The United States warned the Indian government about a potential maritime attack against Mumbai at least a month before last week’s massacre in the country’s financial capital left nearly 180 dead, a U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN.
U.S. intelligence indicated that a group might enter the country by water and launch an attack on Mumbai, said the source, who refused to be identified due to the ongoing investigation into the attacks and the sensitivity of the information.
Indian security forces have confirmed to CNN that not only did U.S. officials warn them of a water-borne attack in Mumbai — they were told twice. The area entered a higher state of alert for a week, including tightened security measures at hotels, but those efforts were eventually reduced, Indian officials said.
Local fisherman in Mumbai said they witnessed a group of gunmen dock their boat Wednesday night, before heading toward the busy causeway.
Also, sources have told CNN-IBN that officials found phones and a global navigational device on an abandoned boat floating off the coast of Mumbai. The boat had been hijacked, intelligence officials told CNN-IBN.
Four crew members who had been on board were missing. The captain was found dead, lying face down with his hands bound behind his back.
India has made clear that it believes last week’s coordinated attacks in Mumbai originated in Pakistan, but the Indian government is under pressure to explain the lapse of security that allowed the siege to occur.
Indian police say 179 people were killed in the attacks on 10 targets i4n Mumbai. Most of the deaths occurred at the city’s top two hotels, the Oberoi and the Taj Mahal.
Pakistani authorities say Islamabad has not received any evidence that militants from within its borders carried out the attacks, but have vowed to fully cooperate in the investigation. Suspicion has fallen on Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a Pakistan-based terror group allied with al Qaeda, even though it has denied responsibility.
People in front of the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai on November 30, 2008. Foreign travellers and business people say they will not be put off coming to India’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan city by murderous militant attacks that brought Mumbai to a standstill last week.(AFP/Indranil Mukherjee)