Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Ameer, Mujahideen-e-Lashker-e-Taiba

 
While addressing the annual congregation of Markaz Ad-dawa Wal Irshad, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Ameer Mujahideen-e-Lashker-e-Taiba said that our next target would be New Delhi. India has occupied the Kashmir oppressively and it is our responsibility to liberate the Kashmiri Muslims from the aggression of Indian Army. While presenting annual report of the activities of Mujahideen-e-Lashker-e-Taiba, he said, that it is proud of Lashker that in this year 2090 Indian soldiers including 10 major, 10 captain, 5 black cat commandos, two man of IB besides many high rank officers were killed. He said that in this year, Abu Muslim in Bandi Pur also conducted a notable action, he entered in an Army Headquarter and killed one Lt. Colonel, one captain and 10 Army men. About “Fidaee Mission” the Ameer said that when former Prime Minister of Pakistan announced retreating from Kargil, Kashmiri showed their grievances over it. On the other hand India started propagating its victory over Kargil and due to this propagation, we felt a dire need to arrange “Fidaee Groups” so that Mujahideen may avenge the Indian Army in occupied Kashmir. Now due to these “Fidaee Missions” Indian Army faces many difficulties and avoids to stay in camps, especially, at night. He said that only 9 “Fidaee Missions” have been conducted in the different parts of the valley so far.
The Ameer further said that Indian Army is providing weapons to the civilians and force them to fight against Mujahideen. But the civilians are unable to fight against Mujahideen because earlier Mujahideen snatched such weapons from the civilians. He said that despite an army of 7 lac troops, India has failed to stop the activities of Mujahideen in the valley. He said that India is having hard time in supplying food and arms via airplanes and roads. He briefly told that Lashker-e-Taiba started their actions in 1990; in 1993 Jihad was upgraded and in 1995-to-date Mujahideen are engaged properly and striving hard. He told that Mujahideen have also learnt Jihadic activities from Kashmiri people. Finally he said that present situation has totally been changed, Mujahideen can open another Kargil whenever and wherever they required. Finally he said that Mujahideen shall hold such congregation in Srinagar, soon (Insha Allah).

Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the year the Treasury Department froze U.S.-held Jamaat ud-Dawa assets and placed the group near the top of a list of specially designated global terror operators. This version has been corrected.

Rice Calls on Pakistanis to Act Quickly on Terrorists

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she is satisfied with Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism and its readiness to pursue any lead in the attacks in India that have sharply raised tensions between the two nuclear powers. Video by AP

By Candace Rondeaux

Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, December 5, 2008

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, Dec. 4 — The United States turned up the pressure on Pakistan on Thursday as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a visit here, urged the country’s leaders to move forcefully against groups linked to the deadly attack last week in the Indian city of Mumbai.

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Rice, who met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and other officials near the capital of Islamabad, said Pakistan has agreed to cooperate and share information with India.

“Pakistan is very committed to this war on terror and does not in any way want to be associated with terrorism elements and is, indeed, committed to rooting them out wherever they find them,” Rice said.

Rice’s visit to Pakistan followed a trip to India on Wednesday and came after a visit to Pakistan by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Rice arrived in the region as Indian authorities identified a second suspected organizer of the Mumbai attacks, which claimed at least 174 lives, including six Americans, and injured nearly 300. Rakesh Maria, India’s joint commissioner of police, said that Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhwi, a commander with the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba, had spoken with the attackers as they journeyed from the Pakistani port city of Karachi to Mumbai by sea, and may have been in touch during the attacks. Maria said the sole surviving attacker, Azam Amir Kasab, 21, identified Lakhwi and said he helped “indoctrinate all the attackers.”

“The crux of the investigation will focus on finding out first if there was local help, then the identities of the other nine and their training and planning,” Maria said.

In the first solid indication the attackers may have had help within India, Maria also said police were investigating whether a Mumbai man arrested on terrorism charges helped stake out the targets, including the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the old Victoria rail station.

