Wednesday, January 27, 2010




Sections of the US media, including the ABC News, have been reporting about the alleged plans of Al Qaeda to use female suicide bombers of non-Arab appearance and with possibly Western passports for future acts of terrorism.

2.Richard Clarke, who was an adviser on counter-terrorism to then President Geoge Bush in 2001, has been quoted as saying: "They have trained women. There are others who are still out there who have been trained and who are clean skins – that means people who we do not have a record of, people who may not look like Al Qaeda terrorists, who may not be Arabs, and may not be men."

3. A perusal of the reports on this subject appearing in the US and British media gives one reason to believe that this information might have come from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian student who tried unsuccessfully to bring down a transatlantic airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day. He has been under interrogation by the FBI since then.

4. Use of female suicide bombers is nothing new. Palestinians have done it against Israeli civilians. The LTTE of Sri Lanka used a female suicide bomber to kill former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May,1991. There have been other incidents of acts of suicide terrorism by female bombers in Iraq and Jordan in recent years.

5. Terrorist organisations tend to use female suicide bombers for two reasons. Firstly, they are more fiercely motivated than men, particularly if they or their close relatives had suffered at the hands of the security forces which they want to avenge. Secondly, terrorist organisations using female bombers calculate on the possibility that female bombers would be less subject to strict security checks than males. They are able to avoid access control with greater use than male bombers.

6. The dilemma likely to be faced by Western security agencies would be in identifying the potential female suicide bombers of non-Arab appearance unless they manage to pick up tell-tale clues from electronic intercepts. In the case of David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, one saw the LET and the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri trying to use a person of mixed Pakistani-American marriage with non-Pakistani physical features to infiltrate India by concealing his Pakistani and Muslim origin in order to facilitate the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai.

7. If Al Qaeda has really recruited female suicide bombers of non-Arab appearance as has been reported, they could have come from either White female converts to Islam or from children of mixed marriages such as Headley, who could easily pass off as non-Muslims of white extraction and hoodwink the security. There have been no reports in the past of instances of white female converts to Islam volunteering themselves to help organisations such as Al Qaeda. Are there female Headleys in the ranks of Al Qaeda? This is an angle which needs to be explored. (27-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Monday, January 25, 2010




Osama bin Laden's unusually brief message of January 24,2010, titled "Osama to Obama", which was broadcast by Al Jazeera, carries three significant points.

2. Firstly, it seeks to convey the impression to his followers in the Muslim world that he continues to be in charge of Al Qaeda despite the recent high profile rise of Al Qaeda groups in Yemen and Somalia.

3.Secondly, it tries to project that it was he who had inspired the Nigerian student who unsuccessfully attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day. He does not use a collective noun. He says: "The message I want to convey to you through the plane of the hero, mujahid Umar al Farouk [Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab] reaffirms a previous message that the heroes of 9/11 conveyed to you and was repeated frequently. "

4.Thirdly, he attributes the Detroit attempt to the sufferings of the Palestinians in Gaza and warns that the US will continue to be targeted so long as it supports Israel.

5. He does not attribute the Detroit attempt to larger causes such as Iraq or Afghanistan or the US Drone strikes in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Since the message was disseminated just days before the January 28 Afghanistan conference in London, one would have expected a reference at least to Afghanistan, but he is silent.

6. My interpretation is that the message has the limited purpose of underlining that he continues to be in total charge of Al Qaeda and nothing more. ( 25-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Stuudies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Sunday, January 24, 2010




The recent reports regarding the interest of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) in an air-borne terrorist attack on Indian and British targets have to be taken seriously in the light of the capability exhibited by the LET on 26/11 of 2008 for a sea-borne terrorist attack in Mumbai and the recurrent capabilities of Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements for air-borne terrorist strikes.

2.The meticulous manner in which the LET operatives in Pakistan collected operational intelligence from India through David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the LET and planned and executed the operation spoke of its operational capability, which is almost on par with that of Al Qaeda. For months before 26/11, there were periodic reports of the LET’s plans for a sea-borne attack on Mumbai, but these reports were not taken seriously and a strategy worked out to pre-empt the LET attack and to neutralize it without much damage if preventive measures failed. We should not commit a similar omission in respect of the current reports about the plans of the LET and the HUJI for an air-mounted action.

3. The Palestinian and the Khalistani terrorist organizations and Al Qaeda had always shown a fascination for air-mounted strikes because of their publicity value and their ability to demoralize the civilian population and to discredit the State’s security machinery. One could mention as examples the hijackings by the Palestinians and the Khalistanis, the blowing up of the Kanishka aircraft of the Air India by the Babbar Khalsa in 1985 and of a Pan Am aircraft in 1988 by the Abu Nidal organization with Libyan support, the 9/11 terrorist strikes by Al Qaeda in the US Homeland and its subsequent attempts to blow up two flights to the US through a shoe bomber shortly after 9/11 and by a Nigerian student on December 25,2009. There were two thwarted or failed attempts (Operation Bojinka) by Al Qaeda or pro-Al Qaeda elements to orchestrate the simultaneous blowing-ups of a number of aircraft---- once through Ramzi Yousef, then based in the Philippines, in the 1990s, and a second time through some members of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK in 2006.

4. Apart from nine air attacks by the Khalistani terrorists in the 1980s---- seven hijackings, the blowing up of the Kanishka aircraft and the attempt to blow up another Air India plane at the Narita airport of Tokyo on the same day in 1985, India had also faced a hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu by the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) in 1999. The HUM managed to take the hijacked aircraft to Kandahar and forced the Government of India to accept its demands for the release of some terrorists in custody in Jammu & Kashmir.

5. Faced with difficulties in mounting an air-borne terrorist strike against El Air, the Israeli airline, because of their tight physical security, the Palestinian terrorists focused on attacking the ground capabilities of the El Air. In the 1980s, they mounted a spectacular commando style attack in the Rome airport.

6. The tightening of physical security all over the world during the last 20 years has not made the terrorists give up their attempts to stage air-mounted attacks. Examples of their success in circumventing tightened physical security are the 9/11 strikes in the US homeland and the two attempts to blow up US-bound planes from Europe. These two attempts illustrated the terrorists’ capability to get into planes with concealed explosive devices despite physical security. The 9/11 strikes in the US marked the beginning of air-borne suicide attacks.

7. The recent reports regarding the LET’s plans for an air-mounted strike speak of the possibility of another hijacking similar to the one organized by the HUM in 1999 and its attempts to procure paragliders reminiscent of the LTTE’s initial attempts to procure microlite aircraft and its subsequent procurement of small aircraft capable of ground strikes. Ground strikes from the air with light planes or gliders could help in circumventing access control and targeting critical infrastructure such as oil refineries, off-shore oil/gas platforms, nuclear establishments etc. Paragliders could also be used for infiltration of trained terrorists.

8.According to the “Sunday Times” of the UK as quoted by “The Hindu” of January 25,2010, the Indian intelligence agencies are reported to have alerted MI-5, the British security service,about the suspected plans of Pakistan-based pro-Al Qaeda elements to hijack an Indian aircraft originating from Delhi or Mumbai and crash it into a British city. The recent upgradation of threat level in the UK from “substantial” to “severe” but one below “imminent” has been attributed to this Indian warning. There is a possibility that the terrorist plans might be related to the January 28 London conference on Afghanistan. According to the “Sunday Times”, the Indian intelligence came to know of this plot during the interrogation of Amjad Khwaja of the HUJI, who was arrested recently in India.

9. The “Sunday Times” reported: “ It (the Indian warning) did not state that Britain was a specific target, but police security sources said it had raised fears in London that a British city might be attacked.”

10. The HUJI of Pakistan, which has an active branch in Bangladesh, has close links with the so-called 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri, who used to operate in Kashmir as the head of the 313 Brigade and now operates from North Waziristan where he has close links with Al Qaeda. Since shifting from Kashmir to North Waziristan, he has embraced the global jihadi agenda of Al Qaeda in place of his previous Kashmir-centric agenda and has been talking of the need for a major terrorist strike in the West.

11. The interrogation of Headley by the FBI brought out his role in trying to use Headley and others in Europe for a spectacular attack on the Danish paper, which published cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in 2005. The Copenhagen plot was thwarted by the arrest of Headley by the FBI on October 3,2009.

12. Against the backdrop of these reports, what Khwaja reportedly told the Indian intelligence about the HUJI’s plans for a 9/11 style terrorist strike using an Indian aircraft hijacked by Pakistani terrorists has to be taken seriously and aviation security on the ground as well as in the air has to be stepped up. The oft-exhibited capability of Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements to identify gaps in aviation security and exploit them show that the security measures taken after 9/11 are not adequate and need a continuous review. ( 25-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )



The following reply has been sent by me in response to a query from a journalist-reader of my articles:

Before 9/11, there was a counter-terrorism centre in the CIA, which had officers from various counter-terrorism agencies, who worked under a CIA Officer. This was part of the CIA because Director CIA was also Director Central Intelligence and in that capacity was responsible for co-ordination of all agencies of the intelligence community.The GC Saxena Task Force on intelligence revamp studied its working and recommended the creation of a similar counter-terrorism centre in the IB to consist of officers of various agencies and headed by an IB officer. The Government created it in the IB, but for reasons not clear to me called it a Multi-Agency Centre and not a counter-terrorism centre. It did not get going for a long time because of the reported reluctance of the R&AW and MI to depute their officers to work in the MAC under an IB officer. It has now got going since 26/11 in full steam.In 2004, the post of Director Central Intelligence was replaced by the post of Director, National Intelligence to coordinate. He is a member of the Presidential Executive Staff and works directly under the President. The NCTC was created as a separate organisation and placed under him. Director CIA, who is no longer responsible for co-ordination, has no control over it. The CIA continues to have its Counter-terrorism centre, but since 2004 it does not have a multi-agency role. Now the multi-agency responsibility is that of the NCTC under Director National Intelligence. All agencies have their own counter-terrorism divisions or centres, but their working is co-ordinated by the NCTC. The NCTC does not have an independent operational capability. It operates through different agencies. For example, if the NCTC decides that Drone strikes in the FATA must be stepped up, it is the CIA, which has the control of the Drone fleet, that will carry out the task. The NCTC by itself does not have a Drone capability. If the NCTC decides that there should be a covert ground attack against the Taliban or Al Qaeda in the FATA, it is the special forces of the Pentagon who will carry it out and not the NCTC, which has not been given any capability for covert action. ( 25-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Monday, January 18, 2010




A swarm attack is a commando-style attack involving multiple targets and/ or multile modus operandi----that is a mix of the use of hand-held weapons and explosives. Since the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 26 to 29,2008, which was itself a major swarm attack, there have been seven more---- four in Kabul, Kandahar and Khost in Afghanistan by the Afghan Taliban and three in Lahore possibly by the Pakistani Taliban.

