BEIRUT, Lebanon – An Indian terrorist fugitive trained in Pakistan – the main planner in the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that left some 170 people dead including four Americans – was returned from Saudi Arabia over Pakistani objections, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Revelation of his involvement in and connection to a terrorist group under the control of Pakistani intelligence has caused a diplomatic furor between the governments of India and Pakistan.
Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jundal, a member of the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group which is tied to the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Service Directorate, or ISI, confessed to Indian officials that the ISI actually presided over the massacre from a control room in Pakistan where he relayed commands during the three-day siege.
The Pakistani government tried to prevent Saudi Arabia – a close ally – from handing over Jundal, although there are indications that American officials may have been involved in negotiations, too.
Recordings of conversations with terrorists that were intercepted during the attack picked up Ansari’s voice from within Pakistan. Now, Ansari has confirmed that he was operating from a control room there.
Indian investigations revealed that the operation was part of an al-Qaida effort and that his organization was training recruits in maritime warfare in Pakistan.
Ansari told interrogators that there is a “great degree” of coordination now between Lashkar-e-Taiba, al-Qaida and the Taliban. He also admitted to having received his training from the LeT in Afghanistan, where it also operates in addition to Pakistan.
According to Indian officials, an initial 25 militants were trained by al-Qaida for the Mumbai operation, but only 10 could complete the training.
“Had all 25 militants completed the training and made it to Mumbai, the carnage would have been much worse,” an Indian official said.
Links connecting al-Qaida to the Mumbai attacks also were discovered in documents seized at the house where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011. These documents indicate that he had a role in the planning of the Mumbai attack.
Seized documents also revealed a close association between bin Laden and LeT leader Hafiz Saeed, one U.S. official said. He remains at large in Pakistan.
Also involved in the planning of the Mumbai attack was a Pakistani-American, David Headley, who now is in U.S. custody. Headley did the initial surveillance of the sites in Mumbai to be attacked. Documents suggest that bin Laden had read Headley’s surveillance reports.
While going back and forth to India watching the Mumbai sites, U.S. court records reveal, Headley was an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Documents also suggested that al-Qaida had a shadow army, called Lashkar al-Zil, whose leader, Ilyas Kasmiri, now dead, also was involved in the planning. Headley also was associated with Kasmiri.
In looking into the involvement of the Pakistani government in the Mumbai attack, Indian officials say that at least two Pakistani army officers with ties to the ISI and directly involved in the attack were associated with Headley.
Based on Ansari’s interrogation statements to Indian investigators, LeT leader Saeed also may have been in the same Pakistani ISI control room as Ansari during the attack.
“Interrogations now prove beyond doubt the existence of such a control room,” India’s home minister P. Chidambaram said. “Such a control room could not have been established without some kind of state support.”
In response to Chidambaram’s comments, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik said, “We are proud of our ISI, which is defending Pakistan.”
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