December 1, 2008

Flunking the Intelligence Test

Flunking the Intelligence Test

The only real question about the Mumbai attack was just when it would come.

Sudip Mazumdar
Published Nov 29, 2008 | Updated: 12:25  p.m. ET Nov 29, 2008

The hostage takers in Mumbai didn't need to wonder how large an armed rescue team the Indian government was sending, or when to anticipate its arrival. They had only to click on the nearest TV set, and there was the federal home minister, Shivraj Patil, obliviously telling viewers that 200 commandos had taken off on the two-hour flight from New Delhi at 2:30 a.m. Even after the aircraft had landed in Mumbai, the gunmen had plenty of time to get ready, as the troops were herded aboard rickety transport buses to be hauled from the city's northern edge to its southern tip. The commandos finally reached the scene about 6:30, roughly nine hours after the terrorists had launched their murderous attacks in the financial capital of India. The battle would drag on for the next two days while the body count reached 195 before the last gunman went down.

In Mumbai and throughout India, people reacted the way Americans did after September 11: they demanded to know why their government had failed to protect them. "Since November last year I have been drawing attention to the iceberg of jihadi terrorism," says B. Raman, a former top official at India's equivalent of the CIA, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). "The government of [Prime Minister] Manmohan Singh reacted to the repeated warning signals of the moving iceberg in the same way as the Bush administration reacted to reports about the plans of the Al Qaeda for aviation terrorism in the U.S.—it just didn't react. It was in a denial mode."

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