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Pakistan now holds the key to probe: investigators

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PEACE MARCH: Activists hold up banners and placards during a peace rally in memory of those killed in the Mumbai attacks, outside the Taj Mahal hotel on Sunday.
PEACE MARCH: Activists hold up banners and placards during a peace rally in memory of those killed in the Mumbai attacks, outside the Taj Mahal hotel on Sunday.

Praveen Swami

MUMBAI: Investigators probing last week’s massacre in Mumbai have reached a point where little progress can now be made unless Pakistan arrests key suspects based in that country, police and intelligence officials have told The Hindu.

India has so far assembled several pieces of evidence that link the Mumbai fidayeen attack to Lashkar-e-Taiba commanders based in Muridke near Lahore in Pakistan.

Much of the evidence rests on the testimony of arrested Lashkar terrorist Amjad Amir Kamaal, a resident of the small village of Faridkot in the Okara district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

According to Kamaal, the 10-man Lashkar fidayeen team, of which he was a part, left Karachi on a small boat, and then boarded the merchant vessel al-Hussaini. After encountering Indian Coast Guard vessels on February 19, the team hijacked the Kuber, a Porbandar-based fishing boat that had been blown off course.

Kamaal told interrogators that he was born to a landless peasant family and his brother works as a cart-puller in Lahore. He dropped out of school after fourth class. According to Kamaal’s testimony, top Lashkar commander Zakir-ur-Rehman promised to pay his family Rs.1.5 lakh for participating in the fidayeen attack.

Research and Analysis Wing officials also say they have records of phone calls made by Lashkar unit from a satellite phone, which was recovered from the Kuber soon after the attacks. According to RAW sources, several phone calls were made to senior Lashkar commanders in Pakistan, including its operations chief, who is known by the code-names Muzammil, Yusuf and Abu Hurrera.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has promised to provide all possible support for the investigation. However, several Pakistani commentators, including that country’s current Ambassador to Washington D.C., Husain Haqqani, have in the past pointed to close links between jihadist groups operating in that country and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.

Correction and Clarification:

A sentence in the fourth paragraph of a report "Pakistan now holds the keyto probe: investigators" (December 1, 2008) was "After encountering IndianCoast Guard vessels on February 19, the [10-man Lashkar fidayeen team]hijacked the Kuber, a Porbandar-based fishing boat that had been blown offcourse." It should have been November 19.

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