Washington, March 26: Citing the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack and four other cases, a report has concluded the US FBI has made strides in the past decade but needs faster reforms to transform itself into a threat-based, intelligence-driven organisation.
One of the key plotters of the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai, Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley “had previously come to the attention of US law enforcement authorities but FBI officials repeatedly concluded that Headley did not pose a threat at the time”, the report noted.
“The increasingly complex and dangerous threat environment it faces will require no less,” said the report by the FBI 9/11 Review Commission which studied FBI investigations into five “significant terrorism events.”
In none of those cases did a confidential source “provide actioble intelligence to help prevent or respond to a terrorist operation”, the report released on Wednesday said. The principal authors of the report were Bruce Hoffman, a professor of security studies at Georgetown University; Edwin Meese III, the former attorney general; and Timothy J. Roemer, a former ambassador to India. In December 2007, Headley’s Moroccan wife complained to officials at the US embassy in Islamabad that her husband was a terrorist. But the FBI investigation of Headley did not begin until 2009, and it was triggered by a tip that origited outside the FBI that revealed his relationships with extremists abroad, the report said.
In the Headley case, an alyst was ultimately able to connect him to an ongoing plot in Denmark, underscoring the value of good intelligence alysis in the field to meet the FBI’s tiol security and investigative missions, it said.
Describing Headley as “an elusive target,” the report noted that “he conducted his activities with all the skills of a trained intelligence operative - able to travel to and from the United States, Pakistan, and India with relative ease and eluding authorities.” “The FBI had no knowledge of Headley’s connections to Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT) until provided with a tip that origited outside the FBI that prompted the investigation in 2009.”
In Chicago, tiol Security Letters helped the FBI track David Headley and better understand his involvement in the Copenhagen plot directed by Ilyas Kashmiri, Al Qaeda’s chief of exterl operations at the time and the head of the Pakistani extremist organization, Harakat ul Jihad al Islami.
Over the next several months, the FBI obtained warrants on Headley and on his associate Tahawwur Hussain Ra, a Pakistani Cadian resident of Chicago. Based on the information obtained, FBI special agents decided to arrest Headley before he could leave the country, the report noted. (IANS)