26/11 – Attack Within An Attack

| Last modified on November 26th, 2019 at 1:14 pm,

The Mumbai Attacks of 2008 was used as a cover to carry out a parallel operation in which ATS Chief Hemant Karkare was assassinated. Below is the investigation on this aspect from official documents.

26/11 Mumbai Attacks
The Mumbai Attacks of 2008 was used as a cover to carry out a parallel operation in which ATS Chief Hemant Karkare was assassinated.

Mr. Radhakant Yadav, a veteran leader of Bihar and a three-time member of the Bihar Legislative Assembly who had been keenly following the Mumbai terror attack case filed a Criminal Writ Petition in the Bombay High Court in July 2010 pointing out the serious shortcomings in the investigation and demanded the reinvestigation of the case by an independent agency. The important points in the petition are reproduced below verbatim. Also included are excerpts from the 1,588 page judgment, internal probe report and other official documents with comments from GreatGameIndia.

Prior Intelligence


At about this time, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the country’s premier intelligence agency, received a very specific and definite information about the Lashkar-e-Toiba’s (LeT’s) plan to attack Mumbai. On 18 November, 2008 the US intelligence agency informed the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s external intelligence agency, that a ship of the LeT, carrying some terrorists had set sail from Karachi to attack Mumbai. The US agency also provided the longitudes and latitudes of the ship, which were 30-34, placing the ship at about 20 to 30 nautical miles south of Karachi. RAW passed on this absolutely specific information to the IB which deals with internal security and asked it to take necessary action.

But, surprisingly, this highly sensitive and absolutely specific information was not passed on to the Mumbai Police, to whom it mattered most and did not ensure that the same was conveyed to the Western Naval Command, the armed wing of the Indian Navy and through whose jurisdiction the terrorist’s ship was to pass and which had the capability to locate and destroy the ship in no time in high sea or capture the terrorists alive with all their arms, ammunition, explosives with assistance from Mumbai Police (pp. 186-191).

By allowing the LeT terrorist ship to reach Mumbai by withholding specific intelligence a parallel operation was synchronized under the cover of Mumbai attacks in which Hemant Karkare was assassinated, creating an impression that he was killed in the terrorist attack.

Internal Probe Report


In the internal probe into the alleged intelligence lapse in respect of Mumbai terror attack of 26/11, the IB was indicted not only for dereliction of duty but for willfully keeping the Mumbai Police and the Western Naval Command in dark about the LeT’s impending terror attack though it had received definitive information about it well in advance, and also for not keeping the 35 mobile phones, the numbers of which had been supplied to it by the RAW, till the midnight of 26/11, ie, till Hemant Karkare was killed. The findings of this internal probe should have formed the basis of the investigation into the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case. But neither the investigation agency nor the prosecution even remotely referred to this report.

India in Cognitive Dissonance Book by GreatGameIndia

Two distinct Ops


The Mumbai terror attack of 26 November, 2008, had two distinct parts:

  1. The attack on Taj, Oberoi, Trident, Leopold and Nariman House along the seashore.
    1. Group of LeT terrorists who had landed at Badhwar Park and Cuffe Parade.
  2. The attack at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Cama Hospital and Rangabhavan Lane in the heart of the city.
    1. Separate group of terrorists who assassinated Hemant Karkare (pp. 186-233).

These two attacks were different is all respects. The two targets, the ATS Chief Hemant Karkare and the three buildings that were selected, are diagonally opposite in nature and texture. The former is definitely not in favor of either the underworld or the foreign intelligence agencies that want to penetrate into India using the cover of extremist militant organizations. The latter mentioned targets, Taj and Oberoi hosted ‘distinguished guests’ during the last week of November 2008. Most of them were Diamond Merchants and coordinators of intelligence in South Asia.

RAW’s Planted Mobile Phones

The RAW furnished to the IB, numbers of 35 mobile phones which were planted on the LeT operatives through RAW’s sources and requested to keep them under surveillance, as the terrorists were likely to make use of them. Later, it was found that the terrorists actually used three of these 35 mobiles.

The IB later admitted that it forgot to keep them under observation till Karkare was killed.

