Okay folks, this is debka's take on the aftermath of the attacks. It exposes again the incompetence of MMS, and is from the Israeli perspective. The article is quite old now, I think roughly a month, but nevertheless throws up different views on the attack that are quite credible and do make sense.
The rogue elements of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence service are more than an agency within an agency; during the regime transition period in Islamabad, they grew into a state within a state. Their covert give-and-take intrigues with Al Qaeda, associated jihadi groups and Taliban have empowered them and transformed them into the covert prime movers in the Afghan war and the affairs of the subcontinent.
By sending Lashkar e-Taibe terrorists on a rampage in Mumbai, they managed to manipulate India and Pakistan close to an armed confrontation and generate a crisis for testing the incoming US president Barack Obama before he sits down in the Oval Office in January.
The two heavyweights Washington sent over Wednesday, Dec. 3 to hold India and Pakistan back from a military showdown found their mission doomed from the start. The ground was already burning.
In Delhi, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice saw Indian intelligence input showing that fresh rounds of Islamist Pakistan-based terror were on the way – first against three international airports, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai, by infiltrators originating from Pakistani or Afghanistan; next focusing on American, British and Israeli tourists at popular resorts like Goa and Puna in the New Year holiday season.
In Islamabad, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saw a president, Asif Ali Zardari, who had not yet found his feet and certainly lacked the clout to round up the list of 20 ISI-protected suspects handed him by New Delhi for extradition.
Spiking Obama's plans for Afghanistan troop surge
Focusing on India as the injured party, Washington had prepared to underpin the Rice-Mullen mission by leaks to the media showing that New Delhi had been forewarned as early as mid-October about the impending attacks on Mumbai but neglected to alert Mumbai's security authority and the Indian Navy to a potential attack "from the sea against hotels and business centers in Mumbai."
(More about how this intelligence collaboration worked in a separate article in this issue.)
Prime minister Manmohan Singh was being warned that if he continued on the path of military brinkmanship, Washington would release another spate of embarrassing leaks exposing his government's incompetence.
The American plan did not work. The rogue ISI elements, which none of our counter-terror sources in Washington, London, New Delhi or Jerusalem doubts was behind the attack, had progressed too far toward their goals to be stopped.
They enumerate six:
1. To change the course of the Afghan war by spiking Obama's plans for sending more troops to Afghanistan and helping to settle the quarrels dividing India and Pakistan. The US president-elect hoped those steps would ease the military obstacles confronting NATO forces in Afghanistan and pave the way to resolving the Afghan and Kashmir conflicts, thus robbing al Qaeda and Taliban of victory.
2. To bring the long-simmering Indian-Pakistani issues to boiling point: President Zardari and prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would then have to divert the 100,000 Pakistani soldiers fighting al Qaeda and Taliban in the tribal border areas with Afghanistan to the Indian frontier, as Zardari threatened to do this week.
3. Once Pakistani military pressure was lifted from the al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries in the tribal lands, they could concentrate wholly on bludgeoning American and NATO forces in Afghanistan and getting set for a major spring offensive in April 2009.
Obama national security team back to drawing board
The Mumbai terrorist rampage has altered the state of play by dragging India into the imbroglio. The onus is now on the incoming US administration's national security team – secretary of state Hillary Clinton, defense secretary Robert Gates and the next national security adviser Gen. James Jones – to come up with a new plan to defeat the radical Islamist bloc and the ISI's schemes. This task has evaded the Bush administration for eight years.
4. Another goal of ISI schemers was to deepen the rift between the Pakistani president and prime minister and the army command to undermine and eventually unseat president Zardari.
5. By the violence they staged in Mumbai, ISI elements sought to prove to their jihadist allies that nothing in their close collaboration had changed as a result of a change of command at the top of the intelligence service. Following a demand from Washington, Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha was appointed ISI head and four regional department heads were replaced.
The rogue elements in Pakistani elements stood by their deal to support al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan as long as they backed ISI operations against India, such as the suicide attack Taliban staged against the Indian embassy in Kabul five months ago, killing 60 people including the Indian military attaché.
New Delhi accused the ISI of masterminding the attack and was supported by Washington.
ISI challenges British intelligence and Mossad
6. In Mumbai, Pakistan intelligence factions settled scores with the British MI5 domestic intelligence and its MI6 spy service as well as the Israeli Mossad.
