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Pak may use LeT confessions to get clean chit for ISI

January 02, 2009 08:46 IST

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Coverage: Attack on Mumbai

Pakistan appears to be building a case for absolving its intelligence agency, Inter Services Intelligence, of any involvement in the Mumbai [Images] attacks, planning to use the confessions from Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images] terrorists to prove its argument that non-state actors 'operating on their own' were behind the terror strikes.

Pakistani authorities have obtained confessions from members of LeT that they were involved in the November 26 attacks, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

'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 spy agency ISI, but that the terrorists were operating on their own and outside the control of government agents,' the Times report said.

The most talkative of the senior Lashkar leaders being interrogated is said to be Zarrar Shah, a Pakistani official told the paper. American intelligence officials say they believe that Shah, the group's communications chief, has served as a conduit between the LeT 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 its spy agency,' the report said.

The LeT operational head Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is also said to be cooperating with investigators.

'These guys showed no remorse,' said the Pakistani official, adding, 'They were bragging. They didn't need to be pushed, tortured or water-boarded' into making their statements.

The confessions made no mention of any involvement by the Pakistani government, said the official, who added, 'They talk about people acting on their own.'

Though Pakistani authorities said that the men were detained in the first week of December, the official declined to say how long it took for them to confess their role in the Mumbai siege.

The official also declined to specify how many confessions had been obtained, and said, 'It's not just one confession.'

'American intelligence officials say they believe that links remain between Lashkar and the ISI, and that the spy agency has helped support the terrorist group for the past several years by sharing intelligence and providing protection,' said the report.

The Times said that according to the US officials, the spy agency has become more careful to 'mask its ties' with terrorists since this summer, when American officials accused the ISI of involvement in the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

One Lashkar terrorist who left the group several years ago said in an interview that the agency was directly involved in planning operations in Kashmir.

The agency's officers were 'at the table' as missions were being sketched out, he said, according to the report.

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