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Our citizens did it, Pakistan finally admits

world Updated: Feb 13, 2009 14:03 IST
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For the first time ever, Pakistan has arrested six people for a terror attack on the basis of information supplied by India. Islamabad has announced that six people — including “mastermind and leader” of the 26/11 terror strikes, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi — were in its custody; the attackers had sailed from Karachi; and part of the Mumbai conspiracy had been hatched in Pakistan. Cracking 26/11

India’s external affairs ministry said the Pakistani response was a positive development.

Security czar Rehman Malik announced in Islamabad on Thursday that an FIR had been registered by the Federal Investigation Agency against eight accused on charges of “abetting, conspiracy and facilitation” of a terrorist act.

Apart from Lakhvi, five others — Hammad Amin Sadiq, Zarar Shah, Mohammed Ashfaq, Javaid Iqbal and Abu Al-Qama — are in Pakistani custody.

Given that the FIR was registered only on Thursday, the “formal arrests” of the accused will follow.

Rehman revealed that Iqbal, who set up an internet telephony account used by the Mumbai terrorists, was “lured” from Barcelona in Spain and arrested.

There were other links — to the United States, Middle East, Italy and Russia — that needed more investigation.

“Some part of the conspiracy has taken place in Pakistan and ... according to the available information, most of them (the suspects) are in our custody,” Malik said.

According to him, the Mumbai attackers used three boats to reach Mumbai from Karachi. Apart from Al Husseini, another boat, Al Fauz, was used, Malik said, adding that the crew was common.

The interior ministry chief, in response to a pointed question, conceded that some of the accused were associated with the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, the group held responsible for the terror attacks by India.

Malik claimed that one of the terrorists involved in the February 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing was also involved in carrying out the Mumbai attacks.

He wanted additional help and evidence from India and said Pakistan would continue to probe while it awaited results. He said Pakistan was yet to be provided with the DNA of the surviving terrorist, Ajmal Kasab, and the photographs of the other terrorists were not recognisable.

“This is a genuine request we are making,” Malik said while asking India for additional help. “We are not transferring responsibility, we just want cooperation and help.”

He said among the 30 questions for India, Pakistan wanted to know why the fishing trawler was not intercepted in Gujarat and where it was refuelled. Pakistan also asked for details of the phone conversations between the terrorists and their handlers.

“We have located those locations which were used by the terrorists before launching themselves…They had some kind of training, they went into ocean,” Malik said.

“Some of the accused who have been arrested, they have given us the full rundown,” the Pakistani official said, confirming earlier reports in the Western press that persons such as Lakhvi and Zarar Shah were “singing”.

Malik, who made no reference to the role played by Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed, insisted the 26/11 attacks were the work of individuals.

India and Pakistan, he said, had to work together to deal with the problem of terrorism. “We want information from India to prosecute the accused successfully,” he said. “We want to bring them to justice and set a precedent.”

He said the details of the probe had been shared with Indian high commissioner Satyabrata Pal. A formal “progress report” was also to be given to Pal, Malik said.