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The Man Behind Mumbai

U.S. authorities identify a mastermind of plot that killed 166. Whether he will be brought to justice remains uncertain.

Shimon Rosenberg, right, speaks with Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, in front of a portrait of Rosenberg's slain daughter Rivka and son in-law Gavriel Holtzberg at Nariman House in Mumbai on Nov. 26, 2009, a year after the Mumbai terror attacks. (Arko Datta/Reuters)

This article was co-published with the Washington Post. This is the first of two parts.

On a November night two years ago, a young American rabbi and his pregnant wife finished dinner at their home in the mega-city of Mumbai.

Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg had come to India on a religious mission. They had established India’s first outpost of Chabad Lubavitch, the Orthodox Jewish organization, in a six-story tower overlooking a shantytown. The Holtzbergs’ guests that evening were two American rabbis, an Israeli grandmother and a Mexican tourist.

Hundreds of miles away in Pakistan, a terrorist chief named Sajid Mir was preparing a different sort of religious mission. Mir had spent two years using a Pakistani-American operative named David Coleman Headley to conduct meticulous reconnaissance on Mumbai, according to investigators and court documents. He had selected iconic targets and the Chabad House, a seemingly obscure choice, but one that ensured that Jews and Americans would be casualties.

On Nov. 26, 2008, Mir sat among militant chiefs in a Pakistani safe house tracking an attack team as its dinghy approached the Mumbai waterfront. The Lashkar-i-Taiba terrorist group had made Mir the project manager of its biggest strike ever, the crowning achievement of his career as a holy warrior.

Sajid Mir

Sajid Mir

The 10 gunmen split into five teams. His voice crisp and steady, Mir directed the slaughter by phone, relaying detailed instructions to his fighters. About 10:25 p.m., gunmen stormed the Chabad House. They shot the Holtzbergs and the visiting rabbis, took the Israeli grandmother and Mexican tourist hostage and barricaded themselves on an upper floor.

Mir told his men to try to trade the hostages for a gunman who had been captured. Mir spoke directly to the Mexican hostage, 50-year-old Norma Rabinovich, who had been preparing to move to Israel to join her adult children.

Mir soothed the sobbing woman in accented but smooth English.

“Save your energy for good days,” Mir told her during the call intercepted by Indian intelligence. “If they contact right now, maybe you gonna, you know, celebrate your Sabbath with your family.”

The prisoner swap failed. Mir ordered the gunman to “get rid” of Rabinovich.

“Stand her up on this side of your door,” he said. “Shoot her such that the bullet goes right through her head and out the other side . . . Do it. I’m listening. . . . Do it, in God’s name.”

The three-day siege of Mumbai left 166 dead and 308 wounded. Twenty-six of the dead were foreigners, including six Americans. The attacks inflamed tension between Pakistan and India at a time when the nuclear-armed foes were trying to improve their relationship. The repercussions complicated the U.S. battle against Islamic extremism in South Asia and thrust Lashkar into the global spotlight.

Two years later, Mir and his victims are at the center of a wrenching national security dilemma confronting the Obama administration. The question, simply put, is whether the larger interests of the United States in maintaining good relations with Pakistan will permit Mir and other suspects to get away with one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in recent history.

As President Obama’s recent trip to India made clear, the Mumbai attack remains a pivotal and delicate issue in relations among the United States, India and Pakistan. Despite the diplomatic sensitivities, administration officials say they are pursuing those responsible.

“The U.S. government is completely determined to see justice done in the case,” said a senior U.S. counterterrorism official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of pending prosecutions. “Sometimes it takes time.”

For five months, ProPublica has examined the investigation of the attacks and previous cases documenting the rise of Lashkar. This account is based on interviews with more than two dozen law enforcement, intelligence and diplomatic officials from the United States, India, Pakistan, France, Britain, Australia and Israel, including front-line investigators. ProPublica also interviewed associates and relatives of suspects and victims who had not discussed the case with journalists and reviewed foreign and U.S. case files, some of them previously undisclosed.

These documents and interviews paint the fullest portrait yet of the mysterious Mir, whose global trail traces Lashkar’s evolution. His name has surfaced in investigations on four continents, his web reaching as far as suburban Virginia. Fleeting glimpses of him appear in case files and communications intercepts. A French court even convicted him in absentia in 2007. But he remains free and dangerous, according to U.S. and Indian officials.