The suspected collaborator, Faheem Ahmed Ansari, was arrested in February in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in connection with a gun and grenade attack on a police camp. According to the police report, the 35-year-old met with people connected with Lashkar when he lived in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates; those people put him in touch with operatives in Pakistan.

He reached Karachi in early 2007 and, over the next nine months, obtained training in explosives, “surveillance techniques, intelligence gathering, agent handling,” the police report said. It said an instructor named Kahafa asked Ansari to identify many important Mumbai locations on a Google Earth image and a physical map. The sites included the Taj hotel, the police commissioner’s office, a stadium and the office of the Reliance Energy company. He later returned to Mumbai and both photographed and videotaped key sites.

The report said Ansari carried two passports, Indian and Pakistani.

Indian officials had earlier named Lashkar commander Yusuf Muzammil as one of possibly four alleged organizers of the assault on two luxury hotels, a train station, a hospital, a Jewish cultural center and other sites. Authorities in the Indian capital of New Delhi have called for Pakistan to extradite Muzammil and Lakhwi, along with Lashkar’s alleged leader, Hafiz Sayeed, to India. Pakistan has declined to act on those demands and has denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

In a further indication of the brutality of last week’s assault, Maria said Thursday that evidence had emerged suggesting those killed at the Jewish center may have been tortured. The bodies, he said, were “beaten badly. There was heavy assault there.”

Rice did not specifically mention Lashkar in her remarks during a meeting with a group of journalists Thursday. But she said the perpetrators of the attack in Mumbai had shown “a level of sophistication that we haven’t seen here on the subcontinent before. That means there’s an urgency to getting to the bottom of it.”

Zardari, Pakistan’s president, has asked India to refrain from blaming his government but has also vowed to cooperate in a joint investigation. In a statement issued Thursday, he said India should view the inquiry as a chance to work together and mend the long-standing divisions between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Lashkar was founded two decades ago with the help of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agencies to fight Indian troops in the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir. For years, Lashkar operated openly with the tacit support of Pakistan’s government, running its terrorist training camps in plain view of authorities.

That changed after the government banned Lashkar following a deadly 2001 assault on India’s Parliament in New Delhi. But U.S. and Indian intelligence officials have said the group reconstituted itself under the alias of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, operating by day as a charity but by night as the central node in a vast network of terrorist training, financing and operations.

Members of Jamaat-ud-Dawa gathered Thursday with several reporters on a 75-acre compound in the town of Muridke, near Lahore, where the group runs two schools and a hospital. A spokesman for the group, who gave reporters a tour of the grounds, denied his organization has links to Lashkar. “Lashkar-i-Taiba was banned in 2002. After that, they have formed their own organizational structure and we have formed our own organizational structure,” said Jamaat-ud-Dawa spokesman Abdullah Muntazir.

Muntazir said Jamaat-ud-Dawa is strictly a charitable organization and does not operate in what he called “Indian-occupied Kashmir.” But he nonetheless expressed disdain for the Indian government. “We perceive India as a threat to the Pakistani nation,” Muntazir said. “And we’re trying to stop their activities here in Pakistan, because India is involved in numerous terrorist activities here in Pakistan and India blames us for everything.”

Correspondents Emily Wax and Rama Lakshmi in Mumbai and special correspondent Mohammed Rizwan in Lahore contributed to this report.

Pakistan now holds the key to probe: investigators

PEACE MARCH: Activists hold up banners and placards during a peace rally in memory of those killed in the Mumbai attacks, outside the Taj Mahal hotel on Sunday.

PEACE MARCH: Activists hold up banners and placards during a peace rally in memory of those killed in the Mumbai attacks, outside the Taj Mahal hotel on Sunday.

Praveen Swami

MUMBAI: Investigators probing last week’s massacre in Mumbai have reached a point where little progress can now be made unless Pakistan arrests key suspects based in that country, police and intelligence officials have told The Hindu.

India has so far assembled several pieces of evidence that link the Mumbai fidayeen attack to Lashkar-e-Taiba commanders based in Muridke near Lahore in Pakistan.

