‘India received 26 intelligence warnings about 26/11 attacks’
India had received at least 26 intelligence warnings months ahead of the 26/11 attacks
Washington: Months ahead of the 26/11 attacks, India received at least 26 intelligence warnings, including from the CIA, about LeT’s plans to carry out a major terrorist assault on Mumbai, according to a new book.
“The Siege: 68 hours inside the Taj Hotel”, written by journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy on the basis of their investigations, claims 11 of these warnings suggested the strike would involve multiple simultaneous attacks.
“Six warnings pointed to a seaborne infiltration, which would be a first in India,” says the book published by Penguin USA.
The staff of former US President George W Bush received a warning from the Europeans in 2007 about the Lashkar-e-Taiba planning to expand its activities beyond the region but it too was ignored by the US, the book claims.
“The first gobbet had arrived in August 2006 and stated that LeT, an influential Pakistani jihadi organisation that had cut its teeth sending Muslim insurgents to fight the Indian security forces in divided Kashmir, was ‘making preparations’ for a assault on Mumbai,” the journalists wrote.
Several five-star hotels were mentioned as targets, including the Trident—Oberoi and the Taj.
“Since then there had been 25 further alerts, many of them delivered by the CIA to the Indian government’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, and passed on to India’s domestic Intelligence Bureau.”
According to the book, Mumbai Police officials who examined this information felt the US was tapping into a significant source. Though Mumbai has been a victim of several terrorist attacks in the past, the book said the new intelligence suggested that LeT was plotting something new for a raid on the financial hub.
Three warnings specifically mentioned the use of fidayeen, or guerrillas who fight to the death, inflicting heavy casualties before being overcome. The LeT had “deployed this strategy in Kashmir to deadly effect”, the book says.
Then the Intelligence Bureau received two more warnings about an attack on the Taj, which was besieged by the terrorists for over two days in November 2008.
“One concerned a possible attack on May 24 and the other on August 11, both prompted by tip-offs from a source in Pakistan said to be inside Lashkar,” the book says.
The 300-page book notes in detail how family friends and wives of Headley tried to bring to the notice of US officials his links with LeT and the plans for a possible attack on India. The book claims then US President George W Bush too dismissed a warning from the Europeans.
“Family, wives and friends were not the only ones ringing the bell about Lashkar. In 2007, President George W Bush’s National Security Team at the White House had received a hand-delivered dossier warning a new terror axis emerging with Pakistan’s Lashkar identified as wrestling with its old remit as a regional jihad outfit
The file suggested a section of veteran LeT members were “starting to look further afield, to India and beyond, citing evidence gathered in the UK, France, Germany and Australia”.
In Washington, the dossier was politely rejected as US officials said their priorities were ‘disrupting Al Qaeda’ and developing all intelligence and human assets that might lead to the capturing of Osama bin Laden.
The book further claims that elite Black Cat commandos were held up at New Delhi airport for hours while LeT terrorists massacred innocent people in Mumbai because of bureaucratic red-tape and sheer lack of planning.
The National Security Guard (NSG) personnel were unofficially mobilized just 22 minutes after the first shots were fired at Leopard Cafe on the night of November 26, 2008 but got a go-ahead three hours after the first shots were fired at Colaba Causeway, as per the NSG report.
The air force was unable to provide a plane and the NSG had to call the RAW for help. RAW agreed to lend an Il-76 that was parked at Palam airbase. But it could carry only 120 troops and their kit, meaning the Black Cats had to make three trips to Mumbai to scramble a force large enough to counter the terrorists.
And to top it all, the crew of the plane were missing and the plane had not been fuelled delaying the mission further.
When officials arrived at Palam, they found the Black Cats carrying their heavy kit by hand into the plane as no lifting gear was available. By the time the aircraft reached Mumbai, the “slaughter in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus had started and finished, multiple bombs had exploded, and sieges had set in at Chabad House, the Trident—Oberoi and the Taj”.
The book says, “Around 0530, Thursday, November 27, the NSG finally touched down in Mumbai, one hour after the gunmen inside the Taj had begun hunting guests down in the hotel’s darkened cellars” The Black Cats had commandeer local buses to get into the city, it adds.
According to the book, the NSG had warned as far back as 2006 that its mobilization strategy was ‘critically flawed’. From Delhi it took over two and a half flying hours to reach most other cities.