ProPublica’s investigation leads to another disturbing revelation: Despite isolated voices of concern, for years the U.S. intelligence community was slow to focus on Lashkar and detect the extent of its determination to strike Western targets. Some officials admit that counterterrorism agencies grasped the dimensions of the threat only after the Mumbai attacks.

The FBI investigation into the killings of the Americans has focused on a half-dozen accused masterminds who are still at large: Mir, top Lashkar chiefs and a man thought to be a major in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). U.S. officials say Washington has urged Islamabad to arrest the suspects.

“We put consistent pressure on the Pakistanis to deal with Lashkar and do so at the highest levels,” said the senior U.S. counterterrorism official. “There has been no lack of clarity in our message.”

But U.S. officials acknowledge that the response has been insufficient. The effort to bring to justice the masterminds — under a U.S. law that makes terrorist attacks against Americans overseas a crime — faces obstacles. A U.S. prosecution could implicate Pakistani military chiefs who, at minimum, have allowed Lashkar to operate freely. U.S. pressure on Pakistan to confront both the military and Lashkar could damage counterterrorism efforts.

“It’s a balancing act,” a high-ranking U.S. law enforcement official said. “We can only push so far. It’s very political. Sajid Mir is too powerful for them to go after. Too well-connected. We need the Pakistanis to go after the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”

Pakistani officials said they had no information on Mir. They denied allegations that the powerful ISI supports Lashkar.

“Allegations of ISI’s cadres operating in connivance with the militants . . . are based on malicious intent,” said a senior Pakistani official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. ISI “remains top-to-bottom transparent and rests under the complete control of the civilian government . . . There is no question that the government thinks that all militants are enemies of the state.”

A year ago, Pakistan charged Lashkar’s military chief and six less-influential suspects in the Mumbai attacks. But the trial soon stalled over legal complications and conflict with India, raising fears among U.S. and Indian officials that the prosecution will collapse in a court system that rarely convicts accused extremists.

The U.S. investigation turned up 320 potential targets abroad — only 20 of them in India — including U.S., British and Indian embassies, government buildings, tourist sites and global financial centers, officials say.

“There should have been a recognition that Lashkar had the desire and the potential to attack the West and that we needed to get up to speed on this group,” said Charles Faddis, a retired CIA chief of counterterrorist operations in South Asia and other hot spots. “It was a mistake to dismiss it as just a threat to India.”

Jean-Louis Bruguiere (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

Jean-Louis Bruguiere (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

Today, Mir personifies Lashkar’s evolving danger. The group’s longtime ties to the security forces have made it more professional and potentially more menacing than al-Qaeda.

“Lashkar is not just a tool of the ISI, but an ally of al-Qaeda that participates in its global jihad,” said Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a French judge who investigated Mir. “Today Pakistan is the heart of the terrorist threat. And it may be too late to do anything about it.”

Lashkar’s beginnings

For more than a decade, Sajid Mir has operated in a blurred underworld of spies, soldiers and terrorists.

An Interpol notice last month seeking his arrest illustrates confusion about basic facts of his life. The Indian warrant identifies him as Sajid Majid, not Mir, with a birthdate of Jan. 1, 1978, which would make him 32. But most investigators think he is older — in his mid- to late 30s. They still call him Sajid Mir, saying Majid may be his true name or one of several aliases.

Mir was born in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city and cultural capital. His family may have owned a manufacturing business, according to court testimony.

Mir was a teenager when a professor named Hafiz Saeed created Lashkar-i-Taiba (the Army of the Pure) in the late 1980s with Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian Islamist. Azzam had another claim to fame: He was an ideological mentor of Osama bin Laden and helped him found the organization that was the forerunner of al-Qaeda.

 

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder and head of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder and head of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Lashkar joined the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan supported by the United States and Pakistan. Soon, Pakistani strategists built Lashkar into a proxy army against India in the disputed territory of Kashmir. The group won vast support with its mix of extremism and nationalism and its array of schools, hospitals and social programs, especially in the Punjab, Mir’s home region. Indians called Lashkar “the government mujaheddin.”

 

Mir joined Lashkar when he was about 16, investigators say. Some senior U.S., British and French anti-terrorism officials say he also spent time in the military, although that remains murky. For years, it was common for the Pakistani military to detail officers to Lashkar, according to investigators and court testimony.

Mir went into Lashkar’s international operations wing, which embraced global jihad in the 1990s. Lashkar militants joined wars in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya and built global recruitment and financing networks. Those activities and Lashkar’s anti-American and anti-Jewish propaganda showed an increasingly internationalist bent, according to U.S. congressional testimony and Pakistani and Western officials.

Yet the U.S. intelligence community still viewed the group as a regional player focused on India and Kashmir. Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, said he tried and failed to get Lashkar designated as a terrorist organization in the late 1990s.

“I said it had a huge potential for damage,” Ackerman recalled. “People were not paying attention.”

Lashkar trained tens of thousands of holy warriors. It was easier to join than al-Qaeda, operating openly from storefront offices across Pakistan. Some foreign Lashkar trainees went on to join al-Qaeda, and several led al-Qaeda plots against New York and London.

Mir became a deputy to the director of Lashkar’s foreign operations unit. He had direct access to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Lashkar’s military chief, and ties to al-Qaeda in neighboring Afghanistan, according to a French investigation. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Mir began grooming foreign volunteers who had come to Pakistan to wage war on the West.

The Class of 2001

Willie Brigitte (Benoit Peyrucq/AFP/Getty Images)

Willie Brigitte (Benoit Peyrucq/AFP/Getty Images)

Willie Brigitte became one of Mir’s favorites. Born in Guadeloupe and radicalized in Paris, the Afro-Caribbean convert was dour, burly and nearsighted behind round-rimmed glasses. Fellow trainees called him “the Grouchy Frenchman.”

Brigitte was part of an al-Qaeda connected group of militants in Europe involved in numerous plots. In September 2001, he set off for Pakistan hoping to reach the Afghan battleground.

Brigitte made his way to Lashkar headquarters in Muridke outside Lahore. The complex featured a mosque, a university, dormitories and houses for leaders. Brigitte briefly studied Arabic and the Koran and met Mir, the coordinator of foreign recruits, who carried himself like a rising star.

“He was in fact an important personage,” Brigitte testified later in France. “He was a man of about 30, very cordial and pleasant, with whom I had a good relationship.”

Of medium build, Mir had a dark complexion, black hair and a thick beard. He spoke English, Urdu, Hindi and Arabic. His nicknames were Abu Bara (Father of Bara), Uncle Bill and Sajid Bill. A Makarov pistol on his hip, he was accompanied by two bodyguards and a driver, according to Brigitte’s testimony.

Mir’s recruits included four militants from the Virginia suburbs. They were part of a multiethnic crew of college graduates, U.S. Army veterans and gun enthusiasts whose spiritual leader was Ali Al-Timimi, an Iraqi-American imam based in Falls Church.

Galvanized by the Sept. 11 attacks, the men quit their jobs and traveled to Pakistan to train with Lashkar. Another Virginia militant who had already trained in Pakistan called a Lashkar contact from the parking lot of a 7-Eleven to arrange the trip, according to federal court testimony of Yong-Ki Kwon, a Korean-American convert to Islam.

“It didn’t matter why the war was going to happen,” testified Kwon, a Virginia Tech graduate who had worked at Sprint. “The only thing that mattered is that our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan needs [sic] help against imminent attack.”

The Virginia jihadis joined up in Lahore at a Lashkar office decorated with posters depicting the U.S. Capitol in flames and the slogan: “Yesterday we saw Russia disintegrate, then India, next we see America and Israel burning.”

Mir soon cleared the volunteers to train for holy war.

The camps

To reach Lashkar’s mountain training complex, recruits drove overnight past checkpoints manned by Pakistani soldiers, according to court testimony.

“They were deferential to us and let us pass without difficulty,” Brigitte said. “There was no search and no verification of our passports, which were in the hands of the Lashkar bosses.”

From a base camp, the recruits hiked to an altitude of 4,000 feet for nine days of firearms instruction, then climbed another 4,000 feet to a camp that taught covert warfare. The Pakistani army supplied crates of weapons with filed-off serial numbers, Brigitte testified.

The mountains teemed with more than 3,000 trainees. Although Pakistanis dominated the ranks, there were Americans, Arabs, Australians, Azeris, Britons, Chechens, Filipinos, Kurds, Singaporeans, Turks and Uzbeks.

“It was very impressive every morning when we would gather and shout ‘Allah Ouallah Akbar,’ ” Brigitte testified. “The setting was imposing because you could see the outline of the Himalayas.”

The Frenchman bunked with the Virginia trainees in a mud hut. His zeal and endurance impressed his instructors, who led drills in English and Arabic. Over tea, Brigitte befriended several instructors, who told him they were Pakistani Army officers on special assignment.

