Pakistan’s investigation into the Mumbai attacks has concluded that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants carried out the assault, according to a media report, which also said some people in the ISI knew about the plot but “closed their eyes.”
Quoting a dossier compiled by Pakistani investigators, The New York Times said Lashkar recruits for the attack were vetted and trained in different parts of Pakistan including at well-established camps in Muzafarrabad in PoK and in Mansehra in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).
“A core group, the 10 chosen for the Mumbai assault, was eventually moved to Karachi and its suburbs, where the real drilling began and where Pakistani investigators later retraced the plotters’ steps,” it said.
“The investigation concludes beyond any reasonable doubt that it was Lashkar militants who carried out the Mumbai attacks, preying on their victims in a train station, two five-star hotels, a cafe and a Jewish centre over three days starting last November 26,” the paper said.
Quoting a “highly placed” Lashkar militant, the paper said the Mumbai attackers were part of groups trained by former Pakistani military and intelligence officials at Lashkar camps.
“Others had direct knowledge that retired Army and ISI officials trained Lashkar recruits as late as last year. Some people of the ISI knew about the plan and closed their eyes,” the paper quoted the militant as saying.
Quoting the Indian and Pakistani dossiers on the Mumbai attacks, the paper said beginning as early as May 2008, the group trained and planned brazenly while living in various neighbourhoods in and around Karachi.
“They made scores of calls using cell phones, some with stolen numbers, starting in August. They set up voice lines over the Internet.”
At one water sports shop, they bought inflatable boats, air pumps, life jackets and engines. One of their training camps, with five thatched rooms and a three-room house, was located near a creek, where they conducted water drills in the open.
Working from Millat Town, a dusty, middle-class Karachi suburb on the eastern edge of the city, Sadiq organised the cadre.
“Neighbours described him as quiet and pious, riding around the streets with his two young sons perched on his motorbike. The Pakistani dossier says he was a committed Lashkar militant.”
Using handwritten manuals, the recruits were trained how to use cell phones to keep in contact with their handlers during the attack. They pored over detailed maps of the Indian coastline, plotting the course they would take to Mumbai. They learned how to use global positioning devices, the report said.
Despite official denials, Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI, maintains links to Lashkar, though the current level of support remains murky, the paper said, quoting senior American intelligence officials as well as Pakistani analysts, retired military officials and former Lashkar members.
“Hafiz Saeed is the Army’s man,” the paper quoted Najam Sethi, an analyst and newspaper editor in Lahore, as saying. He and other analysts said the ISI was in no hurry to discard a group it helped create for a covert war against India.
“They have not abandoned it altogether,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a military analyst in Lahore. “It is not a total reversal; it is a realisation that this is not advisable at this time.”
Senior ISI officials disputed the view. While acknowledging that the ISI had worked closely with Lashkar-e-Taiba in the past, they said things were different now.