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DEPT FOR SCA, S/CT
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/03/2019 TAGS: PTER, KJUS, PGOV, KCRM, PINR, PREL, IN SUBJECT: INDIAN HOME MINISTER PLEDGES COUNTERTERRORISM COOPERATION TO FBI DIRECTOR MUELLER
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires a.i., Steven White for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)
1. (S/Noforn) Summary: In a March 3 meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram:
-- thanked the FBI for assistance in the Mumbai terror attacks investigation and pledged to strengthen counterterrorism cooperation;
-- expressed concern at the possibility of terrorist attacks during the approaching election season;
-- inquired about Pakistani cooperation with the FBI on the Mumbai terror attacks investigation;
-- requested specific intercept technology from the USG;
-- disclosed that India had information that Mumbai terrorist suspect Mohammed Ajmal Kasab was under threat from Pakistani entities;
-- described the jurisdictional problems encountered in standing up the National Investigation Agency; and
-- expressed confidence in the ability of the GOI to address the Naxalite/Maoist threat. End Summary.
2. (S/Noforn) In a March 3 meeQng with FBI Director Robert Mueller and Charge, IndiaQome Minister P. Chidambaram thanked thQnited States for its assistance in the investigation following the Mumbai terror attacks, noting that the FBI aid was a ""great help."" He observed that the FBI provided capacity on ""things we could not do our self"" and allowed India to build a tight case against the perpetrators. In turn, Mueller thanked the GOI for giving the FBI access to Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the Mumbai terrorist suspect captured by the Indians. He noted that India providing access to the FBI strengthens the U.S. position as it presses Pakistan for similar access to the Mumbai suspects in Pakistani custody.
3. (C) Chidambaram and Mueller agreed fully on the need to strengthen bilateral counterterrorism cooperation. Both acknowledged the unprecedented cooperation that has occurred post-Mumbai. Chidambaram commented that such collaboration would have provoked loud protests in India six months ago but scarcely a murmur was raised after the Mumbai attacks. He said that he has directed the Intelligence Bureau to work closely and cooperate fully with the FBI. He would like to see the two sides work together to share information on a real time basis.
4. (S/Noforn) Mueller noted that the purpose of his visit to India was to build relationships and friendships so that the two sides can work together to jointly prevent terrorist attacks and to explore ways that the United States can help India enhance its capacity to combat terrorism. He continued that the FBI would be happy to cooperate with and assist India on combating terrorism, including providing access to training at the FBI Academy and sharing lessons learned from the FBI's own transformation after 9/11.
5. (S/Noforn) In Mueller's view, one of the most crucial elements in combating terrorism is integration of the legal and law enforcement function with the intelligence function, which not only allows pursuit of cases after the crime but also an improved capacity to prevent crime. He referred to a former British MI5 chief who had told him after 9/11 that the U.K. was able to address the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland due to two things: ""sources and wires.""
Mueller NEW DELHI 00000405 002 OF 003 emphasized the importance of sharing information, noting that it required building of trust. In response to Chidambaram's query, he commented that FBI-CIA walls had broken down significantly since 9/11.
Elections Season Intensifies Terror Threat
6. (C) Chidambaram expressed grave concern at the possibility of further terrorist attacks against India. Pointing to the upcoming parliamentary elections in India, he noted that it was an ideal time for terrorists to instill fear and panic and to arouse communal passions and conflict. He warned that the Lashkar-e-Taiba today is no longer India or Pakistan focused. It has the capacity to easily cross borders and hit any one of the 12 countries on its target list.
7. (S/Noforn) Noting the fact that Americans died in the Mumbai attacks, Chidamabaram inquired about Pakistani cooperation with the FBI on the investigation. He observed that the Indian investigation will remain unfinished without Pakistan ""completing the picture."" Mueller said the FBI has had some cooperation and been allowed some interviews, but he will be pushing Pakistan hard on full access and cooperation like that provided by India. He said that the Pakistani Ambassador in Washington had assured him of full cooperation but that had not materialized yet as it is unclear who in Pakistan has the power to ""allow us in."" Chidambaram questioned the Pakistani reluctance to give access to the FBI, saying that it deepens the suspicion that the Pakistanis fear that a third-party investigation will point to the involvement of the ISI or the Pakistani army.
8. (S/Noforn) Chidamabram observed that India lagged the United States in intelligence technology and sought USG assistance in increasing Indian capacity. Referring to the recent visit of a GOI team to the National Counterterrorism Center, he said that a US-India Memorandum of Cooperation on counterterrorism was in the works.
9. (S/Noforn) Chidamabaram said that Indian law enforcement did not have the capacity to trace cell phone calls beyond the telephone transmitting tower to places where the call originated. He requested access to such technology with India, if it exists. Mueller responded that he would have to inquire whether the FBI has the capacity to go beyond the transmitting tower to the physical origin of the call through ""triangulation.""
10. (S/Noforn) Chidamabaram revealed that the GOI has intelligence that Pakistani entities have taken out a contract to ""harm"" Mohammed Ajmal Kasab. A full security audit has been ordered in Mumbai to ensure Kasab's protection.
11. (S/Noforn) Chidambaram readily agreed to Mueller's request that the FBI might seek access to Kasab again and may need a videotaped deposition if he is indicted in the United States. He offered to share with the FBI Kasab's video-taped judicial confession which had recently been provided. Chidamabram noted that Kasab had requested consular access but the Pakistani Embassy had refused even though the GOP had acknowledged that Kasab is a Pakistani citizen.
National Investigation Agency
NEW DELHI 00000405 003 OF 003
12. (C) Referring to the newly-formed National Investigation Agency (NIA), Chidambaram observed that he had a new weapon in hand to combat terrorism. He conceded that he was coming ""perilously close to crossing constitutional limits"" in empowering the NIA. He explained that the concept of a ""federal"" crime does not exist in India, with law and order the responsibility of state governments. Federal law enforcement agencies, therefore, have to seek permission of the states in order to become involved in an investigation. He opined that the NIA law would be challenged in court because it ascribes certain investigating powers to the NIA which may be seen to conflict with responsibility that is exclusively with the states. Mueller agreed that the U.S. Constitution empowers the FBI when crimes ""cross state borders"" but noted the FBI faces similar jurisdictional problems from local, state and federal agencies.
13. (C) Chidambaram noted that in addition to Islamist terrorism, India must deal with internal Naxalite/Maoists violence which affects 33 districts in eight states (Note: There are over 600 districts in India. End Note.) He said the problem has festered for some time as different governments have approached it with varying levels of resolve and commitment. Chidambaram disclosed that after becoming Home Minister in December, he had given unambiguous directions for the GOI to move against the Naxalites/Maoists with force. He said that a major counter-insurgency program had been launched against these groups. Patrols have been beefed up in size and coverage. Military officers had been brought in to provide the police and paramilitary forces training in jungle warfare. He expressed confidence that with this new approach the government would ""settle"" the Naxalite/Maoists problem.