Mounting evidence of ISI involvement in Mumbai attack: ReportBy Arun Kumar, IANS
Monday, November 15, 2010
WASHINGTON - The Mumbai case could put Washington and Islamabad on a collision course with Pakistan unwilling to take action against at least six suspected “masterminds” of the 26/11 terror attack still at large in Pakistan, an investigative report said Monday.
There is also mounting evidence of Pakistani spy agency ISI’s (Inter Services Intelligence) strong links to the Nov 26-29, 2008 strike, said the report published by ProPublica, an independent investigative journalism group, in association with the Washington Post.
“The evidence against at least half a dozen suspected masterminds of Mumbai who are still at large includes (David) Headley’s statements implicating officers in Pakistan’s ISI along with Lashkar,” it said citing unnamed officials.
There are also physical clues, ProPublica said noting that the FBI identified a phone number that is believed to connect Sajid Mir, a suspected Mumbai attack mastermind and Pakistani American Headley, who has to confessed to his role and Pakistani intelligence officials.
Headley called Pakistani military officers at the number while working for the Lashkar-e-Taeba (LeT), the Pakistan-based terror outfit behind the Mumbai attack, the group said.
The number was also called by an accused ISI spy who went on a secret mission with Mir in India in 2005, investigators cited by ProPublica said.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has vowed to prosecute the killings of the six Americans during the Mumbai attack as required by law.
But it’s unlikely Pakistan would extradite the suspects to the United States, the group said citing officials. And Pakistani courts tend not to convict accused radical Islamists.
The Pakistani government publicly denies any official link to the 2008 attack.
The question of Pakistani government involvement drives a high-stakes debate. Some Western anti-terrorism officials think that, at most, Pakistani officials provided limited state support for the Mumbai attack, the group said.
In contrast, a number of Western and Indian anti-terrorism officials cite the in-depth scouting, amphibious landing and sophisticated communications equipment as signs of Pakistan’s involvement.
Headley’s disclosures and Lashkar’s history make it hard to believe that military leaders were unaware of the plan, they say.
Mir’s ally in the plot was a man known to Headley only as Maj. Iqbal, who investigators suspect was an officer of ISI and a liaison to the LeT terrorist group, ProPublica said.
Mir and Maj. Iqbal are keys to the mystery because they allegedly connect Lashkar and the government, the group said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])