Pakistan concedes Mumbai attack executed from its soil

Jamaatuddawa-banner.jpg

Banner for the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front group for the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

After weeks of signaling the investigation of the Mumbai terror assault would not be traced back to Pakistan, the Pakistani government admitted for the first time that the operation was plotted in and executed from inside Pakistan. The government released its findings today and three Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders have been implicated.

“Some part of the conspiracy took place in Pakistan,” Rehman Malik, the adviser to Prime Minister Gilani said. “We have lodged an FIR [first information request or criminal case] against eight perpetrators, including mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.” Pakistan has charged eight men with “abetting, directing, conspiring and facilitating a terrorist act.”

“We have gone an extra mile in conducting an investigation on the basis of information provided by India and we have proved that we are with the Indian people on the matter,” Malik said in an attempt to ease the tensions with India. Relations with India deteriorated after Pakistan’s ambassador to Britain claimed the investigation proved Pakistani territory was not used for the strike and said India’s evidence “could be fabricated.”

Malik admitted that 10 members of the assault team left from the Pakistani port city of Karachi via boat to conduct the attack on India’s financial capital of Mumbai. He also said the planning and other support activities occurred outside of the country.

Lakhvi is the military commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist outfit that has close links to al Qaeda and is supported by elements within Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency and the military. Zarar Shah, a communication expert for Lashkar-e-Taiba and another leader named Hamad Amin Sadiq also have been charged with involvement in the Mumbai attack.

Shah provided the communications expertise that allowed the Mumbai attackers to talk to their handlers when the terror attack was in progress. Pakistan also traced the e-mail sent by the so-called Indian or Deccan Mujahideen that claimed credit for the attack back to Shah. The Mujahideen is a front group for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Students Islamic Movement of India, and the Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami operating inside India.

Yusuf Muzammil, Lashkar’s senior operations commander, has not been charged. The Indians have said Muzammil was a key leader in the Mumbai attack.

The government has also charged Mohammad Kaif, Mohammad Ashfaq, and Javed Iqbal with involvement in the conspiracy. All six men are in custody. Javed Iqbal, who has been extradited from Spain, is said to have received money that was transferred through a Pakistani foreign exchange.

The Pakistanis have also charged Abu Hamza and Al Qaima with involvement in the attack, but these men are not in custody. Hamza was indentified as being involved in the plot by Sabauddin Ahmed, a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative currently in Indian custody.

Pakistan also has detained the owners and crews of the Al Farooq and Al Hussani boats, which were used to transport the assault team from Pakistan to Mumbai. Pakistan has additional requests from India to further the investigation. To aid the interrogation of the lone survivor of the Mumbai attackers, India wants the identities of the Mumbai terrorists, and information on the SIM cards and phones used during the assault.

Lashkar-e-Taiba denounces investigation

A spokesman for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba accused the Pakistani government of bowing to Indian and US demands and said his group was not involved in the Mumbai attacks.

“Pakistan has surrendered before India,” Abdullah Gaznavi, a spokesman for the terror group said. “LeT was not behind the Mumbai terror attack at all. LeT strongly condemns the filing of FIR [criminal charge],” Gaznawi continued. “It seems that Pakistan has lodged the FIR to get a pat from India and America.”

The Lashkar spokesman claimed the US conspired with India to pressure Pakistan into filing the charges. “We want to ask the Pakistan’s interior ministry chief Rehman Malik whom does he want to please,” Gaznavi said. “The US had lent open support to India and put pressure on Pakistan,” he said.

Pakistan has claimed to have cracked down on the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front group created after Jamaat was labeled a terrorist outfit by the United Nations Security Council in December 2008.

Last month, Malik claimed that 71 members of the Jamaat-ud Dawa and Lashkar-e-Taiba had been arrested while another 124 others were under observation. Hafiz Saeed, the founder of both Lashkar and Jamaat, is under house arrest.

But Saeed’s house arrest has been described as “a forced vacation.” Police idly stand guard at the home as visitors come and go and deliveries are made. Saeed has been seen leaving his home to preach at a mosque in his neighborhood while police do nothing to stop him.

Pakistan also claimed to have shut down the Markaz-e-Taiba, the headquarters complex run by the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Muridke, by assigning an administrator and a team of police to monitor activities. But police assigned to monitor the complex stood by as Saifullah Khalid, a leader in the Lashkar-e-Taiba, preached jihad.

“Muslims under the leadership of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa will conquer all South Asia!” Khalid roared. “Nobody can stop us from fighting India!”

Lashkar-e-Taiba also held a rally in Lahore in January 2008 under the guise of a group called the Tehreek-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awal, or the Movement for the Safeguarding of the First Center of Prayer. The Lashkar-e-Taiba flag was flown and senior members of the group addressed the rally.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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11 Comments

  • mako says:

    Where’s “Bill Longly” when you need him?

  • Abheek says:

    Hiding somewhere in tora bora mountains , perhaps …

  • AMac says:

    The Government of Pakistan admits (some of) what the rest of the world has known about L-e-T for weeks.
    Has Dawn or another organization polled Pakistanis for attitudes towards the attack, and their beliefs about it being masterminded by L-e-T? What percentage would deny L-e-T involvement, I wonder. What percentage would deny the complicity of the bevy of recently-created L-e-T front groups?
    I wonder how many people acknowledge the facts, accept that the Government had to slap some wrists, and still root for L-e-T and Team Jihad? That must be a fairly common sentiment in the NWFP and other Pashtun areas.

  • Raven says:

    If India and rest of the world took this long to convince Pakistan where the terrorists came from, imagine how long will it take for actual justice to be meted out? I don’t have lot of hope…

  • Neo says:

    Let’s give the Pakistani investigators some credit. They are brave men to stand up for the truth. I only hope some within the government will stand behind them. The slim chance that Pakistan will ride out this political storm lies with such men.

  • Viliger says:

    An FIR is a First Information Report and it is just that. It is not a legal charge brought to a court for prosecution. For a simple description, refer to //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Information_Report
    It is early days to predict where all this will go, judicially and politically. However, it would seem, by the timing of the announcement that if it were not for the emphatic insistence of the US govt, past and present, we would not even have reached this stage.

  • JT says:

    US delivers once more!

  • Viliger says:

    JT: Yes this is true.
    And contrary to Neo’s sentiments, i would give the key intel credit to the FBI…as one understands it, it is their phone call intercepts that are key to the case. Also the indian security for actually catching one of the terrorists alive!
    As for Neo’s point about standing up for the truth, lets wait and watch. So far, it is clear that Pakistan tried its level best to wriggle out, incl the recent trial balloon sent up by their man in london about india fabricating evidence. (The fact that he was not fired,while durrani was for a lesser charge of telling the truth, means the man was/is on-side.) Clearly they took a political decision after weighing all the options, including lying.

  • JusCruzn says:

    The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one. Maybe Pakistan is finally admitting they have a problem. I know we have plenty of predators available, all they have to do is give us the coordinates, and hellfire express will do the rest.

  • JT says:

    Viliger: Absolutely. A live capture of the terrorist along with the phone intercept was the key. Also do not forget that some European govts were also instrumental in pushing them as well, like Gordon Brown. It all gelled so well nicely.
    Need more of such strikes and less boots will be required on the ground.

  • viliger says:

    Bill, before this story is utterly dated, here is a telling tale of present status of legal charges:
    //www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=163104
    the story is headed “NO MUMBAI SUSPECT, EXCEPT ONE, REMANDED SO FAR”
    A continuity of Pakistani duplicity, deceipt and double-dealing the world? Which is why i said 3 days ago that its early days and an FIR of its own means nothing!

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