Terrorism or High-Tech Consulting? Hmm, tough choice

I had one of those ‘whaaaaaat?’ moments reading the coverage of the latest arrests in the Mumbai 7/11 blasts investigation. Faisal and Muzamil Shaikh are brothers; Faisal is thought to have arranged for several others accused of conspiracy in the bombings to go to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) training camps across the border in Pakistan. It seems unclear exactly what Muzamil’s role was, though this paragraph in the Times article does contain a surprising detail:

Faisal Shaikh, the police said, appeared to have organized the passage of the others to Pakistan for military training. Muzamil Shaikh, on the other hand, while eager to follow his brother into a radical Islamist group, seems to have had second thoughts after being offered a position at Oracle. He had been employed on a contract basis, said a police officer who was part of the interrogations, pending the completion of company training. (link)

This is the first time I’ve heard of someone not in a movie choosing between life as a murderer, driven by a distorted kind of religious ideology, and life as a highly-paid employee in a blue-ribbon multinational corporation.

I’m also trying to parse Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s statements on Friday regarding the arrests so far:

Notwithstanding India’s assertions about the Lashker-e-Taiba’s (LeT) involvement in major terrorist strikes like the July 11 blasts in Mumbai, Pakistan has said it has no “prejudicial” evidence against the group.

Pointing out that the LeT was banned in his country, Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said, “We donÂ’t see any evidence of their activity thatÂ’s prejudicial.” (link)

What does he mean exactly by “prejudicial evidence”? Since the suspects have confessed to training in Pakistani territory, you would think that would be “dispositive” — at least on the question of whether Pakistan is doing enough to clamp down on the LeT. Perhaps he’s specifically referring to the 7/11 blasts? Even if so, this is a frustrating response: a more responsible thing to do would be to send troops to Muzaffarabad and surrounding areas, and destroy any camps that are still operating. A more responsible thing to say would be, “sorry.”

17 thoughts on “Terrorism or High-Tech Consulting? Hmm, tough choice

  1. It is only a wishful thinking that Pakistan would voluntarily destroy the terrorist camps. Unless, Indian Government raises the cost of terrorism for Pakistan and its allies Bangladesh, they will not do [anything] to stop terrorists. We should begin by imposing a air/sea/communication blockade on the Bangladesh until they hand over the terrorist that they have in their country.

  2. Even if so, this is a frustrating response: a more responsible thing to do would be to send troops to Muzaffarabad and surrounding areas, and destroy any camps that are still operating. A more responsible thing to say would be, “sorry.”

    I can’t tell if you are serious or not, but assuming that you are then your expectation is based on the false premise that Pakistan is interested in actually stopping terrorism against India. In fact, it is the mission of the Islamist military-jihadist complex comprising of the Pak army and its front operations like LeT to destroy India. LeT has repeatedly said that conquest over Kashmir is merely the first step, their mission is to break India and bring Islamic rule over Hindus. Every terrorist attack on India notches up a success and is an occasion for jubiliation. What incentive do they have to stop this from happening?

  3. Gujjubhai, I also don’t think Shaukat Aziz is being sincere, but the LeT’s desire to bring “Islamic rule over Hindus” is irrelevant. What’s more interesting to me are the diplomatic maneuverings that are beginning to rumble, and that will get louder if the ATS finds more evidence of a Pakistan connection. Pakistan is actually in the weaker position here, and even though the politicians in that country sometimes seem to have a weak grasp of reality, I think they know it.

    I’m genuinely curious about what people think of his use of the word “prejudicial.”

  4. The Pakistani statements are getting a loony, one of their spokeswomen in the foreign ministry apparently made the following remarks in reaction to speculative reports of some sort of Indian military action. She said it was a “highly irresponsible” idea. “Do they want a nuclear war in this region, a holocaust?”"

    Link: http://www.hindu.com/2006/07/27/stories/2006072708721200.htm (Via Nitin Pai)

    Clearly they are unstable.

  5. Amardeep,

    Thank you for making it clear. Did Shaukat Aziz mean to say that the evidence is prejudicial? Although Indian courts do not host juries grand or small, standards regarding admissibility of evidence are complex and strict. That is one of the reasons why cases take so long to come to trial. Inviting lawyers, philosophers, and litterateurs to throw more light on the topic.

  6. The relevant excerpt from the interview given to Outlook runs as follows:

    There’s a lot of talk in India about the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and its current avatar, Jamaat-ud-Daawa. What is your understanding of these groups? There is a lot of talk. We have said we will act if there is concrete evidence. These are people who have a view on Kashmir, always have. The LeT is a banned organisation. We don’t see any evidence of their activity that is prejudicial. We’ve done a lot to transform some of these people. The Jammat-ud-Daawa did a lot of work after the earthquake.

