Ex-Pakistan Army officers, ISI trained Mumbai attackers: NYT

Washington, Dec 4: American intelligence agencies have determined that former officers from Pakistan’s Army and its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency helped train the Mumbai attackers, the New York Times has reported citing a former Defence Department official.

But the unnamed official said that no specific links had been uncovered yet between the terrorists and the Pakistani government, the influential US daily said in a report from Washington published Thursday. His disclosure came as Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with his Pakistani counterpart in Islamabad to pressure Pakistan to cooperate fully in the effort to track down those responsible for last week’s terror attacks in Mumbai.

Admiral Mullen pressed the Pakistani leaders to crack down on Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) network of training camps, including those in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, and the organization’s guerrilla recruiting efforts, the Times said citing an American military official. He also called on them to “investigate aggressively” any Pakistani links to the attacks.

Mullen met with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani, Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and other officials.Both American and Indian authorities have concluded that there was little doubt that the Mumbai attacks were directed by militants inside Pakistan, the daily said.

Indian officials have said they have identified three or four masterminds of the attack, including a leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Yusuf Muzzamil. Lashkar-e-Taiba is officially banned in Pakistan, but it has been linked to the country’s powerful intelligence service and is believed to have moved its militant networks to Pakistan’s tribal areas, the Times said. US Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell said two days ago the group behind the Mumbai assault also carried out the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, which authorities blamed on Let. He didn’t mention the group by name.

His assessment echoed that of a US counterterrorism official, who said there are strong indications the gunmen are linked to LeT. The unnamed official cited in US media reports too cautioned that the probe is in its early stages. Another American official cited by the media said the assailants could have been at least partly based in Pakistan – the closest the US has come to laying blame for the attacks. But like others, the unnamed State Department official too was careful to say not all the evidence is in.

FBI helping India gather evidence on Mumbai attacks

Washington, Dec 4: US Attorney General Michael Mukasey says FBI agents are working with Indian police to provide assistance and gather evidence about the Mumbai terror attacks, but would not confirm whether FBI is also working with Pakistan.

He didn’t know the nature of the request from the Indian government, but “the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is looking into any evidence it can get,” Mukasey told reporters at the Justice Department Wednesday.

Asked if the US agency charged with tracking from international and domestic terrorists to spies on US soil was also working with the Pakistani government on the Mumbai attacks, he said: “I can’t comment on that.”

Mukasey also declined comment on if there was any indication that the people involved in the Mumbai attack had any contact with people in the US or if Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based terrorist group that is prime suspect, “is planning attacks on Indian allies or outside of India.”

Asked if the US had any intelligence or any other indication about the attack, the top US law officer said: “I can’t comment on that.”

Asked about the lessons learned from what happened in India, Mukasey cited the need to get the best intelligence possible about where attacks might occur and to increase security appropriately. “It’s obviously a horrible incident, a horrific incident, nothing we ever want to see happen here.”

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“And to the extent it’s an object lesson, it’s an object lesson in maintaining vigilance and in the need for surveillance, electronic surveillance and other kinds of surveillance and the need for protection,” he said.

Declining to comment on the performance of Indian authorities, Mukasey said: “As far as the performance of the Indian authorities, I’m not in a position to comment on that.”

“I’m confident that the people who respond to events like this in the United States are well trained, well disciplined and well able to respond fully,” he said.

But “It’s impossible to fully protect every target. Total security is an impossibility,” he added.

“You try to anticipate and to get the best, essentially the best in the way of intelligence that you can get so that you can anticipate where the events might occur and provide security in those places. But you can’t provide universal security,”

Asked if the state of US surveillance techniques would have picked up something like the Indian attack in advance if it was going to happen in the US, Mukasey said: “I can’t conjecture in that way, I really can’t.”

Mukasey said he believes the US has jurisdiction in cases of violence against Americans in connection with acts of terrorism. Six Americans were killed in the attacks at two luxury hotels and other landmarks.

“It’s not a question of my desire. We have jurisdiction. I believe we have jurisdiction over violence committed against Americans in connection with acts of terrorism like this.”

Mukasey said he did not yet have enough details to say whether any charges eventually would be brought in the US.

“I don’t yet have that level of detail and I don’t think I could share it if I had it. I know, I mean, I can confirm finally that the FBI is over there, that they’re working with the Indian police on gathering evidence.”

US calls Pakistan’s bluff, wants urgent action against terrorists

New Delhi, Dec 4: India Wednesday said it will “act decisively” against the architects of the Mumbai terror strikes whose “controllers are in Pakistan” as the US called Islamabad’s bluff saying it must take “direct and tough action” even if the perpetrators are “non-state actors”.

Toughening its posture against Pakistan, the US assured India that it expected Pakistan to cooperate “fully and urgently” with India in the probe of the brazen coordinated terror strikes in Mumbai, which bore the imprint of “an Al Qeada like” operation.

In the same breath, the US cautioned India against taking any step like launching a military strike against terrorist camps that could have “unintended consequences”, echoing Washington’s worries about the impact of an armed confrontation between India and Pakistan on its plan to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“The fact is, non-state actors perform from the confines of the state. There has to be direct and tough action (by Islamabad),” US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters at a joint press conference after talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

“Non-state actors remain a matter of responsibility if it’s in your territory,” Rice said in a no-nonsense message to Pakistan. She will be delivering this message to top Pakistan’s leaders when she meets them in Islamabad Thursday.

Rice was responding to a question on President Asif Ali Zardari’s remarks denying Pakistan’s involvement in the Mumbai attacks which, he said, were executed by the “stateless actors” who wanted to hold the “entire world hostage”.