Much of the evidence rests on the testimony of arrested Lashkar terrorist Amjad Amir Kamaal, a resident of the small village of Faridkot in the Okara district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

According to Kamaal, the 10-man Lashkar fidayeen team, of which he was a part, left Karachi on a small boat, and then boarded the merchant vessel al-Hussaini. After encountering Indian Coast Guard vessels on February 19, the team hijacked the Kuber, a Porbandar-based fishing boat that had been blown off course.

Kamaal told interrogators that he was born to a landless peasant family and his brother works as a cart-puller in Lahore. He dropped out of school after fourth class. According to Kamaal’s testimony, top Lashkar commander Zakir-ur-Rehman promised to pay his family Rs.1.5 lakh for participating in the fidayeen attack.

Research and Analysis Wing officials also say they have records of phone calls made by Lashkar unit from a satellite phone, which was recovered from the Kuber soon after the attacks. According to RAW sources, several phone calls were made to senior Lashkar commanders in Pakistan, including its operations chief, who is known by the code-names Muzammil, Yusuf and Abu Hurrera.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has promised to provide all possible support for the investigation. However, several Pakistani commentators, including that country’s current Ambassador to Washington D.C., Husain Haqqani, have in the past pointed to close links between jihadist groups operating in that country and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.

Correction and Clarification:

A sentence in the fourth paragraph of a report “Pakistan now holds the keyto probe: investigators” (December 1, 2008) was “After encountering IndianCoast Guard vessels on February 19, the [10-man Lashkar fidayeen team]hijacked the Kuber, a Porbandar-based fishing boat that had been blown offcourse.” It should have been November 19.

Copyright© 2014, The Hindu

Pakistan Backtracks on Link to Mumbai Attacks

Published: February 12, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that parts of the Mumbai terrorist attacks were planned on its soil and said that six suspects were being held and awaiting prosecution.

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The admission amounted to a significant about-face for the Pakistani government, which has long denied that any terrorist attacks against India, its longtime enemy, have originated in Pakistan.Officials said as recently as Monday that they did not have enough evidence to link the Mumbai assault to Pakistan, and there have been signs of internal tensions in Pakistan over cracking down on Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant group that India and the United States have deemed responsible for the Nov. 26 attack on India’s financial capital.

Pakistani officials did not explicitly name Lashkar as the organizer of the attacks on Thursday, but they did single out as suspects two people who are known to be connected to the group.

The formal acknowledgment of a Pakistani role came on the final day of a visit to the country by Richard C. Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy to the region, who raised the issue with top Pakistani government officials, according to an official familiar with the conversations.

Though Pakistani officials denied the announcement was linked to Mr. Holbrooke’s visit, the Obama administration has made clear that lowering hostilities between India and Pakistan is a crucial part of a regional solution to the war in Afghanistan.

India called Pakistan’s admission a “positive development,” but said that Pakistan must still take steps to dismantle the “infrastructure of terrorism.” In Washington, the State Department spokesman, Robert A. Wood, said, “I think it shows that Pakistan is serious about doing what it can to deal with the people that may have perpetrated these attacks.”

Both India and the United States have put strong pressure on Pakistan for some concession regarding the Mumbai attacks, which American officials feared were distracting Pakistan from the task of battling militants from the Taliban and Al Qaeda who have bases inside Pakistani territory.

Despite seemingly overwhelming evidence presented by India, with the help of American and British investigators, top Pakistani officials had repeatedly raised doubts about the identity of the attackers and the links to Pakistan-based militant leaders.

Finally, on Thursday, as Mr. Holbrooke left Pakistan for Afghanistan, Rehman Malik, the senior security official in the Interior Ministry, gave the fullest public account so far of Pakistan’s investigation.

“Some part of the conspiracy has taken place in Pakistan,” he said in a televised news briefing. He emphasized Pakistan’s commitment to prosecuting the attackers and, unusually for a government official here, expressed solidarity with India.

