The sleuths in the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) have been startled by the claims made in a recently launched book that 26 intelligence inputs were forwarded by the American CIA to the Indian agencies prior to the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Officials privy to the files at RAW’s Pakistan Operations Desk confirmed that only two intercepts, on September 18 and September 24, 2008, were forwarded by the CIA desk in Islamabad to the RAW headquarters here.
“The two inputs had indeed warned of a possible terror strike on Mumbai through sea routes but the claims about 26 intelligence warnings seem to be highly exaggerated.
The fact is, the CIA hid more than it had actually revealed to Indian agencies about a terrorist plot in Pakistan,” officials told Express.
On November 19, 2008 RAW operatives in Mumbai had intercepted suspicious communication which suggested a possible assault on the maximum city, that was relayed to the agency’s Pakistan Desk. The input was forwarded to the then National Security Adviser, M K Narayanan and other security agencies including the Director General of Coast Guard.
“A total of three inputs including one input generated by the RAW was received before the attack. There were some other inputs generated by IB which was shared with police and subsequently the security apparatus at two hotels were strengthened,” they said.
A source said that after the 26/11 attack,the CIA was caught on the wrong-foot for aiding its freelancer David Coleman Headley. Despite having information on Headley’s links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the American authorities chose to ignore his activities which eventually led to the Mumbai attacks, that killed 164 and left over 300 injured.
“After the attack, the CIA and American authorities went into damage control mode and distanced themselves from Headley. But they had also pressured the Indian government not to pursue Headley’s extradition as he would have revealed what the CIA was trying to hide from the Indian agencies,” he said.
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A leaked secret cable from the US embassy here had revealed the American agencies’ fear about Headley. The US Ambassador Timothy Roemer, during his discussion on the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement on December 16, had raised the issue of Headley’s extradition with Narayanan and sought India’s commitment that it will not seek Headley’s extradition.
Narayanan replied that it was “difficult not to be seen making the effort,” but that the government was not seeking extradition “at this time.”
The NSA added that the Indian government would be ‘in the hot seat’ if it were seen as pre-emptively relinquishing extradition,” a US secret cable revealed.
Former additional secretary of RAW Jayadev Ranade said the initial tip-off definitely came from the CIA, but there was no continuous flow of intelligence.
“Our own specific input was more real that a dhow was coming but the Coast Guard didn’t act. In fact, the CIA had more information on terrorist activities in Pakistan which they shared only a few days after the attack. Even Headley’s interrogation was limited,” he said.
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