Pakistan security services detained another senior Lashkar-e-Taiba operative suspected of being involved in the Mumbai terror attack.
Zarar Shah was one of an estimated 10 to 20 Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives detained during raids on the terror group’s offices in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and other locations in Pakistan.
Shah is a communications expert who set up the network that allowed the Mumbai attackers communicate with Lashkar-e-Taiba commanders in Pakistan, according to Indian intelligence officials. He also serves as a key liaison between the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency.
The Mumbai attackers remained in contact with their Lashkar handlers in Pakistan throughout the assault, using cells phones and Thuraya satellite phones, and the Voice over Internet Protocol in order to make it difficult for intelligence services to track the calls.
Shah is the third Lashkar-e-Taiba operative inside Pakistan directly linked to the Mumbai attack. Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Lashkar’s military commander, has been identified by captured Mumbai attacker Ajmal Amir Kasab as being the primary recruiter for the operation.
Kasab said Lakhvi spent three months in Karachi finalizing the Mumbai operation. Calls from the Mumbai attackers have been traced to Lakhvi. He is currently in Pakistani custody, but Pakistan has no plans to extradite him to India.
Indian officials have also identified Yusuf Muzammil as the mastermind of the Mumbai attack. Muzammil is a senior Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander. He was in contact with a Bangladeshi named Yahya, who helped get the Mumbai terrorists fake deification cards and SIM cards.
Muzammil, along with other senior Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives have “gone to ground,” fearing they may be rounded by Pakistani government, a senior US intelligence official told The Long War Journal. “We believe other senior Lashkar leaders are involved in the planning and execution of this attack.”
Other wanted Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders include Azam Cheema, the commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Indian operations branch, known as the Dasta Mohammad bin Qasim; and Abdul Karim, the top field operative in the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Indian operations branch. “I would be surprised if Cheema and Karim were not involved in this attack,” the intelligence official said.
Cheema, Karim, and other operatives are feared to have fled to Pakistan’s northwest where it will be difficult to capture them, an intelligence official told The Long War Journal.
“Lashkar-e-Taiba has an extensive network throughout Pakistan, and a strong presence in Pakistan’s northwest, where they have allied with other terror groups,” including the Taliban, al Qaeda, Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami, and Jaish-e-Mohammed, the official said. “The likelihood of them being detained in the tribal areas is poor.”
India officials also identified the nine other Mumbai attackers who were killed by Indian security forces [See list below]. All nine terrorists are Pakistani citizens and are believed to be members of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
While Indian officials have maintained that there were only 10 members of the assault team, there is concern that five other terrorists involved in the attack may still be on the loose. Kasab said that 20 other Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters trained for the operations, however the whereabouts of these men is unknown.
Several US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal believe there were more than 10 men involved in the Mumbai assault.
Indian police have also identified five other suspects in the Mumbai attacks. The men likely served as part of the support network for the Mumbai attack.
Police said Fahim Ansari and another man identified as Sabauddin appear to have connections to the attack. Ansari was captured with maps that highlighted several of the locations in Mumbai that were targeted in the assault. Both men were detained in February after attacking a police camp in Uttar Pradesh.
Two other men who are said to have provided the SIM cards used by the Mumbai terrorists were arrested in Kolkata. Police traced several of the SIM cards to Tausif Rehman and Mukhtar Ahmed. One of the men is an undercover policeman.
Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters known to have participated in the Mumbai terror attack [Source: CNN-IBN]:
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)/Victoria Terminus train station
• Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab alias “Abu Mujahid” of Okara village, Punjab Province, Pakistan. Kasab, 21, has been previously identified by Mumbai’s police chief. He is the only surviving attacker and is in government custody.
• Ismail Khan alias “Abu Ismail” from Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan
• Hafeez Arshad alias “Abdul Rehman Bada” from Multan, Pakistan
• Javed alias “Abu Ali,” also from Okara
• Shoaib alias “Soaib” from Narowal Sialkot, Pakistan
• Nazeer alias “Abu Umera” from Faizalabad, Pakistan
Chabad House/Nariman House
• Nasir alias “Abu Umar” also from Faizalabad
• Babbar Imran alias “Abu Aqasha” also from Multan
• Abdul Rehman alias “Abdul Rehman Chota” of Arafwala, Multan Road, Pakistan
• Fahadullah alias “Abu Fahad” of Bipalpur Taluka, Okara, Pakistan.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.