Calls from Handlers

The terrorists at Taj, Oberoi, Trident and Nariman House received as many as 284 calls from their handlers in Pakistan through VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technology but not a single call was received by the two terrorists who were in the CST-Cama-Rangabhavan section (p. 196).

In the brush the two terrorists had with railway police at the CST, a mobile phone of one of the terrorists had made fallen down. It was revealed in the inquiry that the terrorists had made contacts through this mobile phone. One more mobile phone was later found at the CST. Both the mobiles were later traced to persons from Satara district of Maharashtra (pp. 194-195).

Fluent in Marathi

The terrorists at the Cama Hospital spoke fluent Marathi with the employees of the hospital. This fact was also verified by the Principal Secretary, Medical Education, Mr. Bhushan Gagrani, a senior IAS officer (pp. 196-198).

Hostages

“It appears from the whole scheme that the destinations of each pair were fixed and they were to keep hostages at the places assigned to them” (p. 1528 of the judgment). The court appears to have come to the conclusion that the plan of the terrorists was to keep hostages at the places of their respective destinations. If that was the case, to whom the two alleged terrorists could have kept hostages at the CST? This indicates that the CST did not fit in the scheme of things and that the two alleged terrorists in that area were altogether different people. For more details on the confusion regarding the number of hostages and terrorists refer to our report What Really Happened At Nariman Chabad House.

Trawler MV Kuber

The trial judge had held that the prosecution was unable to prove that the Indian trawler MV Kuber, which was hijacked by terrorists on November 26, 2008, had not been tampered with before drawing a panchnama of it and bringing Kasab to Sassoon Dock to identify it. The court said this would also raise questions about the GPS and satellite phones recovered from Kuber. “They are linked to the main conspiracy (with handlers in Pakistan).”

Owner Hira Masani’s brother Vinod Masani had told the Porbandar police that Kuber did not have a Global Positioning System (GPS). Masani told investigators that the GPS found on Kuber must have been left behind by the terrorists. However, according to the speed diesel distribution card permit, issued by the Office of the Superintendent of Fisheries in Porbandar, the trawler had a functional GPS. The permit was issued in the name of Kuber’s owner, Hira Masani, Vinod’s disabled brother.

Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice RV More observed that ordinarily in murder cases, the accused directs the police to the crime scene, but in this case Kuber was found by the Coast Guard six nautical miles from where it was abandoned by the terrorists and was brought to Sassoon Dock on November 27, 2008 night where Kasab was taken to identify it. The court said, “Here the case seems like the police went, found the boat based on clues and then came back and took the accused to the boat and asked him to show the body.”

DNA Test

There has also been an attempt by the prosecution to connect these two accused with the real LeT terrorists by means of DNA test – tallying DNA of the accused with the DNA of sweat found on one of the jackets from the boat Kuber. In the later part of the judgment the court disbelieved the recovery of a dead body from the boat Kuber on the ground that the Police had an opportunity to enter the boat before the recovery panchnama was drawn. The relevant part of the judgment is as given below:

The prosecution has not excluded the possibility of anybody else visiting the boat or entering the boat before PW 42 (PSI Chandrakant Jadhav), along with Panch witness and accused no. 1 entered the said boat. As such the possibility of someone entering the boat cannot be ruled out and further possibility of preparing statement of the accused no. 1 in panchnama (Ext. 136) on the basis of what was seen on the boat cannot be ruled out. In the absence of such evidence, I find it highly risky to come to the conclusion that the statement under panchnama had led to the recovery of the dead body of deceased Amarchand Solanki (pp. 1225-1228 of the judgment).

If this is the view of the learned Judge in respect of the recovery of the dead body from boat Kuber, the same principle should apply to the recovery of all other articles from the same boat. As such, the possibility of the jackets having the sweat of the accused no. 1 and the deceased having been planted before the seizure panchnama was drawn cannot be ruled out and hence the DNA test report based on the sweat of the jackets so recovered cannot be accepted.

Pradhan Committee Report


A two-member Pradhan Committee was set up to brobe into the Mumbai terror attack of 26/11, especially into the role of the police and the intelligence agencies therein. Its report would have provided valuable clues and guidelines in the investigation of the case. Like the Control Room record, this report is also being sought to be hidden from the public and the Court, as it contains critical remarks on serious lapses on part of the IB and on the material contradictions between the Police story of the CST-Cama Hospital-Rangabhavan Lane part of the attack and the facts revealed in the wireless communication of the Control room.

