The ‘S’ behind LeT’s 26/11 Mumbai attack

Some analysts have pointed to the existence of a specific, formally organised wing of ISI, namely the ‘S’ or security wing, which is directly responsible for the relationship with Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jerusalem Post reported.

While the support and direction offered LeT by serving officers of the ISI appears confirmed in the Mumbai attacks of 26/11, debate remains as to the extent to which ISI as a whole, and therefore the Pakistani state itself, should be seen as backing the group, or whether the situation depicted by George Headley and Zabiuddin Ansari shows the existence of an element within ISI supportive of the terror group. There is not necessarily a simple dividing line in this regard, the report said.

The line taken by the Pakistani authorities, when pressured by the US to investigate the issue and presented with clear evidence of ISI operatives’ involvement, has been that “rogue operatives” within ISI were responsible, it added.

Ultimately, the issue of whether elements within the ISI, or the ISI itself planned, assisted and directed the Mumbai attacks remains an unresolved one, with coherent points made on both sides of the debate.

“But either way, the picture is grave. If the latter is the case, then Pakistan is a state sponsor of terror. If the former, then the Pakistani state is unable to account for terror supporting activities which led to the deaths of hundreds of people, undertaken by serving officers in a premier state institution,” the report said.

But while the direct responsibility of LeT terrorists is not in doubt, solid evidence has emerged that this organisation did not act alone. Rather, a close relationship between the group and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence organisation, or elements within that organisation was maintained before, during and subsequent to the attacks. The ISI is Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the report said.

“According to Steve Coll, a US journalist specialising in Pakistan’s links with terror groups, the digital trail suggested that the individuals directing the attacks from Mumbai were serving operatives of the ISI. Coll notes in his book Directorate S that western officials confronted Pakistan with the relevant intercepts. No systematic investigation followed,” the report said. 

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