Archive for the ‘security’ Category

How India fumbled response to Mumbai attack

December 4, 2008

It took 10 minutes for word of the Nov. 26 , Mumbai terror assaults to reach the top of the government of Maharashtra state, but nearly 10 hours for India‘s best commando team to reach the scene.

That delay may help to explain why it took three days for India’s security forces to overpower 10 assailants who police say killed at least 188 people and wounded more than 280.

By Padma Rao Sundarji, McClatchy Newspapers

Indecision by politicians and the delay in launching the commando force, however, don’t fully account for the extent of the slaughter, which now threatens to escalate into conflict between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan , where the attacks are thought to have been planned.

“This was not the fault of any one organ of the security apparatus, but a systemic failure,” said Arun Bhagat , a former chief of India’s Intelligence Bureau , India’s main domestic intelligence agency.

Indian officials ignored advance intelligence warnings. Police officers ran away from the scenes of carnage because they lacked weapons, and their bulletproof vests were said to be defective. The Indian coast guard doesn’t have night vision equipment, much less the more advanced human detection gear used by China , Japan and other countries.

India’s security agencies are now rushing to point the finger at each other.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20081204/wl_mcclatchy/3115227

Pakistan’s Government, Military At Odds?

December 2, 2008

A rift has opened up between the Pakistani government and army in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

Dawn newspaper reported there had been “clear differences in perception” when army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met President Asif Ali Zardar Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, is seen in a Friday, June ... 
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

The most visible evidence of the gulf occurred when Mr Zardari promised India the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate would visit India to help with the investigation into the attack.

By Isambard Wilkinson in Islamabad
The Telegraph (UK)

Less than 24-hours later the decision was revoked and the government announced that a more junior ISI officer would fly to India. It is now doubtful whether any official will go.

Gen Kiyani had previously pledged to weed out pro-jihadi elements and reform the agency but the u-turn revived the question of whether the ISI has really been brought to heel.


General Kiyani

It was similar to an incident in August when Mr Gilani announced on the eve of a trip to Washington last month that the ISI had been brought under the control of the interior minister. He retracted the statement at 3am that night.

According to US and Indian intelligence officials, Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist outfit formed by the ISI in the 1990s to fight in Indian-held Kashmir, is the main suspect for carrying out the attacks.

One military official said: “Yes, there is a trust deficit on many issues and both are not showing their cards to each other.”

The distrust between the army and the government dates back to before the Bombay attacks, as the two sides have disagreed over how to conduct the “war on terror’ and reform the ISI.

Pakistan has spent half of its existence under military rule and the latest dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, resigned as president in September after spending eight years in power.

Gen Kiyani has since announced the military’s withdrawal from politics but it remains a strong influence on all major decisions ranging from foreign policy to the economy.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/3540
095/Mumbai-attacks-Rift-between-Pakistan-army-and-governme
nt-Bombay-India.html

Mumbai: India’s Security From The Sea a Mix of Neglect, Apathy, Ineptitude

December 1, 2008

A lot is being said about the intelligence failure of central agencies and the Navy that led to the attack on Mumbai but a review made by the Centre recently on the status of patrolling of its maritime zones across eight coastal states revealed a sordid saga of neglect and apathy.

The Times of India

A report submitted by the Comptroller and Auditor General to the government in October said that a central scheme to procure 26 patrol boats at a cost of Rs 25 crore for patrolling of exclusive fishing zones in the first 12 miles of the coastline of eight states was largely unfruitful.

The boats were “either not constructed or were lying idle and not being used for the intended purpose” while authorities even failed to carry out mid-course correction, it pointed out.

Read the rest:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Maharashtra_
neglected_marine_security_CAG_report/articleshow/3781321.cms

Mumbai attacks pose test for India

December 1, 2008

Sixty hours of mayhem sown reportedly by 10 highly trained terrorists in Mumbai (Bombay) has India asking uncomfortable questions not only of its rival, Pakistan, but also of itself.

Evidence suggests that the militants who swept through India’s financial capital Wednesday, then fought off Indian commandos in two of Mumbai’s poshest hotels until Saturday morning, received training from Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, an anti-India militant group in Pakistan.

