Thursday, February 5, 2009
Pakistan's Probe Finds Bangla Link in Mumbai
A Pakistani official familiar with the country's Mumbai terror investigation said Thursday that Pakistani authorities had no evidence to indicate the attack was planned or carried out from Pakistan, though they did find involvement by Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based group India blames for the attack. The same official also believes Pakistani investigators have found a Bangladeshi group, Harkat-ul-Jihad al Islami (HuJI), and possibly al Qaeda were involved in the attack along with Lashkar. The unnamed official didn't say where investigators believe the attack was planned, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and Pakistan's Dawn newspaper.
The Pakistani investigators were also trying to ascertain "if at least one of the Mumbai attackers was of Bangladeshi origin", the newspaper said. Diplomatic and other sources told PTI that the Pakistani security establishment and the senior-most American diplomats here had been referring to a possible Bangladeshi connection to the Mumbai attacks in the past few days. Both Pakistani security officials and US diplomats have also been making a case for "larger regional cooperation", the sources said.
Besides the Bangladeshi connection, there were "clear indications that some of the planning for the attacks was done in Dubai and there is also an element of local Indian support", the Dawn reported. "Investigators believe it would have been almost impossible to plan and execute an attack of this proportion and sophistication without the local Indian support, a fact India is shying away from," it reported.
In a related development, the FBI is reported to have sought access from the Indian authorities to two militants, Fahim Arshad Ansari and Sabbauddin, who were arrested by Uttar Pradesh police some time between February and March last year for having made reconnaissance of several sensitive places and were later questioned for the Mumbai attacks.
Last week, Pakistan's high commissioner to Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, said the attack was planned outside Pakistan and suggested it was part of a transnational plot.
The leaks show that Pakistani investigators sharply disagree with their Indian and the U.S. counterparts who have consistently claimed that the plot began in Pakistan. Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon this week alleged that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency maintains ties to Lashkar. Reacting to the Indian statement, Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said India should not jump the gun by making statements at a time when Pakistan was sincerely carrying out investigations into the Mumbai attacks. The spokesman said that instead of leveling baseless allegations against Pakistani institutions, India should help in investigating the attacks.
While the leaks from Islamabad so far indicate that Pakistani investigation may not be conclusive, it definitely appears to create significant doubts and raise many new questions about the validity of Indian and American claims pinning the blame for Mumbai attacks entirely on Pakistan-based LeT or JuD.
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