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26/11: Ex-Pak Major's indictment vindcates India's stance

January 15, 2010 22:57 IST

Friday's indictment of American terror suspect David Headley, Tawwahur Rana, Ilyas Kashmiri and a retired Pakistan Army official is a major step forward in the 26/11 Mumbai attack case. Indian agencies, who are conducting a parallel investigation on this angle, to the case say that they would pick leads from the chargesheet and continue to further investigate the matter.

The interesting link that has emerged is that of the retired Pakistan Major Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed alias Pasha. The Pasha link to the case vindicates India's stand that several persons from within the Pakistani establishment were involved in the horrific Mumbai attack. Apart from helping David Headley with his mission, Pasha is the man responsible for bringing Pakistan's Inter-Services-Intelligence and Ilyas Kashmiri together.

At first, there was very little information that cropped up and even the Pakistan Army had denied the involvement of any of its serving or retired officers. However, the two-count complaint filed against Abdur Rehman alias Pasha suggests that he was the main person, who had provided plenty of logistical support to David Headley during the reccee conducted by him during the Mumbai attack.

Indian Intelligence agencies say that Pasha started off with the Pakistan Army and was also part of the ISI prior to his retirement. He is one among the many retired army officials, who are delegated by the ISI to train and aid terror activities. The confessions of Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin also point to the involvement of several retired army officials in terror training, they add.

Pasha was just one among the many retired officers in Pakistan, who facilitated the entry of foreign terrorists who were willing to work for the ISI. It was during the various visits Headley made to Pakistan, that he met Pasha. He acted as the main facilitator for Headley and helped him enter and get out of the country very often. Due to the proximity that grew between the two, the ISI and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba decided to hand over charge to Pasha and directed him to be the main link between the Lashkar and Headley. The duo together had planned on two attacks, namely the Mickey Mouse project and also the Mumbai attack.

During the various recees conducted by Headley, he had always stayed in touch with Pasha who in turn gathered the details and passed it on to the LeT.
Although the Mumbai Police, in their chargesheet, had pointed to the involvement of retired army officials from Pakistan, it was the arrest of Headley that gave credence to this charge. Both the Lashkar and the ISI were clear that Headley would communicate only with Pasha, who in turn would act as a link.

The IB says that the Ilyas Kashmiri link with the Lashkar was re-established by Pasha. Kashmiri had fallen out with the ISI after he was asked to handle the Kashmir operations while the latter wanted to continue battling US troops in Afghanistan. The ISI realised the importance of Kashmiri to the cause of global jihad and that is when Pasha stepped in.

Pasha became the main link between Kashmiri and Headley. During the various communications between the two, Kashmiri has been referred to as "Doctor" by both Headley and Pasha.

Even during the Mumbai reccee, it was Pasha who constantly guided Headley. Apart from guiding Headely, Pasha also ensured that the cash transactions for the operations were conducted smoothly. This was possible thanks to the network that was set up by Pasha in Dubai from where a large chunk of the money was transferred for Headley to use.

Ironically, this retired officer was released after being arrested in March 2009 by the Pakistan establishment. It is believed Pasha had too much information regarding the ISI and its operartions and hence it was safer to let him go rather than keep him in custody and embarrass themselves.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru