- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 1, 2009

From combined dispatches

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | A militant arrested in Pakistan has confessed involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks and is giving investigators details of the plot, a senior Pakistani government official said Wednesday.

The revelation could add to pressure on Islamabad to either bring suspects in the attacks to trial or extradite them to India.

The official spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the disclosure, which was first reported in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

A leader of the banned Pakistani Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba has confessed to being a main planner of the attack on Mumbai, the Journal reported, citing a Pakistani investigator.

The Pakistani government has not responded to the report but President Asif Ali Zardari told President Bush in a phone call Wednesday that anyone found involved in the attack on India’s financial hub in which 179 people were killed would be dealt with, Zardari spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

India has blamed the assault on Lashkar-e-Taiba. It was set up by Pakistani security agencies in the late 1980s to fight Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region but officially banned in 2002, after Pakistan signed up to the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism.

The Journal said that at least one top Lashkar leader, Zarar Shah, captured in an early December raid in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, had confessed to the group’s involvement in the attack.

“He is singing,” an unidentified Pakistani security official told the newspaper.

The Journal, citing the Pakistani security official, said Shah’s admission was backed up by U.S. intercepts of a telephone call he had with one of the attackers during the assault.

Shah told interrogators he was one of the main planners and he had spoken to the attackers during the rampage to give them advice and keep them focused, the newspaper cited a second person familiar with the investigation as saying.

Shah had implicated other Lashkar members, and had broadly confirmed the account the sole captured gunman told Indian investigators, the newspaper cited its source as saying.

According to Indian reports, the captured gunman told Indian interrogators the 10 attackers trained in Pakistani Kashmir and later went by boat from Karachi to Mumbai.

India’s home minister, P. Chidambaram, repeated India’s line that its neighbor must act on what India says is evidence of Pakistani militants’ involvement.

Pakistan has repeatedly said India has not provided evidence.

“If anyone is in a state of denial anything that we give will be denied,” Mr. Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi, referring to a statement from the surviving gunman captured in Mumbai.

A senior intelligence officer told the AP that India has shared some evidence of its suspicions but he said it was “very very little.”

“They gave us a list of numbers and phone calls, most of them useless,” the official said.

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