- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The recent terrorist strikes in Mumbai highlights the bravery of the men and women who sacrificed to end the siege.

For three days, 10 men armed with assault rifles, grenades and explosives launched a killing and terror spree. The city’s cafes, hotels, streets, central railway station, hospitals and a Jewish center were the scenes of a murderous rampage that resulted in scores dead and injured. Investigations are underway to determine exactly what happened and how, but prevention - not mere reaction - must be the primary goal of any security planning.

What is known is that Indian police lacked such basic law-enforcement equipment as two-way radios and bulletproof vests, and had outdated firearms. To get to Mumbai - India’s largest city and its financial capital - India’s National Security Guard had to be transported from New Delhi. But even amid the murderous rampage, Indian forces saved lives and killed nine of the 10 terrorists.

India’s coastline is vulnerable, and security must be improved. The terrorists penetrated the coastline of Mumbai - a sprawling, largely unprotected gateway into the city. Public places need tighter security. India is a nation now keenly aware of the evil that jihadist men do.

What must occur now for this Western ally is clear: Indian authorities need to erect a modern, efficient counterterror organization.

The assault in Mumbai is another in a long list which includes terrorist strikes in Delhi, Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, resulting in the death of more than 4,000 people since 2004. Indian military and police officers need better training and equipment. In 2004, the ruling Congress party abolished a federal antiterrorism law that provided additional police powers and witness protection. Now the government will need to pass antiterrorism legislation and invest heavily in its military, intelligence, and fire and police services.

The terrorists are solely to blame for their deeds. Yet the Indian government must also demonstrate a firm and unbending commitment to protect its citizens.

America, Britain and other allies can play a vital role by helping India outline a counterterrorist strategy, as the international community seeks to ensure that there is stability in nuclear-armed India and its Pakistani neighbor. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, under withering criticism since the Mumbai attacks, has promised to strengthen maritime and air security, expand the military and establish new military bases. India, the world’s largest democracy, is not alone when it comes to proving that freedom and security go hand in hand. The nations of the West must stand with India.

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