Feb 5, 2009

World - Pakistan probe links 26/11 to Bangladesh: Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's probe into the Mumbai attacks is likely to indicate that the incident was the handiwork of a network of Muslim
fundamentalist groups in South Asia as investigators have found evidence of a Bangladeshi connection, according to a media report. The report on Pakistan's investigation is likely to indicate that the attacks were carried out by "an international network of Muslim fundamentalists present in South Asia and spread all the way to Middle East" while making a case for regional anti-terror cooperation, the influential Dawn newspaper on Thursday quoted its sources as saying. The daily said Pakistani sleuths were "closing in on a Bangladeshi connection" to the attacks and had "evidence of not only the involvement of a banned militant organisation, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami of Bangladesh, but also of its role in planning the attack and training the terrorists". A reference to this is likely to be made in the report on Pakistan's investigation, the daily said. It is widely expected that the report will be made public and shared with India later this week. The Pakistani investigators were also trying to ascertain "if at least one of the Mumbai attackers was of Bangladeshi origin", the newspaper said. Diplomatic and other sources said that the Pakistani security establishment and the senior-most American diplomats here had been referring to a possible Bangladeshi connection to the Mumbai attacks in the past few days. Both Pakistani security officials and US diplomats have also been making a case for "larger regional cooperation", the sources said. Though the contents of the Pakistani report are a tightly guarded secret, the Dawn quoted sources privy to its contents as saying that it would "emphasise that the Mumbai incident is not strictly a Pakistan-India issue". Pakistan's High Commissioner to Britain Wajid Shamsul Hassan had said in a recent interview with an Indian TV channel that investigations had revealed the attacks were not planned inside Pakistan. His remarks were described by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as "hasty". Besides the Bangladeshi connection, there were "clear indications that some of the planning for the attacks was done in Dubai and there is also an element of local Indian support", the Dawn reported. "Investigators believe it would have been almost impossible to plan and execute an attack of this proportion and sophistication without the local Indian support - a fact India is shying away from," it reported. The sources told the Dawn that this aspect of the attacks had also been touched upon by the two sets of questions Islamabad had given to New Delhi in response to India's dossier on the incident.
India has so far responded to one set of questions. Pakistani investigators have also suggested that the attacks might be "remotely linked to al-Qaida's international network" as Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami was set up in 1992 with assistance from Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front. The Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan, which conducted the probe into the Mumbai attacks, has also exchanged notes and actively cooperated with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FIA reportedly sought the FBI's cooperation in getting information from Google and Yahoo regarding two email accounts used by terrorists. The agency also sought the FBI's cooperation for obtaining information from Callphonex regarding calls made or received by the Mumbai attackers. The FBI had played a key role in aiding Indian investigators probing the Mumbai attacks and helping India put together its dossier on the terrorist incident. FBI investigators questioned Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested for the attacks, and came to the conclusion that he was a Pakistani. It is believed that this conclusion played a key role in getting Pakistan to acknowledge Kasab as its national after weeks of denial.

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