London, Nov.29 : Better intelligence could have nixed the plans of the terrorists that struck Mumbai, causing the death of about 195 people and injuries to about 300 more, say terrorism experts.
While acknowledging the remarkable bravery and professionalism of Indian Special Forces, the experts believe the attacks should and could have been thwarted by better intelligence.
Professor Paul Wilkinson of the University of St Andrews and joint editor of the academic journal Terrorism and Political Violence, told Sky News: "We have to accept there was an intelligence failure. They should have nipped this in the bud but it wasn't on their radar. Intelligence doesn't come out of this very well."
"This was a major operation with lots of people involved. It wasn't just a cell; there were teams of gunmen - lots of well-trained people. A large number of people must have been in the know about this attack," he added.
Former SAS trooper Robin Horsfall said the international intelligence community should have known the attacks were being planned.
"The security services weren't sure what they were dealing with and it was very difficult for them. A lot of things will no doubt come out after it's all over about what happened and why. The real failure though was in the intelligence. The whole world is trying to stop these things - this was a failure in terms of the intelligence but a success in terms of security in general," he said.
"It was an all-out assault designed to kill people and cause fear and to keep the story on the front pages, and in that respect they succeeded. And if they died, then they'd probably consider they'd fulfilled another objective as well," said Horsfall.
Professor Wilkinson believes the assaults bear the hallmarks of al Qaeda, with the conspirators possibly based in - but not sponsored by - Pakistan.
The Special Forces involved in the operation to flush out the terrorists from Mumbai's hotels and Jewish centre had been "remarkably brave", he said.
Professor Wilkinson commented: "The Indian Government will learn from this that its response needs to be more sophisticated next time - and I'm sad to say there will be a next time. To try and suppress this type of jihadi terrorism over night is just unrealistic."