But he was also careful to diffuse blame for the attacks, noting that the tools used by the attackers to organize their plot — cellphone SIM cards, Internet servers — provided links to other countries, however ancillary.

“We have gone the extra mile in conducting an investigation on the basis of information provided by India, and we have proved that we are with the Indian people,” Mr. Malik said.

“According to the initial inquiry report a part of the conspiracy of Mumbai attacks was hatched in Pakistan; however links have been found in other states, including the U.S.A., Austria, Spain, Italy and Russia,” he added.

A State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, called the Pakistani announcement a “political decision” to ease tensions with India.

While saying they did not have enough proof that the perpetrators were Pakistanis, President Asif Ali Zardari and other civilian leaders have expressed a determination to get to the bottom of the Mumbai attacks.

Mr. Zardari even offered to send the nation’s top intelligence official to India after the attacks occurred. But his outreach to India met strong resistance from Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency and the military.

A Defense Department official, who did not want to be named for similar reasons, said the Pakistani decision may have been an effort by the civilian government to “poke a stick” at the Pakistani military and intelligence service, which helped set up Lashkar in the 1980s as a proxy force to challenge India’s control of Kashmir, the disputed border region.

Indian officials have previously blamed Lashkar for an attack in 2000 on the Red Fort in New Delhi, as well as involvement in an attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. Pakistan never acknowledged any Lashkar role in those attacks. The group is officially banned, though it has continued to operate openly.

Mr. Malik’s statements appeared to vindicate many of India’s accusations of Pakistani involvement. But he gave no confirmation of Indian claims that elements of the Pakistani security apparatus may also have been involved along with Lashkar.

He said that Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the operational commander of Lashkar, was “under investigation” as the possible mastermind of the Mumbai assault. And he acknowledged allegations that e-mail messages that claimed responsibility for the attacks were created by Zarar Shah, the Lashkar communications coordinator.

While confirming much of the account of the attack already pieced together by American, British and Indian investigators, he also described an apparently broader circle of terrorist operators than previously disclosed.

He named some of those arrested as a result of the inquiry, including men he identified as Muhammad Ishfaq and Javed Iqbal, who he said was captured after being lured to Pakistan from Spain. Cellphone SIM cards used in the attacks were bought in Austria, while calls over the Internet, using a server in Texas, were paid for in Barcelona, Spain, he said.

Mr. Malik identified another co-conspirator as Hammad Amin Sadiq, who, he said, had been traced through telephone records and bank transfers. “He was basically the main operator,” Mr. Malik said. He also said that one of the people involved was in Houston, and that he planned to send a team to United States.

Only one of the attackers, Ajmal Kasab, survived the Mumbai assault. The Pakistani authorities have already acknowledged that he was of Pakistani origin. But they have yet to ascertain the identities of the other nine attackers because information provided by India was too vague, Mr. Malik said.

Pakistan had given Indian officials a list of 30 questions to which investigators were seeking answers, including some relating to the records of conversations between the attackers and their handlers. “We have asked the Indian authorities to share more information so that the culprits could be given strong prosecution,” Mr. Malik said.

He said he had originally planned to hold the briefing four to five days earlier, but because of some legal matters, he had to postpone it until Thursday. “The timing has nothing to do with Mr. Holbrooke’s visit,” he said.

But Sajjan M. Gohel, director for international security of the Asia Pacific Foundation in London, who has closely followed the Mumbai investigations, said there was no denying that Pakistan had been under pressure from the United States.

“This is unprecedented,” he said. “It is the first time Pakistan has acknowledged an attack on India has originated on its soil.”

Jane Perlez contributed reporting from Islamabad, Eric Schmitt from Washington, and Somini Sengupta from New Delhi.

Leaked Report Points to Larger Pakistani Role in Mumbai Attacks

Published: February 10, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — At least 5 of the 10 gunmen who attacked targets in Mumbai, India, nearly three months ago were of Pakistani origin, according to a government report that has been leaked to local television networks.

