Hurray for Bollywood
Update: Bill Roggio reports that some sources deny Dawood Ibrahim has been arrested., but the story of his life, as reported below, is still interesting.
Two terrorist figures wanted for the 1993 Mumbai bombing were reported arrested near the Pakistani-Afghan border by Pakistani intellgence. The Counterterrorism Blog has the background story of one of those reported arrested who mixed religion, crime, showbusiness, politics and terrorism into a lethal cocktail. It's an interesting portrait that contrasts with the stereotypical image of the ascetic, fanatically religious jihadi that is often portrayed in the press. The Counterterrorism Blog says:
A screenwriter would be challenged to develop a character like Dawood Ibrahim – crime lord, terrorist, spy, and high society figure. For a full profile, see this article by friend of the CT Blog David Kaplan.
Ibrahim was the head of D Company, the top mafia in Mumbai. As everywhere else in the world, mafias frequently have ethnic orientations and Ibrahim became a folk hero to Mumbai’s Muslims. With his immense wealth he bought his way into Bollywood, financing top films.
In December 1992 Hindu extremists destroyed the Babri Mosque in Ayodha which sparked communal rioting in nearby Mombai in which 900 people (mostly Muslim) died. Ibrahim is believed to have collaborated with Pakistani intelligence (particularly through his massive smuggling network) to carry out the March 12, 1993 Mumbai bombings. Shortly before the bombings, Ibrahim and his top deputies fled India. For a time Ibrahim was reportedly based in the UAE, but most analysts claim he has rebuilt his criminal empire and operates out of Karachi. He reportedly lives the high-life and has provided support for al-Qaeda and the Pakistani-based terrorists of Lashkar-e-Toiba (which have been linked to terror attacks in Kashmir and, most notably, the December 2001 attack on India’s parliament that nearly sparked a war between the nuclear powers.
The rumors of Ibrahim’s arrest are unclear. One says that Ibrahim and his deputies were arrested in Quetta (which is also in the vicinity of Mullah Omar’s reported whereabouts.) Other reports are that he was in a brawl at a Karachi hotel (although with a recent Musharraf visit, security was very tight.) Indian security services deny that he is in custody. Pakistani officials claim that they have no idea of his whereabouts – and that if he were in Pakistan they would like to be informed so that he can be apprehended. One report has it that one of Ibrahim’s underworld rivals is spreading these rumors.
Ibrahim’s son-in-law, Javed Miandad (who is a cricket star - Pakistan’s film industry is undeveloped so instead Ibrahim has associated with leading Pakistani cricket players) has said that Ibrahim is not in Pakistan but, “He is well wherever he is.”
Readers of this blog will remember my stories of how the Abu Sayyaf's Commander Robot earned his moniker for proficiency at robotic-style dances. People have been long been puzzling out the problem of why wealthy Saudis and educated Pakistanis should be on the forefront of the Jihad. And one reason -- I do not say it is the only reason -- is that killing infidels is fun and cool for people habituated to their own sense of superiority and cleverness.
My guess is that much of the "religious" part is mumbo-jumbo sprinkled on as stardust on to fool the fatuous and guilty Westerner and so give crime the appearance of virtue. That's not to say that there aren't people who are genuinely willing to blow themselves up for Allah. But some news reports have mentioned the "sale" of suicide bombers -- sometimes poor, devout people offered what to them are staggering sums of money -- from recruiters to terror groups. MITRE has a paper analyzing the Palestinian suicide bomber recruitment industry, for example, and found that the ultimate motivation was hard to pin down, but that personal frustration and economic need figured prominently. Interestingly, one of the things recruiters sought in a candidate was "susceptibility to coercion". What emerges, at least partially, is a picture of suicide bombers sold as a commodity to be fired like factory-made rounds by individuals who would be at comfortable in an expensive suit and laughing all the way to the bank.
Some cynic once said, "There's a sucker born every minute...and two to take 'em.". Maybe it's true. Both in the East and in the West. Who would be dumb enough to be suckered into becoming a suicide bomber? About as many as those willing to be suckered into thinking that terrorists are Minutemen.