ISI & the buried truths about Mumbai

Posted by Senapathi | Posted in | Posted on 9:00 AM

Why Islamabad seems disinclined to discover who was responsible for the November 2008 carnage.

Waqas Ahmad was among the hundreds of Lahore cricket fans who crossed the Wagah border five years ago to watch their country play India in New Delhi. The 2005 India-Pakistan series had been advertised as a historic event; the embodiment of hope that a new era of peace was about to dawn on South Asia. For most of the Lahore fans, the long journey was worth it: Pakistan registered a 159-run victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium before tens of thousands of spectators, among them Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf.

But Ahmad didn't make the match — and never caught the train home. The story of the cricket fan who disappeared, improbably enough, holds out disturbing new evidence that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate might have played a direct role guiding the Lashkar-e-Taiba's murderous, November 2008 attack on Mumbai.

LeT jihadist Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab's conviction by a Mumbai court this month has been hailed as bringing a closure, or at least something resembling it, to the kin of 164 people who were killed and the 308 injured in the carnage. Later this month, an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi will begin hearing prosecution arguments against seven men Pakistan's Federal Investigations Agency says helped to finance, facilitate and execute the attacks. It is unclear just when Judge Malik Akram Awan will deliver his verdict but many hope his judgment will not just serve justice but also help the fraught relationship between the two countries.

What it almost certainly won't do is reveal who engineered the carnage and why.

The Uttar Pradesh police located Ahmad last summer at Bithoor on the outskirts of Kanpur. Neighbours knew him as Rajesh Kumar. Ahmad had obtained a driving licence and a voter-identification card to support his 'fiction,' the term spies use for their cover-identities. Investigators allege that Ahmad was a covert ISI operative, tasked with recording the movements of Indian military units. A grade X dropout, the 25-year old Waqas was recruited by the ISI, say the police. Following a year of training in spycraft, he was despatched to watch out for military movements across northern and western India.

For months, no one outside the intelligence community in New Delhi — and few within it — paid attention to Ahmad's story. He was, after all, a bit actor in the ISI's India operations. This spring, though, after the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigations began to share details of the interrogation of Pakistani-American jihadist David Coleman Headley, Ahmad's story gathered a startling new significance. The phone number he used to contact his handlers for funds, it turned out, was among those Headley had used to speak with three serving Pakistan Army personnel who, he told the FBI, had helped organise his mission to carry out the reconnaissance that would lead the Lashkar's assault team to its targets in Mumbai.

Islamabad reacted with anger to media accounts of Headley's claims about the ISI. But the case of the Kanpur spy suggests that a great part of the truth about Mumbai is either unknown to, or is being hidden from, Pakistan's civilian government.

Gaping holes

Early last year, after weeks of denying that its nationals had any role in Mumbai, the Pakistan government finally ordered its Federal Investigation Agency to act. The Lashkar's second-in-command, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, is now being tried in Rawalpindi along with the organisation's head of operations targeting India, Mazhar Iqbal; the head of the communication cell who facilitated the Mumbai operation, Abdul Wajid; and Karachi-based cadre Hammad Amin Sadiq and Shahid Riaz Jamil. In July last, the FIA also held Jamil Ahmad and Muhammad Younis Anjum, who it says helped organise funds and communications for the attack.

But ever since the FBI charged Headley with having conducted the reconnaissance operation in Mumbai, doubts have mounted on the integrity of the investigation in Pakistan. In February, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram bluntly charged Pakistan with "hiding the real culprits."

Perhaps the most important gap in Pakistan's investigation is the absence of any detail of just who carried out pre-attack reconnaissance — and on whose orders. Kasab told the Mumbai police that the assault team was shown detailed videotape of the targets. Headley, the FBI's investigation shows, harvested that footage. His operation, however, finds no mention in the trial now under way in Rawalpindi. Nor was it mentioned in a July 2009 dossier handed over to India by Pakistan. The dossier stated the suspects the FIA had arrested "admitted their guilt and their contribution in planning, preparation, financing, arranging boats, logistics, training, facilitating and launching." Presumably, the FIA would have asked them questions on the reconnaissance issue — but chose not to share its findings with India.