“The close relations between the Pakistani Army and Lashkar were clear,” Brigitte testified.

Brigitte became convinced that Mir was also in the Pakistani military. During Mir’s visits to check on training progress, everyone from the camp chief to army sentries treated him like a superior, Brigitte said. It was clear to him that Mir was a military officer, he said.

“He never told me formally, but I understood it because of many details,” Brigitte testified. “He was very respected by the instructors who were themselves members of the Pakistani Army but also at the checkpoints where he was well-known. . . . Nonetheless, I never knew what unit Sajid belonged to or what his rank was.”

U.S. and French anti-terror officials say Mir became an army major, although he may not have reached that rank in 2001. He eventually left the military, although it is not clear when or why, officials say. And some investigators are not convinced that he served in the military.

But Bruguiere, the French judge, said the case showed “that Sajid Mir was a high-ranking officer in the Pakistani Army and apparently also was in the ISI.”

Other cases similarly describe Pakistani security forces in the camps. A Briton who trained with Lashkar and was later convicted as the ringleader of a foiled 2004 plot against London by al-Qaeda testified that ISI officers screened and trained foreign recruits in Lashkar camps in 2000.

While Mir’s men drilled in the mountains, a U.S-led military operation toppled the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The CIA focused on the Lashkar camps in Pakistan as well, asking Pakistani intelligence to help find foreign militants who might pose a threat to the West, according to court testimony. On four occasions, instructors temporarily evacuated foreign trainees before joint U.S.-Pakistani camp inspections, Brigitte testified.

“The instructors were informed by the Pakistani army because they were part of the army,” Brigitte testified. “About 15 Pakistanis conducted these inspections with an equal number of Americans. . . . We were told they were CIA officers who were searching for the presence of foreign jihadis.”

The trainees trekked back down from a hiding place after the CIA teams left, Brigitte and Kwon testified.

Talent-spotting

In November 2001, Mir gave the trainees disappointing news: Their dreams of martyrdom had been crushed.

Mir said Lashkar would not send them to fight in Afghanistan, because the U.S. military operation was almost over and had closed the border to aspiring foreign fighters, according to the testimony of Kwon and Brigitte.

Mir approached a handful of militants about operations in the West. First, he invited two of the Virginia militants — Kwon and Masoud Khan, a tough Pakistani-American — to dinner in Lahore.

At the restaurant, Mir introduced them to a Lashkar chief who wore “tight Western clothes” and a “nice trim beard,” Kwon testified. The chief jokingly called himself “the Disco Mujahid.” He asked them to undertake missions in the United States entailing “a lot of propaganda, information-gathering and e-mailing,” said Kwon, who declined the proposal.

Khan later told FBI agents that the Lashkar bosses asked him to conduct surveillance of an unnamed chemical plant in Maryland. The request shows that Lashkar was gathering intelligence on U.S. targets as early as 2001.

About two months later, Mir told Brigitte to return to France as the group’s “sector chief” there. Mir ordered him to keep quiet if arrested.

“He absolutely did not want it known that I had trained at a Lashkar camp,” Brigitte testified.

The handling of Brigitte — veiled threats, secretive communications — would later intensify the suspicions of French investigators that Mir had ties to Pakistani intelligence. Their indictment described Mir as Brigitte’s “case officer.”

“Brigitte was told: Go back and wait,” said a former top French intelligence official. “That’s what intelligence services do. Brigitte was a clandestine operative. . . . He obeyed orders. But I don’t think he realized that he had become an agent of an intelligence service.”

Around the time Brigitte left, a Pakistani-American arrived. His name at the time was Daood Gilani, but he would become known to the world as David Coleman Headley.

Daood Gilani aka David Coleman Headley (Verna Sadock/AP Photo)

Daood Gilani aka David Coleman Headley (Verna Sadock/AP Photo)

Headley, now 50, differed from Mir’s other proteges. He was older, a ladies’ man, a globe-trotter. Born in Washington, he moved to Pakistan as an infant and attended a top military school. Returning to the United States at 17, he lived in Philadelphia and then New York and slid into heroin dealing. After a 1997 bust, he became a Drug Enforcement Administration informant, spying on drug traffickers in Pakistan.

Once casual about his Muslim faith, Headley radicalized in the late 1990s. U.S. officials say he was still a DEA informant when he began training in the Lashkar camps in early 2002. Although the Pakistani instructors thought he was too old and too slow for combat, the charming American hit it off with Mir.

