ISI officer shrugs off supposed spy link to Mumbai attacks

Senior ISI official shrugs off allegations as "mere opinion" that does not amount to anything.

Reuters May 25, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's spy agency on Wednesday shrugged off testimony from an American who says he scouted targets for the 2008 Mumbai attacks by Pakistani militants with the help of at least one Pakistani intelligence official.

David Headley, a Pakistani-American, pleaded guilty last year to being a co-conspirator in the Mumbai attacks, in which 10 militants from the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) killed 166 people, including six Americans.

He is a prosecution witness at the Chicago trial of a businessman, Headley's childhood friend, accused of providing a front for Headley's surveillance work in India.

Headley, 50, said he was introduced to a retired Pakistani military officer at a mosque, and reported regularly to his LeT handlers and an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer called "Major Iqbal."

"These groups operated under the umbrella of ISI ... they coordinated with ISI," Headley said on Tuesday.

Headley's allegations are a source of indignation in Pakistan, which sees the trial as making a scapegoat of the ISI, already facing criticism for its failure to find al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden on its own territory and to stop a US raid to kill him.

"I have nothing to say on this. This is his opinion, whatever he's saying," a senior Pakistani intelligence official who requested anonymity. "Major Iqbal," he said. "The name itself means nothing. How many Iqbals are there in the Pakistan Army or ISI? And if he is what he's quoted to be, do you think he would have given his true name?"

Headley is testifying against Tahawwur Rana, 50, who is accused of using his immigration services firm to provide a cover story for Headley's surveillance work and to be a conduit for communication with militants.

Three federal lawsuits filed in Brooklyn, New York, by the families of Mumbai attack victims allege that ISI's director-general, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, and other agency operatives were involved with Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) in planning and orchestrating the attacks.

Pasha has been subpoenaed and Pakistan's government has said it will "strongly contest" the case. Rana's trial comes at a time of growing discord in the United States about Pakistan's commitment to fight terrorism after the United States killed bin Laden in a compound near the Pakistani capital.


harkol | 10 years ago | Reply If Pakistanis don't realize the true nature of this Rogue agency, the loss will be theirs more than rest of the world. Rest of the world may be irritated with occasional attacks that result from the perfidy of this organization. But, Pakistan will pay the biggest prize if it doesn't disband or cleanse this organization.
jagjit sidhoo | 10 years ago | Reply And if he is what he’s quoted to be, do you think he would have given his true name?” Just like you dont give your name Mr ISI
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