2. These attacks---particularly those in Kabul--- have had common features----a mix of the suicidal (fedayeen ) and suicide terrorism, facilitated by good intelligence at the disposal of the Taliban, a mix of suicide bombers on foot and vehicle-borne suicide bombers, fierce motivation, ability to stand and fight till death without losing courage, audacity in planning and execution and the ability to keep the planning a secret from governmental agencies.

3. The seventh commando-style swarm attack in Kabul on January 18,2010, on a number of governmental establishments, including the residence of President Hamid Karzai, and some private establishments too has creditably been beaten back by the Afghan Security forces. They were initially taken by surprise by the attacks, which reportedly involved about 20 terrorists---- 10 more than in Mumbai--- but they managed to recover fast and neutralise the surviving members of the Taliban group that attacked. The operation----involving the initial surprise attack by the Taliban and the counter-attack by the Afghan security forces---- which began at 9-35 AM was over before sunset.

4.There are two ways of analysing the attacks. One way of analysis would be to focus on the questions :were they timed to coincide with the swearing-in of some of his Ministers by President Karzai, the coming visit of Mr.Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, to this region and the international conference on Afghanistan in London on January 28,2010.

5. The second way would be to pose to ourselves the question---what do these attacks portend for the future? From the point of view of the future, certain ominous aspects need to be highlighted. The first is that the two Talibans---with the possible help of Al Qaeda based in North Waziristan---- have trained multiple swarm commando teams, which are available with them for swarm attacks of a strategic nature. The second is that their expertise in commando-style attacks continues to improve. The third is the possibility that Al Qaeda might, through the Talibans---- use a swarm style commando attack for overcoming physical security in a nuclear establishment----if not for getting hold of nuclear weapons or material, at least for creating mass panic.

6. Since March last year, I have been repeatedly writing about the commando-style swarm attacks, which have been taking place with persistent frequency in this region, meaning Pakistan, Afghanistan and India too and the importance of studying them from the professional angle and strengthening our preventive capability to counter them through enhanced multi-layer physical security in sensitive establishmens and our rapid action capability to neutralise them if the terrorists do succeed in attacking by surprise.

7. The latest attack in Kabul once again underlines the importance of these measures.I would like to repeat again what I have been saying and writing in the past: We should not live in a make-believe world thinking that these things happen only in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but they can't happen in India. They can.

8. Annexed are two of my articles of last March on this subject. ( 19-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )


How Secure Is Pakistan's Nuclear Arsenal From A Commando-Style Attack? (March 6,2009)

B. Raman

How secure is Pakistan's nuclear arsenal from a commando-style attack by jihadi terrorists operating from sanctuaries inside Pakistan?

2. That is the question which should be worrying security experts all over the world as they learn with horror----based on visual evidence from closed circuit TV (CCTV) cameras and oral evidence from members of the Sri Lankan cricket team and the British match umpires and referees--- how the 12 or so terrorists who attacked the SL cricket team had the Liberty Square of Lahore at their disposal for about 30 minutes and walked away after the attack without the least fear of being chased and caught either by the security forces or the public.

3. It was as if they were walking away from a golf green after a game of golf---unhurried, unconcerned and totally relaxed..

4. Seven police officers, who were in the escort party of the convoy, died in the exchange of fire. Their bravery must be acknowledged and saluted. But how about the dozens of other police officers, who were supposed to be on route security to prevent an ambush of the convoy? The British match officials have said that not a policeman was to be seen on the road. This, despite the Presidential-scale security reportedly promised by President Asif Ali Zardari to the SL team.

5. How about the staff of the police station located near the Square? Why didn't they rush out and confront the terrorists? How about the police vehicles, which were supposed to be on patrol along the route to look out for suspicious movements and characters? How about the rapid response commando teams, which were supposed to be there in the stadium and at the LIberty Square, which was known as a vulnerable point since all vehicular movements had to slow down there?

6. They just disappeared or were not posted at all. In all the CCTV footage, the only sign of police one sees is a police vehicle crossing a terrorist and not taking any action as if it was crossing a normal pedestrian.

7. How about the road blocks all over Lahore which were supposed to have been put up after a terrorist strike to prevent the terrorists from getting away?

8. Many compelling questions arise as one gets details of what happened and what did not happen in Lahore on March 3, 2009? Were there insiders in the security establishment, who had played a role in the conspiracy? Were there accomplices or jihadi sympathisers in the security establishment, who facilitated the terrorist strike? Do the political and military leaders of Pakistan realise the total security vacuum in their country, which has made it a safehaven to jihadi terrorists from all over the world, who are able to operate at will without any fear of the consequences?

9. It has become a cliche to say that the Pakistani leaders are in a denial mode. So was former President Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia till the Bali terrorist strike of October, 2002. Thereafter, she realised the gravity of the situation and made amends for her past negligence. So was former President Begum Khalida Zia of Bangladesh till the the nearly 400 synchronised explosions organised by the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM) in August, 2005. Thereafter, she realised the gravity of the situation and acted against the JUM.

10. Pakistan has been the scene of repeated terrorist strikes and the spawning ground of jihadi terrorism of various hues directed against other countries since 1981. Till today, neither the political nor the military leaders of Pakistan are prepared to admit this. After the Lahore attack on the SL team, Ilyas Khan, of the Islamabad Bureau of the British Broadcasting Corporation, reported as follows the same day: "Militant attacks in all parts of the world have been investigated and solved, but Pakistan is yet to solve even one out of the hundreds of attacks it has suffered since the 1980s."

11. In every major terrorist strike of Pakistan, there was evidence of insider involvement. Some junior officers of the Pakistani Air Force were found to have been involved in the conspiracy to kill former President Pervez Musharraf at Rawalpindi in December, 2003. The investigation brought out the startling fact that the conspirators had met in the staff quarters of one of the PAF officers in a PAF complex in the Islamabad-Rawalpindi area to finalise their attack.

12. Before and after the unsuccessful terrorist strike on her at Karachi on October 18, 2007, Benazir Bhutto had alleged that Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the Amir of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), and some serving and retired officers of the Pakistan Intelligence Bureau and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were involved in the conspiracy to kill her. Saifullah was detained for some weeks for interrogation, but thereafter released without any action being taken against him. No action was taken against the officers named by her. Not even a formal enquiry.

13. After addressing a public meeting at Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, she left for her home in her car. Neither the police escort party nor Rehman Malik, the present Internal Security Adviser, who was at that time the co-ordinator of her physical security, followed her. They left for home by a different route after the meeting was over. Benazir was shot dead as her car came out of the ground. Malik and other officers came to know only after they reached home that she had been shot dead.

14. One can go on giving such instances, which show a total lack of control over the security establishment, which has become a law unto itself and disturbing indicators of the extent and depth of penetration of the security set-up by the jihadi terrorists. Many countries in the world, including India, are badly affected by terrorism. In many countries of the world, including India, there are inefficiencies and inadequacies in the counter-terrorism apparatus. But in no country of the world is the security establishment so badly penetrated by the jihadi terrorists as it is in Pakistan.

15. The Pakistani leaders not only refuse to admit this. Even more alarming, they live in a world of self-delusion which makes them think that all these realities are the figments of imagination of others ill-disposed towards them.

16. If this is the real state of affairs, one has very valid reasons to worry about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Pakistani political and military leaders repeatedly assure the international community that their nuclear arsenal has tight physical security and that no terrorist can penetrate it and get hold of nuclear weapons or material. After seeing what has happened in Lahore, the international community cannot afford to accept the Pakistani assurances at their face value. It must subject the physical security of the arsenal to greater scrutiny by independent outside experts. Even if this is done, a 100 per cent security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal cannot be assured so long as the terrorist safehavens and infrastructure in Pakistan are not removed. Pakistan must be forced to do so through international pressure.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:


Need For Urgent Relook At Our Physical Security ( March 7,2009) ( )

B. Raman

In our preoccupation with what is happening and what could happen in Pakistan, we should not overlook the urgent need for having a relook at our physical security architecture in sensitive establishments such as the nuclear establishments, oil refineries, gas production infrastructure, road, rail and air transport, critical information infrastructure etc. As I have emphasised repeatedly in the past, physical security is the most important component of counter-terrorism. If it is strong, a terrorist attack can be thwarted even if the intelligence agencies fail. If it is weak, even the best of intelligence may not be able to thwart a terrorist attack. In both India and Pakistan, we have a weak culture of physical security. The main reason why the US has been able thus far to prevent a repeat of 9/11 is the strengthening of the physical security apparatus by the newly-created Department of Homeland Security.

2. What happened at Mumbai, Kabul and Lahore---namely, commando-style surprise attacks by small groups of well-trained terrorists wielding lethal hand-held weapons--- could happen again in India. We should not think that only Pakistan is vulnerable to such attacks. We too are vulnerable as demonstrated so tragically at Mumbai. Our security architecture may not be as bad as that of Pakistan, but Mumbai clearly showed that it is not as good as it should be.

3. There is an urgent need for two actions. Firstly, an audit of the physical security measures at all sensitive establishments----whether run by the Government or the private sector ---- in order to determine whether any physical security enhancements are called for. There is a need for dividing all sensitive establishments into two categories-----those where a single-layer of physical security would be enough and those where a double or multiple-layer of physical security would be necessary . The idea of a double or multiple-layer of physical security is that even if the terrorists manage to beat the outside gate or perimeter security, they will not have a free run of the establishment due to a second or more layers of armed physical security. To counter determined terrorists such as those one saw at Mumbai, Kabul and Lahore a single-layer of physical security may not be sufficient in sensitive establishments.

4. The second action required is to have a relook at our consequence management capabilities to deal with a situation should, despite revamped physical security, the terrorists manage to have access to sensitive establishments. The consequence management drill should take into account various issues such as control over media coverage, prevention of panic, minimisation of damage and lethality etc. It is important to associate the consequence management set-ups of the States with this exercise because it is ultimately they who would act as the protector of first resort through their consequence management capabilities till there is intervention by the consequence management community of the Govt. of India.

5. In Mumbai, the terrorists succeeded so dramatically because they targeted private establishments with no physical security measures except some anti-explosive capability. Since the security guards of these establishments were unarmed, they were helpless before the terrorists wielding sophisticated hand-held weapons. Once the terrorists managed to gain access to these establishments and take them under their control, the special intervention forces of the Govt. of India such as the National Security Guards (NSGs) found themselves unable to act fast enough without causing too many loss of lives.

6. Situated as we are in the sub-continental region where terrorism will continue to be a fact of life at least for another 10 years or more and keeping in view our ambition of emerging as a major economic power, we just cannot afford to take up the stand that the physical security of the private sector is its responsibility and that the Government's role will be limited to issuing periodic advisories regarding likely threats. The Government has to play a more proactive role in encouraging and helping at least establishments of a strategic nature such as those associated with the tourism industry, the information technology companies etc in improving their physical security. They already have some capability for checks for explosives, but the methods used by them are primitive and do not take into account dangers from suicide bombers and vehicle-borne suicide terrorists.

7. Their weakest capability----which is almost non-existent--- is in facing a commando-style surprise attack by small groups of terrorists with modern hand-held weapons. The only way of thwarting them is by having well-armed and well-trained guards. Do the present laws allow the employment of such guards? If not, should the laws be modified to permit them to employ such well-armed guards? Who is going to supervise their training and keep them under control to prevent the arms issued to them finding their way into the hands of terrorists? These are questions, which need urgent attention.

8. From the point of view of the physical security architecture. the distinction between the public and the private sector is disappearing. Many private companies are already in the fields of oil refining and gas exploration, production and transport. An increasing number of airports is now privately managed. We intend allowing private companies into the field of nuclear power production. The Government cannot evade the responsibility for ensuring that such private establishments have a high level of physical security. There is a need for a joint task force consisting of the representatives of the intelligence and security agencies and professional organisations of private industries such as the FICCI (Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries), the CII ( the Confederation of Indian Industries) etc as well as representatives of foreign business organisations to go into the question of physical security enhancements for private establishments of strategic significance.

9. Practically all major private establishments----Indian as well as foreign--- have their own physical security set-up. It is important for senior intelligence and security officials at the State and Central levels to regularly interact with them to exchange threat and vulnerability perceptions and ideas as to how to strengthen physical security.

10. In an important article titled "The Coming Swarm" in the "New York Times" of February 15,2009, which should be required reading for all our physical security experts, John Acquilla, who teaches in the special operations program at the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey in California, wrote as follows: "It seems that a new “Mumbai model” of swarming, smaller-scale terrorist violence is emerging. The basic concept is that hitting several targets at once, even with just a few fighters at each site, can cause fits for elite counterterrorist forces that are often manpower-heavy, far away and organized to deal with only one crisis at a time. This approach certainly worked in Mumbai. The Indian security forces, many of which had to be flown in from New Delhi, simply had little ability to strike back at more than one site at a time. While it’s true that the assaults in Kabul seem to be echoes of Mumbai, the fact is that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have been using these sorts of swarm tactics for several years...... How are swarms to be countered? The simplest way is to create many more units able to respond to simultaneous, small-scale attacks and spread them around the country. This means jettisoning the idea of overwhelming force in favor of small units that are not “elite” but rather “good enough” to tangle with terrorist teams. In dealing with swarms, economizing on force is essential. ....For the defense of American cities against terrorist swarms, the key would be to use local police officers as the first line of defense instead of relying on the military. The first step would be to create lots of small counterterrorism posts throughout urban areas instead of keeping police officers in large, centralized precinct houses. This is consistent with existing notions of community-based policing...... At the federal level, we should stop thinking in terms of moving thousands of troops across the country and instead distribute small response units far more widely. Cities, states and Washington should work out clear rules in advance for using military forces in a counterterrorist role, to avoid any bickering or delay during a crisis. Reserve and National Guard units should train and field many more units able to take on small teams of terrorist gunmen and bombers. Think of them as latter-day Minutemen. Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen all responded to Qaeda attacks with similar “packetizing” initiatives involving the police and armed forces; and while that hasn’t eliminated swarm attacks, the terrorists have been far less effective and many lives have been saved."

11.Jihadi terrorism in India outside Jammu & Kashmir is essentially an urban phenomenon. We cannot use against it the techniques learnt by us in dealing with the insurgency in the North-East and with Maoist terrorism in Central India, which is essentially a rural phenomenon. We need a different system of response, which is comprehensive enough to cover all likely targets of strategic significance----whether in the Government or private sector.

12. Even if we do not create an independent Ministry of Internal Security, we should create a separate Department of Physical Security in the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is, inter alia, responsible for counter-terrorism, to act as the nodal agency for all physical security measures on the pattern of the Department of Homeland Security of the US. This newly-created department should interact continuously with its US counterpart to pick its brains and profit from its expertise and experience.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:

Saturday, January 16, 2010




The Chapman Base tragedy in the Khost area of Afghanistan in which seven CIA officers were killed by a Jordanian betrayor won over by the Pakistani Taliban on December 30,2009, has not affected the morale of the CIA. Its morale is high and its officers, in co-ordination with the officers of the US technical intelligence agencies, have gone after Hakimullah Mehsud, the Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as the Pakistani Taliban is known, with a determination worthy of emulation.

2.This is the message coming out loud and clear from a Drone strike on a group of terrorists in the Shaktoi village on the border between South and North Waziristan on January 14,2009. While it is not clear whether the CIA knew that Hakimullah was among the terrorists in the meeting, it is clear that it knew that a gathering of Arab, Uzbeck and Pakistani terrorists of the TTP was taking place and attacked them killing 10 of them---two of them reportedly Arabs and the remaining Uzbecks and Pakistanis. The fact that there has been no public demonstration against the strike indicates that there were no civilian fatalities.

3.Pakistani media speculation that Hakimullah was among those killed has not been corroborated. The indicators from local sources are that he was present in the area, but was not among the casualties. A TTP spokesman has himself admitted that Hakimullah was present in the area targeted by the Drone,but had left before the Drone attack. Other reports that Hakimullah sustained an injury, which is not life threatening, have not been admitted by the TTP.

4. The accuracy of the information and the precision of the strike speak well of the CIA’s undamaged capability to go after the TTP and should be a reminder to Hakimullah of the fate of Baitullah, his predecessor, who was killed by a Drone strike near the same area in August last.

5. Some local sources say that after the death of Baitullah, Hakimullah is afraid of being betrayed by a fellow Mehsud and hence spends more time in the camps of Al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in North Waziristan than in the camps of the TTP in South Waziristan or in the Orakzai area. ( (17-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Friday, January 15, 2010




On January 14,2010, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) filed before Judge Harry D.Leinenweber of the Northern District Court of Eastern Illinois Division a charge-sheet (indictment) relating to the the role of David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in the Mumbai terrorist strikes of 26/11 of 2008 and in a planned terrorist attack on the office of a Danish newspaper in Denmark, which had published cartoons of the Holy Prophet in 2005.

2. The charge sheet projects the Mumbai attacks as a joint operation of the LET and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) involving, among others, four members of the LET and Major Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed alias Pasha, who acted as an intermediary between Headley and Rana on the one side and the Waziristan-based Ilyas Kashmiri, the head of the 313 Brigade of the HUJI.

3. The charge sheet does not identify the four members of the LET based in Pakistan on whose behalf Headley was acting. They are merely referred to as Lashkar Member A, Lashkar Member B, Lashkar Member C and Lashkar Member D. None of them is cited as a co-accused (co-defendant), indicating thereby that the FBI does not propose asking for their arrest and extradition by Pakistan to face trial by the Chicago court.This could be an indicator that the four unidentified LET members are among the seven presently in custody in Pakistan and being prosecuted before an anti-terrorism court of Islamabad for their role in the Mumbai conspiracy. Since they are already facing trial in Pakistan, the FBI does not feel the need for prosecuting them on similar charges in Chicago.

4. Indian investigators should be able to identify these four members of the LET from the following tell-tale evidence in the charge-sheet:

• “Lashkar Member A” was a resident of Pakistan "associated with the LET who supervised others associated with the LET and served as a “handler” for HEADLEY and others."

• “Lashkar Member B” was a resident of Pakistan "associated with the LET who trained others in combat techniques for use in terrorist attacks."

• “Lashkar Member C” was a resident of Pakistan and "one of the LET commanders."

