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Link found with Mumbai attacks, says US paper

January 01, 2009


WASHINGTON, Dec 31: Pakistani officials have found substantial links between Lashkar-e-Taiba and the gunmen who carried out the Nov 26 attacks in Mumbai, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Citing security officials familiar with the investigation, the newspaper reported that top LeT commander Zarar Shah admitted during interrogation that he had helped to plan the attacks.

Shah was picked up along with fellow Lashkar commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi during raids on a camp in Azad Kashmir.

The report said that Shah conceded providing guidance and encouragement by phone to the gunmen in Mumbai as the attacks and battles with Indian police unfolded.

The report said that US intercepts of a phone call between Shah and one of the gunmen at the Taj Mahal hotel confirmed the findings of the Pakistani officials.

US intercepts implicated other LeT members and broadly confirmed the details that the lone gunman now in Indian custody had given to his interrogators about the attackers’ training and movements.

Shah also confirmed the story told by the gunman to Indian investigators -- that the 10 assailants had received training in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir and then went by boat from Karachi to Mumbai. Shah said the attackers also spent at least a few weeks in Karachi training in urban combat to hone skills they would use in their assault.

The Wall Street Journal noted that the disclosure could add new international pressure on Pakistan to prosecute or extradite the suspects.

“That raises difficult and potentially destabilising issues for the country’s new civilian government, its military and the spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence — which is conducting interrogations of militants it once cultivated as partners,” the report added.