India to intensify cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies

December 1st, 2008 - 8:35 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) With the Mumbai terror strikes killing 183 people - at least 20 of them foreigners - and sparking global outrage, India has decided to intensify cooperation with security agencies of other countries, a move that is likely to put extra pressure on Pakistan to come clean on its alleged links with the attacks. “India does not have issues with seeking cooperation of intelligence agencies of other countries, specially in an incident like this in which foreign nationals are involved,” official sources told IANS.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team landed in Mumbai Sunday night. It has already surveyed the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel which, along with The Trident-Oberoi Hotel and Nariman House, was the scene of the almost 61-hour long operation to flush out the terrorists who had seized the three buildings.

The FBI team is reported to have traced an e-mail sent to Lahore by the Deccan Mujahideen, a shadowy organization which has claimed responsibility for Wednesday night’s terror attacks that injured at least 325.

Besides the FBI, security teams from Israel and Britain are also in India to help investigation agencies here in unearthing the larger plot behind the Mumbai carnage.

The only terrorist captured by Indian authorities following the Mumbai attacks told his interrogators that he and the 10 other men in his group were sent specifically to kill Israelis to avenge “atrocities” against the Palestinians.

Six Israelis, some dual citizens but all of them Jews, were killed in the attack on the Nariman House, also known as Chabad House, one of the 10 targets hit by terrorists in a series of coordinated attacks across the city.

Amir Kasab, 21, told investigators that this was why they targeted the Chabad House, an outreach center meant for local Jews and Jews touring India, including Israelis.

India’s polite declining of an Israeli offer to send its elite counter-terror squad to end the siege of Nariman House has been criticized by some sections of the Israeli media.

However, New Delhi feels that it did the right thing by refusing the Israeli assistance as this may have delayed the anti-terrorist operation. “It would have required some time to brief Israeli squads about the geography of the place and other issues relating to rules of engagement. Besides, our people are as good as anybody else,” official sources said.

“We can’t have foreign troops carrying out anti-terror operations in our country. This is unacceptable,” G. Parthasarathy, a former Indian envoy to Pakistan, told IANS.

“However, we must fully cooperate with intelligence agencies of other countries,” he added.

Enlisting the assistance of foreign intelligence agencies will also help put extra pressure on Pakistan to clear the air about those elements India suspects to behind the Mumbai attacks, Parthasarathy said.

Satish Chandra, a former deputy national security adviser and also a former envoy to Pakistan, agreed. “This is call to be taken by security agencies only. We have good expertise in this area. We don’t really need anybody’s help,” Chandra told IANS.

The FBI team was briefly detained at the Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport Sunday night after Customs officials refused to allow forensics equipment on board their aircraft on Indian soil, sources in Intelligence Bureau said.

However, senior RAW officials said the team arrived here without providing prior lists of personnel and the specialised forensic equipment they were carrying. Since Customs officials in Mumbai had no idea what the FBI team was carrying, they were asked about this.

“We do not want foreign investigating agencies to aid us in a probe which we are capable of handling. If we allow one agency to join the investigation it will lead to a precedent which we have been avoiding all these years,” said a senior RAW functionary.

India had granted permission to the FBI to examine the sites involved in the Mumbai terror attack since US nationals were also targeted. Six Americans were among the foreigners killed in the terror strikes.

US President George Bush has pledged his full support for the investigation into the attacks and will be sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to India Wednesday for mutual consultations over the strikes.

Bush has assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the US will provide all necessary resources and will work with the international community to bring those responsible for the bloodshed to justice.

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