Evidence is emerging that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba controllers who guided the course of the November 2008 assault on Mumbai may have included at least one Indian national.
In a five-and-a-half-minute conversation with Imran Babar - the Lashkar terrorist, who, using the code-name Abu Akasha, took control of a Jewish prayer house in the Colaba area - a still-unidentified controller who appears to have been a native Hindi speaker provided detailed instructions to the terrorist on the contents of a statement he hoped to make to the media.
The conversation was among more than 200 phone calls made by the Lashkar controllers to the assault team on voice-over-Internet and satellite phones.
During the conversation, the controller used words like karenga - characteristic Mumbai usage for the phrase "will do" - as well as gathbandan, in place of the Urdu word, ittehad, for alliance, and prashasan, instead of intezamiya or hukumat, for government. All other conversations recorded in the tape are in Punjabi, Urdu and heavily-accented English.
Babar was ordered to identify himself as a resident of Hyderabad's Toli Chowki area - a neighbourhood that produced several Lashkar-linked Indian jihadists, including ranking Karachi-based commander Abdul Khwaja, who operates using the code-name 'Amjad'.
Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole surviving Lashkar assault team member, had told a Mumbai court that his unit had been taught rudimentary Hindi by an Indian national who was known by the alias 'Abu Jundal'.
Maharashtra Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam at that time dismissed the claim, noting that Kasab had never earlier "disclosed the involvement of any Indian."
"I strongly suspect that he is not telling the truth," Mr. Nikam said.
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury in Chicago has indicted Pakistani-American jihadist David Headley and his Canadian accomplice Tahawwur Rana for their role in organising reconnaissance operations that preceded the attack. Along with the fugitive Taliban commander, Illyas Kashmiri, the two men were also indicted for planning attacks against a Danish newspaper the Jyllands Posten.
Three Pakistan-based Lashkar operatives - identified only as 'A', 'B' and 'C' by the FBI - were in constant telephonic contact with the assault team, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has charged. Lashkar member 'A' also sought Kasab's release in return for the release of a hostage, the FBI says.
Indian intelligence sources told The Hindu that A was most likely to be Sajid Mir - a shadowy figure many believe is 'Zarar Shah' who had overall control of technical parts of the operation.
The sources said the other three suspects could include Lashkar military commander Muzammil Bhat.