For three years, the pro-al Qaeda sympathizers in the ISI have been conducting an undercover running contest with British intelligence for control of the British Pakistan community and the medressas where some of their children are sent to be educated. The British were shocked by the July 2005 suicide attacks on their home ground on London transport. When their counter-terror agencies launched aggressive operations against the radical mosques in Britain and medressas in Pakistan, the ISI began fighting back.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's counter-terror sources report the ISI regards the Pakistani medressas, long seen in the West as hothouses for breeding terrorist recruits, as its exclusive turf and source of power.
Even al Qaeda has no say in governing these academies for jihad – least of all British intelligence. Entry is strictly regulated by Pakistani intelligence guards on their doors to keep unwanted visitors out. (my comment: this is going a bit too far)
But when England put British Pakistanis on trial for plotting to blow up 10 transatlantic commercial flights with liquid explosives in August 2006, the ISI declared war, even through no British jury found enough evidence for convictions. The prosecution's claim that the liquid bomb technology originated in Pakistan was enough to convince the belligerent ISI elements that their grip on the medressas was threatened.
On instructions from those elements, the Lashkar e-Taiba gunmen sought out holders of British as well as American passport holders as soon as they landed in Mumbai on Nov. 26.
Israelis singled out for brutal treatment
The Pakistani clandestine group's reckoning with the Israeli Mossad is less complicated.
Indian-Israeli defense cooperation covers multi-billion arms sales, including drones, sophisticated surveillance systems and border-monitoring equipment, as well as specialist anti-insurgency and anti-terrorist training and techniques. The Mossad external intelligence service maintains extensive ties with its Indian counterpart – RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) for combating ISI operations in Kashmir and other parts of the subcontinent.
Their horrendous attack on the Chabad Center in Mumbai, home from home for Israeli and Jewish visitors who were tortured before being brutally executed, was intended as a blow to Israeli-Indian military and intelligence cooperation. The ISI was also warning Israel to stay out of Southwest Asia or expose Jewish and Israeli targets to more attacks.
Mumbai Terror – II
Pakistani Intelligence Lays a Red Herring – or Two
Indian intelligence did take note of a US warning about an impending terrorist attack on the landmark Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which was ravaged last month by Islamist terrorists in Mumbai. The date on the warning was September and when it failed to materialize by the end of the month, New Delhi decided the attack had been abandoned.
According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly's intelligence sources, the second half of October and first half of November went by without any further mention of Mumbai on the Islamic networks. US intelligence did not cancel its original alert but refrained from following it up by nagging the Indians to find out if they were still on guard for a major terrorist attack.
In fact, US intelligence was itself put off guard by a trick.
The National Security Agency (NSA), which is responsible for collecting and analysis of foreign signals intelligence, had been monitoring Lashkar e-Taiba phone calls through the Abu Dhabi-owned Thuraya satellite system, which as a primary source of clandestine data on violent Islamic extremist organizations.
Suddenly, in the first week of October, Lashkar e-Taiba operatives stopped talking about Mumbai over their phone conversations.
At the same time as this was noted by the NSA, the Indian spy agency RAW (the Research and Analysis Wing) also stopped hearing references to a Mumbai operation in the Lashkar e-Taiba conversations monitored on their channels. A week after the terrorist rampage which left 174 dead and 350 injured in Mumbai, both agencies realized they had been hoodwinked. The coordinated hush which should have set off alarm bells, put them off guard.
No tip-off to fellow counter-terror agencies
Leading Western authorities on Pakistan, speaking to DEBKA-Net-Weekly's sources, were surprised that neither the Americans nor Indians picked up on the abrupt disappearance of Mumbai references from Lashkar e-Taiba discourse, or showed any curiosity. Instead, they took it for granted that the Mumbai terrorist plot had been abandoned, breathed a sigh of relief and let it ride.
An Israeli intelligence officer who works with US and Indian spy agencies remarked to this publication that neither had bothered to tip off fellow counter-terror agencies in the region like, for instance, the Israelis or Brits, when they first discovered that the ISI-backed terrorist group had planned to land by sea and attack western and Israeli locations in Mumbai.
