The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lawlessness does not need much encouragement. The perception that it is becoming increa-singly easier to get away with big operations is quite enough. The truth of such a perception is not important, because the repeated exhibition of bodies of dead terrorists after recent attacks would suggest that the failure rate is very high. The point is lax intelligence: such attacks are possible in the first place only because the administration seems to have no access to the right information at the right time. The enormously successful robbery carried out during midnight mass in a village church in Nadia district was crucially dependent on this knowledge. The gang of robbers used perfect timing, the right combination of guns, bombs and threatening yells, and the precise degree of violence that would intimidate and neutralize the pri- ests and members of the entire congregation present in the church. The accuracy of their detailed knowledge stands out in rather stark contrast to the obliviousness of the local administration. They may have been “border bandits”, but they knew exactly where the funds of the church were stored and also that the villagers put away their savings in the same place. Additionally, the people present there could be stripped of the valuables on them. This is impossible without a local network. Surely it is not enough to know that there are border bandits, it is more important to identify their informants within the localities themselves.

The other ugly dimension to the attack is equally disturbing. With all the lineaments of a pure robbery, the attack was directed against members of a particular minority community during one of their most important religious occasions. Lawlessness thrives on confusion, and the confusion created here is between fundamentalist terrorism and robbery. It is difficult to be rid of a certain sense of malice in the actions of the robbers. The emphasis on “border bandits” would confuse the issue further. A plain robbery, carried out on a big scale it is true, sticking to the traditional methods of banditry once recited to children to frighten them into sleep, has been made to fit into the model of a terrorist attack. The similarities are not there for decoration. They suggest that criminal networks are using the same methods of gathering and transmitting information, and for planning an operation — both for robberies and terrorist attacks.

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