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26/11: India to take up ISI link with Pak

15 April, 2011


Rang De India IBNS News Service
New Delhi, Apr 13

Reacting to 26/11 accused Tahawwur Hussain Rana and David Headley claim that they were recruited on behalf of Pakistani spy service, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on Wednesday said that India will take up the issue with her neighbour.

“We will certainly take it up the issue (with Pakistan). We are hopeful that all guilty of 26/11 will be punished,” Krishna told reporters here.

His statement comes after Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) leader Hafiz Saeed, considered to be the mastermind of the 26/11 that killed over 160 people, slammed the recent developments in relations between India and Pakistan.

His provocative speech went similar to his anti-India rants that he is notorious for and he was joined by Abdul Aziz Alvi, the head of the JuD in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, United Jihad Council vice-chairman Muhammad Usman and leaders of the Hurriyat Conference.

New Delhi has frequently demanded action against Saeed, also the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which has been accused of executing the 2008 Mumbai attacks among other militant activities, while Pakistan seems reluctant to take hard action.

Both Saeed and Alvi had been taken into custody as part of the 26/11 invetsigtations due to mounting international pressure, only to be let off soon due to “inconclusive evidence”.

Meanwhile, the trial of Mumbai terror attacks suspects Tahawwur Hussain Rana and David Headley, which begin in the United States next month, is likely to put further strains in Indo-Pak relations as the two accused are likely to state that they were recruited on behalf of Pakistani spy service.

As the trial of Pakistani-Canadian Rana starts on May 16 in Chicago, bilateral relations between the two Asian neighbours, which were just about showing signs of improvement, could worsen.

A report in The Globe and Mail newspaper claimed that both Rana and his friend Headley will say that they believed themselves to be working for both the Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT), a terrorist group, and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency.

Previously secret testimony heard only by a grand jury is referred to in a decision published earlier this month.

“I also told him [Rana] … how I had been asked to perform espionage work for ISI,” Headley testified to the grand jury, according to the report.

A Pakistani-American, Headley has turned FBI approver and is likely to testify against Rana.

He is expected to reveal details on how Headley anglicized his Pakistani name, cultivated ties with LeT, videotaped sites in Mumbai and briefed his handlers in Pakistan in the run-up to the carnage.

Headley reportedly further told the grand jury, “I told [Rana] about my assignment to conduct surveillance in Mumbai. … I explained to him that the immigration office would provide a cover story for why I was in Mumbai.”

Rana, trying to shed off the charges on him, has said that he is a Pakistani patriot who was led to believe the ISI wanted his help – and therefore he should get the equivalent of diplomatic immunity.

Judge Harry Leinenweber ruled earlier this month: “Defendant\'s proposed defence is that his alleged illegal acts of providing material support to terrorists – at least those related to the Mumbai attacks – were done at the behest of the Pakistani government and the ISI, not the Lashkar terrorist organization.

“He argues that he is entitled to a public-authority defence because he acted under the authority – whether actual or apparent – of the Pakistani government and the ISI.”

In the worst terrorist attacks in India, Pakistani-trained gunmen laid siege on Mumbai on November 26, 2008, killing over 160 people, including foreigners, in attacks on a railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish centre, among other targets.

Rana is accused of providing terrorists with the false credentials they used to pick targets in Mumbai.

LeT is blamed for the attack, though Pakistani government’s hand is also suspected – a charge refuted by the neighbouring country.

He was arrested along with Headley by the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation in Illinois.


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