India cannot pin all the blame on outsiders

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November 28, 2008

Radical Islamist terrorism has flourished among the sub-continent’s seething mixture of racial and religious rivalries

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Images of that great Bombay monument, the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, engulfed in flames and thick billowing smoke cannot help but recall the collapsing twin towers of 9/11. The attack seems to bear all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda operation.

The terrorists chose Bombay (Mumbai), the New York of India; they targeted iconic buildings – the Taj and the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, the flamboyant mini-St Pancras that is redolent of the Raj-era glory days. The terrorists are reported to have been daring in their approach – they arrived by sea not far from the Raj’s 1911 monument to itself, the basalt Gateway of India.

The Bombay outrage is a reminder of how crucial South Asia is in the creation of radical Islamist terrorism. Although the US often points the finger at Europe as its main incubator, it is in the sub-continent and the surrounding arc of states, simmering with ethnic and religious rivalries, that Islamist extremism thrives. Continue reading