Patterico's Pontifications

11/30/2008

Mumbai Hotel Boss: You Wanted We Should Guard the Back Door Too?

Filed under: Terrorism — Patterico @ 10:32 am

They did everything they could. Except put extra security at the back door:

The Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, India, temporarily increased security after being warned of a possible terrorist attack, the chairman of the company that owns the hotel said Saturday.

But Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata said those measures, which were eased shortly before this week’s terror attacks, could not have prevented gunmen from entering the hotel.

. . . .

However, Tata said the attackers did not enter through the entrance that has a metal detector. Instead, they came in a back entrance, he said.

“They knew what they were doing, and they did not go through the front. All of our arrangements are in the front,” he said.

Who would ever think terrorists would come in the back door?!?!

P.S. Mickey’s friend says the back door was locked. Well, there you have it, then. They must have teleported in.

21 Responses to “Mumbai Hotel Boss: You Wanted We Should Guard the Back Door Too?”

  1. Let the excuses begin ! This was a monumental failure of intelligence and reaction to a crisis. The Indians seem to have the will to react; their ship sank the pirate “mothership” off Somalia while the NATO countries are still dithering. What they need is good local leadership and training. They have enough excuses.

    Mike K (6c3bc7)

  2. Anybody knows that proper, upper class terrorists, would use the front door, not the servants entrance.

    After all, the 9/11 terrorist flew first class, not coach.

    Perfect Sense (9d1b08)

  3. I am in the high-risk contract security industry and see this “The appearance of security is enough” mentality all the time.

    As long as customers see something that makes them feel comfortable enough to spend more money than the facade costs, that is all that you need to do and not one iota more.

    When the inevitable happens, send out the spokesman with sufficiently weepy eyes and a sad look on their face to say “We didn’t know this could happen…it has never happened before” and viola, the instant cloak of “not foreseeable” is donned and liability is difficult to attach.

    Pathetic…truly and sincerely pathetic…

    MJN1957 (6e1275)

  4. Mike K. #1,

    No. It was not the mother ship. It was a Thailandese fishing trawler the pirates had just captured. The Indians killed all its crew in the process as well and then lied about it being a “mother ship” as though the truth would not come out eventually.

    We are talking about a country which in, my lifetime, allowed a million people to die of starvation in the streets of this very same Bombay. Where burning a bride alive because her dowry was inadequate goes unpunished.

    The handling of this episode was purely within the fundamental Indian ethos that life is cheap.

    nk (5fa892)

  5. If ten terrorists want to kill 500 people, there is nothing that can prevent it. You only have to imagine how you would do it with 9 helpers. Someone will get the blame for not stopping you, but you planned it out knowing you couldn’t be stopped. They would need several security guards at every door of every building with people in it, and backup security guards as reinforcements after you kill the first line of defense.

    You can prevent certain kinds of terrorism by shooting people who look a certain way on the spot before they enter the building. That wouldn’t work in India where the Muslims look like the Hindus. It hurts people to admit these things so they look for scapegoats to assuage their fears.

    jcurtis (524ed8)

  6. Yes, a lot of it is scapegoating, BUT…what is the matter with this culture, that the fishermen who saw the terrorists come ashore did nothing, not even an anonymous call to the police? I think that speaks volumes–people there must have such a small buy-in to their roles as citizens that it’s simply “I don’t care.”

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  7. Itś not so simple, Patricia. The mad mass of people that is India, Mumbai especially, means it is difficult to ascertain who is a troublemaker, an antisocial element much less a terrorist. To the credit of the fisherfolk they did challenge them, and when they did not get a satisfactory response, they went to the police station. The problem is that there are so many hoax calls and false alarms that the police reacts to them warily.

    I imagine disaster management in India is going to be transformed by this event in unprecedented terms. Civic responsibilities, emergency notifications, response teams will all be a part of it.

    India has done this before in places like Punjab. The difference now is that with the war being fought on a global scale, this will have to happen all across the country.

    Not so simple (fb729d)

  8. I should say, Ratan Tataś comment was pretty stupid, considering the situation. Surprises me given that he has usually proven to be a circumspect and thoughtful individual in the past.

    Not so simple (fb729d)

  9. Sounds like some major ass-covering is underway, indeed. They (the Taj management and the security agencies) knew better, but through a combination of complacency and incompetence, were vulnerable.

    I stayed at the Taj for 10 days in early October. At the time, heightened security measures were in effect (as terrorist bombings had occured in India immediately before and during my stay) and the only entrance was via the main lobby (at the base of the high-rise tower on the northwestern end of the hotel).

    Entrance was made only after you passed through a double bag search and the metal detector. No armed guards were present; only hotel staff for security.

