This week in terrorism history: Nov. 20-26

David Coleman Headly, architect of the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai.
David Coleman Headly, architect of the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai.


In this week’s look back, I want to highlight one of the incidents, the 2008 attack on multiple targets in the Indian city of Mumbai, carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba. When the shooting finally stopped after three days, more than 170 people lay dead with hundreds more wounded.

While the attack stands out for both its scale and its impact on India — it’s been called that country’s 9/11 — the operation is notable for another reason. The key planner of the attacks was an American named David Coleman Headley.

The PBS investigative journalism program Frontline broadcast a fascinating report on Headley, the Mumbai attacks, and the failure of the US government’s secret electronic surveillance program to detect and disrupt the operation. I have embedded the Frontline video here. It is long, but well worth the time to watch it.

Now on to the rest of this week’s list:

  • Nov. 20, 2003 — Turkey: A car bomb in front of the British Consulate General in Istanbul kills 30 and wounds 450. Al Qaeda claims responsibility.
  • Nov. 21, 2000 — Sri Lanka: The Tamil Tigers start what they dub “Heroes Week” with a grenade attack on an army patrol, killing two civilians and wounding two.
  • Nov. 22, 1979 — Pakistan: Islamic militants attack the US Embassy in Islamabad following rumors that the United States had taken control of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
  • Nov. 23, 1996 — Comoros: A hijacked Ethiopian Airlines plane crashes, killing 127. The hijackers had been intending to fly to Australia and seek asylum.
  • Nov. 24, 2000 — India: A gunman connected to the Kashmiri group Lashak-e-Taiba kills six Hindu and four Sikh bus passengers.
  • Nov. 25, 1984 — Portugal: The US Embassy in Lisbon is struck by four mortar rounds fired by members of the 25 April Movement, a leftist revolutionary group.
  • Nov. 26, 2008 — India: LeT terrorists attack multiple targets in the city of Mumbai. More than 170 are killed and 300 wounded by the time the final siege ends three days later.

This week in terrorism history: Nov. 13-19

French fire brigade members tend to victims of the terrorist attack on the Bataclan theater in Paris, Nov. 13, 2015.
French fire brigade members tend to survivors of the terrorist attack on the Bataclan theater in Paris, Nov. 13, 2015. Nearly 100 were killed.


It is impossible to know right now what the election of Donald Trump to the White House will mean for US terrorism policy, but one thing is already certain. His victory at the polls has been hailed by al Qaeda propagandists as a blow to Western democracy and a step on the road to America’s ruin.

The Lebanese news site Now Media rounded up some of those reactions here. ISIS-affiliated jihadis also applauded the last week’s presidential election:

Islamic State jihadis have hailed the victory of Donald Trump while claiming the billionaire “fool” will ruin America himself allowing terror groups to take control of the country.

The Republican was branded a “donkey” by militants who warned his election is “an indication of the end of the American empire”.

 “It is either them or us. We ask Allah to make their destruction caused by their own plans and their death come among themselves.”The world is going to experience a change and this change will put Islam in the leadership position as the end result.”

One ISIS jihadi said: “What we want is their country be delivered to a donkey like Trump who will destroy it.

“In the end, they are all our enemies and we will only meet them on the battlefields.

Now on to this today’s look back at the week in terrorism history.

  • Nov. 13, 2005 — France: A series of attacks in and around Paris, most prominently at the Bataclan theater, kill 129 and injure more than 400. ISIS claims responsibility.
  • Nov. 14, 1991 — United Kingdom: The Ulster Volunteer Force kills two Catholics and a Protestant in an attack near Lurgan, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, as the three were returning home from work. The UVF later apologized for killing the Protestant.
  • Nov. 15, 1983 — Greece: A US Navy officer is killed in Athens by the 17 November organization.
  • Nov. 16, 1970 — United Kingdom: The Irish Republican Army kills two men in Northern Ireland, accusing them of involvement in “anti-social” behavior. This was the first time the IRA killed anyone alleged to have been involved in criminality.
  • Nov. 17, 1997 — Egypt: Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya attack at the Temple of Hatsheput in Luxor kills 71, mostly foreign tourists.
  • Nov. 18, 2000 — Philippines: Car bomb explodes in Carmen, killing one and wounding two; grenade attack wounds three more in Isulan. Moro Islamic Liberation Front is suspected of responsibility.
  • Nov. 19, 1995 — Pakistan: Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad is bombed by Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

Today in terrorism history: Nov. 6-12

British soldiers rush toward the scene of a bombing in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Nov. 8, 1987.
British soldiers rush toward the scene of a bombing in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Nov. 8, 1987.


Before Sept. 11, 2001, the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil was the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The bombing, carried out by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, killed 168 and injured close to 700.

Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno testifies before the 9-11 commission in the Hart Senate office building on Capitol Hill in Washington April 13, 2004. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  MR/JDP
Former US Attorney General Janet Reno died last night at age 78.

