Charge d'Affaires conveyed the information to NSA
On June 2, 2009, the day the Lahore High Court struck down the house arrest of Hafiz Saeed, the United States Charge d'Affaires in New Delhi shared “credible information” with the Indian government of possible terror attacks tied to the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief's release.
The U.S. Embassy advised American nationals in India to be extra-vigilant, advising them that the Lashkar-e-Taiba was anti-American and considered U.S. citizens, aside from those of Israel and India, to be legitimate targets.
The frantic tone of three U.S. Embassy cables (209710: Secret/Noforn, June 2, 2009; 210144: Secret/Noforn, June 4, 2009; and 210051: Secret/Noforn, June 4, 2009), accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks, tell of a high degree of anxiety in the U.S. Embassy and its consulates in India on the day of Saeed's release.
The Embassy's Emergency Action Committee (EAC) met to “discuss an increased threat stemming from the release of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed from house arrest,” Charge Peter Burleigh cabled on June 2.
The Office of Regional Affairs, a State Department outfit that deals with proliferation issues, had “seen credible intelligence suggesting there are multiple threads of terrorist planning ongoing in India, some of which are possibly tied to Saeed's release.”
The information, the cable said, was “serious but non-specific.”
The EAC would issue a warden's message and remind U.S. citizens in India of potential attacks and advise increased vigilance, Mr. Peter Burleigh, who was standing in for the U.S. Ambassador, wrote.
The Embassy was leaving nothing to chance. Mr. Burleigh said in the cable that he would also make an “urgent call” to Home Minister P. Chidambaram informing him of the U.S. intelligence information.
From a subsequent cable he sent on June 4, it appears that he called National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan on June 2.
“During the conversation the CDA advised that the U.S. had credible information about possible attacks on India tied to the release of Hafiz Saeed, chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which had been passed to the GOI in May 2009,” Mr. Burleigh cabled on June 4.
He also requested the NSA for a meeting between India's Intelligence Bureau and a representative of the Office of Regional Affairs.
A meeting took place on June 3 between the ORA official and the “director of the IB” to discuss the threats.
Meanwhile, the Embassy's Regional Security Office sent out a message to all American citizens and its personnel at the Embassy and consulates across India “reiterating the high threat of terrorism in India.”
Alert in South India
Mr. Burleigh cabled that the RSO had indicated that security during the mid-June visits of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake “will be increased to address the current security environment.”
Possibly as a result of the information that the U.S. shared with the IB, a terror alert was declared in all four south Indian States on June 5, 2009.
Hyderabad was seen as particularly at risk. More than three dozen suspects were detained in Andhra Pradesh. In Delhi, police arrested Mohammed Umer Madani, who they claimed was a “close associate” of Hafiz Saeed and a “commander” of the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
(This article is a part of the series "The India Cables" based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via Wikileaks.)