The terrorist siege of Mumbai was frighteningly successful. More than two days after it began, two of the estimated 10 attackers were still holding out against all the forces that India threw at them. The message to terrorists anywhere is that with some money, careful planning and, of course, a willingness to fight unto death they can shake an entire major city to its foundations.
Mumbai will recover, but how after how long and how diminished? What will happen to foreign investment in rapidly industrializing India? To India-Pakistan relations? Which city and country will be the next targets of emboldened terrorists?
The answers to those questions may be more rueful than we even imagine -- if nations everywhere don't adopt a common strategy, reinforced by a reliable international web of anti-terror intelligence. The planned visit of a top rep of Pakistan's formidable ISI intelligence service to India is a reassuring initiative between the two often-feuding South Asian countries. But more, much more, will have to happen to prevent more Mumbais.
If the attackers were not part of Al Queada, that is even more terrifying. It would mean that massive, multiple-target offensives are within the reach of groups that may have only a fraction of the resources. That's why all potentially targeted nations must develop coordinated global anti-terror intelligence -- geared to detect not only Al Queada cells, but also smaller groups that may be exist in only one country. Until that happens, terrorist groups anywhere and of any size and mission can confidently plan the next Mumbai.