Had the first alert been shared with Jerusalem or London, someone there may have smelled a rat and suggested looking more closely into the sudden Lashkar e-Taiba silence on the Mumbai conspiracy before deciding it was off.
If the Israeli official sounded peeved, it is because in the last six months, the close intelligence collaboration between Israel and Indian slackened as Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh tried cultivating friendly ties with president Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. This climate generated more harmony between Indian intelligence and the ISI elements fighting extremist Islamic groups. Although neither side fully trusted the other, Israel found itself demoted as New Delhi's senior partner in matters of security.
The trick worked like a charm
Plans for the Mumbai attack, as it turned out later, proceeded smoothly with the help of messengers instead of sat phones, unbeknownst to NSA and RAW analysts who failed to take this into account. Here, the Achilles heel of both agencies came to the fore: Never so far in the eight-year war on terror has either peen able to penetrate al Qaeda, the Taliban, or such extremist terrorist groups as the Lashkar e-Taiba. Western intelligence is therefore totally dependent on signals intelligence and when that dries up, the door is shut on the extremists' inner workings and plans.
After the event, US and Indian intelligence concluded that Lashkar operatives were advised by their ISI buddies to spill general information about their planned Mumbai attack over their satellite phones three months before it was launched for the benefit of American and Indian eavesdroppers. Then, six weeks ahead of the operation, they were to stop mentioning it in order to lull the Americans and Indians into assuming it had been cancelled.
The trick worked like a charm.
The Mumbai atrocity plunged the Singh government into hot water. It is caught between strained relations with Pakistan, popular demands in India to punish their neighbor and domestic fury over the politicians' intelligence and security lapses. The Indian police and commando are lambasted for taking 72 hours to overcome 10 terrorists.
Zardari fuels anti-Pakistan fury in Delhi – as per ISI plan
Singh has been trying to navigate the shoals. Monday, Dec. 1, New Delhi demanded the extradition of Lashkar e-Taiba leaders and Indian fugitives associated with them from Pakistan.
On the list were Dawoon Ibrahim, a Mumbai crime boss blamed for serial bombings in Mumbai in 1993 which left at least 250 dead; Maulan Masood Azhar, a Muslim cleric freed from Indian jail in exchange for passengers of a hijacked plan in 1999; and Hafiz Saeed, head of the Jamaat-ud Dawa group as well as founder and spiritual leader of the Lashkar e-Taiba.
At the same time, India refused Islamabad's demand for evidence against the men on the list.
No intelligence agency will part with information that can blow its undercover sources. RAW will certainly not surrender leads to informants in Pakistan or expose its intelligence-gathering methods in that country and other parts of Asia.
In any case, New Delhi fears that sharing intelligence with Islamabad, some of it relayed from US sources, would touch off a second round of terrorist outrages against India – partly to render that intelligence irrelevant.
The next day, president Zardari rejected India's extradition demands out of hand. He said that if evidence were provided, the suspects would be tried in Pakistani courts and if found guilty, punished under Pakistani law.
His reply further fueled the anti-Pakistan fury boiling up in New Delhi and India, exactly as the ISI intended.
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Mumbai Terror – III
Indian Retaliatory Raids inside Pakistan Impending
Furious preparations are under way in New Delhi for raids in Pakistan in reprisal for the Pakistan-based terrorist assault on Mumbai on Nov. 26. They are directed by defense minister A.K. Antony and chief of army staff Gen. Deepak Kapoor, DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources reveal.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh gave visiting US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice a mixed message when they talked in New Delhi on Wednesday, Dec. 3. He assured her that his government would do its best to prevent a war flaring up with Pakistan. But he also made it clear that India would have to retaliate militarily for the Mumbai outrage – not by a one-off operation but a string of raids against extremist Islamic terror groups operating from Pakistani bases. Among them were Lashkar e-Taibe, which is accused of the Mumbai assault, and Jaish e-Mohammed. Both are linked both to rogue elements in the ISI and al Qaeda.
Any further terror escalation, Singh stated, would be met with still stronger Indian military action
Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee underlined this point after the American secretary's departure when he said that Indian officials are in no doubt that the Mumbai assailants came from Pakistan.
Singh also made it clear to his American visitor that India did not mean to hit government or military targets in Pakistan, but he refrained from offering any commitments on three points:
India prepares commando drops, air strikes, missile barrages
1. Should information be received of any Pakistani military installation harboring Islamic terrorists or providing them with logistic support, the Indian army would strike those installations unhesitatingly.
