DHS Testimony before the Senate Re: Mumbai Attacks


SOF Support
Dec 26, 2007

An educational read, but I wanted to reprint a couple of key parts here:

The terrorists were able to collect sufficient information on all targets to execute a successful attack. Much of the information they required was accessible through open sources

Open source reporting also indicates they monitored press coverage of the attack through wireless communication devices—which may have been taken from hostages—that may have provided some tactical advantages against the Indian rescue forces.
What would terrorists do without the internet? It's their first and best intel resource.
Their (Lashkar e Taiba's) success wasn't so much one of sophistication on their part, as much as total, utter, and complete inability to intercede on the part of the local police. Their attacks might have been glamourized as a highly coordinated operation, but it was little more than a mass rampage with automatic weapons in completely undefended civilian centers. Their casualties were dirt-poor pregnant women, children, old men, and oblivious passerbys. The police force in Mumbai were prepared for nothing but writing traffic tickets, breaking up street fights, and handling car accidents. They (the police) had zero counter assault capability, zero plan, and next to zero equipment. As an example, some of these police were armed with 9mm pistols and bolt rifles with 5 rounds (and usually not both at the same time).
It wasn't too sophisticated, but it was well planned. They were co-ordinated from Pakistan in real time by phone assisted by live tv. Their plan was to burn the Taj Mahal Hotel which didn't really eventuate, with the railway station being a secondary option. Google helped of course but if it didn't exist they could just buy a map of some sort, or a copy of Lonely Planet, irrelevant really. Of the 10 team members they only accounted for eight, with two doing E&E. Agreed the Indian police were on the receiving end with a couple not even attempting to shoot in the railway station. They did eventually get a grip on it but it took some time.
Right on, I agree it was well planned.

To me, it was a case study in a number of things, namely "hardening" targets of opportunity.

Lessons most notable in my opinion:

  • - A heavily armed, tactically trained "quick response force" needs to be prepositioned strategically within an acceptable distance of every major city.

  • - the "tracks" need to be greased between the various intelligence services and some kind of central information stream where local police can gain special access in times of need to be fed information. In this case, the SIM cards on the terrorists were fed to them by a certain friendly organization. The calls between India and Pakistan were intercepted almost from the beginning. Almost none of this information was relayed to the police- and even if it had, there was likely little they could have done with such information as they were not armed or trained to act upon it.

  • -large properties (like high profile hotels) that are likely to be attractive as targets can increase their security, and even follow the example of many U.S. high schools by installing discrete metal detectors in the entry ways. Following the example of banks, bullet proof double doors can be used in series so that heavy metal triggers capture suspects between these doors. Obviously the policy can be refined to fit the threat. A simple mechanism like this could have- and would have- ended this standoff with little bloodshed.

  • - Most importantly what was needed in this was a dramatic change of perception on the part of city-going Indian citizens and small, local police forces, similar to that change experienced by Americans after 9/11. That perception needed to go from a condition "white" obliviousness to a state of heightened awareness, recognizing that we are not insulated from the barbarity of the world. On local, individual and organizational levels, they, like every other potentially vulnerable people, need to become aware of their surroundings rather than passing through them lost in thoughts and conversations.
Not to digress too far, but it is interesting to reflect upon; we- as a species- have spent 20,000 years evolving into the perfect predator, able to track and take down huge game, tame the most hostile places on earth, and in the process have created our own "concrete jungles". In evolving, we have gone from evading man-eating beasts in ancient times, to walking peaceably on streets of our own design, and back again full circle, having once again to tap into our survival instincts.
The teams got lucky as they killed the main CT brass who were driving to the Taj to check it out. The article also mentions, as you mention, increased awareness of an attack and precautionary measures. The security was increased for a period and then relaxed, which is when the attack occurred.