• “Lashkar Member D” was a resident of Pakistan and "one of Lashkar’s commanders. "

• "During the course of the attacks in Mumbai, the attackers were in telephonic contact with Lashkar Members A, B and C, all of whom were then located in Pakistan. More specifically, during the course of the attacks, the attackers were advised to, among other actions, kill hostages and throw grenades. Lashkar Member A also sought to arrange the release of a hostage in exchange for the release of a captured attacker." ( My comments: Kasab)

5. The charge-sheet also refers to a “Person A”, a resident of Pakistan", "who participated in planning and funding attacks carried out by the LET. " It does not describe him as a member of the LET. By going through the charge-sheet, one could infer that Person A is most probably Major (retd) Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed alias Pasha. It was he who allegedly gave US $ 25,000 to Headley in July 2006 for his expenses in India, another sum of US $ 2000 in Indian rupees in September 2007 and a third amount of US $ 1500 in Indian rupees in June 2008. In March 2008, Lashkar Member A gave him US $ 1000 in Indian rupees.

6. While no Pakistani resident has been cited as a co-accused in connection with the Mumbai attacks, Ilyas Kashmiri and Major Abdur Rehman have been cited as co-accused in connection with the planned terrorist attack on the Danish newspaper office. The FBI has thus reserved to itself the option of demanding that Pakistan should arrest and extradite them to the US for trial. According to the charge-sheet, the Denmark attack was also envisaged as a joint LET-HUJI (313 Brigade) operation, but the LET withdrew from it in March 2009 following the action taken against some of its members by the Pakistani authorities in connection with the Mumbai attacks. Thereafter, it was planned as a purely HUJI attack. Earlier in February 2009, when Headley met Ilyas Kashmiri in Waziristan along with Maj.Abdur Rehman, Ilyas Kashmiri informed him that he would arrange the manpower for the Denmark attack and that the participation of the LET was not necessary.

7. Headley made six visits to India in September 2006, February 2007, September 2007, April 2008, July 2008 and March 2009. The first five visits were to collect operational details and video recordings for the Mumbai strike. The March 2009 visit was for the collection of details for a future attack. During his visit to Pakistan in September 2007, Lashkar Member A showed him a styrofoam mockup of the Taj Mahal hotel.

8. For two of his visits to India in April 2008 and July 2008, Lashkar Members A and B gave him a Global Positioning System (GPS) instrument and asked him to record in it the location of the possible landing sites for the boat and other targets. On both the occasions, Headley would appear to have brought the GPS instrument into India and taken it back to Pakistan without being detected by the indian customs.

9. Rana has been cited as a co-accused in respect of two charges "Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to Terrorism in India" and the planned attack in Denmark. In respect of the planned Denmark attack, Ilyas Kashmiri and Major Abdur Rehman are also co-accused. In respect of all other charges relating to the Mumbai attack, Headley is the only accused. No one else has been cited as co-accused.

10. Salient points of the charge sheet are annexed. ( 16-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )



HEADLEY attended LET training camps in Pakistan "which began in or around February 2002, August 2002, April 2003, August 2003 and December 2003." HEADLEY assisted senior LET personnel in planning and preparing for terrorist attacks.

First World Immigration Services (“First World”) was an immigration services business with its principal place of business in Chicago, Illinois. First World used the business name “Immigrant Law Center,” and also maintained offices in New York City, Toronto, and elsewhere. Tahawwur Hussain Rana owned First World and controlled its operations. He is a long-time associate of HEADLEY.

An individual referred to in the indictment as “Lashkar Member A” was a resident of Pakistan associated with the LET who supervised others associated with the LET and served as a “handler” for HEADLEY and others.

An individual referred to as “Lashkar Member B” was a resident of Pakistan associated with the LET who trained others in combat techniques for use in terrorist attacks.

An individual referred to as “Lashkar Member C” was a resident of Pakistan and one of the LET commanders.

An individual referred to as “Lashkar Member D” was a resident of Pakistan and one of the LET commanders.

An individual referred to as “Person A” was a resident of Pakistan who participated in planning and funding attacks carried out by the LET.

Between late 2005, and till his arrest on October 3, 2009, HEADLEY "conspired with Lashkar Members A, B, C, and D, and others known and unknown to the grand jury, to deliver, place, discharge and detonate explosives and other lethal devices in, into and against places of public use, state and government facilities, public transportation systems, and infrastructure facilities in India, with the intent to cause death and serious bodily injury, and with the intent to cause extensive destruction of such places and facilities and where such destruction would likely result in major economic loss."

Around late 2005, Lashkar Member A, Lashkar Member B, and Lashkar Member D told HEADLEY that he should travel to India to carry out surveillance of potential targets for attack by the LET, and that he should take steps to conceal his association with Pakistan and his Muslim religion during his travels in India.

In February 2006, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, HEADLEY changed his original name of “Daood Gilani” to “David Coleman Headley” in order to facilitate his activities on behalf of the LET by enabling him to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani.

In the spring of 2006, Lashkar Member A and Lashkar Member D discussed with HEADLEY the idea that he could open an immigration office in Mumbai, as a cover for his surveillance activities in India.

In June 2006, HEADLEY traveled to Chicago, advised Tahawwur Hussain Rana of his assignment to perform surveillance for potential targets in India, and obtained Rana’s approval for opening a First World office in Mumbai, as cover for these activities. Rana directed an individual associated with First World to prepare documents to support HEADLEY's cover story. Rana also advised HEADLEY on how to obtain a visa for travel to India. In applying for his visa for travel to India, HEADLEY misrepresented his birth name, father’s true name, and the purpose for his travel.

In July 2006, Person A provided to HEADLEY approximately $25,000 to, among other purposes, establish and operate the Mumbai office of First World and pay for living expenses while he carried out his assignments for the LET in India.

In September 2006, February 2007, September 2007, April 2008, and July 2008, HEADLEY traveled to Mumbai for extended periods for conducting surveillance of possible targets of attacks by the LET, using his association with First World as cover for his travels. Prior to HEADLEY's departure for each of these trips, Lashkar Member A, Person A and others, instructed HEADLEY regarding locations where he was to conduct video surveillance in and around Mumbai, as well as other locations in India. After each trip, HEADLEY traveled to Pakistan, where he met with Lashkar Member A, Person A and persons associated with the LET to report on the results of his surveillance, and provided Lashkar Member A and Person A with photographs and videos from the surveillance.

Prior to HEADLEY's surveillance activities in India starting in September 2006, Lashkar Member A and Person A instructed him to get settled in India, including by opening the business and obtaining an apartment, and to take photographs and make videos of various locations of public significance in India, including but not limited to, the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai.

In November 2006, HEADLEY opened the Mumbai office of First World for the purpose of providing cover for his travel and activities in India on behalf of the LET.

In September 2006, HEADLEY conducted surveillance on behalf of the LET, including taking pictures and making videotapes, of various targets in India, including but not limited to, the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai

Following these initial surveillance activities, HEADLEY traveled to Pakistan, where he met with Lashkar Members A and B and Person A and provided them with accounts of his surveillance. HEADLEY provided photographs and videos taken during the surveillance to Lashkar Member A and Person A.

Prior to HEADLEY's surveillance activities in India starting in February 2007, Lashkar Member A and Person A separately instructed him to conduct surveillance of the second floor of the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, specifically including the conference rooms and ballrooms.

In February 2007, HEADLEY conducted surveillance on behalf of the LET, including taking pictures and making videotapes, of various targets in India, including but not limited to the Taj Mahal hotel (where he made detailed videos of the second floor conference rooms and ballrooms), and the Oberoi hotel, both in Mumbai.

Following these surveillance activities, HEADLEY traveled to Pakistan, where he met with Lashkar Members A, B and D, and Person A, and provided themwith accounts of his surveillance. HEADLEY provided photographs and videos taken during the surveillance to Lashkar Member A and Person A.

Prior to HEADLEY's surveillance activities in India starting in September 2007, Lashkar Member A and Person A separately instructed him to conduct further surveillance of the second floor of the Taj Mahal hotel, specifically including the conference rooms, and to obtain schedules of future conferences at the hotel.

In September 2007, HEADLEY conducted surveillance, including taking pictures and making videotapes, of various targets in India, including but not limited to the Taj Mahal hotel. In addition, HEADLEY attempted to obtain a schedule of conferences to be held at the Taj Mahal hotel.

Following these surveillance activities, HEADLEY traveled to Pakistan, where he met with Lashkar Member A and Person A, and provided them with accounts of his surveillance. HEADLEY provided photographs and videos taken during the surveillance to Lashkar Member A and Person A. During one of HEADLEY's meetings with persons associated with Lashkar, Lashkar Member A displayed to HEADLEY a styrofoam mockup of the Taj Mahal hotel. During a meeting with Person A, HEADLEY was provided with approximately $2,000 worth of Indian currency for expenses in connection with HEADLEY's activities in India.

In March 2008, HEADLEY met with Lashkar Members A and B and other persons associated with Lashkar, and discussed potential landing sites for a team of attackers who would arrive in Mumbai by sea. In March 2008, Lashkar Member A and other persons associated with the LET instructed HEADLEY to take boat trips in and around the Mumbai harbor and to take surveillance video of various locations. Lashkar Member A also provided HEADLEY with approximately $1000 worth of Indian currency to use for his expenses in Mumbai.

In March or April 2008, Lashkar Members A and B provided HEADLEY with a global positioning system (GPS) device. Lashkar Members A and B showed HEADLEY how to enter locations into the GPS device and instructed him to use it to record the locations of possible landing sites.

In April 2008, HEADLEY conducted surveillance of the Mumbai harbor and surrounding areas, using the GPS device and making videotapes. HEADLEY also conducted surveillance of, among other locations, the Chhatarapati Shivaji Terminus train station, using the GPS device and making videotapes.