It would be the first acknowledgment by Pakistan that more than one of its own citizens had participated in the assault. The country has confirmed that the lone surviving gunman, in Indian custody, is a Pakistani.

But officials here have rejected India’s assertions that the assault was conceived and planned inside Pakistan. According to the television networks, the government report says that investigators have concluded that the attacks were planned in a European country and Dubai over the Internet, and that the planners used Bangladesh for logistical support.

It was unclear from the leaks how the investigators had come to their conclusions.

The preliminary findings of the investigation had been expected to be made public this week. But on Monday the government issued a statement saying investigators needed more evidence from India to proceed with the investigation.

The request for more information provoked an angry reaction on Tuesday from India, which said it had already shared exhaustive evidence of Pakistani complicity. India’s junior foreign minister, Anand Sharma, called the Pakistani request a stalling tactic. “What is required of Pakistan is that it should not delay, deflect or confuse, but act,” Mr. Sharma said, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Pakistani government did not specify what additional information investigators wanted from India. But Dawn, Pakistan’s most prestigious newspaper, reported Tuesday that Pakistani officials would seek a DNA report on Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman involved in the attacks, and the other nine, who were killed by the Indian security forces.

Pakistan is also seeking information about the weapons used by the gunmen as well as details of the cellphone calls made by them, Dawn said.

In addition, Pakistan will push for access to the Indians who have been arrested in connection with the attacks, the newspaper said.

Tension between the countries has intensified since the November attacks in Mumbai, formerly Bombay, which killed more than 160 people. Indian and American officials have accused Lashkar-e-Taiba, an outlawed militant group that has vowed to free the disputed Kashmir region from Indian control, of being responsible for the attacks.

Pakistan has promised to cooperate fully in the investigation of the attacks. Under immense international diplomatic pressure, Pakistan put Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charity affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, under house arrest and detained at least 124 people in a nationwide crackdown. Offices and schools associated with the charity have been closed.

   Dossier Gives Details of Mumbai Attacks

Published: January 6, 2009

NEW DELHI — The exchanges are chilling.

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Times Topics: Terrorism in India

Document: Copy of the Dossier (External link)

“The hostages are of use only as long as you do not come under fire,” a supervisor instructed gunmen by phone during the Mumbai attacks in November. He added: “If you are still threatened, then don’t saddle yourself with the burden of the hostages. Immediately kill them.”

A gunman replied, “Yes, we shall do accordingly, God willing.”

These are some of the grim details of the Mumbai attacks compiled by the Indian authorities and officially shared with the Pakistani government on Monday.

The compilation seems intended to achieve at least two objectives for India: demonstrate that the attackers were sent from Pakistan, and rally international support for India’s efforts to press Pakistan on its handling of terrorism suspects.

To that end, the dossier, a copy of which was shown to The New York Times, includes previously undisclosed transcripts of telephone conversations, intercepted by Indian authorities, that the 10 gunmen had during their killing spree. They left 163 dead, all the while receiving instructions and pep talks from their handlers across the border.

The dossier also includes photographs of materials found on the fishing trawler the gunmen took to Mumbai: a bottle of Mountain Dew soda packaged in Karachi, pistols bearing the markings of a gun manufacturer in Peshawar, Pakistani-made items like a matchbox, detergent powder and shaving cream.

Beyond that, the dossier chronicles India’s efforts in recent years to persuade Pakistan to investigate suspects involved in terrorist attacks in India and to close terrorist training camps inside Pakistani territory. In the final pages, India demands that Pakistan hand over “conspirators” to face trial in India and comply with its promise to stop terrorist groups from functioning inside its territory.

The dossier was shown this week to diplomats from friendly nations; one described it as “comprehensive,” another as “convincing.”

Although the dossier takes pains not to blame current or former officials in Pakistan’s army or spy agency, Indian officials have consistently hinted at their complicity, at least in training the commando-style fighters who carried out the attack.

On Tuesday, the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, upped the ante, but stopped short of naming any specific entities or individuals. “There is enough evidence to show that, given the sophistication and military precision of the attack, it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan,” he said.

