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Pakistan unwilling to arrest 26/11 mastermind: report

Pakistan is unwilling to arrest the elusive mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack suspect, Sajid Mir, who is wanted in four continents, because the LeT terrorist is "well connected" and "too powerful", US counter-terrorism officials have said.

world Updated: Nov 14, 2010 22:23 IST

Pakistan is unwilling to arrest the elusive mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack suspect, Sajid Mir, who is wanted in four continents, because the LeT terrorist is "well connected" and "too powerful", US counter-terrorism officials have said.

While attention has been focused on Pakistani-American terror convict David Headley, the real mastermind of the 26/11 attacks was Mir, according to the new investigative report.

"We can only push so far. It's very political. Sajid Mir is too powerful for them to go after. Too well-connected. We need the Pakistanis to go after the Taliban and al-Qaeda," a high-ranking US law enforcement official was quoted as saying by ProPublica in its latest investigative report which was also published in The Washington Post.

"It was Sajid Mir, another Pakistani, who allegedly led Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba's bloody siege on Mumbai in November 2008," the Washington Post said.

Before the attack, Mir had spent two years using Headley to conduct meticulous reconnaissance on Mumbai, according to investigators and court documents.

"On November 26, 2008, Mir sat among militant chiefs in a Pakistani safe house tracking an attack team as its dinghy approached the Mumbai waterfront," the investigative report said.

"The Lashkar-i-Taiba terrorist group had made Mir the project manager of its biggest strike ever, the crowning achievement of his career as a holy warrior."

Despite best of their efforts, the report said, US officials acknowledge that the response has been insufficient.

"The effort to bring to justice the masterminds —under a US law that makes terrorist attacks against Americans overseas a crime — faces obstacles.

A US prosecution could implicate Pakistani military chiefs who, at minimum, have allowed Lashkar to operate freely. US pressure on Pakistan to confront both the military and Lashkar could damage counter-terrorism efforts," it said.

The charges are however denied by the ISI, who alleges that these are based on "malicious intent". But counter-terrorism officials across the continents take ISI's claims this with a pinch of salt.

"Lashkar is not just a tool of the ISI, but an ally of al-Qaeda that participates in its global jihad," said Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a French judge who investigated Mir.

"Today Pakistan is the heart of the terrorist threat. And it may be too late to do anything about it," he was quoted as saying in the investigative report published on the front page of The Washington Post as Sunday's lead story.

Mir, according to the investigative report, joined Lashkar when he was a teen. Mir became a deputy to the director of Lashkar's foreign operations unit.