By now, it appears that most of the dust has settled in Mumbai.

It has been asked, in a few places, why these kind of coordinated mass shootings aren’t more common.  My own personal theory is that they aren’t more common because they don’t have the payout-to-reward ratio of a car bomb (or similar.)

We don’t appear to have a solid count on the number of bad guys, but the lowest estimate I’ve seen in the news was fifteen.  Reports from eyewitnesses indicate that the bad guys were fairly well trained; communicating and covering each other in pairs, and that sort of thing.  Not exactly DevGrp material, but that kind of training of 15+ shooters takes time and money.

Now, according to local media reports, all of the bad guys were captured or killed.  That’s 15 or more trained shooters, thrown away, for a body count that could have been had with one car bomb (ref. 1993 Mumbai Stock Exchange bombing, 2007 commuter rail bombings, etc.)  Objectively, that’s a pretty bitter success.

The thinking behind this kind of attack is really a matter only for speculation (likely the captured terrorists will have something to say about this – the police in India have a bad reputation for abuse at the best of times.)  Perhaps the organization had a surplus of shooters but not of material.  This seems unlikely, unless recent U.S. and European interdiction activities have been a lot more successful than they usually are.  Myself, I think that asian terrorists have the same basic problem as American school shooters – they want to be famous more than effective.  Multiple spree shootings are good for grabbing headlines, if not for killing infidels.

One further note – Y’all are packing your guns, right?  The Mumbai attacks were an operational failure, but that’s likely no comfort to the people caught up in them…

Update – Bruce Schneier has some comments on the attack. Worth reading. Link via Reason Magazine’s Hit and Run blog.


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