Sunday, November 30, 2008

Almonds and Blackberrys for Mumbai Terrorists!

This is not so much an article of biased media report, but it is closely related to what we discussed in class a while ago about the importance of keeping pace with modern technologies. We talked about how technologies such as RSS feeds or SMS are importance to journalists to bring the news to the public asap. Not only journalists, but also terrorists, are utilizing new technologies. I found an article on about how terrorists in the Mumbai attack over the weekend have been using Blackberry to keep updated with news, domestic as well as international, since the government cut all cable TV feeds into the buildings.

They managed to attack the Chatrapati Shivaji railway station, Cama Hospital - a charitable hospital for women and children, Cafe Leopold - a common hangout place for tourists, Taj Mahal and the Oberoi/Trident Hotels, a Jewish center which also houses visiting Israelis.

Besides standard weapons and tools such as automatic weapons, grenades, fake identity cards and credit cards, connection with insiders of the hotels...the most important weapons, according to, were " humble mobile phones and internet technology" - Blackberrys. This was totally unexpected by the anti-terrorist forces. They could cut cable lines to the hotels, but how would they block the terrorists' internet access?

The use of Blackberrys provides the terrorists with a major advantage in a battle like this: knowing their enemies. They gain access to public reaction of the event on a global scope. They are updated of the political situations. They have eyes everywhere. These are major strengths compared to conventional terrorist attacks.

After all, these terrorists are just like one of us, who are familiar with and knowledgeable about the tools we use in our everyday lives. Just like a journalist needs to know the tools available to his job, the terrorist needs to know the tools available for him to achieve his goals.

On the first day of the attack, I also got to watch a video on CNN of a journalist reporting to CNN from a hotel room. I don't know what happened to him after that, whether he survived or not. But one thing for sure, he had helped the public gain insight about the situation, a view from an insider, a person who was right at the spot, one whose faith was still undecided.

It's hard to say whether technology helps life for the better or worse. It assists people in carrying out good acts just as much as destructive ones. It's just the matter of who uses it more efficiently. If our enemy uses it well, it's our job to understand the technology and think of ways to override it.

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