26/11 attacks: 'Lawsuit against ISI could be disastrous'

Published: July 31, 2011

Lawyer urges federal judge to throw out lawsuit filed by relatives of New Yorkers killed in 2008 Mumbai attacks. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

A New York lawsuit, filed by relatives of Mumbai’s 26/11 victims against the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), could have “disastrous” consequences and could fuel instability in the country that the United States considers important in its fight against terrorism, an attorney has warned, The New York Post reported.

Kevin Walsh, the lawyer representing the ISI, urged Brooklyn federal Judge Dora Irizarry to throw out the lawsuit that was filed by relatives of New Yorkers killed in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Walsh argued in a letter filed with the federal judge, that the consequences of the judicial inquiry have the potential to be “disastrous”. If the lawsuit against the ISI and several high ranking Pakistani intelligence officials is not dismissed, the backlash in the country could undermine America’s goals in one of the world’s most sensitive regions, the attorney said.

“The intrusion of these actions into the politics of Pakistan will fuel violence and extremism, directed against the government that the US intends to support,” the newspaper quoted Walsh as saying.

The lawsuit, filed last November, also named Lashkar-e-Taiba, which operates in Kashmir.

It asked for unspecified damages and alleges that the ISI has worked closely with the banned outfit.

However, Pakistan has denied these allegations.

The suit was filed by relatives of Gavriel Noah Holtzberg, a rabbi originally from Brooklyn, and his pregnant wife, Rivka, who were gunned down when terrorists stormed the Chabad Lubavitch centre in a commando-style attack that also killed the couple’s unborn child.

The Holtzberg’s two-year-old son survived the attack after being rescued by an employee. He now lives with his grandfather in Israel.

Walsh, a prominent New York attorney, argued that the general public in Pakistan will see the lawsuit not as an action taken by private individuals, but as an official intrusion by Washington into its internal politics and as a violation of their country’s sovereignty.

That perception could undermine US’ efforts to foster its relationship with Pakistan as part of its goal of fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan
and throughout the region, Walsh said.

“The alliance with Pakistan is an extremely sensitive, important and difficult relationship for the United States,” the attorney said.

He asked Judge Irizarry to throw the lawsuit out, emphasising that any argument with Pakistan should be dealt with by US political institutions not the US courts which have no jurisdiction over government agencies in Pakistan.

The judge has not yet ruled on the issue.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st,  2011.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • mind control
    Jul 31, 2011 - 10:48AM

    “The intrusion of these actions into the politics of Pakistan will fuel violence and extremism, directed against the government that the US intends to support,” the newspaper quoted Walsh as saying.

    A. Does ISI have a role in ‘the Politics of Pakistan’?

    B. And was Mumbai attack a part of the ‘politics of Pakistan’?

    C. And since ISI denies any association with Mumbai and/or ‘politics’, why is this plea being taken?

    Something is very fishy here.

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  • moeed
    Jul 31, 2011 - 11:24AM

    i can’t understand what is the point of this lawsuit and what difference will it make the incident happened in some other country and the so called accussed is living in a different country. how will judge call the witness and if his decision is guilty who will he punish when he has no authority outside united states. so what difference will it make.

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  • BruteForce
    Jul 31, 2011 - 11:34AM

    So the lawsuit must be taken back just because Pakistan is suicidal?

    The lawsuit must go on and the World must know the truth. This lawsuit can be used in the future by the US Government to stop all Aid to Pakistan.

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  • Mohammed Imran
    Jul 31, 2011 - 12:00PM

    The next time people in Pakistan wonder why India acts mean-spiritedly towards Pakistan, remember this: during 26/11, Pakistan-trained Pakistani terrorists attacked the maternity ward of a hospital, attempting to enter and kill the babies and mothers inside. They escaped with their lives only because the mothers tied their dupattas together to form a rope locking the doors shut.

    Pakistan chooses to delay and slow the trial, chooses to make a mockery of justice.

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  • Pradeep
    Jul 31, 2011 - 12:10PM

    So what’s new? Whenever cornered, Pakistan has provided the argument that it would implode if asked to rectify its dubious methods and bring perpetrators to justice. Pakistan crossed an invisible threshold with the Mumbai attacks. It completely changed the perception about Pakistan among common Indians. Sad but true.

