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Why Pak is silent on the whereabouts of 26/11 masterminds

November 24, 2011 15:50 IST

A question that India would like to ask Pakistan is regarding a man by the name Muzzamil Bhat. Pakistan has been silent on the whereabouts of this man, who imparted training to all the 10 terrorists who carried out the 26/11 attacks. Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa finds out why.

 

Intelligence Bureau officials say that Pakistan has sure gone soft on Bhat and also another man Zarar Shah, who was the techical specialist during the 26/11 attacks.

Pakistani security agencies maintain that Shah is under arrest. Although India doubts his identity, Pakistan claims that he is the man that has been spoken about and he is in their custody.

Bhat and Shah are very crucial to any country that is waging a war against terrorism. According to Pakistan, Shah was arrested in 2008, but as per Indian records his name crops up as Wajid.

Pakistan claims that this is an alias, but India maintains that there is no real confirmation on that.

There is a reason why the weak stance on these two persons could be a cause for concern. Shah is the tech wizard responsible for the IT wing of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, while Bhat is one of the best fighters whose services the Lashkar and the Inter-Services Intelligence cannot do without.

Hence it is natural that Pakistan would do everything to protect these two.

Bhat is referred to several times in the Headley investigation. Headley claims that Bhat was his handler between 2005 and 2007. Moreover, India has specific information that it was Bhat who imparted combat training to all the 10 gunmen who carried out the 26/11 attack.

India has been Bhat's trail for quite some time now. His journey in India commenced with the Kashmir battle and every Lashkar operative fighting this battle was trained by him.

His next tryst on India soil was the Akshardham Temple attack in 2002. It has been found that he had planned the attack.

Shah on the other hand has been one of the most trusted aides of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the founding member of Lashkar-e-Tayiba. The technology cell of the Lashkar plays a very important role during any attack.

He was the one who sent out the mails after the 26/11 attack in the name of Deccan Mujahideen. Further, he ensured that all calls that were being made between the attackers and the terrorists on the ground went on smoothly.

The IB says that there is no doubt that Shah will continue to play an important role in Lashkar operations. However, the bigger worry is Bhat, who continues to go about his business with no problem at all.

Today Bhat runs two camps in Pakistan at Bhawalpur and Fort Abbas, where is believed to be personally training the fidayeens. In fact, they have even tied up with Jaish-e-Mohammad, and these two groups train together in these facilities.

The two groups have ensured that nearly 200 fidayeens slipped into India in batches.

A source said that Shah has access to a very important database. He has personally prepared a database comprising 340 different sites which could be attacked, and India is aware of only 40 targets.

This information was gathered by the FBI which got access to the database prepared by Shah. However, the worry is that the FBI could have more information on him and this may not have come out in public domain.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru