After the 26/11 attackers came ashore in Mumbai and caused havoc for three days in the city, damaging India’s reputation as a country skilled in counter-terrorism, the Manmohan Singh government at first declined to name the ISI as being behind the outrage, and claimed that there was no local involvement in the attacks. This was in the face of information that the Chabad House had been reconnoitred by local associates of the Al Qaeda groups patronised by the Pakistan army, and that an informer had even managed to worm his way into the confidence of the young Jewish couple, Rivka and Gabriel Holzberg, who were murdered by the 26/11 killers. As Amartya Sen has constantly reminded the world, ours is a talkative society, and had the government listened to voices other than the “usual sources” relied upon by intelligence agencies, they may have come across traces of the way in which a very few inhabitants of the city were visiting Chabad House, ostensibly to discuss the finer points of inter-faith dialogue with the idealistic young couple staying in the centre with their child, Moshe, who fortunately escaped the murderers of his parents in a miracle made possible by his Indian nanny. No effort was made by the local police to investigate those who visited Chabad House or to check the internet surfing and meeting habits of such individuals to determine whether they could have been informers for the 26/11 killers. Any local connection would have reflected poorly on the city police; hence that agency was diligent in placing the entire blame on the Pakistani teams, who had come ashore that day, an official view which still persists.
The “Lone Wolf” theory of terror attacks has been in vogue across the globe, but in all except a very small number of cases, this is about as credible as Pervez Musharraf’s assertion that Abdul Qadir Khan ran a nuke bazaar on his own, without the involvement of the Pakistan army and other sections of that country’s establishment. It is another matter that the US continues to protect Islamabad, by not making public information on the A.Q. Khan network that is in its possession, or indeed any except the barest details of the trove of materiel found in Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad. Terrorists do not simply come out of nowhere, but are nurtured by support groups having the same purpose. However, try telling this to Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, whose men are insistent that the shooter in the 23 October incident was another of those singletons, coming as if from nowhere. In fact, the terrorist would have had a support network, which identified him, indoctrinated him and motivated him into carrying out his act. That another so-called “Lone Wolf” killed a military officer a short while earlier by running over him seems to have been ignored as a clue pointing to a wider conspiracy.Television channels claim that each such deed is sans any orders from recognised terror organisations, but in saying so, they forget that key organisations have publicly called for sympathisers to carry out such terror attacks. In all probability, the still-concealed support network of the Canadian shooter may be the recipient not simply of appreciation but of much more as a consequence of their motivating another psychotic young person into committing a terrorist act, and each group or individual in contact with the shooter needs to be monitored for sudden inflows or suspicious calls, if the domestic and international support group which nurtured this killer is to be exposed rather than denied.
When ISIS declared its “caliphate”, this columnist wrote that the intention was to acquire (a wholly undeserved) legitimacy across the globe, particularly within the GCC, so that malcontents would join up and thereby (in their minds) redeem themselves or finally be part of a titanic endeavour. Such was the psychology which drew millions of Germans — not otherwise known for their lack of rationality — into signing up with Hitler, who promised the same level of hate and brutality which ISIS does. This is 1923 in the evolution of ISIS, and the world needs to avoid another occupation of the Rhineland, the stage when the Nazis became too strong to defeat without prodigious effort. The killer of 23 October is a strand in the cords which form ISIS, and to isolate this virus and destroy it, every possible strand needs to be located and dealt with, rather than allow the world to pretend, Stephen Harper style, that mass murderers within a cult (whether the Nazis or ISIS) do what they do independent of others.