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  • Abdulaleem
    Jul 31, 2011 - 12:45PM

    Why not file a lawsuit against Bush administration for killing hundreds of thousands in Iraq? We now know that there were no WMDs as claimed by Mr. Bush…

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  • First drink, don't think
    Jul 31, 2011 - 1:12PM

    @BruteForce: We want USA to stop aiding Pakistan infact!, and if Pakistani generals and intelligence agencies can be tried in American courts, American generals and CIA can also be tried in Pakistan courts, just make sure whatever is happening don’t back fire Americans! :)

    We want America to stop aiding Pakistan. Whenever USA has stopped Pakistani assistance Pakistan has always made it’s ways to deal with any crises that follows. Just to quote one are our nuclear, missiles and air force capabilities! So it really is a bad idea!

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  • Suresh
    Jul 31, 2011 - 1:19PM

    ISI has nothing to fear, if it is innocent. US can not stop its fight for justice, just fearing reprisal from terrorists. If that is the case, it should not have commenced its war on terror in the first place fearing Bin Laden.No meaning being called super power which can not conduct a normal judicial process fearing the accused.

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  • DG
    Jul 31, 2011 - 1:20PM

    What a logic ?

    This way the world will be ever in the mode of accomodating to the forces of instability. The unravelling of the truth will usher a new begining in the relationships of the country. Those might help the Government of Pakistan to have better control of the departments.

    May the TRUTH win.

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  • Zahid Qureshi
    Jul 31, 2011 - 1:49PM

    @BruteForce: Yes the world should know the Truth and lets start with attack on Iraq and facts about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq
    Those who see every problem with ISI should search the truth about CIA also…starting from killing of Ziaulhaq to Rajeev Gandhi to toppling many Governments all are attributed to CIA…and you are seeking truth from them….Shame on you…
    Well Aid to Pakistan should be stopped and all the rich should be taxed including all in the National Assembly

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  • MYM
    Jul 31, 2011 - 1:54PM

    Frankly speaking i’m not an expert on how the american legal system works. But if a court in new york has legal jurisdiction over Pakistani government agencies than personnel than i believe the case filed against CIA, its station chief in islamabad and US govt should also be allowed its day in court.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Jul 31, 2011 - 1:56PM

    If ISI is clean on 26/11, it should face the trial without fear to redeem its tarnished reputation.

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  • edgarm
    Jul 31, 2011 - 2:30PM

    This case has been filed by the Mossad with the backing of RAW and CIA.

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  • M. Ashokiya
    Jul 31, 2011 - 3:09PM

    to edgarm

    If it is true that the case is filed by Mossad with the co-operation of RAW and CIA then it is a good sign indeed. Such a co-operation is necessary for getting rid of islamic fascism, terrorism and expansionism-imperialism. Pakistanis too will profit greatly if this co-operation takes place effectively. Pakistan is the biggest victim and encourager of islamic sunni-fascism and terror and decent pakistani human beings want that this islam should be eliminated. Decent pakistanis should (and will) actively help Mossad, CIA, RAW etc.

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  • Menon
    Jul 31, 2011 - 3:13PM

    @moeed:

    Apparently, you do not understand the long reach of US law. The real point is, Attorney Walsh is grasping for straws while he knows damn well the Judiciary in the United States of America is an indpendent entity not controlled by the Legislative or the Executive branch sand doesn’t run one single policy of the US government.

    Get a clue, US is not what your are used to.

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  • Menon
    Jul 31, 2011 - 3:15PM

    @Abdulaleem:

    Go ahead, who is stopping you?

    International Criminal Court has an arrest warrant for Bush so, he could not go to certain EU countries. Get a clue.

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  • Menon
    Jul 31, 2011 - 3:28PM

    @MYM:

    You can and you should as long as you can prove the case in a US court. There is small problem though, Pakistan government is in cohoots with CIA and really don’t believe your government would like its citizens to know. What do you think?

    Here is the problem ISI is going to have, if found guilty. Court can order to cease Pakistan’s asset in the US and every other country it mutual treaty (pretty much most of of the west), court can issue arrest warrant for ISI officials, military official and any government official, the court decides to and every country with an extradition treaty with the US will have to enforce which, leaves France the only country for Pakistani officials to visit (no extraditin treaty with the US).

