Reportedly, the terrorists had used ammonium nitrate, a substance first used by Ramzi Yousef in the attempted World Trade Center bombing. Since then the procurement of the fertilizer is to be watched. The Mumbai police failed in this too. What else is an intelligence failure?

By S. M. Hali

Mumbai’s bomb blast on 13/7 resulted in 19 deaths and 130 injured. In a departure from the past, where India was prone to blame Pakistan at the drop of a hat, so far it has expressed restraint in blaming Pakistan without cancelling the foreign ministers’ level talks scheduled in New Delhi later this month. The last major terrorist attack in India was also in Mumbai. Although the deadly 2008 attack, which led to the siege of two of India’s most prestigious hotels, killing 166 people, lasted for more than 72 hours; within the first hour or so, Indian media and government started screaming murder and blaming Pakistan. They did not wait for the attack to end what to talk of investigations but used the incident as a plea for scuttling the four year long peace dialogue between the erstwhile hostile nations. The talks barely resumed last month and the 13/7 episode occurred but so far good sense has prevailed and India has not started the blame game but is willing to wait for the results of the investigation. As a mark of solidarity, Pakistan, which is itself a major victim of the terror attacks and has sacrificed 35,000 people falling victims to the heinous crime, has not only expressed commiseration for the loss of lives but offered to help investigate the crime.

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The usual perpetrators of the blame game against Pakistan, the RAW sponsored South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG) and its hate mongers spewing venom against Pakistan, B. Raman—former Additional Secretary RAW and Rajeev Sharma—have so far been objective in their analysis. B. Raman considers the Mumbai blasts of 13/7 as an intelligence failure and takes his own Home Minister P. Chidambaram to task for claiming otherwise. Rajeev Sharma praises his government for displaying maturity in not canceling the peace talks but tongue in cheek, he decides to fire broadsides by stating that India must categorically put it across to Pakistan at the upcoming Foreign Minister-level talks that Islamabad must keep away from Indian Mujahedeen (IM), the home-grown terror outfit and an underground terrorist group sworn to avenge the massacre of hundreds of Muslims in the neighbouring state of Gujarat. He qualifies his statement by stating that if India were to come up with a knee jerk reaction, it would have played straight into the hands of jihadi elements who do not want the two nuclear armed neighbours to smoke the peace pipe. However he goes into a long tirade of conjectures that Maulana Fazlur Rahman Khalil, the leader of Harkat-ul Mujahideen (HuM) was allegedly looking after Osama bin Laden till his elimination by the US on May 2. Sharma surmises that Khalil was an ISI protégé.

India has definitely been lax in its security measures. It would be logical to assume that after a terror attack of the magnitude of 26/11, India would beef up its security to ensure the atrocious attack is never repeated. Reuters reported that plans to set up 5000 surveillance cameras across the city of Mumbai had been gathering dust despite vast sums of money poured into counterterrorism efforts. There should have been a strong political will for India to have taken steps to protect Mumbai after the terror attacks of 2008.

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Even B. Raman admits that the enquiry ordered by the Maharashtra State Government after the 26/11 terrorist strikes only went into the deficiencies of the police. The shortcomings of the central agencies were not enquired into by the Government of India. Resultantly, India did not draw the right results in the absence of a detailed inquiry. Raman opines that the 13/7 terrorist strike could have been carried out by a reactivated old cell of an existing indigenous organization which had been lying dormant because of the stepped up security measures after 26/11 or it was carried out by a new cell of a new indigenous organization or by one or more angry indigenous individuals with no organizational affiliation.

In any case, the failure of the Indian intelligence to detect or preempt the attack has become a major failure. The terror mongers have possibly exploited the complacency on the part of the intelligence agencies since there had been no major terrorist strike for nearly three years.

Reportedly, the terrorists had used ammonium nitrate, a substance first used by Ramzi Yousef in the attempted World Trade Center bombing. Since then the procurement of the fertilizer is to be watched. The Mumbai police failed in this too. What else is an intelligence failure?

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