Citizens' Issues
What the US learned from 9/11 and what India did not after 26/11

The war on terror has taught the US the important lesson that technology-based intelligence alone cannot prevent terrorist attacks, as many terrorists are increasingly relying on human couriers and face-to-face communication

Two dastardly events in the last decade, 9/11 and 26/11, affected two of the world's largest democracies and, perhaps, changed the manner in which these two glorious nations (famous for the freedoms enjoyed in day-to-day life) decided to tackle the 'intelligence' aspect with regard to new age 'terror'.

While the United States learned from 9/11 and quickly ramped up its human intelligence quotient without compromising on its technical surveillance capability, India perhaps paid greater importance to buying and deploying technical equipment such as CCTV cameras, online surveillance and the like. This, among other things, represents a key difference between the two countries in their ability to get better and perhaps more accurate intelligence with regard to terrorists and their activities. The results are there for the world to see: Post 9/11, there has been no attack on mainland United States and that is phenomenal by any standards. On the other hand, we have had several terror attacks in India post 26/11, including the triple bombings in Mumbai last week.

My heart reaches out to Mumbaikars-words can neither lessen their grief nor reduce their legitimate anger against our collective failure to tackle terror in Mumbai. What happened on 13/7 in Mumbai is outrageous and needs to be condemned unequivocally. But, we cannot stop with just condemning the dastardly act and praising the spirit of Mumbaikars to withstand such tragedies. We heard this after 11/7 when a series of seven bombs went off within 11 minutes on trains on the suburban Western Railway in Mumbai. We heard it again after 26/11, and we are hearing it yet again. I am indeed tired of hearing this-sounds like a broken record-over and over again. As a participant on NDTV's 'We the People' programme said on 17th July (2011): "Hopefully, we are not praising Mumbaikars and their ability to take such events in their stride, to do nothing on the ground!" Make no mistake; words of sympathy alone will not help. It needs to be backed by solid action on the ground, so that Mumbai and all its inhabitants are safe and secure, in the future. That should become our topmost priority.

Words apart, we urgently need to do two things: (1) Get hold of the terrorists responsible for such heinous crimes and punish them quickly and in a manner that will serve as a deterrent for all of them in future; and (2) more importantly, analyse how and why countries like the US, with a much bigger land mass and longer coastline to protect, have been able to prevent terrorist attacks on their homeland after 9/11? As the investigation is underway and hopefully, the culprits will be found and brought to justice, I direct my attention to the latter aspect which is indeed very crucial if we, as a nation, are serious about tackling terror, both in Mumbai and the country.

In my opinion, the US has been able to foil repeated threats to its homeland primarily because, ceteris paribus, it has been able to gain access to superior information, as economists would call it. Yes, inside information, that is most critical for preventing dastardly terrorist attacks like those that have happened in Mumbai repeatedly. Yet, this is one lesson that we have perhaps not learned even after the horrific Mumbai 26/11 attacks. Had we done so, I am certain that several lives could have been saved in various parts of India. In fact, I would put this down as the critical factor that has helped prevent a terrorist attack in mainland US, post 9/11. (Ceteris paribus is a Latin phrase, which literally translated is 'with other things being the same'.)

Interestingly, the United States of America has always been a country that has prided itself about the use of technology for various things, including securing the nation's borders. But 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror have taught them an important lesson- technology-based intelligence alone cannot prevent terrorist attacks as many terrorists appear to have understood the drawbacks in communicating through online and/or virtual means and are increasingly relying on human couriers and face-to-face communication.

In fact, recent terrorist attempts which were thwarted indicate that it is human intelligence rather than technology that helped foil the plots. "Take the case of the explosive ink cartridges, for instance, which flew from Yemen to Qatar and then on to the Emirates and Britain, on their way to their final US destination… The real lesson from this failed plot is not that terrorists are particularly inventive, but rather that the (global) intelligence network designed to combat them actually works. The deadly parcels were not intercepted during routine safety checks; rather, they were seized as a result of a precise tip-off from the security services of Saudi Arabia which has developed a sophisticated intelligence network that successfully penetrated the terrorist cells in Yemen, from where the attempt originated. Therefore, the major preventive as illustrated by this case is that the Saudis clearly possessed far better and superior information about the people in Yemen and had agents who could easily blend into the local milieu and landscape—advantages which no Western intelligence agency could ever hope to match."i

