for two and a half days.

While there have been a few multiple-casualty terror attacks since September 11, 2001 (including in Bali, London and Madrid), the Mumbai attack was apparently the most sophisticated of these. It's hard to judge whether Hezbollah, Hamas or the global jihad groups (Al-Qaida derivatives) are capable of carrying out something similar within Israel, which currently seems slightly better prepared than India to combat such an attack. Still, from now on, that is the extreme scenario that must be taken into consideration.

The war against terror has changed. The new scenario poses totally different challenges to anti-terror units. Until now the military assumed that after stabilizing the situation, it will have quantitative and intelligence superiority over the enemy. But as soon as large areas such as hotels are attacks, the challenge becomes incalculably more complex. Anti-terror experts say that just securing one floor of a hotel where terrorists are holding hostages would take an entire unit. Even Israel does not have enough units capable of handling a few hostage-taking and other attacks simultaneously.

This could justify training additional anti-terror units and increasing cooperation with similar forces abroad. We must also take into consideration the use of agents to collect information in advance on targets. And in light of the quality of the training the terrorists received and the number of people ostensibly training together, the West should perhaps return to attacking terrorist training camps, including those in Pakistan or Lebanon.

We're on the map. The interest shown by global jihad organizations in Israelis and Jews as targets is not new. Now it is also clear that even when the background to their attacks is apparently a regional conflict with no connection to us (India and Pakistan), the Islamic element turns Israelis and Jews into secondary targets for terrorists. Israel's anti-terrorism headquarters is already thinking about increasing security at hundreds of Jewish institutions around the world. For state representations abroad, one solution could be to concentrate company offices into well-protected compounds in each country.