Mir decided to cultivate this man of two worlds as a clandestine operative, according to documents and officials.

Unleashing the network

In December, 2001, Lashkar took part in a commando-style attack on the Indian Parliament that killed a dozen people and left India and Pakistan on the brink of war.

Washington designated Lashkar as a terrorist group. Pakistani authorities outlawed the group and briefly held Saeed, its spiritual leader, under house arrest. But in reality, investigators say, nothing much changed.

“Lashkar was the only major jihadi outfit to escape the Pakistani crackdown,” wrote Stephen Tankel, author of the forthcoming book “Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-E-Taiba,” in a recent academic report. “Lashkar served as a major provider of military training for jihadi actors in the region.”

In early 2002, Mir led an overseas buying spree for military equipment. He sent his British quartermaster, Abu Khalid, on four trans-Atlantic trips. Abu Khalid reported to Mir via e-mail as he worked with three of the Virginia militants, including Khan. They helped the Briton buy an unmanned airborne vehicle and more paintballs than the U.S. Marine Corps needs for a year of drills.

The procurement ended when the FBI arrested 11 Virginia militants in mid-2003. A search of Khan’s home turned up guns, a terrorist manual and photos of the White House and FBI headquarters.

Because the Virginia crew had played paintball war games as they radicalized, a somewhat skeptical news media dubbed them “The Paintball Jihadis.” Lawyers and Muslim activists complained about over-zealous prosecution.

Nonetheless, the defendants were sentenced to long prison terms. At the trial, Mir’s role in Lashkar surfaced publicly for the first time. But the group still wasn’t of much interest to the public or law enforcement, anti-terrorism officials say.

The trial revealed evidence of Lashkar’s dangerous alliance with al-Qaeda. Prosecutors cited a 2002 incident when U.S. and Pakistani forces captured a key al-Qaeda coordinator in a shootout at a Lashkar safe house in Faisalabad.

He had the phone number for Lashkar’s chief of international operations — Mir’s boss.

The Australian plot

As the FBI closed in on the Virginia contingent, Mir launched a plot on the other side of the world.

In calls and e-mails in 2002 and 2003, he prepared Brigitte, the Grouchy Frenchman, for a trip to Australia. Mir directed British operatives to send $5,000 to Brigitte, asking his quartermaster in an e-mail: “How is our French Connection Project going?”

Faheem Lodhi (Dean Lewins/AP Image)

Faheem Lodhi (Dean Lewins/AP Image)

Brigitte arrived in Australia in May 2003 and joined forces with Faheem Lodhi, a Pakistani-born architect and militant who had worked for Mir in the camps. With Lodhi’s help, Brigitte settled into a new life in Sydney, quickly marrying a former Australian army intelligence officer who had converted to Islam.

At Mir’s direction, Brigitte collected maps and photos of targets taken by his new wife, though she resisted his demands that she provide him with intellligence. Lodhi created an alias and a fictitious business to obtain bomb chemicals and maps of the electrical grid. He compiled a 15-page manual for making homemade poisons, explosives and detonators. Investigators believe the duo planned to bomb a military base or a nuclear plant.

The plot was foiled by French agents, who were hunting Brigitte as part of a larger investigation. They learned he was in Sydney and alerted Australian intelligence. Police deported him to France in October and captured Lodhi after watching him throw satellite photos of military bases in a dumpster and call Mir from a phone booth. Mir sent Lodhi an e-mail asking for “fresh news about our friend,” according to court documents.

“Our friend has returned to his country and his government has him,” the Australian operative responded.

Lodhi was sentenced to 20 years for preparing a terrorist act. Investigators think the plot was related to Australia’s troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The judge’s verdict noted Mir’s role and called him a “shadowy figure” who deployed operatives for “terrorist actions in Australia.”

Brigitte’s deportation put Mir in the sights of Bruguiere, France’s best-known terrorist hunter. Questioned by Bruguiere in November 2003, Brigitte discussed Mir in a tone of respect and fear. His account made French investigators suspect that Pakistani spies had played a role in the Australian plot.

“In the heart of Lashkar there are camps that train individuals for the mission of eliminating those who talk,” Brigitte testified. “And you understand that the Pakistani army and Pakistani intelligence were stakeholders in these operations.”

Bruguiere took advantage of French laws allowing him to pursue terrorist conspiracies across borders. He worked with investigators in Virginia, Australia and Britain. Mir’s name, he said, popped up everywhere.

Preparing the masterpiece

In 2005, Mir joined a Lashkar unit dedicated to attacks in India and embarked on a secret mission. He crossed the border into India at its only land port of entry with Pakistan, blending with Pakistani cricket fans flocking to see their national team play in India, according to U.S. and Indian anti-terrorism officials.

Mir’s movements for 15 days in India are unknown. But Indian investigators think he was part of an operation — spying, terrorist scouting or both — involving a dozen Pakistani “cricket fans” who went missing after crossing the border. Indian spy-hunters eventually caught one: a suspected ISI agent with a false identity whom they accused of espionage.

Later that year, Mir turned to Headley, his top American agent, who by now had completed five stints at Lashkar camps. Headley had also survived a close call in New York that summer, when his estranged third wife reported his activities with Lashkar to federal agents. His travels around the world continued, unimpeded.

Soon, Headley met with Mir and other Lashkar bosses who told him he had been chosen as lead scout for a big job. He went to Philadelphia in November on Mir’s instructions and legally changed his name from Daood Gilani to David Coleman Headley to conceal his Pakistani origin.

Armed with his new identity, Headley returned to Pakistan. In July 2006 he received $25,000 for a new assignment. The money came from a man he knew only as Major Iqbal, according to officials and court documents.

U.S. and Indian anti-terrorism officials suspect Major Iqbal was a serving ISI officer and a liaison to Lashkar. According to anti-terrorism officials and U.S. court documents, Major Iqbal and Mir became Headley’s handlers. They instructed him to use the money to open a front company and begin reconnaissance in the city that was their next target: Mumbai.

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The Mumbai attack, like 9/11, alerts millions of previously unsuspecting people to the violent nature of Islam and Islam’s prophet.

As usual, America is going the wrong way.  Pakistan is at war with us via the Talban, and we are paying for it. Literally.  We are giving them the money to train people to kill us.

But instead of recognizing that threat, we are fighting against Afghanistan - and losing - because you can’t win if you are fighting the wrong battle.  Hamid Karzai wants us to leave and he is the largest recipient of our billions of dollars.  But he doesn’t need the money anymore since Iran is paying him more than we are.

In the mean time, the only way to keep paying for this is to cut the benefits of millions of Americans who have paid into Social Security all their lives and, in the process, destroy the middle class which ~IS~ America.

The President just announced success at the G20 meeting - but every OTHER nation which was represented said the US is tanking the global economy. I believe that the President is a little TOO insulated from the public.  I think he is getting and advice and acting erratically.

How many of you think that David Coleman Headley was the only US government agent involved in this wide ranging conspiracy? It sounds to me like there are several other likely candidates.
  Who were the true believers, who were the agent provocateurs, and who were the patsies? What was the real purpose behind these cold blooded attacks?
  One possible motive comes to mind, though there are probably others. The prospect of an Iranian-Pakistani-Indian oil pipeline is one which displeases our Western Corporate Overlords, so perhaps maintaining a sufficient level of tension and antagonism between India and Pakistan would be a desirable outcome for certain parties.
  We plebes can only mine our meager media sources for fragmentary clues, attempt to sift small bits of truth from the misinformation, and hope to connect enough dots to gleen some grainy outline of the bigger picture.
  A word to the wise: take the official story line with a hefty dose of salt. Consider the source.

Regarding “The Man Behind Mumbai”

The lead picture of this article is an insult to Jews everywhere.  The take away from this picture and headline is not that these are innocent people discussing thier loss, but that they are chiefly responsible for the attack.

This is a sickening peice of yellow journalsim that is not consistant with the standards that you have created for your journal.

Perhaps now USA should see Pakistan as the country it is at war with. USA has doled out billions of our Tax dollars to The army chiefs of Pakistan. What have we gotten back for all that wasted money. The most expensive truck ride for US supplies from Port of Karachi into Afghanistan. Basically we got taken for a ride Literally.

USA has clear evidence that Pakistan spends sixty percent of the US Aid on Anti India expenditure.The balance is used in the operations against Some of the factions on AFPAK border. Some of the money even lines the pockets Army top brass as well the politicians.

Sad part is not only we as Americans know all the crap Pakistan feeds us, we still dole out all that money to them. Pentagon believes that, if we do not give out this money to Pakistan, we would have much harder time in Afghanistan.