    While it may look like the US Courts can’t do anyhting, the reality is it can and no one, including the President of the United States can disobey the order. It may be hard for you to fanthom because, your government routinely ignores your court rulings.

    Respect for the law is a basic belief evry US Citizen have and upholds.

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  • G. Din
    Jul 31, 2011 - 3:50PM

    @MYM:
    “But if a court in new york has legal jurisdiction over Pakistani government agencies than personnel than i believe the case filed against CIA, its station chief in islamabad and US govt should also be allowed its day in court. “
    Jurisdiction, legal or otherwise, is another way of saying “we can make you pay”. US has all the jurisdiction it wants on Pakistan because it can make Pakistan pay. Pakistan has precisely none because Pakistan is impotent to make any one, much less US, pay. So, a country like Pakistan can hold all the drama of legal proceedings in its kangaroo courts against any one, it does not matter one bit. Go ahead and make a fool of yourself!

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  • ishtiaer hussain
    Jul 31, 2011 - 4:03PM

    Being a Pakistani and having a deep understanding of ISI, i think that we should not fear any law suit being instituted in the US. The guys in ISI are not involved in Mumbai attacks in any way. It may be the possibility that some retired “rotten eggs” might have been involved in orchastrating these attacks. I think these rotton eggs must be brought to free and fair trail in Pakistan. I think that ISI’s mandate is to help protect the country’s security interests rather than to orchestrate terror in neibouring countries. In my view, as far as i know about ISI, this organization has undergone a strategic shift away from supporting terrorism. But the outside world will take time before realizing this change. I accept the fact that it is still heavily involved in Afghanistan. But that’s a totally different matter. Pakistan has genuine security interests in that country. Don’t you think CIA, RAW and other secret agencies involved there?

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  • Aamir
    Jul 31, 2011 - 4:27PM

    Mumbai Attack was a clear insider work which was given unnatural turn by Indian media to pressurize Pakistan. All can see on youtube where Ajmal Kassab chanting Bhagwan forgive me…can you image any jehadi saying that??? our media should repeat this video to open eyes of the world. On the other hand our so called Pakistani TV channels tried to frame Pakistan into incident too.

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  • vasan
    Jul 31, 2011 - 4:35PM

    Aamir : Come out of the slymy rock you are hiding under and see the real world and then comment. Dont spew lies and concoted stories

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  • Anuj Mehta
    Jul 31, 2011 - 4:46PM

    all the above comments just made one thing clear….Pakistanis love to live in la-la land….thinking that they are the best and are doing the best…and the whole universe is conspiring against otherwise innocent and developed Pakistan……

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  • cosmo
    Jul 31, 2011 - 5:16PM

    @Abdulaleem:
    who’s stopping u?

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  • cosmo
    Jul 31, 2011 - 5:21PM

    @Aamir:
    ignorance is bliss !!

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  • BruteForce
    Jul 31, 2011 - 5:23PM

    @First drink, don’t think:

    Thats the right wing narrative, isn’t it! Most of the Terrorist groups that haunt Pakistan today were born in the 90s when there was no Aid from the US. Pakistan barely grew during that period. Believe me I wish US aid for Pakistan to be stopped too but if you think it is good for Pakistan then I cant help but laugh!

    If you think it was Pakistani scientists who developed the Nukes and Missiles, then I’d like to remind you that North Korea has nukes and even better Missiles and like Pakistan it considers China to be its best friend. Last time I checked it was rated one of the most failed states in the World(Still doing better than 12th placed Pakistan!!).

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  • BruteForce
    Jul 31, 2011 - 5:28PM

    @Zahid Qureshi:

    Pakistan wasn’t able to put in jail a single person responsible for 3 Million Bengalis killed/raped in 1971 and you are talking about some other Country doing harm to somebody else.

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  • Pradeep
    Jul 31, 2011 - 6:21PM

    @Aamir:
    Your country has accepted that Kasab is Pakistani. What other proof do you need?

    One can awaken the sleeping. One can never awaken those pretending to sleep.

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  • Somebody
    Aug 1, 2011 - 5:10AM

    Indian trolls amaze me.

