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Pak militants admit to role in Mumbai attack

world Updated: Jan 01, 2009 23:17 IST

Pakistani authorities have obtained confessions from members of the militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyeba that they were involved in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November that killed more than 160 people, a Pakistani official said.

The confessions are sure to put pressure on Pakistan’s leaders; senior Pakistani officials have repeatedly complained in recent weeks that India had not provided them evidence of Pakistani complicity.

American and British officials —and Indian investigators — have said for weeks that their intelligence clearly points to the involvement of Lashkar in the Mumbai attacks. That evidence has been deeply uncomfortable for Pakistan, whose premier spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, helped create, finance and train Lashkar in the 1980s to fight a proxy war against Indian forces in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir.

But now, after weeks of stonewalling, it also seems clear that Pakistan may use its investigation to make the case that the Mumbai attackers were not part of a conspiracy carried out with the ISI, but that the militants were operating on their own and outside the control of government agents.

The most talkative of the senior Lashkar leaders being interrogated is said to be Zarrar Shah, the Pakistani official said. American intelligence officials say they believe that Shah, the militant group’s communications chief, has served as a crucial conduit between Lashkar and the ISI. His close ties to the agency and his admission of involvement in the attacks are sure to be unsettling for the government and ISI.

An operational leader of Lashkar, Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, is also said to be cooperating with investigators. News of Shah’s confession was reported by The Wall Street Journal.

“These guys showed no remorse,” said the Pakistani official. “They were bragging. They didn’t need to be pushed, tortured or waterboarded” into making their statements.

The confessions made no mention of involvement by the Pakistani government, said the official. “They talk about people acting on their own,” he said. The official also declined to specify how many confessions had been obtained. “It’s not just one confession,” he said.