Report into the interrogation of key suspect makes detailed claims of ISI support for the bombings.
Pakistan's powerful intelligence services were heavily involved in preparations for the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008, according to classified Indian government documents obtained by The Guardian.
A 109-page report into the interrogation of key suspect David Headley, a Pakistani-American militant arrested last year and detained in the United States, makes detailed claims of ISI support for the bombings.
Under questioning, Headley described dozens of meetings between officers of the main Pakistani military intelligence service, the ISI, and senior militants from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group responsible for the Mumbai attacks.
He claims a key motivation for the ISI in aiding the attacks was to bolster militant organisations with strong links to the Pakistani state and security establishment who were being marginalised by more extreme radical groups.
Headley, who undertook surveillance of the targets in Mumbai for the operation, claims that at least two of his missions were partly paid for by the ISI and that he regularly reported to it. However, the documents suggest that supervision of the militants by the ISI was often chaotic and that the most senior officers of the agency may have been unaware at least of the scale and ambition of the operation before it was launched.
European and American security services now fear that the LeT, which has thousands of militants, runs dozens of training camps and has extensive logistic networks overseas, is moving from what has been a largely regional agenda — focussed on Kashmir — to a global agenda involving strikes against the west or western interests. The documents suggest the fierce internal argument within the organisation over its strategic direction is being won by hardliners.
Headley, interviewed over 34 hours by Indian investigators in America in June, described how “a debate had begun among the terrorist outfits” and “a clash of ideology” leading to “splits.”
“The aggression and commitment to jihad shown by several splinter groups in Afghanistan influenced many committed fighters to leave [the LeT],” he said. Headley, who changed his name from Daood Gilani, told the investigators that the ISI hoped the Mumbai attack would slow or stop growing “integration” between groups active in Kashmir, with whom the agency had maintained a long relationship, and “Taliban-based outfits” in Pakistan and Afghanistan which were a threat to the Pakistani state.
“The ISI... had no ambiguity in understanding the necessity to strike India,” Headley is reported to have said. The aim of the agency was “controlling further split in the Kashmir-based outfits, providing them a sense of achievement and shifting ... the theatre of violence from the domestic soil of Pakistan to India.”
Headley describes meeting once with a “Colonel Kamran” from the military intelligence service and having a series of meetings with a “Major Iqbal” and a “Major Sameer Ali.” — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010