New York: Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Pakistan-based militant group, had the backing of the Islamic nation’s spy agency ISI, which shared intelligence with Lashkar and provided protection to it in the Mumbai terror attacks, a media report said on Monday.
American intelligence and counterterrorism officials were quoted by the New York Times as saying that LeT has quietly gained strength in recent years with the assistance of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which has allowed the group to train and raise money while other militants have been under siege.
Officials said though there is no hard evidence yet to link the spy agency to the Mumbai attacks, ISI shared intelligence with Lashkar and provided protection for it.
The ISI has shared intelligence with Lashkar and provided protection for it, the officials told the paper, and investigators are focusing on one Lashkar leader they believe is a main liaison with the spy service and a mastermind of the attacks.
“People are having to go back and relook at all the connections,” one American counterterrorism official, who was among several officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to the paper, was quoted as saying.
American and Indian officials believe that one senior Lashkar commander in particular, Zarrar Shah, is one of the group’s primary liaisons to the ISI. “He’s a central character in this plot,” one American official said.
As a result of the assault India’s financial hub, American counterterrorism and military officials say they are reassessing their view of Lashkar and believe it to be more capable and a greater threat than they had previously recognized. Pakistani officials have denied any government connection to the siege on 26-29 November, in which nearly 200 people were killed in Mumbai.