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These remarks were widely seen as a ploy to skirt action on terrorists based in its territory whom India holds responsible for the Nov 26 terror strikes.

“The investigation is still underway. It needs greater intelligence sharing among them (India-Pakistan),” Rice said.

Rice, on a day-long visit, also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and expressed Washington’s solidarity with India in the wake of the strikes that killed 183 people including 22 foreigners, six Americans among them.

Rice desribed the strikes in Mumbai as “attacks at India and its integration with the world”. “I have spoken with the home minister, and we are looking at reforms in India. The US has experience in counter-terrorism. The special focus has to be on terror financing and intelligence sharing,” she said.

Offering full cooperation to India in probing the terror attacks, Rice asked Pakistan to be “transparent” in cooperating “fully and urgently” with India to bring the NOv 26 perpetrators to justice and underlined the need for global cooperation in fighting terrorism of this nature.

“Pakistan has to respond fully and urgently. I have noted that President Zardari has pledged support to India. We expect that the pledge will be fulfilled fully and completely,” Rice said while emphasizing that the probe should let “the leads go wherever they do” to get tothe bottom of these strikes.

“We expect all responsible nations to cooperate. Pakistan has a special responsibility to do so, fully, transparently and urgently,” she stressed.

“That message has been delivered and will be delivered to Pakistan,” she said, adding that the US was especially concerned about the killing of its citizens in the assault, and would work closely with India in catching the perpetrators.

Amid speculation about India using extreme options like a military strike, Rice, however, said in a bid to lower tensions in the region: “Any response has to be judged by its effectiveness and not create unintended consequences.”

Rice suggested that India should focus on preventing terror attacks and offered to share the US’ post 9/11 experiences in dealing with terrorism.

“The US and others have a lot to add. Everybody needs help. This is not a matter any country can deal with it alone,” Rice said while calling for a global response to international terrorism.

India reinforced its earlier claim that it believes “without doubt” that the perpetrators had come from Pakistan and demanded that their masters be arrested and brought to justice.

“The government of India is determined to act decisively to protect the territorial integrity of India and the right of our citizens to a peaceful life with all means at our disposal,” Mukherjee said.

“I informed Dr. (Condoleezza) Rice that there is no doubt the attacks were perpetrated by individuals who came from Pakistan and whose controllers are in Pakistan.

“This is an assessment widely shared by international community,” Mukherjee added.

Saying that he had briefed Rice on the demarche India served to Pakistan over the terror attacks, Mukherjee spoke about “our expectations of cooperation from them (Pakistan)” and demanded that the perpetrators of the attacks be “arrested and brought to justice”.

“We expect all friendly governments to ensure this happens,” Mukherjee added.

Pakistan has rejected India’s chief demand in the demarche about handing over 20 most wanted fugitives from the Indian law who are in Pakistan and are suspected to have hand in major terror strikes in India.

Mukherjee also conveyed to Rice “the feeling of anger and deep outrage in India following the attacks”.

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He, however, did not reveal what course of action India will take if Pakistan failed to respond to its demarche.

“So far as the government of India is concerned, what action India will take depend on the response we get from Pakistan authorities,” Mukherjee said.

“Whatever the government thinks is necessary to protect its citizens, the government will do it,” he said while underlining for a global response to terrorism which he called “the biggest threat to world peace in post-Cold War world”.

Mukherjee noted that the Mumbai strikes were preceded by similar attacks in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and New Delhi in which almost 350 innocent lives were lost and 733 people were injured.

There is a design behind these attacks, Mukherjee said while stressing that their aim was to target “the developmental, scientific and economic ability of the country”.

India reiterates Mumbai attackers came from Pakistan

New Delhi, Dec 4: India Wednesday reiterated that the perpetrators of last week’s Mumbai blasts had come from Pakistan and demanded that those behind them be arrested and brought to justice.

“I informed (visiting US Secretary of State) Dr. (Condoleezza) Rice that there is no doubt the attacks were perpetrated by individuals who came from Pakistan and whose controllers are in Pakistan,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at a joint press conference here after his talks with Rice.

“This is an assessment widely shared by international community,” Mukherjee added.

Noting that he had briefed Rice on the discussions with the Pakistani government “and our expectations of cooperation from them”, he demanded that the perpetrators of the attacks be “arrested and brought to justice”.

“We expect all friendly governments to ensure this happens,” Mukherjee added.

He said he had also conveyed to Rice “the feeling of anger and deep outrage in India following the attacks”.

Mukherjee noted that the Mumbai strikes were preceded by similar attacks in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi in which almost 350 innocent lives were lost and 733 other people were injured.

“The government of India is determined to act decisively to protect the territorial integrity of India and the right of our citizens to a peaceful life with all means at our disposal,” Mukherjee said.

Noting that Rice had “especially come to express the solidarity of the US in the wake of the heinous attack”, Mukherjee said: “We greatly appreciate this gesture and welcome it.”

No fake Mauritius ID cards found from Mumbai terrorists

United Nations, Dec 4: Mauritius has said that no fake Mauritian identity cards or any other document was recovered from the terrorists who attacked India’s financial capital Mumbai, killing at least 183 people.

The clarification issued Wednesday by the permanent mission of Mauritius to the UN comes in the wake of news reports coming out of India that fake Mauritius identity cards as well as debit and credit cards were recovered from the bags of the terrorists.

“The Indian authorities have informed us that all that has been found is the legitimate Mauritian identity card issued in the name of late Mr. Chaitalall Gunness, former CEO of the State Bank of Mauritius Ltd. This card was found in the lobby of the Taj hotel in Mumbai,” the press communiqu

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