Monday, February 15, 2010

Bombay and the War Against Jihadism

Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, sheds light on one aspect of the terror war that we in the West fail to appreciate: terrorist links to organized crime. Bombay is flooded with organized criminal activity, but the gangs are nominally split down ethnic/religious lines. The most influential Hindu-affiliated gang, Rajan Company, was formed in opposition to the most influential Muslim gang, the Dawood Company. The latter group is headed by Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian Muslim allegedly living in Pakistan, who met personally with Osama Bin Laden outside of Kabul on at least one occasion in the 90's and is seen by many to be intertwined heavily with Pakistani Intelligence Services. Moreover, the Taliban, as we are aware, are financed heavily by opium farming and smuggling and enjoy ISI protection as well. Mehta notes that the battle between Hindu and Muslim criminal gangs in Bombay is not so much about ethnic or religious differences in and of themselves. In fact, a large share of the hitmen in these outfits are mercenaries who detach their ruthless occupation from religious mores and their traditional domestic lives. Mehta insists many in the Bombay gang wars are waging a nihilistic battle against history itself. I wonder if on the most macro level that is what global Islamic terrorism sees itself as doing as well? Is it too sentimental of a claim?

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