Pakistan on Tuesday rejected the Indian allegation. “Scoring points like this will only move us further away from focusing on the very real and present danger of regional and global terrorism,” Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s information minister, said in a statement, according to Reuters. “It is our firm resolve to ensure that nonstate actors do not use Pakistani soil to launch terrorist attacks anywhere in the world.”

Pakistan has said it is examining the information sent by India.

The dossier narrates a journey of zeal, foibles and careful planning, one whose blow-by-blow news coverage was followed by handlers, believed to be in Pakistan, and used to caution the gunmen about the movement of Indian security forces and to motivate them to keep fighting.

“Everything is being recorded by the media. Inflict the maximum damage. Keep fighting. Don’t be taken alive,” a caller said to a gunman in the Oberoi Hotel in the early hours of the three-day rampage.

“Throw one or two grenades at the Navy and police teams, which are outside,” came one instruction to the gunmen inside the Taj Mahal hotel.

“Keep two magazines and three grenades aside and expend the rest of your ammunition,” went another set of instructions to the attackers inside Nariman House, which housed an Orthodox Jewish center.

At the Taj Mahal, the attackers were asked by their counselors whether they had set the hotel on fire; one attacker said he was preparing a mattress for that purpose. At the Oberoi, an attacker asked whether to spare women (“Kill them,” came the terse reply) and Muslims (he was told to release them and kill the rest). At Nariman House, they were told that India’s standing with a major ally, Israel, might be damaged.

“If the hostages are killed, it will spoil relations between India and Israel,” one handler said.

According to the investigation into the attack, the 10 gunmen boarded a small boat in Karachi at 8 a.m. on Nov. 22, sailed a short distance before boarding a bigger carrier believed to be owned by an important operative of a banned Pakistan-based terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. The next day, the 10 men took over an Indian fishing trawler, killed four crew members, and sailed 550 nautical miles along the Arabian Sea.

Each man carried a weapons pack: a Kalashnikov, a 9-millimeter pistol, ammunition, hand grenades and a bomb containing a military-grade explosive, steel ball bearings and a timer with instructions inscribed in Urdu.

By 4 p.m. on Nov. 26, the trawler approached the shores of Mumbai. The leader of the crew, identified by Indian investigators as Ismail Khan, 25, from a Pakistani town in the Northwest-Frontier Province, contacted his handlers. When darkness set in, the men killed the trawler’s captain and boarded a dinghy, with an engine that investigators said bore marks from a Lahore-based importing company.

They reached Mumbai about 8:30 p.m., and in five teams of two, set upon their targets: Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, known as Victoria Terminus, the city’s busiest railway station; a tourist haunt called the Leopold Cafe; the Jewish center in Nariman House; and the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels.

They made one mistake, investigators said. They left behind Mr. Khan’s satellite phone; it was recovered by Indian investigators and its photograph was included in the dossier. A GPS device was also recovered from the trawler.

The last telephone transcript in the dossier was at 10:26 p.m. on Nov. 27, between a gunman inside Nariman House and his interlocutor. “Brother you have to fight,” the caller said. “This is a matter of the prestige of Islam.”

By the morning of Nov. 29, Indian forces had killed nine of the fighters.

The sole survivor, Muhammad Ajmal Kasab, is in the custody of the Mumbai police. His interrogation turned up one of the most frightening details: he was part of a cadre of 32 would-be suicide bombers, later joined by three more men. Ten went to Mumbai. Six went to Indian-administered Kashmir, Mr. Kasab told his interrogators.

The dossier says nothing about what happened to the remaining trainees.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Pakistani Militants Admit Role in Siege, Official Says

Published: December 31, 2008

Saurabh Das/Associated Press

During the terrorist attacks on Mumbai, India, in November, a resident took cover as Indian commandos inside an apartment fired at the militants who had seized the nearby Nariman House.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani authorities have obtained confessions from members of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba that they were involved in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November that killed more than 160 people, a Pakistani official said.