If Indian-Pakistani tensions escalate, it could unravel improving ties between the nuclear-armed nations and imperil Pakistan’s progress in fighting militants on its Afghan border – a US priority.

Yet the Mumbai attack has also focused Indians on the failures of its own government. It was the sixth major terrorist attack since May. For a nation eager to be seen as one of the world’s next superpowers, it marks a test of leadership – at home and in the region.

By Mark Sappenfield
Christian Sciences Monitor

With national elections coming next spring, Indian politicians must resist the temptation to politicize the issue, says Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism analyst at the Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore.

“India’s leaders must understand that this is a national challenge and it must not be driven by electoral or political compulsions,” he says.

India sits at a nexus of terrorist attacks – amid a ring of violent states and home to a Muslim minority that feels increasingly alienated from the country’s economic ascent. Between 2004 and 2007, only Iraq saw more terrorism-related deaths than India, according to the US National Counterterrorism Center in Washington.

Indeed, the threats to India are so varied and mutating that it was not clear who was responsible for the attacks even two days after they began. The largest bombings of recent months have been carried out predominantly by Indian Muslims who called themselves the Indian Mujahideen.

But evidence has led Indian officials and terrorism analysts to point the finger for this attack – which killed at least 174 and wounded 239 – at Lashkar-i-Tayyaba.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20081201/ts_csm/ointel_1

Mumbai: Times of India Suggests Massive Government Redirection

November 30, 2008
The day after the July 2006 serial train blasts in Mumbai killed almost 200 people, The Times of India struck a dissenting note. Even as the world —most conveniently our politicians — waxed eloquent about the city’s never-say-die spirit and its famed ability to bounce back, we chose to carry pictures across our front page of grieving parents, children, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and friends, and asked: How Much More Can We Take? Who’s In Charge Here?

Editorial
The Times of India
November 30, 2008

Since then, there have been serial blasts across the length and breadth of the country — from Delhi to Bangalore, Jaipur to Hyderabad, Ahmedabad to Guwahati — killing hundreds and maiming many more. The post-terror response has become depressingly predictable. Each time, the home minister commends the people for their resilience and promises the strongest possible measures to ensure there is no repetition. Each time, we are assured that a federal agency to tackle terror will be set up. Then, the minister and his colleagues across the political spectrum return to the business of either doing nothing or doing more harm than good.

Over the last three years, this newspaper has written enough to fill a thick book on the giant loopholes in our internal security systems and examined what needs be done to protect, as best as possible, the public from acts of terror. But nothing has changed. Innocent blood continues to be shed—at railway stations, marketplaces, hospitals and hotels. Terrorism, darkly enough, has become a way of life.

On Wednesday night, when Mumbai’s heart was ripped out of its body yet again, the editors of this paper took a conscious decision to desist from criticizing anyone (except to say that the lessons of the past have not been learnt and that a professional infrastructure to counter terror is still to be put in place). Hundreds were still being held hostage, and saving them took precedence over everything else.

But today, as heaps of bodies lie in morgues in a charred or decomposed state, and loved ones huddle outside to receive them one last time, it is time to ask our politicians: Are you going to go back to playing politics with our lives? Or are you going to do something worthwhile with yours? How many deaths will it take till you know that too many people have died?

Related:
Mumbai Terror Strike: India’s Government to Fall?

Mumbai: India’s Home Secretary Resigns, Government Imperiled

November 30, 2008

On November 29, Peace and Freedom predicted a change in government in India as a result of the Mumbai massacre. Political analysist inside india said the weakended government of India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could probably not gracefully accept the criticism bound to come after the Mumbai attacks.  Now the first political “victim” of the Mumbai terrorism is out…

Mumbai Terror Strike: India’s Government to Fall?

***

By Nagendar Sharma
Hindustan Times

Under fire from within his party and ruling allies for his inept handling of the security situation in the country, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil resigned on Sunday, owning the moral responsibility for terror attacks in Mumbai.

Shivraj Patil
Home minister Shivraj Patil gestures as he addresses mediapersons after a cabinet meeting with Prime Minister

Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Thursday. (AFP Photo)

Patil has submitted his resignation to Prime Minister  Manmohan Singh, highly placed government sources said. The resignation is likely to be accepted and more resignations of top officials responsible for country’s security and intelligence gathering cannot be ruled out, they said.

