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.
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