Following these surveillance activities, HEADLEY traveled to Pakistan, where he met separately with Lashkar Member A and Person A, and provided them with accounts of his surveillance, as well as with his recommendations as to which landing sites the attackers should use. HEADLEY provided photographs and videos taken during the surveillance to these same persons, and the GPS device to Lashkar Member A.

Prior to HEADLEY's surveillance activities in India starting in or about July 2008, Lashkar Member A instructed HEADLEY to conduct further surveillance of various locations in Mumbai using the GPS device, which was returned to HEADLEY. Lashkar Members A and B discussed with HEADLEY the need to do further surveillance of the Taj Mahal hotel and landing points for the attackers, including videotaping the route from a police station to the Taj Mahal hotel. Both Lashkar Member A and Person A separately instructed HEADLEY to conduct videotape surveillance of the Chabad House, a Jewish community center located in Mumbai.

In June 2008, Person A provided to HEADLEY additional funds of approximately $1,500 worth of Indian currency to keep open the First World office in Mumbai, but approved closing that office in the future and opening a new business in Delhi, to be used as cover for future activities by HEADLEY.

In July 2008, HEADLEY conducted surveillance, including taking pictures and making videotapes, of various targets, including but not limited to, the Taj Mahal hotel, the Chabad House, the Chhatarapati Shivaji Terminus train station, the Leopold Café and various landing sites, and entered various locations into the GPS device.

While HEADLEY was in India for conducting surveillance starting in July 2008, Person A communicated with HEADLEY by passing messages to HEADLEY through Tahawwur Hussain Rana.

Following his July 2008 surveillance activities in India, HEADLEY traveled to Pakistan, met at times with Lashkar Members A and B and Person A, and provided them with accounts of his surveillance. HEADLEY provided photographs and videos taken during the surveillance to Lashkar Member A and Person A, and the GPS device to Lashkar Member A.

In July and August 2008, Lashkar Member B and others were training a number of young men in Pakistan in various skills and tactics to be used in carrying out terrorist attacks in Mumbai, including combat tactics, room entry, hostage rescue, nautical training and swimming.

During the course of the attacks in Mumbai, the attackers were in telephonic contact with Lashkar Members A, B and C, all of whom were then located in Pakistan. More specifically, during the course of the attacks, the attackers were advised to, among other actions, kill hostages and throw grenades. Lashkar Member A also sought to arrange the release of a hostage in exchange for the release of a captured attacker.

Following the November 2008 attacks, Person A advised HEADLEY to avoid contact with him until further notice and to remove any incriminating materials from his home in Pakistan.

In June 2008, Al Qaeda, through As Sahab Media, took credit for an attack on the Danish Embassy in Islamabad and called for further attacks against Danish interests to avenge the publication (and re-publication) of the cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed.

In August 2008, Al Qaeda released a video (“the al Qaeda video”) through As Sahab Media calling for further attacks in retaliation for the publication of the cartoons. Mustafa Abu al Yazid of Al Qaeda, among others, appeared on the video.

ILYAS KASHMIRI was an influential leader of HUJI. Beginning in 2007, KASHMIRI based his operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. KASHMIRI was in regular contact with Al Qaeda and in particular with Mustafa Abu al Yazid, a/k/a “Sheik Said al Masri.”

ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED was a resident of Pakistan and former member of the Pakistani military who was associated with ILYAS KASHMIRI and Lashkar Member A.

Between October 2008, and October 3, 2009, ILYAS KASHMIRI, ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED, and DAVID COLEMAN HEADLEY, conspired with each other, and others known and unknown to the grand jury, to commit acts outside the United States that would constitute the offenses of murder and maiming if committed in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, namely, murder and maiming in connection with an attack to be carried out against the facilities of Jyllands-Posten, located in Denmark, and at least two of its employees.

In October 2008, Lashkar Member A and HEADLEY met in Pakistan and discussed the prospect of an attack on the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which would be preceded by extensive surveillance work to be performed by HEADLEY. HEADLEY recorded and saved notes reflecting the attack plan he discussed with Lashkar Member A.

In October 2008, Lashkar Member A provided defendant HEADLEY with a thumb drive containing information about Denmark, the city of Copenhagen and the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

In late December 2008 and early January 2009, after reviewing with Tahawwur Hussain Rana how HEADLEY had performed the surveillance of the targets attacked in Mumbai in November 2008, HEADLEY advised Rana of the planned attack on the Jyllands-Posten and his intended travel to Denmark for the purpose of performing surveillance of the Jyllands-Posten facilities. HEADLEY obtained Rana’s approval and assistance to identify HEADLEY as a representative of First World, to falsely represent that First World was planning to open an office in Copenhagen, and to gain entry to the Jyllands-Posten's offices by falsely expressing interest in placing an advertisement for First World in the newspaper. Before leaving Chicago, HEADLEY and Rana caused to be made business cards that identified HEADLEY as a representative of the Immigrant Law Center.

In late December 2008 and early January 2009, HEADLEY, while in Chicago, sent emails to, and received emails from ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED in order to continue planning for the attack and coordinate HEADLEY’s travel to Denmark to conduct surveillance.

In January 2009, HEADLEY traveled from Chicago to Copenhagen to conduct surveillance of the Jyllands Posten newspaper offices in the cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus in Denmark.

On January 20, 2009, HEADLEY obtained entry to the Jyllands Posten newspaper office in Copenhagen on the pretext that he was seeking to place an ad on behalf of First World in the newspaper. HEADLEY also scouted and videotaped the surrounding areas.

On January 23, 2009, HEADLEY obtained entry to the Jyllands Posten newspaper office in Aarhus, on the pretext that he was seeking to place an ad on behalf of First World in the newspaper. HEADLEY also scouted the surrounding areas.

On January 29, 2009, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, posing as HEADLEY, sent an email to the Jyllands Posten newspaper pretending to be interested in placing an advertisement in the newspaper on behalf of First World.

In late January 2009, HEADLEY traveled to Pakistan and met separately with Lashkar Member A and defendant ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED concerning the planned attack on the newspaper and provided each with videotapes of his Copenhagen surveillances. Subsequently, in March 2009, Lashkar Member A advised HEADLEY that Lashkar put the attack on the newspaper on hold due to pressure on Lashkar resulting from the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

In January 2009, ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED provided the Al Qaeda video to HEADLEY in Pakistan.

In February 2009, ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED took HEADLEY to meet ILYAS KASHMIRI in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. During the meeting, KASHMIRI indicated that he had already reviewed the Copenhagen videotapes made by HEADLEY and suggested that they consider using a truck bomb in the operation. KASHMIRI also indicated that he could provide manpower for the operation and that the participation of LET was not necessary.

In or about May 2009, ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED and HEADLEY went again to meet KASHMIRI in Waziristan. During this meeting, KASHMIRI advised that he had met with a European contact who could provide HEADLEY with money, weapons and manpower for the attack on the newspaper. KASHMIRI directed HEADLEY to meet with KASHMIRI’s European contacts.

In July 2009, ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED was arrested by Pakistani authorities. HEADLEY contacted associates in Pakistan in an effort to learn whether he would be able to continue working with ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED.

In July 2009, HEADLEY, from Chicago, sent a messenger to meet with KASHMIRI in Waziristan to advise KASHMIRI of the arrest of ABDUR REHMAN SAYED and his unsuccessful efforts to contact KASHMIRI’s European contacts. KASHMIRI sent back word that the planned operation in Denmark should continue and that HEADLEY should continue to attempt to contact KASHMIRI’s European contacts at the telephone numbers already provided.

In late July and early August 2009, HEADLEY traveled from Chicago to various places in Europe, including Copenhagen to conduct additional surveillance of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper office and the surrounding area. HEADLEY made approximately 13 additional surveillance videos. During the trip, HEADLEY also attempted to obtain assistance from Kashmiri’s European contacts.

In July 2009, HEADLEY provided the al Qaeda video to Rana in Chicago.

On August 5, 2009, HEADLEY returned to the United States, falsely advising a Customs and Border Patrol inspector at the airport in Atlanta that he had visited Europe for business reasons related to First World.

On August 22, 2009, HEADLEY, from Chicago spoke with ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED (who had been released fromcustody) in Pakistan concerning, among other things, the efforts by ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED to contact KASHMIRI, and the plans for the operation in Denmark.

In September 2009, HEADLEY sought to pass a message through ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED to KASHMIRI concerning suggestions from HEADLEY about changes to the plan for the attack on the Jyllands-Posten in Copenhagen.

In September 2009, ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED, from Pakistan, communicated with HEADLEY, in Chicago by telephone and email concerning reports that KASHMIRI had been killed in a drone attack and the implications of KASHMIRI’s possible death for the plan for the attack on the Jyllands-Posten in Copenhagen.

In September 2009, HEADLEY and Rana spoke concerning reports that KASHMIRI had been killed in a drone attack and the implications of KASHMIRI’s possible death for the plan for the attack on the Jyllands-Posten in Copenhagen.

In late September 2009, ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED, from Pakistan, communicated with HEADLEY in Chicago by telephone and email to report that KASHMIRI had not been killed and that KASHMIRI was anxious to move forward with the plan for the attack on the Jyllands-Posten in Copenhagen.

In the late summer of 2009, Rana and HEADLEY agreed that funds that had been provided to Rana could be used to fund the plot to attack the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Copenhagen.

On October 3, 2009, HEADLEY traveled to O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois, intending to ultimately travel to Pakistan in order to meet with ABDUR REHMAN HASHIM SYED and KASHMIRI, and to deliver to them approximately 13 surveillance videos. He was arrested before he could leave.

