MHA, Wikileaks Call Pakistan’s Bluff
As though La’ Affaire Osama bin Laden wasn’t enough, Pakistan, habitual of moving from one crisis to another, has more egg on its face and more damning questions to answer. More distressful news poured in for an already under-pressure Pakistan from two directions on May 9, 2011, as the Indian Home Ministry released details of five 26/11 accused and WikiLeaks came up with fresh damning disclosures on a country that is fast earning a new nick name: Terroristan.
A fresh set of American diplomatic cables released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks, has disclosed that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) facilitated Pakistan-based terrorists to sneak into India to hit targets selected by the Pakistan Army. Equally embarrassing for the Americans is a “disclosure” which has been an open secret to the Indians that Washington has long been aware of Pakistan-based ultras weaving a terror web against India, choreographed from Pakistani soil.
The cables, based on 779 interrogation reports of several detainees from different parts of the world at the Guantanamo Bay facility by American interrogators, quoted a detainee as saying that ISI “allowed” militants to travel to India, where they worked on targets identified by the Pakistan army and indulged in acts of bombings, kidnappings and killing of Kashmiri people. The LeT-affiliated detainees are from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Algeria with which India has friendly relations, apart from Pakistan. They sang like canaries before the American interrogators and disclosed how they were recruited and travelled to Pakistan for terror training, before their actual deployment to launch attacks against India and also Afghanistan. Abdul Azia, an Algerian, admitted that he was a member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and said his mission on behalf of the LeT was “to kill Indians in India”.
A chilling confession by Abu al-Libi, a Guantanamo Bay detainee who was a senior al-Qaeda operative, is that al-Qaeda was planning to consider India as a launching pad and rope in Indians as operatives to the US and the UK, for terror attacks because of the low-level of scrutiny Indians are subjected to in the western nations.
The WikiLeaks bombshell has coincided with the US government filing the second chargesheet in the Mumbai terror attack case, in which five people have been named as accused in the case of “conspiracy to bomb places of public use in India” and one of them is a serving officer in the Pakistan Army. The Indian Home Ministry said on May 9 that the Chicago trial of the 2008 Mumbai attacks will be held from May 16, 2011, and that the federal prosecutors indicted some more suspects last week in this case. The five accused are Sajid Majeed, Abu Qahafa, Mazhar Iqbal, Major Iqbal and a Lashkar-e-Taiba member who has been identified as D. Details of the five accused are given in boxes.
Of all the five 26/11 accused persons, he is the most important and a vital cog in Pakistan’s terror wheel, as far as the Mumbai terror strikes of 2008 are concerned. Major Iqbal is suspected to be a Pakistan ISI officer who was posted in Lahore during 2007 and 2008. He is 35 years old with round face and thick moustache. He is fair-complexioned and clean shaven. His known residences in Pakistan are in Sargodha and Lahore Army Cantonment (Punjab). Interpol had issued a Red Corner notice for him last year (number A-6270/10-2010). He is a close associate of Sajid Majeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, David Coleman Headley.
► He was handling David Coleman Headley on behalf of ISI for the Mumbai terror attacks.
► He provided funds ($25,000) and FICN to David Coleman Headley for meeting his expenses during the surveillance operations in India.
► David Headley used to give all the surveillance videos first to Major Iqbal and then to the LeT.
► Major Iqbal, on behalf of the ISI, was actively involved in the planning and execution of Mumbai terror attacks.
► He is an accused in Case 04/2009 of NIA pertaining to conspiracy to target important locations in India.
LASHKAR MEMBER D
The exact identity of this 6’ 2”, heavy built fair man with long hair, long beard and big hands is either not known or deliberately withheld. He is a close associate of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Sajid Majeed, Abdul Aziz alias Wali and Abu Alqama.
Presently, he is believed to be the overall operational commander of LeT, after the arrest of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
► He is one of the important conspirators of the Mumbai attacks and is an absconding accused in the case.
► He was involved in the planning of the Mumbai attacks since late 2005.
► He was involved in the recruitment and training of all the ten terrorists who carried out the Mumbai attack and also provided logistic and material support to them.
► He is reported to have handled David Coleman Headley till early 2007.
MAZHAR IQBAL@ABU ALQAMA
This 35-year-old dark complexioned man is of average height of 5’ 6” and has a round face with thick beard. Like Abu Qahafa, he is also a resident of Bahawalpur (Punjab) as well as Muzzafarabad (PoK). He is presently in the custody of Pakistani authorities.