Following a public outcry, the Government of Maharashtra agreed to table it on the floor of the state assembly, but in the end it tabled only an abridged version of the report and not the entire report. The reason given as usual was National Security. But this appears to be a lame excuse. This committee comprised of two highly experienced ex-bureaucrats. Mr. Pradhan was the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra, the Secretary Home Affairs of the Government of India and Governor of a state, while Mr. V. Balkrishnan was in RAW, occupying a high position for a considerably long period of time. Who could be better qualified to know what is in the national interest and what is not?

Assassination of Hemant Karkare


Threats to Karkare

Sources who were close to Karkare have said there was indeed a threat perception at that time and the former ATS chief was disturbed over allegations against his family after the Malegaon probe was made public. Hemant Karkare had raised the wall around his house just a week before his death and also brought home a dog. The wall was raised around the garage-end of the house, as it faced the road outside. Hemant Karkare was shaken by L K Advani’s allegations that the anti-terrorist squad, which he headed, had acted “in a politically motivated and unprofessional manner’’ in the Malegaon blasts investigation.

To these allegations Karkare responded by saying, “We are not looking at seers or saints in relation to the Malegaon blasts. We are not looking at people from a particular community when we question them. We are just detaining people on the basis of evidence. There are a lot of people going around claiming to be saints.”

Hemant Karkare Assassination Mumbai Attacks India in Cognitive Dissonance
26/11 Mumbai  Attacks and the assassination of Hemant Karkare. Excerpts from the book India in Cognitive Dissonance

Later, an anonymous caller, who used a PCO to contact Pune police, threatened to blow up the residence of Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Chief Hemant Karkare “within a couple of days”. The caller who spoke in Marathi on November 24 evening cut the line after giving the threat, Rajendra Sonavane, Joint Commissioner of Police (JCP), told reporters. The call was later traced to a Public booth in Sahkar Nagar area of the city. For more details refer to our report on Hemant Karkare Assassination Timeline.

Ambush

Hemant Karkare was called at a pre-decided place near J. J. flyover, by the side of the CST; from there he was sent into a lane by the side of the Times of India building; as he and other officers were chalking out a strategy near the rear-gate of the Cama Hospital in the lane, they were enticed towards SB II office by opening fire there and as soon as they reached near SB II office in a Qualis vehicle, a message was managed to be flashed to this party that the terrorists had been sighted near Metro Cinema, a place close to SB II office. As Karkare and others headed for Metro Cinema by taking the shortest route which was only through Rangabhavan Lane, they were ambushed and killed at about 00:03 hrs (pp. 199-202).

No Backup sent

The control room had received messages that two terrorists had killed Police Inspector Bapurao Dhurgude at 11:45 pm in the Rangabhavan Lane, at the corner of St. Xavier’s college, had injured Maruti Phad, the driver of Bhushan Gagrani, Principal Secretary, Medical Education, in the same lane and had been moving in the lane since 15 minutes before the major incident of ambushing and killing of Hemant Karkare and others. This information was received by the officer-in-charge of the main gate of the Cama Hospital through the Control Room but, surprisingly, no force was sent into the lane, even though 150-strong force was available at the front gate of the Cama Hospital which was only a few paces away from the Rangabhavan Lane (Point V on pp. 238-241).

Mobile phone of Hemant Karkare

The mobile phone/phones of Hemant Karkare was/were an extremely important piece of evidence, as going by the deposition of his wireless operator, Nitin Mathane, Karkare had received information about the attack and instructions to report to a particular place apparently on his mobile phone. Moreover, some of the photographs of Karkare in action near the CST and TV footage indicate that he had been continuously receiving information/instructions. Therefore, the call records of his mobile phone/phones could have provided valuable information to the investigators. But, no inquiry, whatsoever, has been made in respect of Karkare’s mobile phones.