2. The Indian army would not limit its operations to any particular area but strike where it saw fit.
3. The Indian government offered no undertaking to notify Washington in advance of an operation or even share the intelligence prompting an incursion into Pakistan territory.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources have procured an outline of the tactics for these operations drawn up by India's strategic planners:
A. Indian special forces raiders will be flown in and dropped over terrorist command posts and sanctuaries inside Pakistan. Large-scale commando and air contingents will secure the raiders on missions against terrorist locations embedded in urban districts against local intervention.
B. Aerial bombardment of terrorist sites, even at the risk of dogfights with the Pakistani air force.
C. Missile barrages on bases and training installations of terrorist groups similar to the 1998 twin American attacks on al Qaeda installations in Afghanistan and Sudan.
New Delhi is in a hurry
It is hard to imagine president Asif Ali Zardari and prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani letting a missile blitz go by without ordering the Pakistani army to hit back; chief of army staff, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, would not stand for it and he would no doubt go ahead with a counter-attack in defiance of the politicians.
Already, our sources report that Zardari, Gilani and Kayani are at loggerheads.
The general disputes the government line which leans toward cooperating with the Indian investigation of the terrorist attacks. He wants Islamabad to stand up to New Delhi, flatly deny allegations of ISI implication and confront India with a troop buildup on their border. India should realize, he contends, that any military action would meet with armed Pakistani resistance.
D. Indian special marine forces would make seaborne landings at terrorist locations on the Pakistani coast, possibly by submarine.
E. Drones would use laser-guided missiles like the American Predators striking terrorist sanctuaries on the Pakistani-Afghan border.
F. Covert Indian death squads would liquidate high-profile terrorist leaders in Pakistani cities.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources report that India's political and military leaders know that time is not on their side. They cannot afford to wait to go after Pakistan until after they have corrected the glaring blunders and failings revealed in the operation against the terrorists who held Mumbai to siege for three days because the public is too angry to brook delays. India is therefore preparing to go full ahead full tilt with military reprisals - even at the risk of igniting a major war conflagration with Pakistan.
Commando units expanded six fold
For now, India's war planners are focusing on the rapid, large-scale expansion of commando units until they have enough to carry out deep incursions into Pakistan while also defending the home front against more terrorist attacks. A six fold expansion has been approved.
Under consideration is a separate air wing on permanent standby for counter-terror forces to improve their mobility.
Also planned is an armed coastal defense force to seal India's shores against terrorist landings like the seaborne terrorist incursion of Mumbai. This is a vast enterprise given the length of India's coastline – 7,516 kilometers.
New Delhi is looking at two examples: the US Coast Guard, which protects American shores and ports but cannot seal them hermetically, and Israel, whose navy uses missile vessels and coastal radar to seal its shores.
India is also planning a new intelligence system after its Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) failed to sound the alarm of the coming assault on its financial capital.
All these projects demand many billions and time counted in years before a national security machine is standing and fully coordinated.
India's special forces have six arms:
Para Commandos, an elite unit of the Indian Army;
The Marine Commando Force (MCF), special forces of the Indian Navy;
The planned campaign of retaliation against Pakistan will speed up the establishment of a blue-water intervention force capable of conducting covert operations and specialized warfare outside Indian borders. The framework is present but it is too small to meet India's post-Mumbai requirements;
Garud Commando Force, special Indian Air force units trained mainly in Special Forces tactics, Combat Search and Rescue, Counter Insurgency Operations and emergency responses to terrorist threats to airfields;
The National Security Guards (NSG), rated as one of the most professional units of its kind in Asia.
It fills the following functions: neutralization of specific terrorist threats to vital installations in any given area; handling hijack situations involving air or land piracy; engaging and neutralizing terrorists; and the rescue of hostages in kidnap situations;
The Special Frontier Force (SFF), an elite guerrilla unit originally composed mainly of Tibetan refugees trained to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in the event of another Indo-China war. It has since been converted to covert cross-border operations on any front as needed;
The Special Protection Group protects Indian VIPs, like the prime minister. Recruits include NSG commandos and police who receive similar training to that of the American Secret Service.
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