Monday, January 11, 2010




The US has kept up its Drone strikes in the two Waziristans of Pakistan. While this is a continuation of the policy initiated under George Bush in August,2008, the stepped-up strikes since the beginning of the New Year are meant to convey a message of renewed resolve to go after Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists operating from Pakistani territory unshaken by the claimed success of the Pakistani Taliban in killing seven officers of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and one of the Jordanian intelligence in the Khost area of Afghanistan on December 30,2009, through a Jordanian agent of the Jordanian intelligence, who betrayed the two intelligence agencies. The stepped-up Drone strikes are meant to show that the tragedy suffered by the CIA has not affected its determination to go after the terrorists. Any wrong message that the CIA's morale has suffered would have been counter-productive.

2. The Drone strikes depend partly on human intelligence and partly on technical intelligence. Since August,2008, there was a considerable improvement in the flow of HUMINT as could be seen from the increasing successes of the strikes. The success of a Drone strike in killing Baitullah Mehsud, the then Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in August , 2009, was made possible by precise TECHINT pinpointing the house of Baitullah's father-in-law in South Waziristan and equally precise HUMINT indicating that Baitullah had come to his father-in-law's house for medical assistance.

3. While the flow of TECHINT will not be affected by the Khost tragedy, the flow of HUMINT can be in the short-term. This is because the CIA has lost some experienced field operatives with considerable knowledge of the area across the Af-Pak border. It is also because the CIA is likely to be more cautious in its operations in future and more careful in assessing the dependability of its sources. Extra or over caution tends to slow down HUMINT operations affecting the flow of HUMINT.

4. In the short-term till the CIA is able to find alternate ways of keeping up the HUMINT flow without exposing its field operatives to physical dangers due to excessive risk-taking as one saw at Khost, the TEHINT agencies will have to step up their coverage in order to make up for the difficulties that could be faced by the CIA in its HUMINT coverage.

5.The US will not be able to depend on Pakistan's intelligence agencies to fill the gap in HUMINT. While there is no evidence of any institutional collusion between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the TTP, there is definite collusion between the ISI and the Afghan Taliban operating from the Quetta area of Balochistan and between the ISI and the Haqqani network operating in the Khost and adjoining areas of Afghanistan from North Waziristan. The question of the CIA depending on the ISI for HUMINT collection would not, therefore, arise.

6. The Afghan and Uzbeck intelligence agencies could be useful to the CIA in its efforts to fill the HUMINT gap. The fact that a joint operation with the Jordanian intelligence proved catastrophic should not inhibit the CIA from exploring the possibilities of joint operations with the intelligence agencies of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. There would always be the risk of double agents betraying the CIA, but the risk has to be faced.

7. There is no intelligence without risk-taking. The tragedy struck the CIA on December 30,2009, not because it took risks, but because the risk was not combined with adequate caution. It has been reported in the US media that the CIA did subject the Jordanian suicide bomber to frisking, but he triggered the improvised explosive device in his suicide vest just as the frisking was about to start. This is what has been happening in Pakistan repeatedly----TTP suicide bombers set off the IED just as the frisking is about to start. This has resulted in the death of a number of policemen in Pakistan who died while trying to frisk TTP suspects.

8. Unfortunately, no new technology has been devised so far which could enable the neutralization of the triggering device of an IED carried by a person from a distance without subjecting him to physical frisking. This problem poses a serious dilemma without a solution. One idea that could be tried is frisking of suspects through robots before they are brought inside a camp for a more detailed search.

9. The CIA would now go after Hakimullah Mehsud, the Amir of the TTP, and Hussain Mehsud, its trainer of suicide bombers, with greater determination than before now that the video released by the TTP has established that the TTP had motivated and trained the Jordanian suicide bomber. Baitullah suffered from health problems. His movements were, therefore, confined to the South Waziristan area. It was comparatively easier to hunt him and run him down, but even then, it took two years. Hakimullah and Hussain move around in a much larger area in the Pakistani tribal belt. Running them down is going to be even more difficult. That should not deter the CIA from going after them. ( 11-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Friday, January 8, 2010




In my earlier writings on the attempt by a Nigerian student trained by Al Qaeda in Yemen to blow up a North-West Airlines aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Detroit on December 25,2009, as it was coming in to land at Detroit, I had posed the question as to why Al Qaeda targeted this particular flight to Detroit? Did Detroit have any special significance for Al Qaeda? I had said that I was not in a position to answer this question.

2, Now, I think I can tentatively , after reading President Barack Obama's address to his people ( Annexure I) on the results of the in-house review (Annexure II ) of why the US counter-terrorism community reorganised in 2004 failed to prevent this attack. My answer is: While the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam had at some gates the required equipment with technology capable of detecting explosives concealed inside an underwear, the gate from which the North-West Airlines flight to Detroit took off did not have this equipment and technology.

3. This admission has not been made by Obama in such categorical terms as I have used, but it is obvious between the lines in the following sentence in his address to his people: "But a metal detector can't detect the kind of explosives that were sewn into his clothes. As Secretary Napolitano will explain, the screening technologies that might have detected these explosives are in use at the Amsterdam airport but not at the specific checkpoints that he passed through."

4.Were the North-West Airlines flights to Detroit taking off from the same gate every day which does not have the equipment with the technology to detect explosives concealed inside one's underwear? Or did only the flight on December 25 take off from that gate? If they were taking off from that gate every day, there is a strong likelihood that Al Qaeda knew about it in advance either through the observation of its sources transiting Schiphol or through moles and that was why it directed him to take this particular flight.

5. Al Qaeda chose the Nigerian for the attempted attack because it knew he had a valid US visa. The US Government failed to thwart the attempt because it did not know that the Nigerian student about whom his own father had cautioned the US Embassy in Nigeria held a valid visa for travel to the US. This was because the US Embassy in Nigeria in its report to the State Department on the father's warning had spelt the student's name differently from the spelling in his passport on which the visa was issued by the US Embassy in London in June,2008.Neither the human analysts in the US counter-terrorism agencies in Washington DC nor their computers connected the name as it had figured in the report of the US Ambassador in Nigeria and as it had figured in the list of persons for whom a visa was issued by the US Embassy in London.

6.An important lesson coming out of the enquiry: Data bases are important in counter-terrorism. Easy access to the databases to those dealing with counter-terrorism is equally important. Both these requirements were met in the case of the Nigerian student, but no action was taken to thwart the attempt because those having access to the databases did not make proper use of them. The information about the student conveyed by the Ambassador in Nigeria was not sufficient to warrant his black-listing and being included in the no-fly list, but there was other adverse information about him available in other databases. The bits and pieces of adverse information about him available in different databases were not brought together in an integrated manner on a single piece of paper. Had this been done, immediate action might have been taken to cancel his visa and prevent him from boarding the plane.

7. Obama's address and the in-house review do not call for any change in the counter-terrorism structure as it was set up in 2004. They have called for modifications and improvements in the way the human and technical elements in this structure operate.

8. The BBC's correspondent in North America has come out with an interesting comment on the brave attempt made by Obama to prevent any serious damage to his administration and to his own reputation as a result of the Christmas Day failure, which he has compared to the Bay of Pigs failure of John F.Kennedy. It can be seen in Annexure III. ( 7-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )



Obama: Good afternoon, everybody.

The immediate reviews that I ordered after the failed Christmas terrorist attack are now complete. I was just briefed on the findings and recommendations for reform, and I believe it's important that the American people understand the new steps that we're taking to prevent attacks and keep our country safe.

This afternoon my counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, John Brennan, will discuss his review into our terrorist watch list system, how our government failed to connect the dots in a way that would have prevented a known terrorist from boarding a plane for America, and the steps we're going to take to prevent that from happening again.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will discuss her review of aviation screening, technology and procedures, how that terrorist boarded a plane with explosives that could have killed nearly 300 innocent people, and how we'll strengthen aviation security going forward.

So today I want to just briefly summarize their conclusions and the steps that I've ordered to address them.

In our ever-changing world, America's first line of defense is timely, accurate intelligence that is shared, integrated, analyzed and acted upon quickly and effectively. That's what the intelligence reforms after the 9/11 attacks largely achieved. That's what our intelligence community does every day.

But, unfortunately, that's not what happened in the lead-up to Christmas Day. It's now clear that shortcomings occurred in three broad and compounding ways.

First, although our intelligence community had learned a great deal about the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, called al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, that we knew that they sought to strike the United States and that they were recruiting operatives to do so, the intelligence community did not aggressively follow up on and prioritize particular streams of intelligence related to a possible attack against the homeland.

Second, this contributed to a larger failure of analysis, a failure to connect the dots of intelligence that existed across our intelligence community and which together could have revealed that [Umar Farouk] AbdulMutallab was planning an attack.

Third, this in turn fed into shortcomings in the watch-listing system which resulted in this person not being placed on the no-fly list, thereby allowing him to board that plane in Amsterdam for Detroit.

In sum, the U.S. government had the information scattered throughout the system to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had.

Now, that's why we took swift action in the immediate days following Christmas, including reviewing and updating the terrorist watch list system and adding more individuals to the no-fly list, and directing our embassies and consulates to include current visa information in their warnings of individuals with terrorist or suspected terrorist ties.

Today, I'm directing a series of additional corrective steps across multiple agencies. Broadly speaking, they fall into four areas.

First, I'm directing that our intelligence community immediately begin assigning specific responsibility for investigating all leads on high-priority threats so that these leads are pursued and acted upon aggressively not just most of the time, but all of the time.

We must follow the leads that we get, and we must pursue them until plots are disrupted. And that means assigning clear lines of responsibility.

Second, I'm directing that intelligence reports, especially those involving potential threats to the United States, be distributed more rapidly and more widely. We can't sit on information that could protect the American people.