The confessions are sure to put pressure on Pakistan’s leaders; senior Pakistani officials have repeatedly complained in recent weeks that India had not provided them evidence of Pakistani complicity.

American and British officials — and Indian investigators — have said for weeks that their intelligence clearly points to the involvement of Lashkar in the Mumbai attacks. That evidence has been deeply uncomfortable for Pakistan, whose premier spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, helped create, finance and train Lashkar in the 1980s to fight a proxy war against Indian forces in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir.

But now, after weeks of stonewalling, it also seems clear that Pakistan may use its investigation to make the case that the Mumbai attackers were not part of a conspiracy carried out with the spy agency, known as the ISI, but that the militants were operating on their own and outside the control of government agents.

The most talkative of the senior Lashkar leaders being interrogated is said to be Zarrar Shah, the Pakistani official said. American intelligence officials say they believe that Mr. Shah, the group’s communications chief, has served as a conduit between Lashkar and the ISI. His close ties to the agency and his admission of involvement in the attacks are sure to be unsettling for the government and its spy agency.

An operational leader of Lashkar, Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, is also said to be cooperating with investigators. News of Mr. Shah’s confession was reported by The Wall Street Journal.

“These guys showed no remorse,” said the Pakistani official. “They were bragging. They didn’t need to be pushed, tortured or waterboarded” into making their statements.

The confessions made no mention of any involvement by the Pakistani government, said the official, who added, “They talk about people acting on their own.”

Though Pakistani authorities announced that the men had been detained in the first week of December, the official declined to say how long it took for them to confess their role in the Mumbai siege. The official also declined to specify how many confessions had been obtained, and said, “It’s not just one confession.”

The details of which security officials were carrying out the interrogations, where the suspects were being detained and whether they faced any charges all remained murky, and other Pakistani officials declined to discuss the matter or to confirm the Pakistani official’s account.

A government spokesman deflected direct questions about Pakistani complicity in the attacks and about the confessions by Lashkar members. “The idea that a person has spilled the beans while India has not even shared evidence with us seems far-fetched,” said Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan.

But Indian officials and other skeptics are sure to question how seriously interrogations by Pakistani security officials could be expected to examine any possible role by the ISI in the attacks.

American intelligence officials say they believe that links remain between Lashkar and the ISI, and that the spy agency has helped support the militant group for the past several years by sharing intelligence and providing protection.

But American officials say they also believe that the spy agency has become more careful to mask its ties with militants since this summer, when American officials accused the spy agency of involvement in the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan.

One Lashkar fighter who left the group several years ago said in an interview that the agency was directly involved in planning operations in the disputed Kashmir region. The agency’s officers were “at the table” as missions were being sketched out, the former Lashkar fighter said.

However, an active member of Lashkar said in an interview that relations with Pakistani security forces had grown cold. “We always had to hide from the Indian military, but now we have to hide from the Pakistani military as well,” he said.

The ISI has always been a powerful and semiautonomous agency, and its top officers have maintained strong links to Islamist militants. There is some hope that the appointment three months ago of a new spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who previously oversaw military operations against militants in Pakistan’s lawless western districts, signaled a move away from sympathies with the Islamist fighters who control much of the region bordering Afghanistan.

Mr. Zardari told President Bush during a telephone call on Wednesday that his government would “not allow its territory to be used by nonstate actors for launching attacks on other countries” and that “anybody found involved in such attacks from the soil of Pakistan will be dealt with sternly,” according to Pakistan’s state news agency.

Despite the official assurances, some Pakistani officials appeared open to the idea that Pakistani militants carried out the operation. Mahmud Ali Durrani, the national security adviser, said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday that it “could be” that some or all of the Mumbai attackers were Pakistanis.

One reason that Indian government officials have refused to provide substantive evidence so far, the Pakistani official said, is because they “are scared their intelligence methods will be discovered” by their Pakistani rivals.

Indian officials have shared evidence with the United States and certain other governments, but they have not permitted that information to be shared with Pakistan, said one Western official.

Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting from Washington.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

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