From Headley's testimony to the FBI, it is evident that he was not the first Lashkar operative engaged to undertake reconnaissance in Mumbai. Before his first, September 2006 visit to India, Headley was shown a cardboard mock-up of the Taj Mahal Hotel and asked to conduct surveillance on its second floor, which, among other things, housed the closed-circuit television. Early on during the November 26, 2008 strikes, the attackers were able to locate the room and destroy the surveillance system — a move which successfully made efforts to track their movements in the hotel difficult.

In an April 13, 2009 questionnaire to investigators in India, the FIA sought details of the alleged Lashkar operatives, Fahim Arshad Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed. No further requests for information on the two men followed. First held in February 2008 on charges of facilitating multiple terrorist operations, the two men have since been cleared of the Mumbai-related crimes. Likely, the FIA knew they were innocent all along. Had the U.S. not held Headley, the truth might never have emerged.

The second major gap in the FIA investigation is this: it tells us next to nothing about Lashkar commanders who used satellite phone connections and voice-over-Internet connections from a still-undetermined location in Pakistan. FIA analysts, the July dossier states, determined that three suspects — Riaz, Sadiq and the still-fugitive Mohammad Amjad Khan — were in contact with one another, and with an unidentified cellphone number, through the attacks. The assault team also called the unidentified number from a satellite phone. Jamil Ahmad and Anjum, the FIA says, helped to acquire this satellite phone. But the FIA is yet to tell the world who used the unidentified number, who was in the control room and where it was.

By the FIA's account, the communication cell was controlled by Mazhar Iqbal, using the code-name 'Zarar Shah.' Pakistan has, however, refused to give India voice samples which would establish whether Iqbal was indeed among the individuals guiding the assault team. The Indian authorities have also been denied photographs of Wajid, which would allow the Mumbai police to confirm his identity. Nor has the FIA offered information on a Hindi-speaking suspect, likely an Indian national, who helped to guide the attack.

Thirdly, the FIA investigation offers little insight into the training of the assault team. The July dossier offers no detailed account of the camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Lahore where the team was trained. Nor has the FIA been able to arrest other jihadists who trained with the group. Pakistan claims it has been unable to locate the key Lashkar operative,Muzammil Bhat, who is alleged by the Mumbai police to have overseen the training of the group. But in December 2009, journalists Adnan Khan and Michael Petrou, reporting for the Canadian magazine, Macleans, located Bhat at a Lashkar facility near Muzaffarabad. "He was in constant contact with our brothers carrying out the attack," a Lashkar operative they interviewed said, "[h]e was giving them instructions as the operation progressed."

Finally, Pakistan's July 2009 dossier dealt at some length with the question who financed the attacks — but the FIA has chosen not to prosecute most of those who put up the cash. Sadiq and Jamil Riaz, the FIA found, had admitted to having opened accounts with the Mehran Cooperative Bank and the Allied Bank branches in Karachi. The FIA investigators found, the dossier states, "that various LeT activists and office-bearers transferred funds to their account from Khanewal, Gujranwala, Multan, etc., for terrorist activities and operations in Mumbai." None of those office-bearers has, however, been charged with this crime.

Last week, the former Indian diplomat, Chinmaya Gharekhan, called on the government to test Pakistan's commitment to act against anti-India terrorists by using "quantifiable criteria which can be spelt out." Pakistan's willingness to fill the gaping holes in its investigation will clearly be key to these criteria. Early this year, Mumbai authorities quietly buried the bodies of the nine Lashkar jihadists, who were killed during the attacks, after months of waiting for Pakistan to reclaim them. Eighteen months after the carnage, the FIA has identified just three of those men: Mohammad Altaf, Imran Babar, and Nasir Ahmad. Nothing could better illustrate Pakistan's disinclination to discover the truth about Mumbai.