Third, I'm directing that we strengthen the analytical process, how our analysis -- how our analysts process and integrate the intelligence that they receive.

My director of national intelligence, Denny Blair, will take the lead in improving our day-to-day efforts. My Intelligence Advisory Board will examine the longer term challenge of sifting through vast universes of -- of intelligence and data in our information age.

And, finally, I'm ordering an immediate effort to strengthen the criteria used to add individuals to our terrorist watch lists, especially the no-fly list. We must do better in keeping dangerous people off airplanes, while still facilitating air travel.

So taken together, these reforms will improve the intelligence community's ability to collect, share, integrate, analyze and act on intelligence swiftly and effectively.

In short, they will help our intelligence community do its job even better and protect American lives.

But even the best intelligence can't identify in advance every individual who would do us harm.

So we need the security at our airports, ports, and borders and through our partnerships with other nations to prevent terrorists from entering America.

At the Amsterdam airport, AbdulMutallab was subjected to the same screening as other passengers. He was required to show his documents, including a valid U.S. visa. His carry-on bag was X-rayed. He passed through a metal detector.

But a metal detector can't detect the kind of explosives that were sewn into his clothes. As Secretary Napolitano will explain, the screening technologies that might have detected these explosives are in use at the Amsterdam airport but not at the specific checkpoints that he passed through.

Indeed, most airports in the world and in the United States do not yet have these technologies.

Now, there's no silver bullet to securing the thousands of flights into America each day, domestic and international. It will require significant investments in many areas. And that's why, even before the Christmas attack, we increased investments in homeland security and aviation security.

This includes an additional $1 billion in new systems and technologies that we need to protect our airports, more baggage screening, more passenger screening, and more advanced explosive detection capabilities, including those that can improve our ability to detect the kind of explosive used on Christmas.

These are major investments, and they'll make our skies safer and more secure.

Now, as I announced this week, we've taken a whole range of steps to improve aviation screening and security since Christmas, including new rules for how we handle visas within the government and enhanced screening for passengers flying from or through certain countries.

And today, I am directing that the Department of Homeland Security take additional steps, including strengthening our international partnerships to improve aviation screening and security around the world, greater use of the advanced explosive detection technologies that we already have, including imaging technology, and working aggressively in cooperation with the Department of Energy and our national labs to develop and deploy the next generation of screening technologies.

Now, there is, of course, no foolproof solution. As we develop new screening technologies and procedures, our adversaries will seek new ways to evade them, as was shown by the Christmas attack. In the never-ending race to protect our country, we have to stay one step ahead of a nimble adversary. That's what these steps are designed to do, and we will continue to work with Congress to ensure that our intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement communities have the resources they need to keep the American people safe.

I ordered these two immediate reviews so that we could take immediate action to secure our country. But in the weeks and months ahead, we will continue a sustained and intensive effort of analysis and assessment so we leave no stone unturned in seeking better ways to protect the American people.

I have repeatedly made it clear in public with the American people and in private with my national security team that I will hold my staff, our agencies and the people in them accountable when they fail to perform their responsibilities at the highest levels.

Now, at this stage in the review process it appears that this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization, but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies.

That's why, in addition to the corrective efforts that I've ordered, I've directed agency heads to establish internal accountability reviews and directed my national security staff to monitor their efforts.

We will measure progress, and John Brennan will report back to me within 30 days and on a regular basis after that.

All of these agencies and their leaders are responsible for implementing these reforms, and all will be held accountable if they don't.

Moreover, I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer, for ultimately the buck stops with me. As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people, and when the system fails, it is my responsibility.

Over the past two weeks, we've been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting our country against a foe that is bent on our destruction. And while passions and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let's be clear about what this moment demands.

We are at war. We are at war against al Qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them.

And we've made progress. Al Qaeda's leadership is hunkered down. We have worked closely with partners, including Yemen, to inflict major blows against al Qaeda leaders. And we have disrupted plots at home and abroad and saved American lives.

And we know that the vast majority of Muslims reject al Qaeda. But it is clear that al Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations, not just in the Middle East but in Africa and other places, to do their bidding.

That's why I've directed my national security team to develop a strategy that addresses the unique challenges posed by lone recruits. And that's why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death, including the murder of fellow Muslims, while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress.

To advance that progress we've sought new beginnings with Muslim communities around the world, one in which we engage on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect and work together to fulfill the aspirations that all people share -- to get an education, to work with dignity, to live in peace and security.

That's what America believes in. That's the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists.

Here at home, we will strengthen our defenses, but we will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans, because great and proud nations don't hunker down and hide behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. That is exactly what our adversaries want. And so long as I am president, we will never hand them that victory.

We will define the character of our country, not some band of small men intent on killing innocent men, women and children.

And in this cause, every one of us -- every American, every elected official -- can do our part. Instead of giving in to cynicism and division, let's move forward with the confidence and optimism and unity that defines us as a people, for now is not a time for partisanship, it's a time for citizenship, a time to come together and work together with the seriousness of purpose that our national security demands.

That's what it means to be strong in the face of violent extremism. That's how we will prevail in this fight. And that's how we will protect our country and pass it, safer and stronger, to the next generation.

Thanks very much.



Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 07, 2010

White House Review Summary Regarding 12/25/2009 Attempted Terrorist Attack

SUBECT: Summary of the White House Review of the December 25,2009 Attempted Terrorist Attack 1

On December 25,2009 a Nigerian national, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate an explosive device while onboard flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. The device did not explode, but instead ignited, injuring Mr. Abdulmutallab and two other passengers. The flight crew restrained Mr. Abdulmutallab and the plane safely landed. Mr. Abdulmutallab was taken into custody by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and later was questioned by the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation (FBI). Mr. Abdulmutallab was not on the U.S. Government's (USG) terrorist watchlist, but was known to the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC).


Following the December 25, 2009 attempt to bring down the flight by detonating an explosive device onboard flight 253, the President directed that Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan conduct a complete review of the terrorist watchlisting system and directed that key departments and agencies provide input to this review. What follows is a summary of this preliminary report.

First, it should be noted that the work by America's counterterrorism (CT) community has had many successes since 9111 that should be applauded. Our ability to protect the U.S. Homeland against terrorist attacks is only as good as the information and analysis that drives and facilitates disruption efforts. The thorough analysis of large volumes of information has enabled a variety of departments and agencies to take action to prevent attacks. On a great number of occasions since 9111, many of which the American people will never know about, the tremendous, hardworking corps of analysts across the CT community did just that, working day and night to track terrorist threats and run down possible leads in order to keep their fellow Americans safe. Yet, as the amount of information continues to grow, the challenge to bring disparate pieces of information - about individuals, groups, and vague plots - together to form a clear picture about the intentions of our adversaries grows as well.

These actions, informed by the excellent analytic work of the very same individuals and structure that is under review, have saved lives. Unfortunately, despite several opportunities that might have allowed the CT community to put these pieces together in this case, and despite the tireless effort and best intentions of individuals at every level of the CT community, that was not done. As a result, the recent events highlight our need to look for ways to constantly improve and assist our CT analysts, who are at the forefront of providing warning of terrorist attacks and keeping Americans safe.

1 This report reflects preliminary findings to facilitate immediate corrective action. Neither the report nor its findings obviate the need for continued review and analysis to ensure that we have the fullest possible understanding of the systemic problems that led to the attempted terrorist attack on December 25,2009. Note further that sensitive intelligence data was removed from this public report to protect sources and methods.


The preliminary White House review of the events that led to the attempted December 25 attack highlights human errors and a series of systematic breakdowns failed to stop Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab before he was able to detonate an explosive device onboard flight 253. The most significant failures and shortcomings that led to the attempted terror attack fall into three broad categories:

A failure of intelligence analysis, whereby the CT community failed before December 25 to identify, correlate, and fuse into a coherent story all of the discrete pieces of intelligence held by the u.s. Government related to an emerging terrorist plot against the U.S. Homeland organized by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and to Mr. Abdulmutallab, the individual terrorist;

A failure within the CT community, starting with established rules and protocols, to assign responsibility and accountability for follow up of high priority threat streams, run down all leads, and track them through to completion; and

Shortcomings of the watchlisting system, whereby the CT community failed to identify intelligence within u.S. government holdings that would have allowed Mr. Abdulmutallab to be watchlisted, and potentially prevented from boarding an aircraft bound for the United States.

The most significant findings of our preliminary review are:

The U.S. Government had sufficient information prior to the attempted December 25 attack to have potentially disrupted the AQAP plot-i.e., by identifying Mr. Abdulmutallab as a likely operative of AQAP and potentially preventing him from boarding flight 253.

The Intelligence Community leadership did not increase analytic resources working on the full AQAP threat.

The watchlisting system is not broken but needs to be strengthened and improved, as evidenced by the failure to add Mr. Abdulmutallab to the No Fly watchlist.

A reorganization of the intelligence or broader counterterrorism community is not required to address problems that surfaced in the review, a fact made clear by countless other successful efforts to thwart ongoing plots.


It is important to note that the fundamental problems identified in this preliminary review are different from those identified in the wake of the 9111 attacks. Previously, there were formidable barriers to information sharing among departments and agencies--tied to firmly entrenched patterns of bureaucratic behavior as well as the absence of a single component that fuses expertise, information technology (IT) networks, and datasets-that have now, 8 years later, largely been overcome.

An understanding of the responsibilities of different analytic components of the CT community is critical to identifying what went wrong and how best to fix it. The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) to be "the primary organization in the U.S. government for analyzing and integrating all intelligence possessed or acquired by the U.S. government pertaining to terrorism and counterterrorism 2." Intelligence Community guidance in 2006 further defined counterterrorism analytic responsibilities and tasked NCTC with the primary role within the Intelligence Community for bringing together and assessing all-source intelligence to enable a full understanding of and proper response to particular terrorist threat streams. Additionally, the Director of NCTC is in charge of the DNI Homeland Threat Task Force, whose mission is to examine threats to the U.S. Homeland from al-Qa'ida, its allies, and homegrown violent extremists.

