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US worked with intelligence agencies to stop terror attacks: Officials

The US has worked with international intelligence agencies over past few years to ensure they are best positioned to stop attacks like the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, a senior official said.

“Over the last six years, the intelligence community here in the United States has worked with all of our partners to make sure we’re best positioned to stop attacks like Mumbai before they ever happen again,” the US state department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday.

“The intelligence community has improved coordination and intelligence sharing between our own agencies, between the intelligence community and law enforcement in the US, but also among our partners abroad,” she said responding to a latest investigative story on the 26/11 Mumbai attack in The New York Times which referred to an information that intelligence agencies of India, the US and Britain had before 26/11.

A detailed report by the New York Times, ProPublica and the PBS series ‘Frontline’ titled ‘In 2008 Mumbai Killings, Piles of Spy Data, but an Uncompleted Puzzle’ said “that hidden history of the Mumbai attacks reveals the vulnerability as well as the strengths of computer surveillance and intercepts as a counter-terrorism weapons.

“I would also say that I think that piece highlights the challenge of putting together all the puzzle pieces in a very complicated intelligence picture,” she said.

“I think as you could see from the piece, there are bits and pieces that different people have, different agencies have, different countries have,” she added.

“And often, intelligence is like trying to put together a puzzle without knowing what it’s supposed to look like at the end, not having all the pieces and having some that go to a different puzzle. I’ve heard that analogy used, and I think it’s particularly apt when it comes to Mumbai,” Harf said.

“So it’s a challenge that we confront every day, but our intelligence community has in the wake of Mumbai taken steps with our partners and here at home to really improve their ability to prevent these kinds of attacks,” Harf said.

The United States, she said, always had ways of intelligence sharing both internally inside the US Government between intelligence and law enforcement, but also with its partners overseas.

“Whether it’s the Indians or the British, we have very close intelligence partnerships. In the wake of Mumbai, we’ve taken additional steps to increase information sharing, again, to try and put all these puzzle pieces together to try and prevent something like this from happening. It is a tough challenge though, certainly, but we’re very committed to doing better here,” Harf said.

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