Abu Alqama is a senior Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander who was in charge of the Kashmir set up till 2008.
► Abu Alqama was a key conspirator of the Mumbai terror attacks and was involved in training and briefing of all the ten terrorists who perpetrated these attacks.
► He was present in Karachi when the attackers left the shores of Pakistan for Mumbai.
► He was most probably present in the Lashkar control room during 26/11, where he was exhorting the attackers to kill more and more people.
► He has been arrested and chargesheeted by Pakistani authorities in the case registered by them in connection with the Mumbai terror attacks.
► India has asked for his voice samples from Pakistan authorities.
This six-footer 35-year-old man, resident of Lahore and son of Abdul Majeed, had undergone plastic surgery in 2008, obviously in an attempt to evade identification. He holds a legal passport issued by Pakistan government (number KE 381676, in the name of Arshad Awan). Interpol had issued a Red Corner notice for him last year (number A-6269/10-2010).
Sajid Majeed, a fair-complexioned man with black hair, is a senior Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander and heads the LeT’s ‘India set up’.
► He was the key planner of Mumbai terror attacks and has close links with Tahawwur Hussain Rana.
► He was the LeT’s main handler of David Coleman Headley and provided financial and logistic support to him for conducting surveillance of the targets for the Mumbai attacks. He had conspired with David Headley in 2009 to attack targets in Denmark.
► He was personally involved in the training and briefing of all the 10 terrorists who carried out the Mumbai attacks.
► He was most probably present in the Lashkar control room in Karachi during 26/11 and the Indian government has asked for his voice samples from Pakistan.
► He is also an accused in NIA Case No 04/2009 pertaining to conspiracy to target important locations in India.
The exact age of this 5’6” lean man with long beard and sunken cheeks is not known, but is believed to be between 32 and 35 years. He is a resident of Bahawalpur (Punjab) and Muzzaffarabad, PoK. He is a close associate of Sajid Majeed, Abu Anas and Abu Hamza.
Abu Qahafa is a senior LeT trainer and an expert in handling arms and explosives.
► He was one of the main conspirators of the Mumbai terror attacks and an absconding accused in the case.
► He was closely involved in providing physical and technical training to the ten terrorists who carried out the Mumbai attacks.
► He imparted training in GPS handling and map reading to the attackers.
► During the entire period when the Mumbai terror attacks conspiracy was being hatched, he acted as a secretary to Sajid Majeed.
► There is evidence to suggest his presence in the LeT control room in Pakistan during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
► India has asked for his voice samples from the Pakistan authorities.
The alarming speed at which the Pakistani authorities arrested Zaki-ur Rahman Lakhvi and few others for the Mumbai attack, betrays a deep anxiety about the possibility of some such secrets getting out. Lakhvi was not only the operational commander of LeT, he was also a key ISI asset in al-Qaeda. Lakhvi was one of the first Pakistani mujahideen commanders in the training camps set up for Afghan Jihad. His brother-in-law was a close confidant of Osama bin Laden during those days and had donated a crore to set up the LeT headquarters in Muridke near Lahore in the early 90s. Lakhvi has worked not only with bin Laden but also with his teacher, Abdullah Azzam, who later fell out with al-Qaeda. Azzam is not only the founding member of al-Qaeda and Hamas but also the LeT. Lakhvi worked closely with bin Laden’s lieutenants and is more than likely to have been aware of the whereabouts of the most wanted terrorist in the world. Lakhvi certainly must be aware of the way al-Qaeda moved about in Pakistan and its relationship with Pakistan Army and ISI. This is one of the reasons why Pakistan has thus far denied the CIA access to Lakhvi.
The circumstances in which bin Laden was killed in an American commando operation in the heart of Pakistan on May 2, 2011, is a pointer to Pakistan’s complicity and its innumerable sins of omission and commission. The Pakistani military establishment has virtually turned Pakistan into an Islamic Emirate of Taliban. Since 2002, the area under the direct or indirect control of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, in the tribal areas and in Khyber Pakhtunwa has multiplied. Several thousand acres of sovereign Pakistani territory is under the rule of Taliban and al-Qaeda, with the Pakistan Army kept at the bordering provinces. This de facto Islamic Emirate of Taliban was facilitated by the army in 2002 for short-term gains—dollars in millions from President George Bush. The then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf knew that as long as he had terrorist groups inside the country, he could name a price for fighting them or containing them or, even better, negotiating with them when everything failed. So today, Pakistan not only creates and sustains terrorist groups but also offers to negotiate them.
By Rajeev Sharma