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US court summons ISI chief in 26/11 case

By Lalit K Jha
November 24, 2010 15:26 IST
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A US court has issued summons to senior officials of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence including its powerful chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha, along with Mumbai attack masterminds and Lashkar-e-Tayiba leaders Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi in response to a lawsuit filed by relatives of two American victims accusing them of providing material support for the 26/11 attacks.

The 26-page lawsuit was filed before a New York Court on November 19 against the Inter-Services Intelligence and Lashkar-e-Tayiba by the relatives Rabbi Gavriel Noah Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who were both gunned down by militants at the Chhabad House in Mumbai. Their son Moshe was saved by his Indian nanny in the tragedy.

The 26-page lawsuit accusing the ISI of aiding and abetting the LeT in the slaughter of 166 people was filed before a New York Court on November 19, following which the Brooklyn court issued summons to Major Samir Ali, Azam Cheema, Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Nadeem Taj and Major Iqbal of the Inter-Services Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and and Hafiz Saeed of the Jammat ud Dawaa.

"The ISI has long nurtured and used international terrorist groups, including the LeT, to accomplish its goals and has provided material support to LeT and other international terrorist groups," said the lawsuit filed by relatives of the slain Rabbi. Pasha, who has been director general of the ISI since September 2008, has been summoned, so is Nadeem Taj, the director general of ISI from September 2007 to September 2008. Major Iqbal and Major Samir Ali are other ISI officers who have been issued summons.

The one of its kind lawsuit also brings as defendants Lashkar operatives like operations commander Lakhvi, JuD chief Saeed, and Azam Cheema. "The Mumbai terrorist attack was planned, trained for and carried out by members of defendant LeT. Defendant ISI provided critical planning, material support, control and coordination of the attacks," the lawsuit alleges. It accuses ISI officers Pasha, Taj, Iqbal and Ali of being purposefully engaged in the direct provision of material support or resources including weapons and explosives.

"On and prior to November 26, 2008, ISI, Pasha, Taj, Iqbal and Ali (as well as other officials, agents and employees of ISI) directed, engaged and/or relied upon the efforts of US-based individuals, including but

not limited to Headley and Rana, for raising funds, building a network of connections, recruiting participants and planning the operation of the Mumbai terror attack," the lawsuit claims.

Noting that the LeT still operates training camps in Pakistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan, the petition said the group has openly advocated violence against India, Israel and the United States. It names Muridke, Manshera and Muzaffarabad as centres of training camps operated by the LeT.

The 10 LeT members who undertook the on-the-ground Mumbai terrorist attack underwent extensive training in the LeT camps in Pakistan, the lawsuit alleged. It also says that Pakistani American Lashkar operative David Headley, who has already pleaded guilty for his role in the plotting of the attack, built a network of connections from Chicago to Pakistan, undertaking these efforts at the direction and with the material support of both LeT and the ISI. Prior to and following each trip to Mumbai, Headley reported to and received further instructions from both LeT, including defendants Majid and Iqbal, and the ISI, it alleges.

"In September 2008, the 10 LeT attackers were moved to Karachi and installed in an ISI/LeT safe house and isolated from outside contact," it said, adding that while staying in the Karachi safe house, they received specific instructions on Mumbai targets. The safe house was part of ISI's "Karachi Project," an initiative by which anti-Indian groups were tasked and supported by the ISI in a surreptitious fashion to engage in acts of international terrorism. During the period Headley communicated with and took directions from the ISI regarding the Mumbai plot, defendant Taj, as ISI's Director-General, exerted full command and control over the ISI. During the final two months of training of the LeT attackers and throughout the attack, defendant Pasha exerted full command and control over the ISI," it alleged.

During the Mumbai attacks, the lawsuit alleges defendant Majid along with other LeT officers operated from a mission control room in Karachi, passing instructions and encouragement to the attackers via telephone. "By reason of the foregoing, LeT, Saeed, Lakhvi, Cheema and Majid are each liable to each plaintiff, individually and as the personal representative and/or surviving family member of their decedents, for compensatory damages in excess of US $ 75,000, such amount to be determined by a jury," it said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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