So lets look at alternatives to US aid. USA declares Pakistan to be a terrorist state and bans any one from doing business with it. All countries will immediately break off relations with Pakistan except China, it’s major benefactor. Pakistan has been surviving as a state since it’s inception on aid from IMF, World bank, Middle Eastern benefactors and China. If all the aid is completely choked, it would lead to riots within Pakistan and military will definitely declare martial law. However Pakistani army relatively does not have as much strength to rule the Pakistani populace.

Till such time there is wholesale change within the Pakistani armed forces in its policies towards Afghanistan, India and the world at large, we will continue to see more dangerous terrorist attacks. While this article merely discusses one such organization in detail, however it is the sponsor of this organization, i.e. Armed forces of Pakistan, that need to be taken care of in order to succeed.

Most people in the west believe if there is settlement with India and Pakistan over Kashmir, all these groups will move away. Sadly it is not correct at all. Pakistani army as an institution as gained powers within Pakistan as a saviour of the country for all things Kashmir as well as it’s foreign policy. It is not in it’s interest to see peace between the two countries. It is working on the orders of its major benefactor “China” to keep India occupied, so as to enable it to expand it
s influence even more.

In summery Afghanistan, Pakistan, India are nothing but proxy fights on behalf of China, in which USA is bleeding blood as well as dollars while this other players are playing minor roles to effect it.

Only solution to this problem is to confront Pakistan and give it the ultimatum, “either you are with us or against us” No if and or buts.

Symona Gropper

Nov. 14, 2010, 3:45 p.m.

It seems to me that Stan Plaavin’s remarks are so right. The picture is quite inapropriate when matched with the headline “The man behind Mumbai”. It is as if a religious Jew was behind the Mumbai murders. It is very misleading and, just as Mr. Plaavin, I wonder whether the choice of this picture was not on purpose.

Good work Washington Post and Propublica. After two years you got the guy who’s behind the mumbai attack. Now only if someone could go after this guy and the group to bring them to justice.

If you catch Mir, the trail will lead to ISI boss that time ..Kiyani, current army chief.

Those who breed snakes assuming that snake will only go to neighbor’s house, will be proved wrong one day!

When western journalists can gather so much evidence, Pakistani police and courts can’t find any evidence and are still asking India for evidence, where as all the masterminds are in Pakistan. Looks like instead of investigating, Pakistanis want to destroy evidence!

I congratulate Propublica for their superb investigation of this sorry episode in Mumbai which was in the making for several years. One thing that caught my eyes was the statement of Mr. Charles Faddis, a retired CIA chief of counterterrorist operations in South Asia that: “It was a mistake to dismiss it as just a threat to India.” Well, India has been giving proof to the CIA from over 30 years about Pakistan-inspired terrorism in India particularly in Kashmir and for some time in Punjab. But the US always turned blind eye on it. So the question to be asked is why it is that the CIA fails again and again to do its job professionally? Could it be said that the CIA is not a professional first rate institution after all? Else, was it that the policy makers in the US were also hoping for some reward from continuing terrorism in India.

As someone above has already mentioned, I have difficulty understanding why the US feels so dependent on Pakistan when every piece of intelligence is telling that Pakistan is playing double game. Pakistan is not a solution to any problem but it is a part of the problem. Terrorism anywhere has roots in Pakistan. Will the US ever learn true nature of Pakistan and treat it like what it is.

As for Pakistan I truly feel sorry for millions of god-fearing good Muslims in that poor country who are hostage to their own leaders. Pakistani leaders both elected and unelected have deliberately kept dispute with India at a very high pitch to deflect the attention of common man from day to day problems. Pakistani military is especially well served by keeping the rage going.

Brilliant. More power to your pen.

Pak has perfected Terror as a state policy. ISI and the Army in Pak has developed a state within the state and too powerful to be challenged. In their own zeal to hold on to power and terrorize the world they are creating anarchy both within Pak and in the region. Further the matter becomes complicated with the Jihad and Muslim fundamanetalism.

Point 1: Islam is not a religion, its a terrorist ideology.
Point 2: Pro-Republic was more worried about the US,Israeli and the Mexican lady being killed, then the other 162 Indians being killed. Racism as usual.
Point 3: Till Russians and Americans started meddling in Afganistan, The entire Afgan-Pakistan -Iran belt was kept in control by the Indians.
Lesson: Only India can keep these retards in control, as they have done so for a 1000 years.

