“The Siege: 68 hours inside the Taj Hotel”, written by journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy on the basis of their investigations, claims 11 of these warnings suggested the strike would involve multiple simultaneous attacks.
“Six warnings pointed to a seaborne infiltration, which would be a first in India,” says the book published by Penguin USA.
The staff of then US President George W Bush received a warning from the Europeans in 2007 about the Lashkar-e-Taiba planning to expand its activities beyond the region but it too was ignored by the US, the book claims.
The first alert came in 2006, around the time Pakistani- American terrorist David Headley was tasked by LeT and its ISI handlers to go to Mumbai to scout potential targets. “The first gobbet had arrived in August 2006 and stated that LeT, an influential Pakistani jihadi organisation that had cut its teeth sending Muslim insurgents to fight the Indian security forces in divided Kashmir, was ‘making preparations’ for a assault on Mumbai,” the journalists wrote.
Several five-star hotels were mentioned as targets, including the Trident—Oberoi and the Taj.
“Since then there had been 25 further alerts, many of them delivered by the CIA to the Indian government’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, and passed on to India’s domestic Intelligence Bureau.” According to the book, Mumbai Police officials who examined this information felt the US was tapping into a significant source. The leads drew a picture of someone inside the notoriously closed LeT, a group that everyone believed was funded by Pakistani intelligence despite being banned by former President Pervez Musharraf’s regime.
Though Mumbai has been a victim of several terrorist attacks in the past, the book said the new intelligence suggested that LeT was plotting something new for a raid on the financial hub.
Three warnings specifically mentioned the use of fidayeen, or guerrillas who fight to the death, inflicting heavy casualties before being overcome. The LeT had “deployed this strategy in Kashmir to deadly effect”, the book says.
Then the Intelligence Bureau received two more warnings about an attack on the Taj, which was besieged by the terrorists for over two days in November 2008. “One concerned a possible attack on May 24 and the other on August 11, both prompted by tip-offs from a source in Pakistan said to be inside Lashkar,” the book says.
Lalit K Jha