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Mumbai attack planned, launched from Pakistan: Pakistani ex-official

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Islamabad: Pakistan must admit its mistakes for allowing Pakistani terrorists to sail to Mumbai and carry out the horrific massacre in Mumbai in 2008, almost bringing Islamabad and Delhi to war, a former senior Pakistani official has said.

Credits-www.deccanchronicle.com
Mumbai Attacks, 2008. Credits-www.deccanchronicle.com

The revelation vindicates India’s stand that 99 percent of the evidence of the 26/11 attacks lies in Pakistan since the entire plotting was done in that country, sources said on Tuesday.

Tariq Khosa, a former director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), equivalent of India’s CBI, wrote in the Dawn newspaper that “Pakistan has to deal with the Mumbai mayhem, planned and launched from its soil”.

“This requires facing the truth and admitting mistakes,” he said, detailing the various Pakistani links to the terrorists who massacred 166 Indians and foreigners over three days in India’s financial capital.

“The entire state security apparatus must ensure that the perpetrators and masterminds of the ghastly terror attacks are brought to justice,” Khosa said, underlining that the case had lingered on for far too long.

“What’s new in what has been revealed?” a source told IANS. “This is what we have been saying all along, that the entire plotting and financing for 26/11 was done in Pakistan, and the prosecution there has 99 percent of the evidence, but they choose not to act on it.”

“What he (Khosa) has said vindicates our stand. India has been maintaining since 2008 that the entire plotting and financing was done in Pakistan,” the source added.

According to noted strategic expert Uday Bhaskar, the revelations by Khosa are an important statement in the public domain.

“The author is a former DG of the FIA and his observations are that of a seasoned senior professional from Pakistan’s premier investigating agency,” Bhaskar told IANS.

He said the most valuable parts of Khosa’s revelations “are the detailing of ‘facts’ pertinent to the case that have been unearthed or pieced together including the role of the LeT; the casings of explosives recovered from a training camp in Pakistan and matched with devices used in Mumbai; linking the number of the engine used on the dinghy with a Karachi sports shop; the money trail; the operations room etc.”

“Khosa and his team are to be commended both for their investigative diligence and his candor in bringing this to the public domain. One hopes that his personal safety will not be compromised due to such courage,” Bhaskar, director of think tank Society for Policy Studies, told IANS.

He said that while the facts were not new to the concerned Pakistani authorities, “it is unlikely that the Khosa disclosure will bring about a mea culpa transformation in the Rawalpindi-Muridke combine. The deep state in Pakistan is too deeply invested in support to certain terror groups and enabling 26/11 to reach its ethical conclusion will bring too many skeletons out into the open.”

In his article, Khosa said dilatory tactics by the defendants, frequent change of trial judges, and the assassination of the case prosecutor as well as retracting from original testimony by some key witnesses had proved to be serious setbacks for the prosecutors.

Ten Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai from the sea in November 2008 and carried out a massacre in a well-planned manner.

One of the terrorists, Ajmal Kasab, was caught, put on trial, and later hanged in India. Security forces killed the others. Islamabad initially denied any links with the attackers but later admitted that Kasab and the masterminds were Pakistani nationals.

Khosa pointed out that Kasab was a Pakistani and that the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists who attacked Mumbai were trained near Thatta in Sindh and launched by sea from there.

“First, the training camp was identified and secured by the investigators. Second, the casings of the explosive devices used in Mumbai were recovered from this training camp and duly matched.

“Third, the fishing trawler used by the terrorists for hijacking an Indian trawler in which they sailed to Mumbai was brought back to harbor, then painted and concealed. It was recovered by the investigators and connected to the accused.

“Fourth, the engine of the dinghy abandoned by the terrorists near Mumbai harbor contained a patent number through which the investigators traced its import from Japan to Lahore and then to a Karachi sports shop from where an LeT-linked militant purchased it along with the dinghy. The money trail was followed and linked to the accused who was arrested.

“Fifth, the ops room in Karachi, from where the operation was directed, was also identified and secured by the investigators. The communications through Voice over Internet Protocol were unearthed.

“Sixth, the alleged commander and his deputies were identified and arrested. Seventh, a couple of foreign-based financiers and facilitators were arrested and brought to face trial,” Khosa said.

Khosa said the Mumbai case was unique, and that proving conspiracy in a different jurisdiction was more complex and required a far superior quality of evidence.

“Therefore, the legal experts from both sides need to sit together rather than sulk and point fingers.”

He asked: “Are we as a nation prepared to muster the courage to face uncomfortable truths and combat the demons of militancy that haunt our land?”

Khosa also flayed India for the “botched investigation” into the Samjhauta Express bombing and the alleged support to the Baloch insurgency as well as the terror financing in Karachi and Fata.

