For decades now, terrorists have used TV coverage to amplify their grievances. This Sunday I saw the gruesome HBO documentary “Terror in Mumbai” on the 4th anniversary of the massacre.
While the show is sickening, it is also fascinating from a technological POV. Indian intelligence had managed to feed several traceable SIM cards to terrorist groups in Pakistan, and 3 of those were activated on the day of the attack. This allowed Mumbai police to intercept over 250 conversations between the mobile phones of the terrorists and the IP phones of their “controllers” in Pakistan.
Add to that all the video feeds described below and it is impressive how much technology documented the attack.
The Huffington Post “Narrator Fareed Zakaria describes the documentary as a "360 degree view of terrorism." His description makes perfect sense; the coverage of the terror is so complete it almost feels invasive. CCTV footage, recorded phone calls, news reports shot by rolling TV crews, grainy footage shot by amateurs on mobile phones and posthumous interview footage from the survivors are all combined. Documentary makers could never hope for more raw footage. It makes for a terrific viewing, but a terrifying concept.”
The show also brings out the utter incompetence of the Mumbai police force. Against the backdrop of the sophistication of the conversation surveillance and the amateur phone camera footage, their low tech weaponry and response coordination look even more appalling.
It is a disturbing show, but with enough clues that the bad guys can be outwitted and outgunned in future incidents.
Fascinating video interview with Dan Reed who describes the making of the documentary. Zakaria’s introduction to the show starts around 10.40.