Anatomy: Unveiling Espionage

Anatomy: Unveiling Espionage

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From the Spring 2015 Issue "The Unknown"



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A recent joint-investigation by ProPublica’s Sebastian Rotello, The New York Times’s James Glanz and David E. Singer, and a PBS Frontline series revealed that despite a trove of invaluable intelligence data, the United States, Britain, and India failed to unravel the plot that would lead to the deaths of 166 people in the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008, frequently referred to as “India’s 9/11.” In particular, intelligence gleaned from tracking two major figures should have alerted the spy agencies to the impending attack. David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American—at one point an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency—spent two years in Mumbai conducting reconnaissance on the targets of the assault. Zarrar Shah, the technology chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terror group with ties to Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani spy agency, was heavily dependent on the Internet for all operations planning of the attack. As the diagram below makes clear, had the intelligence agencies acted cooperatively, a clear trail of spy data would have revealed every phase of the terror attack.


Compiled by Matthew DeMello and Jas Singh

Designed by Meehyun Nan-Thompson

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