- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 6, 2008

MUMBAI | India’s top law enforcement official admitted Friday there were government “lapses” in last week’s terror attack on Mumbai, amid a public uproar over security and intelligence failures in the deadly siege.

“There have been lapses. I would be less than truthful if I said there had been no lapses,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told reporters, saying he was seeking to bolster the country’s security.

The assault on India’s financial capital left at least 170 dead and 239 wounded. Mr. Chidambaram, only days in the post after the previous minister was ousted after the attacks, made the acknowledgment as new details surfaced that a Pakistani militant group had used an Indian operative since 2007 to scout targets in the Mumbai plot.

Indian officials have accused Pakistani-based extremists in the Nov. 26-29 attacks, an assertion echoed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday.

“The territory of a neighboring country has been used for perpetrating this crime,” Mr. Singh said after meeting with visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. “We expect the international community to wake up and recognize that terror anywhere and everywhere constitutes a threat to world peace and prosperity.”



The surviving gunman, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, 21, told interrogators he had been sent by the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and identified two of the plot’s masterminds, according to two Indian government officials familiar with the inquiry.

Police had earlier identified the gunman as Ajmal Amir Kasab.

Soon after Lashkar-e-Taiba was banned in 2002 under U.S. pressure, the group changed its name to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, according to the State Department. The U.S. lists both groups as terrorist organizations.

Hafiz Mohammed Saeed heads Jamaat-ud-Dawa, though U.S. authorities in May described him as the overall leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba. He denied in an interview that there was a Pakistani hand behind the attacks and called on Indian authorities to act like “a responsible country.” Mr. Saeed is considered the founder of both groups.

“The Indian leadership is using Pakistan as a punching bag to cover its failures at home,” Mr. Saeed told Outlook magazine in an interview released Friday. “I can say with authority,” he said, “that the Lashkar does not believe in killing civilians.”

The interview was conducted in Lahore on Wednesday with the magazine’s foreign editor, Aijaz Ashraf.

Kasab told police that a senior Lashkar leader, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the group’s operations chief, recruited him for the attack, and the assailants called another senior leader, Yusuf Muzammil, on a satellite phone before the attacks.

The information sent investigators back to another reputed Lashkar operative, Faheem Ansari.

Ansari, an Indian national, was arrested in February in north India carrying hand-drawn sketches of hotels, the train terminal and other sites that were later attacked in Mumbai, Amitabh Yash, director of the Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh police, said Thursday.

During his interrogation, Ansari named Muzammil as his handler in Pakistan, adding that he trained in a Lashkar camp in Muzaffarabad - the same area in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir where Kasab said he was trained, a senior police officer involved in the investigation said.

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