And, as has been argued, "All the plots against airlines or airports attempted in the last few years were either prevented, or failed. This also serves as a useful reminder that, despite all the electronic eavesdropping devices to intercept the 'chatter' of terrorists, which agencies love to use, there is no substitute for human intelligence, an old-fashioned and risky technique which remains capable of producing accurate information, in real time."ii

In fact, the idea of human intelligence dates back several hundred years. Two well known and brilliant military strategists from India and China (Kautilya and Sun Tzu), have argued so very strongly in favour of using human intelligence. Thus, it is about time that we take serious steps to ensure that our human intelligence networks are reactivated and especially, in the urban slums where it is almost impossible to keep track of any (suspicious) activity. To re-establish such networks, amongst other things, we would (necessarily) have to: (a) Radically reform the police-community relationship with emphasis on reducing the trust deficit that communities generally have with regard to the police. We would also have to build affinity between the police and the community through various activities; (b) Re-introduce the police beat system whereby a policeman visits a locality on a daily basis, befriends the community, serves them well and gathers intelligence inputs. In the good old days, this was an excellent source of authentic local information and I am not sure as to why this was discontinued; and (c) Organise citizens' groups in every locality so as to have a constant flow of reliable information from the grass roots to urban local bodies and municipalities, police stations and other infrastructure establishments. All other things including procurement of CCTV cameras and related technical equipment can go on, but let me re-assert the aspect that unless accurate and relevant human intelligence inputs are available, preventing terrorist attacks like 13/7 will remain an illusion rather than reality.

iSource: Quoted with adaptation from
ii Source: Quoted with adaptation from




4 years ago

nation should wake up think more than money and taxes.change the system how politicians are selected and elected and given posts and how they control security.time and again we have seen it still we have failed to change.we are good in doing bakwas only


6 years ago

Same old crap. All you whiners forget that US doesn't have any terrorist organization operating on its soil. They are not surrounded by hostile enemies on their borders. They don't have to deal with state-sponsored terrorism..

If you have to compare, compare India with Israel. Despite having ample resources, intelligence, efficient counter-intelligence forces like Mossad, they haven't succeeded in ending militancy.

In any case, 9/11 was an inside job..There never was any serious threat of terrorism in USA and the security measures that have been imposed on that country are just a smokescreen.. a distraction from the looming economic crisis. The orwellion security system in US will at some point of time be used to squash rebellion against the govt.

The War on Terror Is a Hoax

iGate Patni bags $30 million IT deal from US firm

As per the deal, iGate will help Weyerhaeuser to manage its services and operations in order to reduce costs

IT firm iGate Patni today said it has bagged a contract worth $30 million (nearly Rs133 crore) from US-based Weyerhaeuser NR to provide and manage IT infrastructure service operations.

As per the deal, iGate will help Weyerhaeuser to manage its services and operations in order to reduce costs, the IT firm said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

Weyerhaeuser NR has selected iGate Patni for two years in a row as its IT supplier, the filing added. The company provides a wide range of IT services to Weyerhaeuser NR, including infrastructure managed services, application development and support services.

Weyerhaeuser operates in 10 countries and employees 14,900 people, primarily in the US and Canada.

The iGate Patni stock closed at Rs341.20 on the BSE, up 0.90% from its previous close.


Rolta India acquires public safety firm

This acquisition includes the full portfolio of ACLS software technology, including source code, design documentation, IPR rights, along with exclusive worldwide sales and marketing rights and the hiring of ACLS employees

IT software product manufacturer Rolta India today said it has acquired ACLS Systems, FZC, through a complete asset purchase.

This acquisition includes the full portfolio of ACLS software technology, including source code, design documentation, IPR rights and all other related materials, along with exclusive worldwide sales and marketing rights and the hiring of ACLS employees, Rolta India said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

However, the company did not disclose the financial details of the acquisition.

ACLS Systems provide security software solutions for computers and mobile phones.

Shares of Rolta India closed at Rs125.20 on the BSE, down 1.42% from their previous close.


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