India piles up heat on Pak to deport Dawood
Mumbai, December 2:
India picked up intelligence in recent months that terrorists were plotting attacks against Mumbai targets, an official said today, as the government demanded that Islamabad hand over suspected terrorists believed living in Pakistan.
A list of about 20 people - including India’s most-wanted man - was submitted to Pakistan’s high commissioner to India last night, said India’s foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee.
India has already demanded Pakistan take “strong action” against those responsible for the attacks, and the US has pressured Islamabad to cooperate in the investigation. America’s chief diplomat, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, will visit India tomorrow.
The diplomatic wrangling comes as the government faces widespread accusations of security and intelligence failures after suspected Muslim militants carried out a three-day attack across India’s financial capital, killing 172 people and wounding 239.
Indian officials continued to interrogate the only surviving attacker, who reportedly told police that he and the other nine gunmen had trained for months in camps in Pakistan operated by the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba.
India’s foreign intelligence agency received information as recently as September that Pakistan-based terrorists were plotting attacks against Mumbai targets, according to a government intelligence official familiar with the matter.
The information was then relayed to domestic security authorities, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorised to talk publicly about the details. But it’s unclear what, if anything, the government did with the intelligence after that.
The famous Taj Mahal hotel, scene of much of the bloodshed, had tightened its security with metal detectors and other measures in the weeks before the attacks, after being warned of a possible threat.
But the security precautions “could not have stopped what took place,” Ratan Tata, chairman of the company that owns the hotel, told CNN. “They (the gunmen) didn’t come through that entrance.
They came from somewhere in the back.
“A day after soldiers finishing removed the last bodies from the hotel, where the standoff finally ended Saturday morning, wood boards covered its marble latticework and seafront entrance as plain-clothed police searched for evidence.
The building was the last to be cleared, following the five-star Oberoi hotel, the Jewish centre, and other sites struck in this city of 18 million.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has promised to strengthen maritime and air security and look into creating a new federal investigative agency, met today with top security aides to review any government lapses.
Among those sought by India is fugitive Dawood Ibrahim - a powerful gangster, the alleged mastermind of 1993 Mumbai bombings, and India’s most-wanted man.
Also included is Masood Azhar, a terror suspect freed from an Indian prison in exchange for the release of hostages aboard an Indian Airlines aircraft hijacked on Christmas Day 1999.
In the past, Pakistan has denied harbouring these men. However, Pakistan said it would consider India’s request and respond after receiving the list.