Patil’s resignation has also put a question mark on the continuation of Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who is also under intense party pressure to step down.

Prime Minister Singh was reportedly unhappy with Patil’s performance in the wake of repeated terror attacks in different parts of the country.

Beleagured Patil faced severe criticism at the Congress Working Committee meeting on Saturday night, and party president Sonia Gandhi’s disapproval of his handling of the ministry sealed his fate, it is learnt.

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http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Fullcove
rageStoryPage.aspx?id=dc353ea5-8202-4d87-a9a
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Mumbai: India Faces Reckoning as Terror Toll Eclipses 170

November 30, 2008

Why wasn’t intelligence better?  Who is to blame?  And why did it happen?

***

Death still hung over Mumbai on Sunday, as the Indian government reckoned with troubling questions about its ability to respond to escalating terror attacks.

By Somaini Sengupta and Keith Bradsher 
The New York Times

This image taken from NDTV shows an man carrying an automatic ... 
This image taken from NDTV shows an man carrying an automatic rifle as he enters a train station in Mumbai late November 26. Indian police investigating who was behind the massive militant assault on Mumbai interrogated Sunday the only gunman who survived, as Pakistan insisted it was not involved.(AFP/NDTV/Ho)
.

The morning after the standoff ended at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel, the official death toll remained 172. But the police said they were still waiting for the final figures of dead bodies pulled from the wreckage from the hotel, a 105-year-old landmark. Funerals were scheduled to continue throughout Sunday, for the second day in a row.

As an investigation moved forward, there were questions about whether Indian authorities could have anticipated the attack and had better security in place, especially after a 2007 report to Parliament that the country’s shores were inadequately protected from infiltration by sea — which is how the attackers sneaked into Mumbai.

All the while, tensions swelled with Pakistan, where officials promised that they would act swiftly if any connection to Pakistani-based militants were found, but also warned that troops could be moved to the border quickly if relations with India worsened.

It was still unclear whether the attackers had collaborators already in the city, or whether others in their group had escaped. And perhaps the most troubling question to emerge for the Indian authorities was how, if official estimates are accurate, just 10 gunmen could have caused so much carnage and repelled Indian security forces for more than three days in three different buildings.

Part of the answer may lie in continuing signs that despite the country’s long vulnerability to terrorist attacks, Indian law enforcement remains ill-prepared. The siege exposed problems caused by inexperienced security forces and inadequate equipment, including a lack of high-power rifle scopes and other optics to help discriminate between the attackers and civilians.

Amid the cleanup effort on Saturday, the brutality of the gunmen became plain, as accounts from investigators and survivors portrayed a wide trail of destruction and indiscriminate killing.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/world/
asia/30mumbai.html?_r=1&hp

Obama doesn’t worry about threats against him

November 27, 2008

Soon-to-be president Barack Obama said he is not worried about his own security, despite a higher level of threats against him than any other president-elect in history.

Since Obama’s election, law enforcement officials have seen potential threatening writings, racist Internet postings and other troubling activity popping up. But Obama said in an interview with Barbara Walters that he never thinks about his safety.

By SARA KUGLER, Associated Press Writer

President-elect Barack Obama greets school children after making ... 
President-elect Barack Obama greets school children after making a surprise visit to St. Columbanus Catholic School on the South Side of Chicago, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

“Part of it because I’ve got this pretty terrific crew of Secret Service guys that follow me everywhere I go, but also because I have a deep religious faith and faith in people that carries me through the day,” he said. “And my job is just to make sure I’m doing my job, and if I do, I can’t worry about that kind of stuff.”

In all the stress of the transition, Obama said he’s trying to eat healthy food, work out regularly and refrain from smoking now that the campaign is over, but he did not say he has quit cigarettes entirely.

Obama, a smoker who has quit but admitted occasional relapses, said in the interview that he fell “off the wagon during the campaign” a few times.

He did not directly answer her question about whether he is sneaking an occasional cigarette now amid the intense pressure of building his administration and the countdown to his swearing-in on Jan. 20.

