[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/01/mumbaivigil.jpg caption=" Mumbai residents held a demonstration on Sunday to protest the recent terror attacks."]
M.J. Gohel and Sajjan Gohel
The Indian media have described the Mumbai terrorist siege as India's 9/11.
The targets for the attacks, many of them symbols of Mumbai's growing power and wealth, were not randomly selected and were intended to send a direct message to India, Israel and the West.
Indeed, the Mumbai attacks had all the hallmarks of a powerful transnational terrorist group inspired by the ideology of al Qaeda.
Mumbai is no stranger to terrorism.
On March 12, 1993, a series of 15 bombs exploded across several districts of India's financial capital, killing 257. On July 11, 2006, a coordinated bombing spree on the city's transportation system killed 209 people.
Uniquely disturbing about the recent Mumbai attacks, in addition to killing locals, is the deliberate targeting of restaurants and hotels used by Westerners and a Jewish cultural center.
Mumbai is to India as New York is to the United States or London to the United Kingdom. The city is driving India's economic boom.
It is the commercial and entertainment capital of the country, where the "Bollywood" film industry is based. It is the heartbeat of India. What happens there vibrates throughout the nation.
Three factors may help explain the timing of the attacks.
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