“They (India) too have many skeletons in their cupboards. So why fight shy?

“Let both India and Pakistan admit their mistakes and follies and learn to co-exist while trying to find solutions to their thorny issues through peaceful means.”

Khosa said the political and security leadership of Pakistan had resolved to eliminate the scourge of terrorism, militancy, and extremism.

“The duality and distinction between good and bad Taliban, including all militants and terrorists, should stand removed from Miramshah to Muridke, from Karachi to Quetta.”

(IANS)

Next Story

Here’s Everything you Need to Know About the Increasing Islamic State Terror Activity in Syria

Surge of IS Violence and Terrorism Seen in Syria

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Smoke Syria
Smoke rises while people gather at a damaged site after two bomb blasts claimed by Islamic State hit the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli near the Turkish border, Syria. VOA

By Sirwan Kajjo

Islamic State militants have increased their terror activity in recent weeks in Syria, carrying out deadly attacks against Syrian regime troops and U.S.-backed forces.

Since early December, the terror group has conducted at least three major attacks on Syrian government forces and their allied militias in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, local sources said.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor that has reporters across the country, recent attacks claimed by IS against Syrian military forces have killed at least 30 soldiers and wounded more than 50 others.

Last week, at least three fighters with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in what local military officials described as a suicide attack carried out by IS militants in the province of Raqqa, IS’s former de facto capital before it was freed in 2017 by the SDF and its U.S.-led allies.

Islamic State Syria
Islamic State militants clean their weapons in Deir el-Zour city, Syria. VOA

‘Threat to our forces’ 

IS “terrorists still pose a threat to our forces, especially in the eastern part of Syria,” an SDF commander told VOA.

“They have been able to regroup and reorganize in some remote parts of Deir el-Zour, where there is a smaller presence of our forces or any other forces,” said the commander, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to journalists.

He added that despite the declaration of the physical defeat of the terror group in March 2019, IS “still has hundreds of sleeper cells that have the capability to wage deadly attacks on civilians and combatants alike.”

In the town of Tabqa, in western Raqqa, local news reports this week said a suspected IS sleeper cell assaulted a family, killing three of its members, including a child. The reports did not say why the family was attacked, but IS has in the past targeted people whom it suspected of having ties to or working for the government or U.S.-backed local forces.

While most of the recent activity has been in areas IS once controlled as part of its so-called caliphate, the militant group has been particularly active in Syria’s vast desert region.

The Syrian Observatory reported at least 10 IS-claimed attacks in December that originated from the mostly desert eastern part of Homs province in central Syria.

Baghdadi’s death

Islamic State Syria
The Islamic State group’s leader extolled militants in Sri Lanka for “striking the homes of the crusaders in their Easter, in vengeance for their brothers in Baghouz,” a reference to IS’ last bastion in eastern Syria, which was captured by U.S.-backed fighters. VOA

Despite the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in October in a U.S. operation in northwestern Syria, IS still represents a major threat in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, experts say.

“As ISIS returns to its original decentralized structure, members of the group are trying to show ISIS still poses a threat, even after the defeat of its caliphate and the recent death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” said Kaleigh Thomas, a Middle East researcher at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, using another acronym for IS.

Sadradeen Kinno, a Syrian researcher who closely follows Islamist militancy, echoed Thomas’ views.

“IS is now living a period of stability, so to speak. After the death of Baghdadi, their objective is clearer now. They try to stay focused on carrying out assassinations, ambushes and suicide attacks, and they have been successful at that,” he told VOA.

Kinno said IS “really believes in a recurrent cycle of violence, so for them the territorial defeat they experienced this year is just a phase of their ongoing jihad.”

US withdrawal 

U.S. vehicles Syria
A convoy of U.S. vehicles is seen after withdrawing from northern Syria, on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump in October announced a withdrawal of troops from Syria, which was followed by a Turkish military offensive against U.S.-backed SDF fighters in northeast Syria.

Some experts say the U.S. troop pullout allowed IS to regroup, and thus its terror attacks have increased.

“The U.S. decision sent a signal to [IS] that the U.S. is not interested in a long-term presence in Syria,” said Azad Othman, a Syrian affairs analyst based in Irbil, Iraq.

IS “now feels that its low-level insurgency in Syria could be even more effective as long as the Americans don’t have a significant military presence in the country,” he told VOA.

The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency said in a report in November that “ISIS has exploited the Turkish incursion and subsequent drawdown of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria to reconstitute its capabilities and resources both within Syria in the short term and globally in the longer term.”

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“The withdrawal and redeployment of U.S. troops has also affected the fight against ISIS, which remains a threat in the region and globally,” Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general, said in the report.

But the U.S. has decided to keep about 500 troops to secure oil fields in Syria to prevent IS militants and the Syrian regime forces from accessing them. (VOA)