An Indian man accused of helping to organize the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai has implicated Pakistan's security establishment of involvement in the massacre, the Christian Science Monitor reported on Tuesday (see GSN, June 26).
Sayeed Zabiudeen Ansari was taken into custody last week on suspicion of preparing the attackers and providing them with information during the assault that killed more than 160 people. Since then, he reportedly has provided Indian investigators with a great deal of insight into the long-suspected involvement of Pakistan's military and Inter-Services Intelligence agency in organizing the Mumbai attacks.
The November 2008 event led New Delhi to break off participation in a bilateral peace process with fellow nuclear-armed state and longtime rival Pakistan. The Indian government accused Islamabad of not doing enough to suppress the extremist-organizations that operate from its territory, including Lashkar-e-Taiba -- the group responsible for the attack. The peace talks were relaunched last year.
Islamabad officially rejects having any role in the Mumbai attacks. Were India to confirm Ansari's information, relations between the two South Asian neighbors could be expected to suffer.
"His confession would make it harder to deny the state links to the attack," a former high-level Indian intelligence official was quoted by the Hindustan Times as saying (Tom Peter, Christian Science Monitor, June 26).
"He has confirmed that he was in the control room and he has named a few people who were in the control room," Reuters quoted Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram as saying, though no criminal counts have been yet filed against Ansari.
"That confirms our suspicion that it was an organized effort which had some kind of state support. The argument that it was nonstate actors who were behind the 26/11 massacre is no longer valid. We've always said that some state support was there for these people."
Indian news agencies asserted that ISI operatives also staffed the so-called control room and had provided the planners with laptop computers that allowed them to remain in voice contact with the assault team.
Pakistan quickly rejected the claims.
"What I am saying is, let's stop the blame game," prime ministerial adviser Rehman Malik said to reporters. "At that point in time (the Mumbai attacks), Pakistan was blamed, that perhaps the state was involved. But we proved, not only to India, but to the world, that nonstate actors were involved, not the state" (D. Jose, Reuters, June 27).