Where countries stand on Copenhagen

Posted by Senapathi | Posted in | Posted on 5:52 AM

The Copenhagen conference intended to agree a new international framework for controlling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has begun. The final round of preparatory talks in Barcelona revealed deep divisions between some of the key participants. Use this table to study their positions.




China

"Developed countries should support developing countries in tackling climate change."
President Hu Jintao, 22/9/09

  • Set a "binding goal" to cut CO2 per unit of GDP by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2020
  • Wants rich countries to reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 level by 2020
  • Says they should pay 1% of their GDP per year to help other countries adapt
  • Wants West to provide low-carbon technology
  • The world's biggest GHG producer (20.7% of global emissions, 8,106mt of CO2 equivalent)
  • Emissions per head: 30th in the world (6t of CO2 equivalent)
  • GDP (2008): $4.3tn
  • Amount of GHG emitted per $1m of GDP: 1,152t
  • Kyoto: Signed as a developing country so not obliged to cut emissions

How serious a threat is global warming to you and your family?

Very/Somewhat serious
33% positive
Not very/Not at all serious
62% negative

United States

"This is not fiction, this is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet."
Barack Obama, US president, 18/12/09

  • Prepared to work "with other countries" to raise $100bn a year by 2020
  • Will cut emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 pending congressional approval - this is close to 4% below 1990 levels
  • Against Kyoto-style treaty imposing international legal obligations
  • Insists China, India, South Africa and Brazil must commit to slow growth of emissions
  • Climate bill is currently bogged down in Senate
  • The world's second-biggest GHG producer (15.5% of global emissions, 6,087mt of CO2 equivalent)
  • Emissions per head: Fifth in the world (20t of CO2 equivalent)
  • GDP (2008): $14.2tn
  • Amount of GHG emitted per $1m of GDP: 441t
  • Kyoto: Signed, but never ratified

How serious a threat is global warming to you and your family?

Very/Somewhat serious
64% positive
Not very/Not at all serious
36% negative

EU

"Things are fragile but I believe that common sense will prevail. We have to focus on the substance and we have to take political decisions."
Stavros Dimas, EU environment commissioner, 18/12/09
The EU is a grouping of 27 European states

  • Will cut emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, or 30% if other big emitters take tough action
  • Wants rich nations to make 80-95% cut by 2050
  • Wants poorer nations to slow emissions growth
  • Says they face costs of $150bn per year by 2020, of which EU will pay $7bn-22bn from public finances
  • The world's third-biggest GHG producer (11.8% of global emissions, 4,641mt CO2 equivalent)
  • Emissions per head: 17th in the world (9t of CO2 equivalent)
  • GDP (2008): $18.3tn
  • Amount of GHG emitted per $1m of GDP: 315t
  • Kyoto: Signed - has to get average emissions for 2008-2012 8% below 1990 level

How serious a threat is global warming to you and your family?

Very/Somewhat serious
62% positive
Not very/Not at all serious
32% negative

(Results represent the median of 23 out of the 27 EU states polled by Gallup)

Japan

"Japan will, with this assistance, support a broad range of developing countries which are taking measures of mitigation, as well as those which are vulnerable."
Japan delegation, 16/12/09

  • Will cut emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, if other countries show similar ambition
  • This amounts to a cut of 30% in 10 years, and is opposed by industry
  • "Hatoyama initiative" will increase financial and technical assistance to developing countries
  • Backs proposals in which each country would set its own commitments
  • The world's seventh-biggest GHG producer (3.3% of global emissions, 1,293mt of CO2 equivalent)
  • Emissions per head: 15th in the world (10t of CO2 equivalent)
  • GDP (2008): $4.9tn
  • Amount of GHG emitted per $1m of GDP: 301t
  • Kyoto: Signed - has to get average emissions for 2008-2012 6% below 1990 level
How serious a threat is global warming to you and your family?

