By Susan Ryder:
It could be the latest Frederick Forsyth.
- Meticulous planning that took more than a year
- Detailed reconnaissance training
- Remote mountain camps in Kashmir
- Marine commando techniques
- Covert acquisition of ships
- Hijacking fishing boats
- Stockpiling weapons while holed up in the Taj Mahal hotel, itself.
But it’s not the latest Forsyth, more’s the pity. It’s not fiction. It’s commentary from the London Telegraph via yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, reportedly from the sole captured Mumbai terrorist, Ajmal Amir Kasab, aged 21. “We wanted to kill 5000,” the newspaper quotes him as saying. Kasab and his cohorts fell a bit short of the mark, getting 172 as of yesterday; 172 innocent people including children, who this time last week were alive and well and planning for long and fruitful lives.
An end-of-year prize-giving ceremony was held at a secondary school in Sydney last Thursday evening. While the Principal was addressing the large turnout, there was a disturbance in the audience. It quickly became obvious that there was a problem that didn’t look like resolving itself in a hurry. Within seconds the horrified audience watched two students – sisters – gasp with horror and turn white with shock as they were bundled out of the auditorium by weeping family and friends.
News travels quickly and bad news the fastest of all. It transpired that the girls had just been informed that their father, in Mumbai on business, had been formally identified as one of the murdered.
Q: Do you think Kasab feels any sorrow – the tiniest bit – for having been party to deliberately taking the life of an innocent businessman from the other side of the Indian Ocean? Of depriving an innocent family of their much-loved dad? Well, do you?
Unless I have to be elsewhere, I routinely talk to my sister in Sydney every Friday night. We usually yak for ages, catching up with what each other’s been doing and swapping family news. We especially relish reliving old family stories guaranteed to bore all senseless, including the participants. We discuss politics, films, books and important stuff like facts about the Bay City Rollers whom we both loved with a passion 30+ years ago. (I’m not joking. You don’t joke about real love -- and that’s what it was, so there). It’s the sort of female phone call that men (most men … like 99 out of 100) just don’t get.
There was none of that last Friday. It was a sombre call and very brief. You just can’t scream with laughter over abject nonsense when your sister’s colleague is barricaded in the bathroom of his Oberoi hotel room in Mumbai and has been for two days. That the SAS has told him to push a mattress between the door and whatever heavy furniture he can drag over, as a makeshift shock absorber in the event of an explosion. That he’s had little or no food. That he doesn’t know what the hell’s going on for most of the time. That his cellphone’s almost out of battery and the power’s off. That while his Australian passport may (or not) offer some ‘protection,’ his religion, should it be discovered, is another story. You see, my sister’s colleague is Jewish.
After I hung up, I thought about the first Muslims I ever came across. It was in London’s Paddington where I lived in a grungy place just around the corner from the famous old station. Like Kasab, I was 21. Funds were tight, and I used to walk miles to avoid tube fares. Walking down to Oxford Street involved navigating Edgeware Road, which I always dreaded, thanks to its inhabitants who seemed to consist solely of young Muslim males. These guys never seemed to do anything, except loll about the footpaths mouthing obscenities at passing women. I’ve never been good at taking crap from anybody, least of all sexist pigs, and I was determined to stop them.
My efforts were in vain. The obscenities became so bad, so quickly, that I sought drastic action. I bought a Walkman, which I had vowed and declared I would never do (being anti-social, you see). I could then cheerfully walk past them all and not hear a thing. I can truthfully say that I detested those individuals, each and every one of them. I would have been delighted to change my mind had I met one – just one – who didn’t look upon me as nothing more than a piece of meat, but I never did. And what really disgusted me was that this feudal nonsense was occurring in one of the world’s leading western capitals.
Earlier last Friday, Paul Holmes chatted with Mike Hosking and Wendyl Nissen. When he opened the segment by deriding the terror in Mumbai, Wendyl immediately jumped in to remind us all that “not all Muslims are terrorists” and “most Muslims are lovely people,” blah blah.
I wonder if Wendyl would have been so quick to be so tempered had she personally known somebody trapped and terrified in the Trident-Oberoi right at that moment? Or if her children had received the horrific news of their father’s murder the night before?
Memo to the Wendyls of this world: Most of us know that all Muslims aren’t terrorists, thanks. Most of us aren’t altogether stupid. But the cold, hard truth is that while not all Muslims are terrorists – all terrorists right now would appear to be Muslim.
It’s been a long time since I walked down the Edgeware Road. I wonder if the next generation of young western women are being hassled by the next generation of young Muslim males. Something tells me it’d be a safe bet.
* * Read more of Sus’s brave and brilliant words at Sus’s Soundbites * *
Ridhima Mehra recounts the ordeal she went through trying to get a licence for her late father’s gun. “Even though my husband is a senior government official, I had a tough time,” she says.
Now that she has finally got the permission to keep the gun, she cannot buy the bullets that go into it. ”We don’t have a licence for the bullets,” she says.
Consider how less enthusiastic shooty terrorists might be to swarm a city if they knew their targets could shoot back.
Wake up and strike terrorism with an iron hand, say Bollywood’s stars shocked by the brazen terror attack that targeted Mumbai’s poshest areas.
Shilpa Shetty further nails it: “This is an open war against humanity.”