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Dawood -- Did Criminal Mastermind Stage Mumbai Nightmare?

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  • Shaji John K
    Dawood -- Did Criminal Mastermind Stage Mumbai Nightmare? New America Media, Commentary By Yoichi Shimatsu, November 28, 2008
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2008
      Dawood -- Did Criminal Mastermind Stage Mumbai Nightmare?

      New America Media,
      By Yoichi Shimatsu,
      November 28, 2008


      The coordinated nighttime assault against seven major
      targets in Mumbai is reminiscent of the 1993 bombings
      that devastated the Bombay Stock Exchange. The recent
      attack bears the fingerprints of the same criminal
      mastermind - meticulous preparation, ruthless execution
      and the absence of claims or demands.

      The eerie silence that accompanied the blasts are the
      very signature of Ibrahim Dawood, now a multi-
      millionaire owner of a construction company in Karachi,
      Pakistan. His is hardly a household name around the
      world like Osama bin Laden. Across South Asia, however,
      Dawood is held in awe and, in a twist on morals,
      admired for his belated conversion from crime boss to
      self-styled avenger.

      His rise to the highest rungs of India's underworld
      began from the most unlikely position as the diligent
      son of a police constable in the populous commercial
      capital then known as Bombay.

      His childhood familiarity with police routine and inner
      workings of the justice system gave the ambitious
      teenager an unmatched ability to outwit the authorities
      with evermore clever criminal designs. Among the
      unschooled ranks of Bombay gangland, Ibrahim emerged as
      the coherent leader of a multi-religious mafia, not
      just due to his ability to organize extortion campaigns
      and meet payrolls, but also because of his merciless
      extermination of rivals.

      Dawood, always the professional problem-solver, gained
      the friendship of aspiring officers in India's
      intelligence service known as Research and Analysis
      Wing (RAW). He soon attracted the attention of American
      secret agents, then supporting the Islamic mujahideen
      in their battle against the Soviet occupiers of
      Afghanistan. Dawood personally assisted many a U.S.
      deep-cover operation funneling money to Afghan rebels
      via American-operated casinos in Kathmandu, Nepal.

      Eager to please all comers, Dawood occasionally got his
      wires crossed, providing travel documents and other
      amenities to Islamist airplane hijackers. In response,
      Washington spymasters tried to unofficially "impound"
      his investment in the Nepalese casinos. Dawood's fury
      is legendary among locals. An honorable businessman, he
      held to the strict belief that a deal is a deal and
      there can be no reneging for any reason.

      As Bombay moved into the league of Asia's premier
      cities - hotel rates and apartment rentals are the
      highest in the region - Dawood could have led a
      comfortable life as top dog. Instead he suffered a
      spasm of conscience, a newfound moral outrage, when
      rightwing Hindu nationalists destroyed a mosque in
      northern India in 1992, slaying 2000 Muslim
      worshippers, mostly women and children.

      One a day in the following May, his henchmen set off
      bombs across Bombay, killing more than 300 people. His
      personal convictions had - uncharacteristically -
      overcome his dispassionate business ethics. Reeling in
      shock, his top lieutenant, a Hindu, attempted to
      assassinate Dawood. A bloody intra-gang war followed,
      but as always Dawood triumphed, even while away in
      exile in Dubai and Karachi.

      In the ensuing decade, at the height of violence in
      Kashmir, Dawood sent his heavily armed young trainees
      by boat from Karachi on covert landings onto Indian
      beaches. This same method was used in the Mumbai
      assault with more boats, seven craft according to
      initial navy reports.

      Why the timing of this raid, on the dawn of
      Thanksgiving in America? The leader of India's
      opposition and former deputy Prime Minister L. K.
      Advani had long sought Dawood's extradition from
      Pakistan, a move opposed by the then military
      government in Islamabad. With the restoration of
      civilian rule, the new Pakistani prime minister
      (Gillani) consented to New Delhi's deportation request.

      Washington and London both agreed with the India's
      legal claim and removed the longstanding "official
      protection" accorded for his past services to Western
      intelligence agencies. U.S. diplomats, however, could
      never allow Dawood's return. He simply knows too much
      about America's darker secrets in South Asia and the
      Gulf, disclosure of which could scuttle U.S.-India
      relations. Dawood was whisked away in late June to a
      safe house in Quetta, near the tribal area of
      Waziristan, and then he disappeared, probably back to
      the Middle East.

      As in the case of America's Afghan war protégé Osama
      bin Laden, the blowback to U.S. covert policy came
      suddenly, this time with spectacular effects in Mumbai.
      The assault on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel will probably
      go down as the first lethal blow to the incoming Obama
      administration. The assailants, who spoke Punjabi and
      not the Deccan dialect, went to a lot of trouble to
      torch the prestigious hotel, which is owned by the Tata
      Group. This industrial giant is the largest business
      supporter of the U.S.-India nuclear cooperation
      agreement, and Tata is now planning to become a nuclear
      power supplier. The Clintons, as emissaries of Enron,
      were the first to suggest the nuclear deal with New
      Delhi, so Obama inherits the Mumbai catastrophe even
      before he takes office.

      Dawood, ranks fourth on Forbes' list of the world's 10
      most wanted fugitives from the law. After the new round
      of attacks that killed more than 100 people and laid
      waste top five-star hotels, Dawood can now contend for
      the No.1 spot in the coming months and years. In
      contrast to the fanatic and often ineffective bin
      Laden, Dawood is professional on all counts and
      therefore a far more formidable adversary. Yet some in
      Pakistan's military intelligence agency say that Dawood
      is dead, killed in July. This version of events is much
      the same as a variation of the bin Laden story. If
      true, then his underlings are carrying on the mission
      of an outlaw transfigured into a legend.

      Yoichi Shimatsu. Former editor of The Japan Times in
      Tokyo and journalism lecturer at Tsinghua University in
      Beijing,, Shimatsu has covered the Kashmir crisis and
      Afghan War.

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