On November 26, 2008, the city of Mumbai, India experienced a terrorist attack by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that would go on for 60 hours and cost the lives of 172 people. LeT is a Pakistan-based terrorist group with the declared goal of liberating Kashmir and breaking up India. India is ruled by the Hindu, but the LeT, being a Muslim group, opposes the majority government. There has been a long history of antagonism between the majority Hindu population and the minority Muslim population, which has caused much violence and terrorist attacks. What made the attack in Mumbai in 2008 different was the expansive use of technology by the terrorists and their ability to use information from live TV, internet news, and social media to make their attack so prolonged and deadly. This was not a suicide attack as 9/11 or many others, but rather a no-surrender attack targeting foreigners and the local elite. The attack demonstrated how the internet and information technologies can be turned into deadly tools by terrorists, and it may provide a glimpse of future terrorist attacks, greatly influencing law enforcement response planning.
The attackers had arrived by sea on a hijacked sailing boat after killing the crew of the boat. The attackers were heavily armed with AK-56 automatic rifles, hand grenades, and several highly explosive improvised explosive devices. The 10 attackers split into four groups, each having a different target, and began their highly sequential and mobile attack on high-impact targets in the city of Mumbai. The targets had been strategically selected to attract as much international attention as possible and kill as many people as possible in a short period of time. The main targets were two large luxury hotels (the famous Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and the Oberoi-Trident Hotel), the main train station, a hospital, a Jewish residential complex, and the stock exchange. The first group of two attackers began in the train station and then continued to the Cama & Abless Hospital where they continued to kill mostly Indian citizens. This team of two killed one third of the victims before they were stopped by police. One of the attackers was killed and the other captured.
The second team of attackers attacked a Jewish commercial-residential complex where they took 13 hostages, killing five of them. The third two-man team stormed the luxury Oberoi-Trident hotel where they started shooting inside the lobby and continued their attack for 17 hours, killing 30 people. The largest attacker group went to the famous Taj Mahal Palace Hotel where they moved their way up through the corridors shooting guests along the way. The attackers monitored news media, social media like Facebook and Twitter, and used their own technology, including cell phones, satellite phone, and Skype, to stay ahead of the police. The command central gave constant instructions to the attackers about where the police were, where to go next, and other strategic information. The attackers confused India’s police by calling them and making demands in exchange for releasing hostages, making it appear as if this was a hostage situation.
At 11:08, the Indian government asked all people to stop posting updates on Twitter. “ALL LIVE UPDATES – PLEASE STOP TWEETING about #Mumbai police and military operations,” a tweet says. Eventually, police ended the attack (Rabasa et al., 2009). The attack by the LeT provided a daunting picture of what future terrorist attacks may look like and how social media may influence attacks. Thus, the significance of the Mumbai attacks for future terrorist and other attacks lies in the sophistication and effective use of information technology. This type of advanced technological attack will likely become more common and make it more difficult for law enforcement, and likely result in more victims.
Write a 1,050- to 1,400-word paper about what you would do in case of a terror attack. Include the following:
*In addition to the above scenario, what ways do you think terror groups today can leverage technology to either launch an attack or otherwise help their cause?
*What actions and results are needed for an attack to be considered cyberterrorism?
*Can the effects of cyberterrorism affect more than just the virtual world? Explain.
*As a criminal justice response, what is the most effective ways to mitigate the role technology can play in helping cyberterrorist?