WASHINGTON, Dec 4: US President-elect Barack Obama’s adviser on South Asian affairs alleges that those who carried out last week’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai had links to Pakistani intelligence agencies.

“If there’s anything that is a 64 million dollar question today,” it is finding out the “extent of its (Lashkar-e-Tayyaba) current ties to the Pakistani intelligence service,” said Bruce Riedel at a discussion hosted by Brookings Institution on “Mumbai Terrorist Attacks: A Challenge for India and the World”.

In an interview to CNN earlier this week, President Asif Ali Zardari said the attacks were executed by “non-state actors” and rejected the suggestion that Pakistani intelligence agencies were involved.

But Mr Riedel, a former CIA official and now a member of Mr Obama’s policy working group on national security, said it’s difficult to believe the Pakistani government’s assertions “given the size of its (LeT) activities in Pakistan”.

He said the Mumbai terror plot was carried out by “professionals, who were trained by professionals who were given a professional plan.” The attacks “were not a plot by amateurs or by a pick-up group”, he added.

Mr Riedel also backed claims by other US officials that global terrorist networks like Al Qaeda were also involved in the attacks.

“The evidence is already pretty clear that this attack had links to the global jihad and that those involved in it were going after the targets of the global jihad,” he said.

Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has said many times “‘the Islamic world is under threat from a Crusader-Zionist-Hindu alliance,’” Mr Riedel said.

“We saw it demonstrated in Mumbai, terrorists who were going after exactly those targets — Americans, Israelis and, of course, Indians,” he said.

“This was an extraordinarily sophisticated and complex plot,” Mr Riedel said.

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