The Foreign Hand


David Headley

David Headley - the mastermind American Agent of Mumbai Attacks
David Headley – the mastermind American DEA Agent of Mumbai Attacks

David Headley is known to be mastermind of Mumbai Attack, yet GoI pardoned him and is now in US, why? Headley was a US Drug Enforcement Agency agent working closely with FBI. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper found that since 2001 US had precise intelligence on Headley yet they did not act. Headley was involved not just in Mumbai Attack but Samjhauta Express blast as well. This information was provided by one of his ex-wives.

Shiv Sena parliamentarian Vivek Pandit has said on record that David Headley was involved in 1993 bomb blasts as well. According to Indian Home Secretary G K Pillai, Headley was involved in 2010 Pune blast at German bakery as well, dubbed the Karachi Project.

David Headley's Canadian Wife
David Headley’s Moroccan Wife

Headley’s Canadian wife’s petition for immigration to US described Headley’s training with terrorists. He was also caught in Germany and other countries for drug smuggling for DEA. His Morrocan wife told FBI about his 3 visits to Islamabad embassy between Dec 2007 and April 2008. This makes it very clear that long before Mumbai Attacks, Headley was already working as DEA agent and his activities closely monitored by CIA/NSA.

Why Indian agencies never followed these leads? Why was Headley pardoned by the Indian government? Inspite of prior intelligence why DEA/NSA/CIA did not act?

Role of Google

Taiba Zarrar Shah LeT's Technology Chief
Taiba Zarrar Shah LeT’s Technology Chief

Another terrorist closely monitored by British GCHQ was technology chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba Zarrar Shah. Top Secret US NSA document on Mumbai Attacks show that Mr. Shah, the technology chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani terror group, and fellow conspirators used Google Earth to show militants the routes to their targets in the city. He set up an Internet phone system to disguise his location by routing his calls through New Jersey.

Top Secret US NSA Document on Mumbai Attacks
Top Secret US NSA Document on Mumbai Attacks

The result of this cross community effort confirmed that Zarrar Shah and his associate conducted reconnaissance and research using Google Earth and Wikimapia. Analysis of Zarrar Shah’s viewing habits… yielded several locations in Mumbai well before the attacks occurred and showed operations planning for initial early points into the Taj Hotel. Other locations included the adjacent Gateway of India, other tourists sites of interest, dams, power plants, and possible locations for boat landings.

Behaviour analysis of viewing is a new capability… This new capability… yielded a complete operations plan for the attacks. Detailed analysis of Zarrar’s complete viewing history has also led to other areas of interest that may be under threat of future attacks.

  • Top Secret US NSA Document on Mumbai Attacks

Both the Americans and the British were aware of many of his online activities, tracking his Internet searches and messages, according to former American and Indian officials and classified documents disclosed by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

Google works for US Military
Google works for US Military

It is no secret that technology giants Google, Microsoft and the likes works for the US military. Under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act, 2001 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 1978 the US Government and Intelligence Agencies can legally require a US based corporation to handover information that it either owns or has access to. And recently the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai personally assured the US President Donald Trump about “Google’s commitment to the US military”.

Excerpt from GreatGameIndia's exclusive book India in Cognitive Dissonance. Get your copy from here.
Excerpt from GreatGameIndia’s exclusive book India in Cognitive Dissonance. Get your copy from here.

The Curious Case of Anita Uddaiya

One Anita Rajendra Uddaiya, a resident of Mahatma Phule Nagar, Badhwar Park, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai, had clearly seen the terrorists who alighted from a rubberized dingy at Badhwar Park and later, she unequivocally identified their bodies in the hospital. But surprisingly, she has not been cited as a witness in the case. She, however, alleged that she was taken to the US for recording her statement. Though the Mumbai Police and the FBI denied her allegation, from the circumstances it appears that she was taken to the US to pressurize her to identify some ‘terrorists’ whom she had not seen but, apparently, she did not budge (pp. 207-213).

This case was probed by GreatGameIndia in one of our reports exploring the agreements signed between India and US that give the Federal Bureau of Investigation the authority to operate in India without the State Govt’s permission. Below is an excerpt from the same.

In bizarre circumstances the only witness who saw the terrorists disembark from the rubber dinghy at Badhwar Park and actually spoke to them goes missing for four days without even the police knowing about it. “Uddaiya went to toilet from where she was whisked away by the investigators,” said Madhusudhan Nair, president of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Nagar slum area where Uddaiya resides.

