Pakistan’s investigations into the 26/11 terror attacks have a top Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operative confessing his involvement in the Mumbai strikes, while Washington is pressing Islamabad to extradite Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, LeT operations boss, to India, two newspapers have reported.
Describing Lakhvi as the Mumbai mastermind, the Dawn newspaper wrote that the US had given Pakistan a taped conversation between Lakhvi and the terrorists involved in the terror hits.
“Diplomatic sources in Washington said that American audio experts had checked the tape and concluded it was genuine and that the speaker was Mr Lakhvi,” the Dawn said in a front-page story.
The Wall Street Journal meanwhile reported that Zarar Shah, one of those arrested by Pakistani authorities after the Mumbai attacks, had confessed that the Lashkar was behind the carnage.
“He (Shah) is singing,” an unnamed Pakistani security official was quoted as telling the newspaper. The admission, the newspaper said, was backed up by American intercepts of a call between Shah and the attackers at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.
“A second person familiar with the investigation said Mr Shah told Pakistani interrogators that he was one of the key planners of the operation, and that he spoke with the attackers during the rampage to give them advice and keep them focused,” the Journal reported.
Shah had broadly confirmed the story told by the sole terrorist to survive the attack, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, who was nabbed by the Mumbai police. “Mr Shah said the attackers also spent a few weeks in Karachi…training in urban combat to hone skills they would use in their assault.”
According to the Dawn story, until last week, American officials had not taken a clear stand on Lakhvi’s deportation to India. The taped conversation between Lakhvi and the attackers appeared to have changed American minds.
“Officials in Islamabad, however, appeared reluctant to accept the intercepts of Lakhvi’s alleged confession provided to them by American and British intelligence agencies as authentic,” the Pakistani daily said.
It said there appeared to be a serious difference of opinion between Islamabad and the Pakistani embassy in Washington over the issue.
“While Islamabad was reluctant to accept the evidence as authentic, the embassy insisted that it’s authentic and that the Pakistani authorities now needed to take steps to satisfy the international community,” the Dawn report said.