Pakistan spy agency 'had role in planning Mumbai attacks'

19th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Pakistan's main spy agency played a major role in helping prepare the 2008 Mumbai attacks, one of the planners of the bloodbath has told Indian interrogators, a report said Tuesday.

David Headley, who confessed to surveying targets for the attacks that left 166 people dead in November 2008, made detailed claims about support from the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, said Britain's Guardian newspaper.

Headley described dozens of meetings between officers of the ISI and senior militants from Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT), said the paper, citing a 109-page Indian government report into his interrogation.

India blames LeT -- a banned, Pakistan-based Islamist group -- for masterminding the Mumbai attacks.

The Guardian said Headley claimed the ISI was attempting to strengthen militant organisations with links to the Pakistani state which were being marginalised by more extreme groups.

Headley, the son of a former Pakistani diplomat and a white American woman, claimed that at least two of his missions were partly paid for by the ISI and that he regularly reported to the spy agency, said the British daily.

"The ISI... had no ambiguity in understanding the necessity to strike India," Headley is cited as telling the Indian investigators, who reportedly interviewed him over 34 hours in the US in June.

The documents suggest however that the ISI's supervision of the militants was often chaotic and that most senior officers in the agency may have been unaware of the scale of the attacks before they were launched, added the paper.

An ISI spokesman told the Guardian that accusations of the agency's involvement in the Mumbai attacks were "baseless."

In the attacks, 10 heavily-armed gunmen launched a three-day assault on prime targets in India's financial capital.

Headley, who changed his name from Daood Gilani, confessed to his role in plotting the attacks after being arrested in the US.

In exchange for pleading guilty to the attacks, US prosecutors agreed he would not face extradition to India or the death penalty.

© 2010 AFP

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