    I thought that looking at his statement in context might help; unfortunately, it appears not. The following explanation of prejudice as used in law is not of much help either. We can only guess what Mr. Aziz meant; I have to confess I have really no idea what he is trying to say when he talks about not having seen any evidence that is prejudicial. It raises the point, though, that he has seen some evidence – presumably non-prejudicial – relating to the LeT; wonder what that is?

  7. From the Wikipedia:

    In many common-law jurisdictions such as England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, the term “without prejudice” is also used in the course of negotiations to indicate that a particular conversation or letter is not to be tendered as evidence in court. Such correspondences must be made in the course of negotiations and must be a genuine attempt to settle a dispute between the parties. It may not be used as a facade to conceal facts or evidence from the court and as such a document marked “without prejudice” that does not actually contain any offer of settlement can be submitted should the matter proceed to court.

    I do apologize for this follow-up post, but the link that I had given in message #5 also contains the wikipedia explanation which I had somehow overlooked. I believe that the above excerpt of the wikipedia explanation tells us what Mr. Aziz is trying to say. Simply put, he is saying that India has not provided any evidence that will actually stand in a court of law. Remember that both India and Pakistan (despite it being an “Islamic” state) follow the Anglo-Saxon law that they inherited from the British.

  8. Thanks, Suresh. That sounds like a pretty likely explanation, though I suppose someone could question whether he’s actually using the term correctly. (But perhaps that would be reading too much into it.)

    Now Aziz’s other comment about Jammat-ud-Daawa is annoying me: “We’ve done a lot to transform some of these people.” Evidently it hasn’t been enough!

  9. Muzamil Shaikh, on the other hand, while eager to follow his brother into a radical Islamist group, seems to have had second thoughts after being offered a position at Oracle. He had been employed on a contract basis

    Apologies for stating the obvious, but wouldn’t Muzamil’s previous “interest” now cause Oracle to seriously re-consider his current contract with them (or at least with regards to considering him as a long-term-but-non-permanent hire), considering the facts that have now publicly come to light ?

    Ditto for any future potential employers, no ?

    Yes I know I’ll probably get the prize this week for stating the completely obvious

  10. BTW, does anyone else find ti scary that thelikes of Mr Muzamil Shaikh could be working on my banking, phone, cable and zillion other outsourced billing services at Indian BPOs?

  11. “This is the first time IÂ’ve heard of someone not in a movie choosing between life as a murderer, driven by a distorted kind of religious ideology, and life as a highly-paid employee in a blue-ribbon multinational corporation.”

    1. This is not exactly uncommon, read Mark Sageman, Understanding Terrorist Networks. Terrorists more often than not have a technical or engineering education.

      Or read a past NYT Magazine article, which interviewed young men, who were debating between joining Microsoft and joining the jihad.

    2. http://www.geek.com/news/geeknews/2003Aug/bch20030807021214.htm Hawash was making more than $300K at Intel.

    Also see http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1195

  12. The techies are the grunts of the terrorist organizations—the ones who actually wire up the bombs, fly the airplanes and so forth.

    What about the leaders of the terrorist organizations? What about the idealogues? What about the people who carry out the indoctrination? What about the people who provide capital? I am sure they will be from different occupations.

    In my view, terrorism is large (if unlawful) sector of economic activity. It provides active (if unlawful) employment to people of different backgrounds.

  13. man don’t even get me started on Pakistan, or how full of sh*t those ppl are…. I dont know what the Indian politicians are doing with their nuts in their hands. If we had someone like KPS Gill, they’d be akin to what Canada is to the U.S. today. And if they had their act together, and were strong, I think a lot of these ethnic groups that feel neglected (assamese, kashmiris, etc.) would RESPECT them.

    I have noticed that you don’t always have to give in to one’s demands to get their respect, sometimes taking a stand and sticking to it gains respect.

  14. Sonia, that is a very good question — one that’s been nagging me since I put up this post. I’ll be poking around on this question over the next couple of days.

    Meanwhile, I wonder if anyone else has a sense of whether the policies on torture in the Mumbai police have changed since the 1990s, when it was a common practice?

  15. Amardeep: I don’t know about torture, but Punjab’s ex “super-cop”, KPS Gill, has already gone on record criticizing the Mumbai police’s actions:

    Apply that test to Bombay. You have to be even-handed is a platitude. Apply that to Bombay.

    In Bombay, no action when the Shiv Sena was vandalising everything.

    You mean just a few days before the blast?

    Yes. And then the combing operations! It took me years to get rid of that act from the police force. It is absolutely useless, absolutely…

    Provocative?

    Demeaning to anybody who has to go through it. I said go for the man who has done it, not..

    The Bombay police have got it wrong there?

    Entirely wrong. If that is the conception of security, then heaven help us, heaven help the country.

    Not holding my breath on this one. sigh