FBI helping India in Mumbai terror attack probeJanuary 10th, 2009 - 11:37 am ICT by IANS
Washington, Jan 10 (IANS) The FBI is working with its Indian law enforcement and intelligence partners to uncover how the Mumbai terror attacks were executed, how the attackers were trained and how long the attacks took to plan. There were “key lessons” to be learnt from it, a special Senate hearing on Mumbai was told. In response to the Nov 26 Mumbai assault by ten terrorists, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, charged with protecting US against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, obtained approval from the Indian government and the US embassy in New Delhi to deploy personnel to assist with the investigation, a Senate panel was told Thursday.
The team, which arrived in Mumbai Nov 29, has two major jobs, a senior FBI official said at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee while declining to give details of FBI’s role in the ongoing investigation because of the diplomatic sensitivities involved.
“One is the pursuit of justice, which involves traditional forensic-based investigative work to track down those who’ve murdered Americans and to determine who the attackers’ co-conspirators were,” Donald Van Duyn, Chief Intelligence Officer, National Security Branch, FBI Directorate Of Intelligence said.
“Two, and equally important, is the pursuit of a prevention mission, which involves generating new information to determine who else might be out there who potentially poses a threat to the United States, our citizens and our allies.”
So far, the Mumbai attacks have reinforced several key lessons, Van Duyn said: “One, terrorist organizations don’t need weapons of mass destruction or even large quantities of explosives to be effective. The simplest weapons can be as deadly.
“It comes as no surprise that a small, disciplined team of highly trained individuals can wreak the level of havoc that we saw in Mumbai. Other terrorist groups will no doubt take note of and seek to emulate the Mumbai attacks,” he said.
The take home lesson “is that we need to continue to look at both large and small organizations with the right combination of capabilities and intent to carry out attacks.
The second lesson, he said, is “We need to reenergise our efforts to keep the American public engaged and vigilant. That is critical to the effort to prevent something like the Mumbai attacks from occurring on our shores.
“Finally, we must remember that terrorist organizations may begin as a threat to their surrounding localities, but can quickly gain broader aspirations,” Van Duyn said.
“The Mumbai attacks reinforced the reality that Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group believed to be responsible for the Mumbai attacks, has the capability to operate outside its own home base of Kashmir,” he said.
“These attacks remind us that we must examine other groups that appear to be active only locally and determine where they have the operational capability and strategic intention to undertake a more regional or global agenda,” he said.
Raymond Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department said Mumbai attacks could well be termed as a turning point in terrorists’ strategy “in the sense that, you know, the relative simplicity of this attack is picked up by others.”
“And that’s exactly what is, a low-tech approach,” he said. “We have been concerned, and understandably, about suicide bombings that have happened throughout the world. Here we see individuals armed with basic weaponry.”
“We don’t believe that the AK- 56 that they had as weapons were even automatic. We believe they were semi-automatic. So these are basic weapons that created almost 500 deaths and serious injuries,” he said.
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