The Lessons of Mumbai

The Lessons of Mumbai

Angel Rabasa
Robert D. Blackwill
Peter Chalk
Kim Cragin
C. Christine Fair
Brian A. Jackson
Brian Michael Jenkins
Seth G. Jones
Nathaniel Shestak
Ashley J. Tellis
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 36
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  • Book Info
    The Lessons of Mumbai
    Book Description:

    This study of the Mumbai, India, terrorist attack of November 2008 identifies the operational and tactical capabilities displayed by the terrorists and evaluates the response of the Indian security forces, with the goal of helping counterterrorism authorities in India and elsewhere to prepare for or counter future terrorist attacks on urban centers.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4681-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-2)

    The November 26, 2008, terrorist attack in Mumbai, which killed at least 172 people, has been referred to as “India’s 9/11.” By most measures, it was not the first significant terrorist attack in India. After all, the July 2006 Mumbai commuter train bombings yielded 209 deaths. There was no use of unconventional weapons. And it was not the first time terrorists had landed by sea in Mumbai. Nevertheless, some aspects of this attack were significant, namely, its audacious and ambitious scope, the complexity of the operation, and the diversity of its targets. The prolonged nature of the episode, which went...

  6. The Attack
    (pp. 3-8)

    The Mumbai attack reflected precise planning, detailed reconnaissance, and thorough preparation, both physical and mental. It relied on surprise, creating confusion and overwhelming the ability of the authorities to respond. And it required determined execution by suicide attackers who nonetheless were able to operate effectively over an extended period of time.

    The complexity of the operation demanded careful preparation. Eyewitness accounts from the Taj Hotel indicate that the terrorists knew their way through hidden doors and back hallways of the hotel. According to another report, the terrorists had a detailed diagram of the hotel’s layout.

    Indian authorities indicate that in...

  7. The Indian Response
    (pp. 9-12)

    The Indian government’s response to the Mumbai attacks highlighted several key weaknesses in the country’s general counterterrorism and threat-mitigation structure.

    Intelligence Failures. Indian intelligence officials received prior warnings both from their own sources and from the United States that a major attack was probable, but lack of specificity and uncertainty about the threat windows seemed to have prevented specific responses. There appears to have been little coordination between the central security agencies—the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB)—and the local police in Bombay. Although the former are known to have intercepted “chatter” about a...

  8. Implications
    (pp. 13-20)

    The LeT attacks on Mumbai have serious implications for India, Pakistan, the United States and, in some measure, the international community. While many of the implications for these four actors remain the same irrespective of the degree of autonomy with which LeT executed these attacks, as detailed below, other implications change dramatically if we assume some degree of state sponsorship.

    The attack has a number of external and internal implications for India. Both are considered here. With respect to India’s relationship with Pakistan, Indians are convinced that LeT is sponsored by Pakistani government entities, as recent official statements attest. India...

  9. Key Judgments
    (pp. 21-22)

    India will continue to face a serious jihadi terrorist threat from Pakistan-based terrorist groups for the foreseeable future. However, India lacks military options that have strategic-level effects without a significant risk of a military response by Pakistan. Neither Indian nor U.S. policy is likely to be able to reduce that threat significantly in the short to medium term. Most likely, the threat will continue to grow. Other extremists in India inevitably will find inspiration and instruction from the Mumbai attack.

    Safe havens continue to be key enablers for terrorist groups. Safe havens allow terrorist leaders to recruit, select, and train...

  10. Chronology of the Attack
    (pp. 23-24)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 25-28)