    Directly across the street is the Gateway of India. 5 years ago, a bombing there killed almost twenty people. My balcony, which overlooked the Gateway, was covered with shrapnel-resistant wire mesh.

    belloscm (d3b446)

  10. If ten terrorists want to kill 500 people, there is nothing that can prevent it.

    I don’t believe that to be true at all, due to the countless intelligence triumphs over the past years in Western countries since 9/11. India has become infamous over the past few years in severely underfunding their intelligence agencies and strike response teams, and you saw this firsthand when the first responders had only handguns (!) in which to battle terrorists armed with submachine guns and explosives. Ridiculous and pathetic, they’ve had countless opportunities to improve their internal and external security operations due to prior heinous attacks in other cities, and there is no excuse for such a poor performance anymore. There was also prior discussion of rerouting the main drag that went through the high – profile hotel/restaurant properties, and nothing was ever done about that preventative action.

    Dmac (e30284)

  11. NK,#4

    What designates a pirated ship as the “mother ship?” Must be the Skull and Crossbones being flown from the main mast, eh?

    All of the “mother ships” operated by the pirates have been stolen from their rightful owners and some of them have been put to an operational use (i.e., “mothership”). Could the Thai trawler have been captured and converted to a nefarious purpose? But, hey, maybe the pirates failed to update the registration from trawler to pirate mothership. It could happen.

    It would appear that the facts of this encounter are still in dispute. One wouldn’t know that from your declarative statement: “No. It was not the mother ship.” Based entirely upon a claim of the “owner,” someone who has a financial interest in the final designation.

    belloscm (d3b446)

  12. Just because our corporate idiots have found cheap labor there, it does not make those benighted, third-world shitholes not benighted, third-world shitholes.

    nk (5fa892)

  13. Based on this story[object] it would appear that the vessel in question displayed characteristics of a pirate vessel. What does Admiralty Law say about vessels taken on the high seas and used by pirates? Answer: Pirate ship; to be dealt with in an appropriate manner.

    Kind of odd that the Royal Navy did not notify other naval vessels in the area via NOTAM that the Thai trawler and it’s crew had been commandeered and was being held hostage.

    It’s been almost two weeks since the incident and I haven’t heard of any corroboration of this from other sources. Also missing corroboration on “not a pirate ship.” No absense of agenda-driven opinions, though.

    belloscm (d3b446)

  14. Tata? The new owner of Jaguar.
    Does this mean they’re going to remove the locks from the trunks (boots) of the cars to match the security they had at the Taj?

    But then, as has been mentioned in this thread re the Thai trawler, and is mentioned here re the terrorists, there doesn’t seem to be any reluctance within the Indian Military/Security forces to ensure there is a minimum of recidivism with encountered terrorists/pirates.

    Another Drew (bb6514)

  15. Not So Simple,
    Where does it say the fishermen went to the police station?

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  16. Did you even read the story you linked to in #14, belloscm?

    The boat had a tracking device on board, Wicharn said in a phone interview from Bangkok, and the company immediately reported the hijacking and the boat’s location to the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur, Malayasia, the clearinghouse for reports of piracy.

    The bureau broadcast the news of the hijacking to various ports, other ships in the area and the coalition of navies that helps maintain a maritime security corridor in the gulf.

    “We got the report and sent out the information,” said Noel Choong, head of the piracy reporting center. “The Thai company did the correct thing.”

    A British Navy ship then approached the Ekawat Nava 5, but the pirates “brought out our crew and used them as human shields,” Wicharn said.

    The warship backed away, he said.

    “They said they couldn’t do anything because they feared for the safety of the crew.”

    nk (5fa892)

  17. All it takes for evil to prosper, is for good men to do nothing.

    Another Drew (bb6514)

  18. Itś not so simple, Patricia. The mad mass of people that is India, Mumbai especially, means it is difficult to ascertain who is a troublemaker, an antisocial element much less a terrorist.

    Precisely.

    And the backdoor thing isn’t so idiotic. You concentrate metal detectors where people will be coming and going, and you lock the other doors.
    Look at almost any secure location- airports have doors open to the tarmac, embassies and even the White House have blocks of unmanned fence.
    I’ve stayed in places where they stop you and do the mirror-thing under your car, but they don’t stop and search everyone coming off the beach.

    You have to do what is reasonable. Sadly, you often find out what would have been more reasonable after someone finds the weak point in your security.
    Who thought a few box cutters would bring down the twin towers, right?

    MayBee (995268)

  19. Why yes, I did read the report. Sounded like an AIS transponder reporting a vessel in distress. Still waiting for the timeline of the reported hijacking and the coalition naval response.

    Where it falls apart for me, and leaves me questioning this version of events, is that the Brit “warship backed away” and apparently departed the area. Can’t believe that they would have proceeded beyond visual range from a hijacked vessel and have allowed the INS ship to close the scene without warning or coordination.

    Just curious, but where and what is the RN version of this encounter? Maybe the Brits are not eager to contradict the Indian version of events. Perhaps the RN recognizes that the IN is doing what euro sqeamishness prevents the Brits from doing. You know, dealing effectively with the enemies of civilization.

    If the INS ship was responding in an appropriate manner to the IMB alert and was taken under fire, would not the accepted ROE have allowed for a return of fire? For some, the right of self defense has priority over all other concerns.

    belloscm (d3b446)

  20. Tata might just have to change its corporate motto from “Leadership and Trust,” to something more accurate as “Denial and Lowest Bid.”

    Pat Patterspn (f44efe)


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