In the fall of 2008, Shah "roamed from outposts in the northern mountains of Pakistan to safe houses near the Arabian Sea, plotting mayhem in Mumbai, India's commercial gem." He was, however, unaware that by September, the British were spying on many of his online activities, tracking his Internet searches and messages, the report said.
"They were not the only spies watching. Shah drew similar scrutiny from an Indian intelligence agency," it said, citing a former official briefed on the operation. While the US was unaware of the two agencies' efforts, it had picked up signs of a plot through other electronic and human sources, and warned Indian security officials several times in the months before the attack, the report said. The report quoted former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon as saying that "no one put together the whole picture," referring to the intelligence gathered by the US, Indian and British agencies months before the attacks.
"Not the Americans, not the Brits, not the Indians...only once the shooting started did everyone share" what they had, largely in meetings between British and Indian officials, and then "the picture instantly came into focus," said Menon, who was the foreign secretary at the time of the attacks. The British had access to a trove of data from Shah's communications, but contend that the information was not specific enough to detect the threat.
The Indians did not home in on the plot even with the alerts from the United States, the report said. Among the most significant clues "slipped" by the Americans was related to Pakistani-American David Headley, who had scouted targets in Mumbai for the attacks and exchanged incriminating emails with plotters that went unnoticed until shortly before his arrest in Chicago in late 2009.US counterterrorism agencies also did not pursue reports from his unhappy wife, who told American officials long before the killings began that he was a Pakistani terrorist conducting mysterious missions in Mumbai, the report said.
"We didn’t see it coming," a former top US intelligence official said. "We were focused on many other things — Al Qaeda, Taliban, Pakistan's nuclear weapons, the Iranians. It’s not that things were missed — they were never put together."
In early 2008, Indian and Western counter-terrorism agencies began to pick up chatter about a potential attack on Mumbai. Indian agencies and police gathered periodic leads from their own sources about a LeT threat to the city.
In late September and again in October, LeT botched attempts to send the attackers to Mumbai by sea. During that period, at least two of the CIA warnings were delivered, according to American and Indian officials, the report said. An alert in mid-September mentioned the Taj hotel among a half-dozen potential targets, causing the facility to temporarily beef up security, the report said.
Another on November 18 reported the location of a Pakistani vessel linked to a LeT threat against the southern coastal area of Mumbai, where the attack would occur. By November 24, Shah had moved to the Karachi suburbs, where he set up an electronic "control room" with the help of an Indian militant named Abu Jundal, according to his later confession to the Indian authorities. It was from this room that Mir, Shah and others would issue minute-by-minute instructions to the assault team once the attacks began. The report said after the assault on prime Mumbai targets began by the 10 LeT terrorists, the three countries quickly disclosed their intelligence to one another, including monitoring a LeT control room in Pakistan where the terror chiefs directed their men, hunkered down in the Taj and Oberoi hotels and the Jewish hostel, according to current and former American, British and Indian officials. That cooperation among the spy agencies helped analysts retrospectively piece together "a complete operations plan for the attacks," a top-secret NSA document said.