ISI involved in 2008 Mumbai attack

Today’s report on the involvement of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate in the 2008 terror assault on Mumbai wins this month’s coveted Captain Louis Renault Award. Once the Indians got hold of David Headley for interrogation, it was only a matter of time before that story was printed. Oh, and Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed was also involved in the planning and execution of the Mumbai attack. From The Times of India:

Headley, who is being interrogated in the US by a team of NIA officials, has said that the notorious ISI was engaged with the Lashkar commanders responsible for the 26/11 carnage at “each and every stage of the plot”.

The account of the terrorist, who receed targets for Lashkar terrorists across the country, corroborates India’s stand about the involvement of Pakistani state actors in terrorism, trains the spotlight on LeT-ISI tandem, and explains Pakistan’s unwillingness to clamp down on the Lashkar leadership.

Headley has mentioned serving officers of Pakistan army – Major Sameer Ali, Major Iqbal and Major Haroon – as those who collaborated with the Lashkar terrorists. Major Sameer and Major Iqbal figured in the dossier India gave to Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir.

NIA’s sessions with Headley tally with what he is learnt to have told the FBI, including the crucial bit about Hafiz Saeed being in the loop through the plot.

Whether the disclosures that undercut its denial will lead Pakistan to step up its cooperation with the 26/11 probe remains unclear.

Home minister P Chidambaram is to demand voice samples of seven Lashkar commanders including Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, Zarar Shah, Abu Al Qama and others when he meets his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik during his visit to Islamabad for the conference of home ministers from SAARC region. Pakistan has so far refused to give voice samples which could help investigators ascertain the identity of those who instructed the 26/11 attackers as they went about their deadly assignment.

After the heat was brought down on the ISI, the intel agency sought to deflect attention to al Qaeda. But as The Times of India explained, the attack was a feather in Lashkar-e-Taiba’s cap:

Headley has also spoken of how post-26/11, ISI wanted Lashkar to disown the Mumbai attack to turn the global attention away from the terror outfit that Pakistan considers to be an important strategic asset to be used against India. With Ajmal Kasab snared, and investigations by India and FBI homing in its nexus with Lashkar, ISI planned to blame the carnage on al-Qaida. It even prepared a list of 4-5 al-Qaida figures who were to be projected as the conspirators.

Significantly, the ploy did not work because of resistance from Lashkar leaders, particularly Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, one of the 26/11 masterminds. Lashkar leaders who have proclaimed themselves to be innocent and have accused India of leveling baseless charges, felt that the increased notoriety after 26/11 had raised the terror profile of the group and was going to help them with recruitment and funds.

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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14 Comments

  • T Ruth says:

    And all those named from the ISI continue to walk scot-free. Time to stop maligning the Scots and re-term this as “pak-free”.
    Nothing sovereign about it.

  • T Ruth says:

    Immediately after Bombay’s 26/11, Pak PM Gilani announced that he was sending the ISI chief to India to cooperate. A reversal was promptly announced by Kayani saying no way, adding words to the effect ‘they’ll be asking for me to come next’.
    He knew exactly what he was talking about, didn’t he?
    Kayani and Pasha or whatever his name is should be tried in The Hague. That day will come.
    As an aside checkout a line slipped into Kayani’s entry by his pals in wiki
    “The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen is a close friend of General Kayani.”
    Then check out the x-ref csm article source that of course doesn’t say it.
    Hopefully the Pak pols will have the courage to not extend this guys term. Whats next?

  • Jimmy says:

    Mother of all rougue states = PAKISTAN
    Mother of all terror organizations = PAK ARMY/ISI
    Any aid (monetary, diplomatic, military) given to Pakistan is equal to a donation to terror organizations and indirectly participating in GENOCIDE of peaceful populations!!!
    Meant for anyone supporting HELL-ON-EARTH Pakistan: Are you ready to live with this guilt throughout your life?

