December 01, 2008
Fool me once...
Reading through the various accounts of the Mumbai terror attack, I was suddenly struck by how easily everyone (including myself) was fooled into thinking that this was primarily a "hostage-taking" operation.
Nonsense. It was a murder operation, and the terrorists used the "hostage" meme to full advantage:
Evidence was emerging last night that the the gunmen killed their victims early in the siege and fooled Indian security forces into thinking that they were holding hostages.I do not doubt that many of the dead were induced to surrender to the terrorists by being told they were hostages, because people facing death are desperate to believe that they are somehow going to live.
Oh well, live and learn. (Or in this case, die and learn.) I find myself wondering how many people who imagined that they were going to be hostages cooperated fully with their murderers (and torturers, let's not forget), hoping they'd be "rescued" later.
History shows that people are a lot easier to kill if they are tricked into believing that the goal is something else. The Nazis were masters of that game, and millions of Jews stood in line to die while thinking they were being temporarily inconvenienced on their way to some sort of long-term imprisonment. Similarly, the 9/11 terrorists convinced passengers (with the help of fake bombs) that they were "ordinary" hijackers who would not blow up the plane as long as everyone cooperated. (After all, why would they?)
The bottom line here is that if you're an American (or a Brit, or a Jew), and terrorists say they're looking to take such people as "hostages," it's probably better to just fight for your life and die trying to defend yourself rather than let the sadists that they are enjoy slaughtering you on their terms.
Considering what happened, I think the jig may be up for the hostage meme.
posted by Eric on 12.01.08 at 07:25 PM
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