LASHKAR-e-Toiba operative presently in US custody is singing like a canary. What India has been saying for some time now and nobody believing has been confirmed by Hedley. US-born Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative David Coleman Headley, who is one of the accused in the Mumbai terror attacks, told the team of Indian sleuths, which questioned him recently, that the 10 terrorists who carried out the attacks were trained by Pakistan Navy. Headley’s statement that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai had received swimming and underwater diving training from the Pakistan Navy’s Frogmen corroborates a similar statement given by the lone captured terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab during questioning.”The role of frogmen was confirmed by Headley when the Indian investigators interrogated him in the US last month,” a senior officer said. Headley had also told his interrogators that the Pakistani intelligence agency had paid Rs.25 lakh to LeT to purchase a boat which terrorists used to travel from Karachi to the Pakistani maritime boundary, where they hijacked Indian fishing boat Kuber to reach Mumbai.
He also identified, through voice sample test, two ISI officers believed to be in constant contact with the terrorists who carried out the 60 hours attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.
Coming less than a week after Union Home Secretary GK Pillai told the media that Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI controlled and coordinated the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the revelation from Headley is being seen as another clear indication of the Pakistani establishment’s involvement in the attacks that left 168 dead. The Home Secretary had said the ISI was “literally controlling and coordinating the (Mumbai) attack from beginning to end”. There are clear links between Pakistan’s official establishment and Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley, who acted as advance scout for the 26/11 attackers, said National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon.”It’s been brought home recently by what we learnt from Headley which confirms many of the things we knew before”, said Menon, addressing an international conference on terrorism in the Capital. “And it’s really the links between the official establishment and with existing intelligence agencies.”
India has once again reminded the world that unless Pakistan stops using “terror” as an instrument of State policy and stop providing terror organisations safe sanctuaries terrorism will continue to fester in the region. External affairs Minister SM Krishna in remarks at the international conference on Afghanistan in Kabul also warned that “terrorism cannot be compartmentalised”. Krishna, at the conference as well during his meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, also expressed India’s concerns about the Taliban reintegration process. “Today, one cannot distinguish between Al Qaeda and plethora of terrorist organisations which have imbibed the goals and techniques of Al Qaeda. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that support, sustenance and sanctuaries for terrorist organisations from outside Afghanistan are ended.”
We all know who is responsible for terrorism. I think what has happened is we have a much clearer picture today of the infrastructure of terrorism, the eco-system that supports terrorism which frankly is not confined to South Asia but effects the entire world. For us, it has been brought home most recently by what we learn from Headley which confirmed many of the things we knew before. And it is really the links with the official establishment and with the existing intelligence agencies. It is that nexus which makes it a much harder phenomenon for us to deal with…unfortunately, what we know and what we see suggests that these links or nexus would not be broken soon. If anything, it is getting stronger.
Now we have the unquestionable support of Wikleaks to vindicate our stand. It has taken the clandestine online publication of more than 92,000 “secret documents”, put out by Wikleaks courtesy an American Intelligence agent, to shake-up the Obama Administration which till now would tolerate no criticism of either the Pakistani Army or its spy agency, the ISI, insisting both were ‘valuable’ allies of the US forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. America’s oft-repeated description of Pakistan as a ‘steadfast ally’ in the war on terror now lies in tatters. But then is there anything new that we learn from the trove of classified documents put out by the Wikleaks organisation? Not really. But they do provide an enormous wealth of pragmatic information about the course of a long and complex war that has such important implications for our security. The 90,000 or so documents which range from daily situation reports to intelligence leads and assessments, lifts the fog of war that has enveloped Afghanistan and provides us a picture of the bloody, and often dirty, campaign being undertaken by the United States and its allies to defeat the Taliban and the Al Qaeda.
There is one document that is of direct interest to India – the information, attributed to polish intelligence, put out on June 30, 2008, that an attack was planned on the Indian Embassy in Kabul. Coming a week before the actual attack on July 7, the information was significant, though the actual attack unfolded in a different manner from that forecast. Whether the Indian authorities were tipped off about this or not, remains to be determined. Indeed, as the documents show, the ISI had plotted the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul in July 2008 and executed it with the help of the Taliban. Later, the CIA’s Deputy Director had confronted Pakistani officials with the evidence. What came of that encounter? Did the Americans persist with getting to the bottom of that conspiracy and identifying the individual or individuals responsible for it? Or did they just succumb to Pakistani blackmail which invariably revolves around the possibility of a nuclear conflict with India unless the US ensures an unrestricted supply of dollars and arms. The documents that have been made public provide ample evidence to conclusively prove what has been known, both in Islamabad and Washington, DC, but officially denied all along: The Pakistani Army, through the ISI, has been using American aid to bolster the Taliban in its war against American troops in Afghanistan. In other words, the US has been funding, albeit indirectly, those who have been killing American soldiers. The CIA could not have been unaware of the ISI-Taliban linkages.
Ironically, despite full knowledge of its aid being used for propping up America’s enemies in Afghanistan, the Obama Administration agreed not to monitor either how the billions of dollars it has committed are spent or the military hardware it has been shipping to Pakistan is being used. If there is one coherent story that emerges from the documents, it is that of the enormity of Pakistan’s double dealings in Afghanistan. On one hand, Islamabad is America’s ally in the war against the Taliban and the Al Qaeda, receiving billions of dollars as aid for the purpose of prosecuting the war. On the other, Pakistani intelligence officers’ deal directly with the Taliban, planning their operations and providing the wherewithal to carry out attacks against American and Afghan targets.
The man who commanded the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate in the 2004-2007 periods was General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, (the present Pak army chief) who is now seen as the United States as the best bet in defeating the Taliban. What is more amusing to note is that even after such devastating disclosure of Pakistan’s evil intentions and double-dealing by the ISI, the White House should feel that the leak will “compromise friends”. Are we then to assume that America now considers the facilitators of murderous attacks on US and Indian troops that invariably result in high casualties and fatalities as ‘friends’. Or is it mere acceptance or some “secret” goal that drives this flawed policy?
(The writer is Editor, Vir Arjun-Pratap)