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From Pakistan, says Pakistan

From Pakistan, says Pakistan

Author: Kamran Haider & Stephen Graham
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: February 13, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/from-pakistan-says-pakistan/422986/

Introduction: Islamabad files case, admits Kasab and Co set off from Karachi; positive step, says India.

Denial after denial later and barely weeks after it sacked its National Security Advisor for saying that the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks could be from Pakistan, Islamabad took the first step today towards admitting the facts. Under intense international pressure for a response to the Indian dossier, Pakistan's Interior Ministry acknowledged that the 26/11 Terror attacks, that killed over 180 people, were launched from Pak shores and at least partly plotted on its soil.

Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik told a news conference that criminal cases had been opened against nine suspects on charges of "abetting, conspiracy and facilitation" of a terrorist act. He said six of them were already in custody, including Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, Lashkar-e-Toiba leaders named by India as the masterminds of the attack, and a person who sent an e-mail claiming responsibility for the attacks. Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist captured in the Mumbai attacks, is one of those named in the FIR. Pakistan wants his confessional statement made during his interrogation in Mumbai, Malik said.

"Some part of the conspiracy has taken place in Pakistan," said Malik, detailing how the gunmen had sailed from Karachi to carry out the attack. He said the findings were shared with Indian High Commissioner Satyabrata Pal and more evidence would be needed from India to secure convictions. One suspect, he said, was allegedly involved in the Samjhauta Express attack and more information was being sought from India.

In New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who discussed the Pakistani response with colleagues P Chidambaram and A K Antony, said India was examining the report. "Pakistani authorities have admitted that elements in Pakistan were responsible for terror attacks in Mumbai," he said, noting that Islamabad has taken "some steps" and some persons have been arrested. "This is a positive step. They have also asked for more material. We are examining it. After examination, we will share whatever we can." He will make a detailed statement in Parliament tomorrow.

Chidambaram said "my initial response is that it is a positive development." He said the Indian dossier was "exceptionally, tightly argued document, very cogently argued document" which "nobody could have ignored". Asked if ISI or official agencies of Pakistan were involved, he refused comment, saying it would not be fair to "debate at this stage".

Pakistan released the long-awaited results of its investigation into the Mumbai attacks as Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama's new special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, rounded off a four-day visit to the country. Holbrooke was scheduled to arrive in Kabul later today and would visit India early next week on the final leg of a regional tour to devise a strategy for stabilising Afghanistan and eliminating the al Qaeda threat in Pakistan.

Malik said tracing telephone calls and bank transfers had led to the capture of a key figure in the conspiracy, Hammad Amin Sadiq. "He was basically the main operator," he said, adding that his interrogation led to the raid on two hideouts, one in Karachi, and one two hours outside.

According to Malik, the assailants used three boats to travel from Pakistan to Mumbai. He said detectives had traced an engine recovered from one of the vessels to a shop in Karachi. He said the shopkeeper had provided the phone number of the buyer which led to a bank account in the name of Hammad Amin Sadiq.

"We have located those locations which were used by the terrorists before launching themselves," Malik said. "They had some kind of training, they went into ocean... Some of the accused who have been arrested, they have given us the full rundown."

Malik said the breakthrough in the investigation had resulted from tracing the fishing vessel used by the militants, purchases of equipment like life jackets and the engine for the rubber dinghy that militants came ashore in in Mumbai.

Apart from Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, Malik said two other men being held were Khan and Riaz, withholding their full names so as not to compromise the investigation. One of those arrested, identified as Javed Iqbal, was "lured back" to Pakistan from the Spanish city of Barcelona. While in Spain, Iqbal had arranged Internet telephone accounts used in the attacks.

Investigators had also discovered some funds transferred from Italy and Spain were used to finance the attack, and Austrian telephone SIM cards were used. Malik too spoke of a link, possibly an Internet domain, to Houston in the United States.

He said investigators had been unable to confirm the identities of the nine gunmen killed in the attack, though Pakistan has confirmed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the gunman caught alive, was a Pakistani. He said only nine of the 10 gunmen came ashore in the dinghy, and the fishing boat they had used to sail from Karachi had refuelled on the coast of Gujarat.

Malik urged India to provide more information to help secure convictions in the attacks and said that Pakistan was sending 30 questions to India about the attacks. Among the additional information sought are the fingerprints of the 10 gunmen, the DNA of the lone survivor and details of intercepted phone conversations between the militants and their handlers.

Malik, who suggested a wider international dimension to the crime, said suspects also used a digital teleconferencing system whose service provider is based in Houston, while a Thuraya phone was issued in a "Middle Eastern country" . Bills were paid by a company in Islamabad and two people have been arrested. The terrorists also used phones with Indian SIM cards, he said. "It is not only Pakistan, but the system of the other countries has also been used," Malik said.

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