WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Thursday heard testimony from top intelligence and law enforcement officials about lessons learned from the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in November 2008.
Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Charlie Allen discussed the Department’s tactical lessons from the attack, including the fact that disrupted plots may resurface, noting how Indian officials had apprehended a suspect months earlier with what appeared to be plans to attack the Taj Hotel. He also discussed the challenges associated with responding to a similar attack in a major U.S. city. The FBI’s Donald Van Duyn noted the leading-edge technologies used by the Mumbai terrorists to communicate with each other and their superiors back in Pakistan during the attack. And New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said law enforcement needs a renewed focus on educating the private sector on potential security threats to soft targets, and highlighted the NYPD’s outreach efforts. All three witnesses discussed the threat posed by Lashkar-E-Taiba on a global scale and to the homeland.
“We need to understand the implications of some of the tactics used successfully in these attacks,” Lieberman said. “For example, we know that the attackers traveled undetected from Karachi to Mumbai by boat. What are the implications of this attack from the water for our own maritime security? We need to look at the targets of this attack and determine whether we are doing as much as we should be doing to appropriately protect our own “soft” targets, including shopping malls, hotels, and sporting venues. We need to better understand the threat to the United States from Lashkar E-Taiba. And we need to examine how we can strengthen our homeland security cooperation with the Government of India and other allied governments in the wake of this attack.”
Said Collins: “The murderous assault on Mumbai deserves our attention because it raises important questions about our own plans to prevent, prepare for, and respond to terror attacks in the United States. Careful analysis of the tactics used, the targets chosen, and the effectiveness of the Indian security forces’ response provide valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of our own nation’s defenses.”
Allen and Van Duyn also discussed how Somali-Americans are being recruited By Al- Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group to travel to Somalia where they were trained to wage jihad, noting the implications for radicalization of American citizens to carry out attacks at home or abroad. Last October, a U.S. naturalized citizen carried out a suicide attack in Northern Somalia on behalf of Al-Shabaab.