Very/Somewhat serious
75% serious

Not very/Not at all serious

25% not serious

India

"The most vulnerable country in the world to climate change is India."
Jairam Ramesh, India's environment minister, 3/12/09

  • Will cut CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 20-25% from 2005 levels by 2020
  • Rejects legally binding target, but wants rich countries legally bound
  • Says rich countries are to blame for climate change and points to big gap in per capita emissions
  • Wants 40% cut in rich country emissions by 2020
  • Opposes goal of halving world emissions by 2050
  • The world's sixth-biggest GHG producer (5% of global emissions, 1,963mt of CO2 equivalent)
  • Emissions per head: 66th in the world (2t of CO2 equivalent)
  • GDP (2008): $1.2tn
  • Amount of GHG emitted per $1m of GDP: 655t
  • Kyoto: Signed as a developing country, so not obliged to cut emissions

How serious a threat is global warming to you and your family?

Very/Somewhat serious
81% serious

Not very/Not at all serious
13% not serious

African union

"My proposal scales back our expectation with respect to the level of funding in return for more reliable funding." Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, 16/12/09

The African Union is a grouping of 52 African states

  • Wants climate funds to reach $100bn a year by 2020 for rich countries to help poorer nations
  • Wants at least 50% for vulnerable and poor regions such as African and small island states
  • Like China, wants rich countries legally bound to cut emissions to 40% below 1990 level by 2020
  • Describes 20 to 30% cuts as "unacceptable"
  • The AU accounts for 8.1% of global emissions (3,164mt of CO2 equivalent)
  • Emissions per head: 4t of CO2 equivalent
  • GDP (2008): $34bn
  • Amount of GHG emitted per $1m of GDP: 1,361t
  • Kyoto: African nations signed as developing countries so are not obliged to cut emissions

How serious a threat is global warming to you and your family?

Sample state, Kenya:

Very/Somewhat serious
87% serious
Not very/Not at all serious
12% not serious

Gulf states

"We are among the most economically vulnerable countries." Mohammad S. Al Sabban, Saudi Arabia's lead negotiator 8/10/09

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE

  • Opec and Saudi Arabia seeking financial aid for oil-producers if new agreement requires cuts of fossil fuels
  • Keen on a deal that would advance use of carbon capture and storage
  • In 2007 Opec members pledged $750m to fund climate change research
  • Qatar and Abu Dhabi investing heavily in clean energy technology
  • Gulf states account for 2.3% of global emissions (894mt of CO2 equivalent)
  • Emissions per head: 25t of CO2 equivalent
  • GDP (2008): $468bn
  • Amount of GHG emitted per $1m of GDP: 875t
  • Kyoto: Gulf States signed as developing countries so are not obliged to cut emissions

How serious a threat is global warming to you and your family?

Sample state, Saudi Arabia:

Very/Somewhat serious
82% serious
Not very/Not at all serious
16% not serious

Small islands

"The days of little money in the face of big problems are over." Dessima Williams, head of the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis), 9/10/09

Aosis is a bloc of 42 island and coastal states mostly in the Pacific and Caribbean

  • Regard rising sea level as threat to their existence
  • Seek to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels
  • Want concentration of CO2 in atmosphere lowered from 380 to 350 parts per million
  • Want global emissions to peak by 2015 and fall 85% below 1990 level by 2050
  • Want at least 1% of rich country GDP spent on "climate-inflicted damage"
  • The small island states account for 0.6% of global GHG emissions (246mt of CO2 equivalent)
  • Emissions per head: 4t of CO2 equivalent
  • GDP (2008): $46bn
  • Amount of GHG emitted per $1m of GDP: 551t
  • Kyoto: Aosis members signed as developing countries so are not obliged to cut emissions

How serious a threat is global warming to you and your family?

Sample state, Dominican Republic:

Very/Somewhat serious
91% serious

Not very/Not at all serious
8% not serious


SOURCES: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the World Bank. Gallup poll data taken in 2008. Between 528 and 2,493 people interviewed in each country, either by phone or face-to-face (the question was put to people who said they knew something about climate change). The margin of error ranges from +/-3.5 to +/-5.3%.