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NY cops learn lessons from Mumbai terror attack
The Rediff News Bureau | January 12, 2009 13:17 IST
A New York Police Department team that visited Mumbai [Images] to understand the mechanics of the multiple terrorist strikes of November 26 has identified the use of technology, particularly cell phones, by terrorists as a means of communication and information dissemination as a potential danger to guard against.
Based on this learning, mainstream media outlets in the United States report, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly in testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security has asked for "formidable capacity" to disrupt cell phone and other communications in case of terrorist strikes.
Kelly pointed out that in the past, anti-terrorist operations included the cutting of power to the site of the attack. However, the use of wireless technology and handheld devices renders such action ineffective; hence, Kelly argued, it becomes necessary to jam such communications capability in a targeted fashion.
Kelly told the committee that the NYPD is taking several measures to thwart a Mumbai-style killing spree in NY. Planned measures include proscribing boat access to sensitive zones, training police in the use of modern weapons and counter-terrorist strategies and tactics, and installing spycams across downtown Manhattan.
Charles Allen, the top intelligence official in the DHS, told the Senate committee that the response to Mumbai-type terrorist attacks anywhere in the US would be "complicated and difficult", arguing that such attacks cause chaos far in excess of the number of personnel involved.
Information, he said, was key. "In Mumbai it was not immediately clear to authorities whether there were multiple attack groups or a single group. The attackers were able to exploit the initial confusion because of the indiscriminate firings to move on to new targets."
Allen suggested that preparedness training alone could not have prevented such an attack; however, such preparation -- involving concerted action by police, military and various levels of government -- could have mitigated the effect of the attack. Based on this learning, Allen said, it was necessary to rethink the US model.
�Within the United States," Allen said, "our national exercises incorporate not only federal interagency participants, but also include regional, state, and local authorities, in order to identify potential gaps in our responses."
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