Monday, May 3, 2010




While the New York Police are still to reach any conclusion regarding the responsibility for the attempted incendiary attack in the Times Square of New York on the evening of May 1,2010, tribal sources in Pakistan suspect that it was a joint attempt by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), also known as the Islamic Jihad Group.

2. The TTP has already claimed responsibility for the attempt through a message purporting to be from Qari Hussian Mehsud, the head of the suicide terrorism training wing of the TTP, disseminated through the Internet on May 2, but its claim has not been taken seriously by the US investigating authorities till now.The IJU, which has remained silent so far, is a splinter group of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). It projects itself as a global jihadi group and not as an etnic Uzbeck group and has in its ranks recruits from Germany, including White converts to Islam, and the US, including some Pakistanis born of mixed marriages like David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. In the past it had come to notice for planning terrorist attacks against German and US targets in Germany, which did not, however, materialise.

3.While the US authorities are looking into all angles----including the possibility of the involvement of non-Muslim irrational elements in the US---- the possibility that jihadi elements of either local or extrernal origin might have been invloved started receiving some attention on May 3. While their skepticism about the claim of the TTP is understandable, it will be unwise to reject it without proper verification. (4-5-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )


( Article written for “Mumbai Mirror” at their request)


A terrorist caught alive is not deniable. One can deny oral, documentary and technical intelligence as fabricated, but one cannot deny someone caught in flesh and blood.

By catching Ajmal Kasab alive and in flesh and blood, the Mumbai Police made certain that neither the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) nor Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the LET’s handler, will be able to deny convincingly the LET’s involvement in the 26/11 terrorist strike in Mumbai. He is the living proof of the involvement of the LET.

And the journalist, who photographed him moving around with his accomplice in the railway terminus killing people with his gun, recorded undeniably his role in the perpetration of the dastardly crime.

If Kasab’s capture and his interrogation proved the involvement of the LET in the terrorist strike, the photographs proved his involvement in killing dozens of innocent civilians.

His interrogation enabled the police not only to re-construct the entire conspiracy mounted by the LET and its handlers in Pakistan, but also identify the conspirators based in Pakistan headed by Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the LET.

The monitoring of the telephone conversations between the perpetrators in Mumbai and their handlers in Pakistan produced a wealth of technical evidence about the role played by the Pakistan-based conspirators in the orchestration of the terrorist strike. But without the corroborating details provided by Kasab, it might not have been possible to identify them by name and force Pakistan to arrest them.

If Kasab had not been caught alive and interrogated, Pakistan might have rejected the intercepted telephone conversations as unlinkable to specific individuals. It is Kasab’s interrogation that provided the link between the recorded voices and the persons to whom those voices belonged. Kasab knew those persons and recognized their voices.

The reconstruction of the crime and the identification of the Pakistan-based conspirators by the Mumbai Police with the help of Kasab forced Pakistan to arrest and prosecute the persons identified by Kasab.

A group of 10 fedayeen (suicidal attackers) from Pakistan had mounted the attack. The instructions to them by the LET were not to get caught alive. Nine of them died during the execution of their attack. If Kasab had also died, the Mumbai police might still be struggling to successfully investigate the case.

There was total confusion in Pakistan when they heard that Kasab had been caught alive thereby depriving them of the protection of deniability. Even then, they tried to deny their involvement by claiming that Kasab was not Pakistani. But after some journalists in Pakistan traced the family of Kasab in his home village in Pakistani Punjab and interviewed them, even this fig leaf of a deniability was not available to them. They had to admit that the terrorist strike had been mounted from Pakistan by the LET.

The interrogation of Kasab provided the police and the intelligence agencies with a lot of information as to when and how the terrorist strike was planned, who were the people recruited, where were they trained, what kind of training they received, who were the people involved in training them, what instructions were given to them before they left Karachi for Mumbai etc.

Such details would have enabled the investigating and intelligence agencies to strengthen their data base on the LET and to understand better how it functions.

But Kasab was only a foot jihadi----trained to carry out a terrorist strike and die in the process. He was not from the leadership core of the LET. His knowledge was confined to details of the terrorist strike of 26/11. He had no knowledge of the future plans of the LET and of its sleeper cells in India, including the identities of the Indian Mujahideen members in India helping the LET.

While he was helpful in the investigation and reconstruction of the terrorist attack of 26/11, he was of no use in detecting and neutralizing the sleeper cells of the LET and the Indian Mujahideen. His utility in anticipating and thwarting the LET’s future strikes will be almost nil.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi)