Pakistan admits links to Mumbai terror attacks (Lead)

February 12th, 2009 - 7:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Feb 12 (IANS) In a surprising admission, Pakistan Thursday said “a part of the conspiracy” related to the Mumbai terror attacks was planned on its soil and had been masterminded by Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said at a crowded news conference that the terrorists, who slaughtered some 170 people in Mumbai in November and who India says were Pakistanis, were however “non-state actors” - meaning that the Pakistani establishment had nothing to do with the act that has been roundly condemned around the world.

“This is an individual act, act of individuals or non-state actors. Their purpose is to create terror for their own motives. These motives need to be determined. Both India and Pakistan need to work it out,” he said.

“A part of the conspiracy has been done in Pakistan,” the minister admitted, adding that a first information report (FIR) was registered in Islamabad Thursday.

The FIR is believed to name eight people, including Lakhvi, Ajaml Amir Kasab, the lone attacker captured during the Mumbai mayhem, as well as Javed Iqbal of Spain who had played a role in funding the attackers.

“The incident happened in India but part of the conspiracy has been done in Pakistan. Therefore, it is abetting conspiracy and facilitation. Anybody who directs or conspires to do an act of terrorism abroad is deemed to have done so in Pakistan,” Malik maintained.

“Any person who takes training with a view to do an act of terrorism or acquires weapons to do terrorism is punishable (under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism act),” he added

“Our goal is to bring these culprits to justice,” Malik stated.

“The alleged mastermind has been located and is under investigation,” he said. He added that a total of six men had been arrested in Pakistan for their links with the Mumbai massacre.

All these “have given us a complete picture. Obviously these accounts lead to the (terrorist) leadership also”, Malik asserted.

Pakistani had initially sought to deny any links with the 10 terrorists who sailed to Mumbai by sea from Pakistan Nov 26 and then went on a horrific killing spree that lasted three days.

Nine of the terrorists were killed and Kasab was captured. India said the terrorists were linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which has reportedly had close links with the Pakistani intelligence.

“Our leadership is fully concerned and serious in bringing all the culprits to justice,” Malik said. “We are serious. We mean business. We have to bring these terrorists to justice.”

He said Pakistan had gone the extra mile to prove its “sincerity, commitment against this act of terrorism”. He added: “I would like to assure the government of India, the people of India, we are with you.”

According to Malik, Pakistani investigators worked “day and night” and transformed information provided by India into credible leads to identify the conspirators in Pakistan who were linked to the Mumbai savagery whose victims included 26 foreigners.

He said three men in India facilitated “the acts of terrorism in Mumbai” and helped the terrorists, including Kasab, to reach the Indian city from the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

The minister said the investigators had traced the owner of the shop in Karachi that sold one of the rubber boats in which the terrorists sailed to Mumbai as well as its engine.

The shopkeeper provided the investigators a telephone number that led to more suspects as well as “hideouts of terrorists in Karachi”.

A total of three boats used in the journey to Mumbai from Karachi had been identified.

“We have located those locations which were used by the terrorists (to train) before launching themselves,” he said. “Some of the accused have given us the full run down.”

The minister, however, said Pakistan desired more information from India. He said a set of 30 questions had been sent to New Delhi through its envoy in Islamabad.

These included fingerprints of all the dead terrorists and also better pictures of the men who were killed by Indian commandos.

In one case, he pointed out, India had identified a dead terrorist as “Ali from Sialkot”. This, he said, amounted to identifying a person as “John from New York” or “Sharma from Delhi”.

“We are requesting this information. We have a joint responsibility. We need some help, we need more evidence.”

E-mail addresses had helped track down the ISPs through which the terrorists had networked during the Mumbai attacks, Malik said.

Pakistani investigators had also found leads from abroad, including the use of Austrian phones, payments from Spain and deals made in Italy.

“We have requested the DNA of Kasab and the nine others (involved in the attacks),” he said.

“We want fingerprints of all dead terrorists including Kasab. We want to compare these with our data base,” Malik said, adding: “Total cooperation is requested from India. We want to smash this (terror network).

“Action (a probe) is underway in Pakistan but there are going to be questions and India must cooperate with us in providing answers,” he said.

He also pointed out that the photographs “that have come to us cannot be recognised”.

He also said information with the Pakistani investigators pointed to the presence of one of those involved in the March 2007 Samjhauta Express blast in India in the Mumbai mayhem. “We want to know who this person is.”

A copy of the progress report was handed over to Indian High Commission officials even as the press conference was underway.

“We had information from the shopkeeper that the guy who bought it gave one telephone number and that helped investigations.

“When we reached the number it was closed. We obtained a lead that went to a bank. There was an account of someone related to an act of terrorism,” Malik said.

“The account led to an individual who was the operator (of the Mumbai attacks). He gave us a number of other leads which we do not want to make public,” the minister said.

“Two very important individuals (involved in the attacks) are with us,” Malik added.

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