Less than a month after the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan's spy agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha had admitted before the CIA that the terror strikes had ISI links but claimed it was not an "authorised" operation and carried out by "rogue" elements, according to a new book.
However, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) later received reliable intelligence that the ISI was directly
involved in the training for Mumbai, says the book entitled Obama's War written by investigative American journalist Bob Woodward.
According to the book, the then President George W Bush during his meetings with his top aides had said that the
terrorist attack on Mumbai was just like 9/11.
"President Bush called his national security team into the Oval Office as Mumbai sorted through the blood and rubble.
You guys get planning and do what you have to do to prevent a war between Pakistan and India, Bush told his aides. The last thing we need right now is a war between two nuclear-power states," Woodward says in his book which hit the stands on Monday.
Giving an insight into the thinking and actions of the Bush Administration during and immediately after the Mumbai
attacks, Woodward writes that an "upset Bush asked his aides about contingency plans for dealing with Pakistan," given his policy of "zero tolerance" for terrorists and their enablers.
"This is like 9/11, he (Bush) said," Woodward wrote.
"The United States military did not have 'war' plans for an invasion of Pakistan. Instead, it had and continues to have
one of the most sensitive and secret of all military contingencies, what military officials call a 'retribution'
plan in the event of another 9/11-like attack on the US by terrorists based in Pakistan," the book says.
Under this plan, the US would bomb or attack every known al-Qaeda compound or training camp in the US intelligence
database. "Some locations might be outdated, but there would be no concern, under the plan, for who might be living there now. The attribution plan called for a brutal punishing attack on at least 150 or more associated camps," Woodward says.
According to Woodward, within 48 hours of the Mumbai attack, the then CIA Director Mike Hayden contacted Pakistan Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani.
"CIA intelligence showed no direct ISI links, Hayden told him. These are former people who are no longer employees of the Pakistani government," he wrote.
"Bush informed the Indians himself. He called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with whom he had a strong
personal relationship. My intelligence shows that the new Pakistani government is not involved, Bush said. It looked
like a war had been averted for the moment," Woodward writes.