Notwithstanding NCTC's central role in producing terrorism analysis, CIA maintains the responsibility and resource capability to "correlate and evaluate intelligence related to national security and provide appropriate dissemination of such intelligence. ,,3 CIA's responsibility for conducting all-source analysis in the area of counterterrorism is focused on supporting its operations overseas, as well as informing its leadership of terrorist threats and terrorist targets overseas. Therefore, both agencies - NCTC and CIA - have a role to play in conducting (and a responsibility to carry out) all-source analysis to identify operatives and uncover specific plots like the attempted December 25 attack.

The information available to the CT community over the last several months - which included pieces of information about Mr. Abdulmutallab, information about AQAP and its plans, and information about an individual now believed to be Mr. Abdulmutallab and his association with AQAP and its attack planning - was obtained by several agencies. Though all of that information was available to all-source analysts at the CIA and the NCTC prior to the attempted attack, the dots were never connected, and as a result, the problem appears to be more about a component failure to "connect the dots," rather than a lack of information sharing. The information that was available to analysts, as is usually the case, was fragmentary and embedded in a large volume of other data.

Though the consumer base and operational capabilities of CIA and NCTC are somewhat different, the intentional redundancy in the system should have added an additional layer of protection in uncovering a plot like the failed attack on December 25. However, in both cases, the mission to "connect the dots" did not produce the result that, in hindsight, it could have - connecting identifying information about Mr. Abdulmutallab with fragments of information about his association with AQAP and the group's intention of attacking the U.S.

The majority of these discreet pieces of intelligence were gathered between mid-October and late December 2009.

For example, on November 18, Mr. Abdulmutallab's father met with U.S. Embassy officers in Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss his concerns that his son may have come under the influence of unidentified extremists, and had planned to travel to Yemen. Though this information alone could not predict Mr. Abdulmutallab's eventual involvement in the attempted 25 December attack, it provided an opportunity to link information on him with earlier intelligence reports that contained fragmentary information.

Analytic focus during December was on the imminent AQAP attacks on Americans and American interests in Yemen, and on supporting CT efforts in Yemen.

Despite these opportunities and multiple intelligence products that noted the threat AQAP could pose to the Homeland, the different pieces of the puzzle were never brought together in this case the dots were never connected, and, as a result, steps to disrupt the plot involving Mr. Abdulmutallab were not taken prior to his boarding of the airplane with an explosive device and attempting to detonate it in-flight.


Intelligence is not an end to itself, nor are analytic products-they are designed to provide senior government leaders with the necessary information to make key decisions, but also to trigger action, including further collection, operational steps, and investigative adjustments. As noted above, NCTC and CIA have the primary and overlapping responsibility to conduct all-source analysis on terrorism. As with this intentional analytic redundancy, the CT community also has multiple and overlapping warning systems to ensure that departments and agencies are kept fully aware of ongoing threat streams.

NCTC is the primary organization that provides situational awareness to the CT community of ongoing terrorist threats and events, including through several daily written products that summarize current threat reporting for a broad audience, as well as meetings and video teleconferences that provide the opportunity for the CT community to engage in a real-time manner on this information. While the threat warning system involves analysis, it also extends to other elements within the CT community that should be responsible for following up and acting on leads as a particular threat situation develops.

In this context, the preliminary review suggests that the overlapping layers of protection within the CT community failed to track this threat in a manner sufficient to ensure all leads were followed and acted upon to conclusion. In addition, the White House and the National Security Staff failed to identify this gap ahead of time. No single component of the CT community assumed responsibility for the threat reporting and followed it through by ensuring that all necessary steps were taken to disrupt the threat. This argues that a process is needed to track terrorist threat reporting to ensure that departments and agencies are held accountable for running down all leads associated with high visibility and high priority plotting efforts, in particular against the U.S. Homeland.


Although Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was included in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), the failure to include Mr. Abdulmutallab in a watchlist is part of the overall systemic failure. Pursuant to the IRTPA, NCTC serves "as the central and shared knowledge bank on known and suspected terrorists and international terror groups.,,4 As such, NCTC consolidates all information on known and suspected international terrorists in the Terrorist Identities Datarnart Environment. NCTC then makes this data available to the FBI-led Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), which reviews nominations for inclusion in the master watchlist called the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). The TSC provides relevant extracts to each organization with a screening mission.

Hindsight suggests that the evaluation by watchlisting personnel of the information contained in the State cable nominating Mr. Abdulmutallab did not meet the minimum derogatory standard to watchlist. Watchlisting would have required all of the available information to be fused so that the derogatory information would have been sufficient to support nomination to be watchlisted in the Terrorist Screening Database. Watchlist personnel had access to additional derogatory information in databases that could have been connected to Mr. Abdulmutallab, but that access did not result in them uncovering the biographic information that would have been necessary for placement on the watchlist. Ultimately, placement on the No FIy List would have been required to keep Mr. Abdulmutallab off the plane inbound for the U.S. Homeland.


Mr. Abdulmutallab possessed a U.S. visa, but this fact was not correlated with the concerns of Mr. Abdulmutallab's father about Mr. Abdulmutallab's potential radicalization. A misspelling of Mr. Abdulmutallab's name initially resulted in the State Department believing he did not have a valid U.S. visa. A determination to revoke his visa, however, would have only occurred if there had been a successful integration of intelligence by the CT community, resulting in his being watchlisted.


The U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered and potentially disrupted the December 25 attack-including by placing Mr. Abdulmutallab on the No Fly list -- but analysts within the CT community failed to connect the dots that could have identified and warned of the specific threat. The preponderance of the intelligence related to this plot was available broadly to the Intelligence Community.

NCTC and CIA are empowered to collate and assess all-source intelligence on the CT threat, but all-source analysts highlighted largely the evolving "strategic threat" AQAP posed to the West, and the U.S. Homeland specifically, in finished intelligence products. In addition, some of the improvised explosive device tactics AQAP might use against U.S. interests were highlighted in finished intelligence products.

The CT community failed to follow-up further on this "strategic warning" by moving aggressively to further identify and correlate critical indicators of AQAP's threat to the U.S. Homeland with the full range of analytic tools and expertise that it uses in tracking other plots aimed at the U.S. Homeland.

NCTC and CIA personnel who are responsible for watchlisting did not search all available databases to uncover additional derogatory information that could have been correlated with Mr. Abdulmutallab.

A series of human errors occurred----delayed dissemination of a finished intelligence report and what appears to be incomplete/faulty database searches on Mr. Abdulmutallab's name and identifying information.

"Information sharing" does not appear to have contributed to this intelligence failure; relevant all-source analysts as well as watchlisting personnel who needed this information were not prevented from accessing it.

Information technology within the CT community did not sufficiently enable the correlation of data that would have enabled analysts to highlight the relevant threat information.

There was not a comprehensive or functioning process for tracking terrorist threat reporting and actions taken such that departments and agencies are held accountable for running down all leads associated with high visibility and high priority plotting efforts undertaken by alQa'ida and its allies, in particular against the U.S. Homeland.

Finally, we must review and determine the ongoing suitability of legacy standards and protocols in effect across the CT community, including criteria for watch lists, protocols for secondary screening, visa suspension and revocation criteria, and business processes across the government.


( Comments of Mark Mardell, the BBC Correspondent for North America )

Friday, 8 January 2010

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," the Obama administration said in the midst of economic meltdown and the same must go for the attempted bombing of a transatlantic jet as it flew into Detroit on Christmas Day.

Borrowing that sign from Harry Truman's desk - "the buck stops here" - is a bit of a hostage to fortune. But his advisors must hope that taking personal responsibility will go down well with the American people. Apparently, it worked for JFK. He said the same thing after the Bay of Pigs debacle. His approval ratings shot up. Only later did he fire the head of the CIA. By the way, Mr Obama is only following a tradition - all US presidents since Kennedy have used the phrase at least once.

More importantly, Mr Obama has rounded on his Republican critics. They attack him for not using the term "war on terror". This is not surprising - it is an article of liberal faith that you cannot wage war on abstract nouns. But he sounded a note of battle, not for the first time.

"We are at war. We are at war against al-Qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them," he said.

But the nub of the criticism of Mr Obama is that by trying to close Guantanamo Bay, and by treating militants as criminals not enemies of the state, he is weak.

There is little doubt al-Qaeda scored a major victory over Detroit, even though no-one was badly hurt. After all, the core aim of al-Qaeda militants is not simply to kill people but to terrorise them, and so effect political change. The US is very jittery at the moment.

The criticism of some, immediately after the Christmas Day plot, was that Mr Obama was too cool, not emotional enough - in fact, insufficiently terrified. There is at least an argument that the most potent allies of the militants, the unwitting foot solders of al-Qaeda's cause, are all those columnists and bloggers who want to raise the status of the enemy from mere common criminal to warrior, and who worry that the US is not being sufficiently hysterical. The president seems aware that there is more ways than one for a militant group to win.

"We will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans, because great and proud nations don't hunker down and hide behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. That is exactly what our adversaries want, and so long as I am president, we will never hand them that victory. We will define the character of our country, not some band of small men intent on killing innocent men, women and children," he said on Thursday.

A poke in the eye for former Vice-President Dick Cheney at the end of that, followed up by a plea for unity, confidence and optimism, continuing: "That's what it means to be strong in the face of violent extremism."

Mr Obama is suggesting that it is his critics who have shown weakness and fear by abandoning American values. It is a bold attempt to turn this shambles into a statement that he is the really tough one, just tough in his own way.