I mention this because last night Janet Reno, the first woman Attorney General in U.S. history, who led the investigation and case against McVeigh and Nichols, died at age 78 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Reno also oversaw the disastrous 51-day FBI siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco*, Texas in 1993.

The siege ended when the FBI assaulted the compound, igniting a blaze which killed 76 members of the heavily armed religious cult. The deaths at Waco, and an earlier 1992 incident at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in which the wife and teenage son of white supremacist survivalist Randy Weaver were killed by federal law enforcement agents, were cited as justification for the Oklahoma City attack.

A few years ago The New York Times produced a short documentary on the Ruby Ridge siege and how that incident continues to shape both how law enforcement and the armed anti-government right view each other and how to resolve armed standoffs. You can watch the video below.

And now on to this week’s look back.

  • Nov. 6, 2001 — Spain: ETA car bomb explodes during rush hour in Madrid, wounding 100.
  • Nov. 7, 1985 — Colombia: More than 100 are killed when the leftist revolutionary group M-19 seizes control of the Supreme Court building.
  • Nov. 8, 1987 — United Kingdom: Thirteen people are killed in the IRA bombing of a Remembrance Day ceremony in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.
  • Nov. 9, 2005 — Jordan: Near simultaneous bomb attacks against Western hotels in Amman kill more than 50 and wound 110. Al Qaeda in Iraq claims responsibility.
  • Nov. 10, 2009 — India: Eight civilians killed in North Tripura. The National Liberation Front of Tripura claims responsibility.
  • Nov. 11, 2000 — Kuwait: Seven arrested in crackdown on groups planning attacks on US military facilities in Kuwait.
  • Nov. 12, 1997 — Pakistan: Four US citizens are killed in an ambush on their car in Karachi. The Pakistani driver is also killed.

*Forgive me for lazily linking to the Wikipedia entry, but I’ve got a lot to do this morning and this is a pretty good summary.

This week in terrorism history: Oct. 30 – Nov. 5

Campaign mailer from the Kansas Republican Party.


Two weeks ago, three members of a right-wing militia in Kansas were arrested and charged with plotting a terrorist attack on an apartment complex where Somali immigrants lived and maintained a mosque.

To understand the climate of fear and bigotry that could inspire and nurture such a plot, look no farther than the above campaign literature produced the Kansas State Republican Party and mailed throughout the state.

A story in Friday’s Witchita Eagle explains:

The Kansas Republican Party is sending out mailers in legislative races around the state depicting ISIS fighters and explosions from terrorist attacks.

A mailer going to homes in east Wichita’s House District 88 shows an ISIS fighter holding a machine gun with a message that reads: “Have you met the new neighbors?”

The other side of the mailer touts Republican Rep. Joseph Scapa’s support for funding to train Kansas law enforcement officers to “recognize and deal with foreign and domestic threats to our state, from those who support ideologies that are in conflict with the U.S. Constitution and our Kansas values.”

Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said that similar mailers were being distributed in competitive districts across the state. He also argued that their party’s polling and focus groups indicated that this was a “positive issue for Republicans” to run on in next week’s election. Barker rejected any suggestion that the mailer’s imagery sent an anti-Muslim message.

Barker pushed back at the idea that voters would interpret the “new neighbors” message on the mailer as a suggestion that Muslims living in Kansas posed a terror threat.

Barker said there are several variations of the mailers. One depicts an explosion from a terrorist attack.

“It’s one of the few (issues) that was a clear, like high 80 percent positive and associated with Republicans,” Barker said. “Most other issues are muddled, or this is not the year for Republicans to be arguing education or taxes because there’s a general feeling either Republicans aren’t effective or the voters aren’t quite sure who to believe.

“This one’s a clear hit. And I’m not saying it’s going to flip every race in Kansas, but it’s going to help.”

And now on to this week’s look back at this week in terrorism history:

  • Oct. 30, 2000 — Spain: Judge and two aides are killed and more than 30 wounded in an ETA car-bomb attack in Madrid.
  • indira-gandhiOct. 31, 1984 — India:  Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in the aftermath of the Indian Army’s Operation Blue Star, a military operation to seize control of the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, Punjab, from an armed Sikh group.
  • Nov. 1, 1950 — United States: Two Puerto Rican Nationalist Party members attempt to assassinate Pres. Harry Truman in Washington, D.C.
  • Nov. 2, 2000 — Colombia: ELN (National Liberation Army) releases 21 remaining hostages originally kidnapped from Cali two months earlier.
  • Nov. 3, 2010 — Sudan: Justice and Equality Movement engages in combat with paramilitaries in Nyala, Southern Darfur State, killing 37 and wounding 30 more.
  • Nov. 4, 2001 — Israel: Palestinian Islamic Jihad stages shooting attack on a Jerusalem bus; 35 are wounded, one U.S. citizen is killed.
  • Nov. 5, 2009 – United States: Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan kills 13 and wounds 29 in a shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas.