The New York Police Department (NYPD) has conducted a simulated militant attack similar to the terror unleashed in Mumbai two years ago, a media report said Tuesday. In the simulation, a team of terrorists launch a coordinated series of bombings and gun attacks around the city. The terrorists also attack police officials visiting the wounded in a hospital. By the time the day-long attacks are over, dozens of people are killed and many wounded, The Wall Street Journal reported. The simulation “deliberately” mirrored the 2008 massacre in Mumbai, when on the night of Nov 26, 2008, 10 gunmen attacked various locations in India’s business hub, including two luxury hotels, a hospital and a railway station.
A total of 166 people were killed in the attack that went on for three days. “Until Mumbai, NYPD counter-terrorism officials felt reasonably comfortable that they were prepared for any type of terrorist attack. But that comfort level was built on preparing for a single event, not a series of coordinated attacks that would terrorise a city for days on end,” the report said.
The terrorist incidents that have actually hit New York, such as the Sep 11, 2001 attacks where terrorists hijacked planes to destroy the World Trade Center, or the foiled Times Square car-bombing attempt in May 2010, were different from the Mumbai-type attacks. “The Mumbai attack two years ago was a bit of a game changer,” said Mitchell Silber, head of NYPD’s intelligence analysis division, said. “It was a model that most counter-terrorism practitioners hadn’t really considered. The armed gunmen roaming around the city taking hostages, that wasn’t something we had seen by any jihadist group. That was a real eye-opener,” Silber said. He said the more NYPD officials learned about the Mumbai attacks “the more similarities we saw between Mumbai city and New York City”. Both are financial centres, both are surrounded by water on three sides and both get intense media attention, he said.
More than 40 commanders took part, and a facilitator introduced complications into the exercise that took place Dec 3.
The NYPD’s top brass gathered inside the department’s headquarters in Manhattan, in the Police Academy on East 20th Street and a third undisclosed location. The police officials were given a fictional scenario that began with President Barack Obama visiting New York for a bill signing. At the same time, convicted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was scheduled to appear in a federal court.
The attacks began with bombings in downtown Manhattan “that resulted in 18 dead and dozens injured”. The president went ahead with the bill signing at the World Trade Center site, when another bomb went off nearby. He was whisked away. But the attack was not over. Six gunmen piled out of a van at Herald Square and opened fire on shoppers and pedestrians. They then entered the Macy’s department store and took 26 hostages.
“As in Mumbai, police in the simulation had trouble containing and anticipating the terrorists,” the report said. At one point, police who tried to rescue hostages were shot by snipers. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Chief of Department Joseph Esposito went to Bellevue Hospital to visit wounded police officers, where both were injured when a bomb exploded inside the emergency room. NYPD’s spokesman Paul Browne said the exercise provided several valuable lessons. Conventional wisdom was that the best way to deal with multiple subway bombings was to shut down all mass transportation and evacuate everyone by foot, he said. But the exercise showed the advantage of continuing to use buses during an attack to shepherd civilians out of Manhattan.
The exercise also showed that the first responding officers shouldn’t have evacuated people and waited for reinforcements, the traditional response in a hostage situation. Instead, the police could have minimised casualties by quickly finding and killing the terrorists who were shooting people.
Since Mumbai, Browne said, the NYPD has trained and equipped its officers to use “heavy weapons” for a prolonged siege situation and to counteract military-style assault weapons like the ones used in Mumbai.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.
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