“Part of what I think comes with this role as president is that you’re not perfect but hopefully you’re trying to set a good example for people, and that starts with my two kids,” Obama said in the interview that aired Wednesday on ABC-TV.

He said he’s been trying to stay healthy since the days of burgers on the campaign trail. The president-elect works out nearly every day, and says he’s watching his diet too.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081127/ap_on_go_pr_wh/oba
ma_security_health;_ylt=Ao4.HJIS3djygTtNWF5VBH.s0NUE

Iraqi Lawmakers Brawl Over Security Pact

November 19, 2008

A session of Iraq’s Parliament collapsed in chaos on Wednesday, as a discussion among lawmakers about a three-year security agreement with the Americans boiled over into shouting and physical confrontation.

The session was dedicated to a second public reading of the agreement, which governs the presence of American troops in Iraq through 2011 and which the Parliament is scheduled to vote on Monday. Even before the session began, legislators were apprehensive.

“There is much tension inside the parliament,” said Iman al-Asadi, a Shiite lawmaker, shortly before the session was scheduled to start. “We worry that they will fight each other inside the room.”

Lawmakers who support the pact said they were worried in particular about the followers of the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who make up a bloc of 32 legislators in the 275 member Parliament. While there are those in Parliament, like many Sunnis, who have objections to elements of the pact, the Sadrists reject any agreement with the Americans in principle.

In a departure from protocol, security guards were present in the room, both because of the tension and because several Iraqi government officials, including the ministers of foreign affairs and finance, were in attendance to answer questions about the agreement. Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign affairs minister, said the guards were unarmed.

As soon as the session began, politicians in opposition to the pact stood up in the hall and volubly argued that the ratification process was unconstitutional, because a law governing the passage of international agreements has not been approved. Supporters say such a law is unnecessary, because Parliament had already ratified numerous agreements without one.

For the next two hours, the Parliament speaker, Mahmoud Mashhadani, lashed out at the objecters and refused their demands to change the Parliament agenda. He then invited Hassan al-Sneid, a Shiite lawmaker, to begin the second public reading of the agreement, a matter of parliamentary procedure.

As Mr. Sneid began reading, witnesses said, Sadrists and other opponents of the agreement continued to trade shouts with lawmakers who supported it. Then, Ahmed Masu’udi, a Sadrist lawmaker, approached the dais. Mr. Masu’udi said later in an interview that he was simply trying to reach Mr. Mashhadani to persuade him to stop the reading; several other witnesses said Mr. Masu’udi tried to attack Mr. Snied. The security guards rushed toward Mr. Masu’udi, who said that they grabbed him and struggled to push him away. At that point, witnesses said, the hall was filled with shouting, lawmakers rushed toward the front and the session ended in chaos.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/world/middleeast/20iraq.html?_r=1&hp

Obama: more personal security threats than other presidents-elect

November 15, 2008

Threats against a new president historically spike right after an election, but from Maine to Idaho law enforcement officials are seeing more against Barack Obama than ever before. The Secret Service would not comment or provide the number of cases they are investigating. But since the Nov. 4 election, law enforcement officials have seen more potentially threatening writings, Internet postings and other activity directed at Obama than has been seen with any past president-elect, said officials aware of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue of a president’s security is so sensitive.

By EILEEN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer

Earlier this week, the Secret Service looked into the case of a sign posted on a tree in Vay, Idaho, with Obama’s name and the offer of a “free public hanging.” In North Carolina, civil rights officials complained of threatening racist graffiti targeting Obama found in a tunnel near the North Carolina State University campus.

And in a Maine convenience store, an Associated Press reporter saw a sign inviting customers to join a betting pool on when Obama might fall victim to an assassin. The sign solicited $1 entries into “The Osama Obama Shotgun Pool,” saying the money would go to the person picking the date closest to when Obama was attacked. “Let’s hope we have a winner,” said the sign, since taken down.

In the security world, anything “new” can trigger hostility, said Joseph Funk, a former Secret Service agent-turned security consultant who oversaw a private protection detail for Obama before the Secret Service began guarding the candidate in early 2007.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081115/ap_on_el_pr/obama_
threats;_ylt=Atpscq1dTEjuule82P_M2rOs0NUE