  • manoj says:

    Don’t go by one report. Have a look at this which brings out somewhat more sinister implications as to what the US knew and didn’t //mjoshi.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-david-coleman-headley-is-not.html

  • Bungo says:

    You’ll never see This story on CNN or Al Jazeera !

  • Sumit says:

    Thanks for covering this Bill. We at India knew about this all along. I also wonder why there is no coverage about DCH in the American media? Is it not as free as its supposed to be when it comes to national interest? Also what is not clear and I guess never will is what was DCH doing for US?

  • sanjith menon says:

    the pakistanis who, take advantage of american, disability in afghanistan, think, they can take america for a ride. america is going to leave them, high ad dry with sanctions…. poor blokes, think., they alone have a monopoly for wit?….pakistani soldiers and wit? wow!

  • jonesy says:

    india has a massive dossier on paki-state sponsored terrorism directed at her.
    i’m curious as to why india has’nt taken a proactive, admittedly high-risk, strategy of snuffing out proven paki terror actors, inside or outside pakistan; something like the israeli strategy of striking pre or post terror operation. i know it’s a capability that cannot be developed overnight, but i’m surprised that RAW and other indian security agencies have not set up/trained teams to infil pakistan, set up in islamabad or more likely rawalpindi, and eliminate these planners, sympathizers, proselytizers etc of anti-indian terror ?
    i’m not trying to come across as an internet armchair warrior, just speculating as to indian reluctance at engaging paki terrorists at their own game.

  • Sumit says:

    jonesy
    Indian government doesnt have the guts. There is lot of politics involved too. The ruling party claims to be secular so they dont want to angry the Muslim voters by taking action on Muslim Pakistan. Forget Pakisatani, Indian agencies cant take strict action against Indian based terror modules.

  • Mr T says:

    Ah yes, all the usual suspects.

  • nareshc c says:

    Mumbai was Afshaq Kayani’s plan. At least, Musharraf eventually accepted that Kargil was his plan. Kayani cannot even do that.

  • Lorenz Gude says:

    David Coleman Headley is certainly an interesting chappie. I followed the link to the Indian blogger Manoj Joshi who seems to be credible – ie in no way obviously preposterous at first blush 🙂 – and it would seem to be a complex tale worth following for its potential insight into the actual workings of Pakistani sponsored terrorism.

  • Spooky says:

    No surprise.
    However, don’t blame India for “not taking action”. They have Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal to deal with and they’re jealously guarded about their economic growth which even a normal war would destroy. Being gung-ho is fine and all, but India has too much to lose.
    Thats where America should come in, honestly. It has the influence with the government and army, it has the military power without having the same vunerabilities as India does due to proximity.
    America’s problem is obvious and twofold…a war with Pakistan would destroy any chance of getting progress in Afghanistan for a variety of logistical and political reasons, as well as the amount of time it would take is far too long than the average American is willing to allow.

  • Charu says:

    Bill, I very much doubt that Headley would talk much to the Indians, no matter what the Indian newspaper report claims. Despite his acknowledged role in the Mumbai terrorist attacks, which led to the deaths of US, Israeli, and other Western citizens (albeit mostly of Indian-origin), as well as many Indian civilians, Headley has it safe in a US jail. He would not want to imperil it by telling the Indians all that he knows – and all that his US handlers might have also known prior to the attack. Going by the farce leading up to the Indians finally getting a chance to meet him, and the relative secrecy over what Headley has already disclosed to the US prosecutors in exchange for his deal, something smells to high heaven. Let’s face it, Headley was arrested when he turned his sights to a Western target (Denmark). Indian (and Jewish) victims of Pakistani state-sponsored terrorism obviously matter less than that of Westerners being targeted. I suspect that this unfortunate attempt to block the Indians, who suffered the bloody consequences of this rogue operator, from uncovering Pakistani military complicity will reverberate for a long time. This may be the 21st century equivalent of the US 7th fleet sailing into the Bay of Bengal during the Bangladesh war; something that took the Indians a long time to put aside.

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