The ISI-Lashkar love affair will go on forever
Time and again India has voiced its protest against the Pakistan establishment funding terror against India and also shielding deadly terrorists who have nothing but the destruction of India on their mind. While Pakistan continues to be in denial about this, an interesting article that appeared in the pro publica written by the dynamic Sebastian Rotella confirms the fact that the ISI had a big role to play in the 26/11 attack which left nearly 166 persons dead.
While the article speaks in length about the interrogation of David Headley, Indian agencies tell rediff.com that while Headley has spoken more about what we already know, it sure is a feather in our cap since he goes on to confirm to us the extent of the role played by the ISI in this horrific attack.
The Intelligence Bureau says that they have always said that no attack launched from Pakistan soil is possible without the blessings of the ISI and no terrorist outfit can survive in Pakistan unless and until the ISI wants it. They also point out that there is a lot of similarity between the statements given by Headley and also by the one given by Sabhauddin Ahmed who is an accused in both the Crpf Rampur case and also the Indian Institute of Sciences case. The ISI picks key operatives such as these and when such men are involved in the case, there is extra attention given to them. Both Headley and Sabahuddin Ahmed were received by officials of the ISI when they set foot on Pakistan soil. Their entire journey, be it their accomodation, training or even departure at the airport was overseen personally by an official in the ISI.
However one cannot draw a comparison to the role played by these two men and Headley was a much bigger player in this network and he was bound to get more attention and guidance from the ISI. An official who interrogated Headley in the US confirms the Pro Publica report and says that his journey began with him meeting Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan. He was introduced to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba leadership through the ISI who was looking for an American national to carry out the scouting job for them in India since American nationals were not screened as much as the other nationals are.
The NIA says that during Headley’s interrogation, he makes it very clear that all through he had the guidance of the ISI and they explained to him in detail each and every role that he played including the persons he needed to be in touch with. Headley’s main interaction was however with a man by the name Sajid Mir, who the IB confirms was a former ISI officer now with the Lashkar.
The IB points out that not only in the case of David Headley, but in the case of almost every top ranking Lashkar operative, the ISI has complete control. Each of these operatives have a handler who is an ISI officer and nothing is planned without their knowledge. The ISI found it important to have a handler for every key operative since this not only helps them plan and execute attacks well, but they also ensure that these operatives are under their control at all times.
Headley in his own words says that his first stint with the ISI was when he was detained for trying to smuggle arms into India. They saw potential in him and handed over documents regarding India and this is approximately the time when the idea to scout targets in India was planned. All through the operation, his handler was an ISI officer by the name Major Iqbal who helped Headley on how to use cameras and also draw maps while undertaking a reccee. Headley also went on to tell the NIA that the training was very scientific in nature and very often he was taken to the camps of the Lashkar where he underwent training. The NIA says that the training for Headley was not held in camps where there were others. At no point of time did the ISI want this information going out since he was their point man and the attacks today have proven what a thorough job he had done.
Headley was later sent to Mumbai to survey the targets and it was Major Iqbal who handed him nearly Rs 10 lakh to carry out this operation. The call records of Headley would however suggest that he was touch with this man, but the number he kept calling was that of a United States number. This is a pretty common feature, the intelligence agency says as ISI operatives usually tend to use number of other countries since they would want to keep their location a secret and often bounce calls from other countries.
During the interrogation, Headley terms this major as the mastermind, but the NIA and the IB say that it would not be right to term the major as the sole master mind as an attack of such a huge magnitude cannot be controlled by one solitary person. He could be called as Headley’s mastermind, but then we are pretty sure that the entire Pakistan establishment was aware of what was cooking and they played along.
Another fact that Headley has confirmed to the Indian agencies is regarding the training the other operatives got from the Pakistan navy. This was a fact that the Intelligence Bureau had told rediff.com a couple of days after the attack. The IB had said there is a special group called as the Musa Company which first imparted basic training in Thakot later trained these ten terrorists at Karachi where they underwent naval training in rough weather sailing. Prior to this meeting they had met at Muzafarabad where an officer of this group briefed the Lashkar cadres.The elite wing of the Pakistan navy was involved in this attack and it had trained the ten terrorists for over 3 months on operating from the sea. When these men gained entry into India it was evident that it was a military styled operation undertaken to such precision. Headley too confirmed this during his interrogation and has told the NIA that the Pakistan’s navy had played a very crucial role in this attack. Headley also goes on to say that an officer by the name Abdur Rehman had given technical advise to the Lashkar on this aspect. It was at that meeting in Muzafarabad the Lashkar and the Special Services Group had discussed the landing points and also on how they could hijack a vessel and gain entry into Indian waters.
The IB says that the love affair between Pakistan terror groups and the ISI will continue as long as terrorism is existent on this earth. There is no way in which both can do without each other. This fact was also reiterated by Stephen Tankel author of the book Lashkar-e-Tayiba, From 9/11 to Mumbai. He says that the ISI will continue to support groups such as the Lashkar since it has utility vis-à-vis India. No matter how much pressure there is from any quarter they would continue to control these groups since they feel that letting go of them will lead to a major insurgency in Pakistan.
The NIA and the IB which are going over the details of the David Headley interrogation says that there is enough material to nail Pakistan, but the real problem will be redressed when that country realizes and more importantly accepts that their intelligence agency has turned rogue.
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