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  • Abdur Rehman
    Aug 1, 2011 - 7:36AM

    @Pradeep:
    Perception changed ?, buddy indians have never accepted the very existence of Pakistan.

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  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Aug 1, 2011 - 9:25AM

    @Pradeep

    You are being simpleton here :) Kasab being Pakistan doesn’t mean Pakistani state or any Pakistani group is involved on Mumbai attack.

    There are dozens of Pakistanis who went to India to visit their family and friends and never came back. Kasab seems to be one of them.

    This law suite will have no impact on 26/11 trial. Essentially it’s spoiling all those progress that has been made on this regard. US courts do not have jurisdiction on Pakistani citizens maximum they could do is to impose economic and travel ban on Some ISI officers.

    ISI as an organization will remain there and CIA will keep working with them :)

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  • Feroz
    Aug 1, 2011 - 11:07AM

    I agree that the New York suit against the perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai massacre will severely damage the the already soiled name and reputation of the country. The outcome of the case depends heavily on which side the American Government throws its weight behind. If Pakistan is unable to deliver on its promises to go after all the terrorists on its soil, the descent downhill could be rapid due to withholding of Aid and possible sanctions.
    The World has seen the Government dragging its feet in bringing the culprits to book and understand its inability to do much as the Agencies are complicit. Pressing the 26/11 case in Pakistani Courts could open a can of worms but not proceeding further could prove to be a riskier strategy. The use of non state actors to destabilize the neighborhood supposedly in “national interest” has run its course and the fruits of this Investment has cost countless innocent lives, over 30,000 citizens being collateral damage. If the State does not find the will to rein in and disarm the monsters, a speedy and very violent meltdown is inevitable.
    The country needs to take the bitter medicine to cure its ailments as pointing to imaginary external sources for its problems is losing it support both locally and globally. Recommend

  • Aug 1, 2011 - 3:33PM

    @First drink, don’t think: careful, you’re outing yourself as someone who holds the beliefs of a minority living in Pakistan. That’s dangerous. Good thing it’s written in English or you’d probably have a lynch mob at your door already.

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  • Dr. Salim
    Aug 2, 2011 - 4:36AM

    Amazed how some of us are still in denial about Pakistani’s involvement in Mumbai carnage. Protecting those perpetrators by our denial is what making us look more and more bad in world theater. One thing what many of my Pakistani brother do not realize that the intelligence proof that Pakistani citizens were involved does not only come from USA and India but many other reports and still some of us want to get misled by less then 2 paisa worth of brain man called Hamid Zaid. I am amazed this gus is our security advisor. His only qualification is creating mass hysteria and Conspiracy Theories against India. But an educated lot amongst us who has means and access to world via internet and other academic facility , we can verify the facts can’t we???? And still to deny the fact is what we call “Safed jhoot”. Something which is very irritating in nature and throws the person / group or nation in very bad light and shows how irresponsible they are. Coming to original topic of this article. What is teh rationale fo the worries by our ISI ? If they are clean why should they worry ? It is time we stop being defensive and prove for one and all that we are not the rogue nation as constantly potrayed by the west ? We get too sentimental and defensive. We should just take part in this , co-operate their investigation, and prove them wrong. Infact this is best opportunity for ISI to shine. Getting clean chit in this case will put to rest all accusations many countries have against ISI. I say GO FOR IT!!!. Khuda Hafiz!

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  • vasan
    Aug 2, 2011 - 9:37AM

    Dr Salim : Extremely well said and right too. To cooperate with the rest of the countries in the world and the neighbours will only take Pakistan out of current mess and will generate good will. Nothing else.Hoping that China will bail Pakistan out will be living in fools paradise.

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  • hassan
    Aug 2, 2011 - 3:22PM

    “The intrusion of these actions into the politics of Pakistan will fuel violence and extremism, directed against the government that the US intends to support.”

    English translation: If you say anything bad about Pakistan, those guys will bomb you and your friends.

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  • sashayub
    Aug 2, 2011 - 7:33PM

    @Abdulaleem:
    go ahead do it….hire a lawyer and lodge two separate cases, one criminal and the other a civil one…best to do it in the international war crimes tribunal…how about it? who stopped you?

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