Police said they have launched a manhunt for the missing witness, who had been taken to the J J Hospital earlier to identify the bodies of the nine killed terrorists. The missing persons complaint was lodged by Uddaiya’s daughter after she went missing from her house in the Cuffe Parade’s Fisherman’s Colony. The crime branch of the city police, which was the investigating agency in the November 26 terror attacks, had also launched a probe into the incident.

“We are also probing the disappearance of the lady since she is a witness in the case,” joint commissioner of police (crime) Rakesh Maria said. Even the Additional Commissioner of Police K. Venkatesam had no information about this disappearance.

According to Uddaiya there were four officers inside the posh vehicle that took her and one of them knew Hindi. It was later found that she had been ‘whisked away’ to the US for questioning by the US investigating agencies.

Now, she is a fisherwoman who couldn’t speak English and didn’t even had a passport. She was ‘whisked away’ to the US in doubtful circumstances and remained missing for four days and after she comes back her testimony was rejected on the grounds of her mental instability.

How did she reach US? Who took her there? Was it officially sanctioned? Who sanctioned it? If not why wasn’t this aspect probed further? What happened to her in US? More importantly, were the Americans working to make sure that its hidden hand doesn’t come to light?

The Israeli Promise

Following is an important transcript of meetings of Abhinav Bharat, contained in Vol. III B enclosed with the chargesheet of Malegoan (Maharashtra) blast case of 2008 (ie, ATS, Maharashtra, C. R. No. 18/2008).

I have contacted Israel. One of our captains has returned from Israel. Very positive response from their side. They have said, you show us something on the ground. We had given our proposal to them simply on paper. They said “wait and watch for six months”. We had demanded four things:

  1. Continuous and uninterrupted supply of equipment and training
  2. Allow us to start our office with saffron flag in Tel Aviv
  3. Political asylum
  4. Support to our cause in the United Nations

They accepted two demands; and did not agree with the remaining two. They don’t want to fly our saffron national flag in Tel Aviv. They say, their relations with India are  improving; and they want that, they (relations) will be strained (if they fly a saffron flag in Tel Aviv). They further say that in this situation, they will not support us in the international forum for two years ie, so long as our movement does not gather momentum. Political asylum any time. Equipment and training once we show something on the ground. I am trying to achieve this (page 66).

Late Hemant Karkare, the then Chief of the Anti-Terrorist Squad, Maharashtra, had been investigating into the Malegaon blast case of 2008. He had arrested the main conspirators Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit, Mahant Dayanand Pandey, Sadhvi Pragyasingh Thakur and others. From the narco-analysis test conducted on Lt. Col. Purohit and from the contents of the laptops recovered from him and Dayanand Pandey, it had transpired that a radical extremist organization Abhinav Bharat, had been conspiring to overthrow the elected Government and establish a separate constitution and separate flag seeking with the help of foreign powers like Nepal and Israel to achieve their objective (pp. 266-268).

In the thorough investigation of the Malegaon case by Hemant Karkare, the names of many prominent political and religious leaders conniving at the conspiracy and also the names of industrialists, builders, diamond merchants etc. who donated for this cause, had been revealed and Karkare was only inches away from arresting some of them (pp. 173-184).

Fallout


One of the fallout of the Mumbai train blasts was, as pointed out by certain retired senior Mumbai Police and RAW officials, the penetration of foreign intelligence security apparatus to protect their support organizations. For many years, British and Israeli intelligence agencies have been trying to penetrate Indian establishments. This first hand intelligence is needed by them to make decisions on economic policies and gain benefits for their native corporations. India has also set up its massive counter intelligence wing to deal with such penetration. Of late it has become easier for Israeli and British intelligence to penetrate rightwing organizations and thus have access to other departments of the Indian government, aided by a shared ideology on Islamic terrorism.

The use of intelligence gathering agencies, security apparatus and the law and administration structures in India by political parties of the day for either spying on their political rivals or scuttling off shady cases is not new. However, this political infighting within the country has led to the real culprits getting scot free and in turn have had a very drastic affect on our national security.

See also


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