Why is the “US dependent on Pakistan”? Simple, Opium/Heroin and it’s profits. Last week the Russian version of our DEA complained publicly (usually back-channeled) that we were doing nothing about the heroin labs that they had ID’ed in Pakistan, yet we do nothing. When we find the mega-banks laundering money we only fine them a % of their profits (search “follow the dirty money”) and prosecute NO one. They did the same thing during the Vietnam “war”, why would they not do it now? Any wonder that Headly was DEA? Not to me..

Collateral damage. One only has to look @ who trained, handled, financed, the man. Look in the direction of who has the most to gain. Who, for instance, controls the distribution of the Drugs in the World? Who has the most to gain by keeping the War in Afghanistan going, which is now slatted beyond 2014 before any reduction or hand over. Who/which country has the inside information/dirty laundry of what’s taking place in the area today? Consider that because of the “Bomb”, things have gotten away from the planers. For those that can access it, read TomDispatch of 14nov10, then ask why the U.S. needs 3 Mega Embassy’s in the Middle East?  As Steve above said, follow the money.

Stan Plaavin
“Regarding “The Man Behind Mumbai”
The lead picture of this article is an insult to Jews everywhere.  The take away from this picture and headline is not that these are innocent people discussing thier loss, but that they are chiefly responsible for the attack.” No, Stan, I took away no such message.  You’re imagining things. I immediately got the message that the ProPublica writer intended. That trigger happy defensiveness may get you in trouble.

Why couldn’t the US withhold 1 billion dollars of the recent grant to Pakistan until Mir’s head is delivered?

Propublica analysis and information is great, best so far from any Magazine.

As I wrote earlier also USA administration is fighting this war from both sides. Lot of this information may not be new to many sleuths of American agencies. USA is financing and arming Pakistani army and ISI who are creating this terror machinery Lashkar, Taliban etc., together with the help of Feudal lords of Saudi Arabia and radicalizing people via their Wahibi style of radicalism. On the other side USA is sending troops to fight the terrorists created by its own indirect help. How can any one win a war by fighting from both sides?

The whole article shows Western administrators and spies specially Americans have been trying to buy promises from Pak army and ISI not to attack Europeans or Americans in return for keeping silence about their terror Machinery against India intact and actually there by helping them about it. Such a game can never work. But perhaps American agencies or some of their agents who have built up their careers in building up their careers on building relationships with Pak army and spies consider this as their strategic assets. Until this continues not much can be achieved towards decreasing terrorist machine. It should be considered just a dream that terrorist will go on attacking India and not West. If Western governments are really serious about fighting terror first thing they have to do is join with democratic countries.
But time being it seems this policy will continue from USA and other Western countries. It seems that they are bent on sliding their own countries as well as whole world sliding in mud of such quagmires. People in countries like India and with not so capable governments should be prepared for many killings because of such a policy. Some those killings may over flow to West. So really speaking even people in West will also have to worry about it not just Indians.

The sequence time being is that Pakistani army and ISI wants to continue terror generation as its strategic assets against India and Afghanistan even if they kill people in their own country. USA and Europeans will continue to consider relationship Pakistani army as their strategic asset. Indeed this deadly sequence may continue for some time. There are almost no indications that West specially USA is going to bring a major change in this policy.

A big hindrance is of course Indian administrators specially those from ruling Congress who just do not act at all on any thing and are lost in similar useless games within India with Muslims as well as with Pakistan.

RK:  An excellent book on the history of the CIA was published a few years ago.  Author Tim Weiner.

ProPublica - great research and article. 

While some will argue that everything written here is false, why are American’s so unwilling to even consider that we have been so accepting the premise that we are capable of being the world’s watchdog, when even if only half truth, this article shows that we can’t act alone.  Granted, we, private citizens, don’t know everything about what our, or any other countries, intelligence forces are doing, but we should be at least aware that the behavior described will generate attacks around the world. 

I am not a proponent of fear-mongering.  The world in which we live is changing (yet again) and some here will try to take advantage of fear and some will attempt to take a rational approach.  Is this a win-lose debate?  I certainly don’t have the answer, but I am smart enough to recognize that the problem is not an existential argument that should be ignored.

  No, this is not a call to arms, nor a “war on terror”, which has been going on since the beginning of recorded history, this is just an acknowledgement that there are and always will be those who don’t like our democratic principles.

  I prefer to be informed and Pro Publica has provided an insight into how the long-term process worked.  Sadly many here in the USA are demanding knee-jerk reactions as a solution.

Brilliant, courageous,informative. But who cares. USA continues to finance the ‘Jehadees’ through a rogue Govt., hostile to every non muslim.
Thank you nevertheless. Hope someday, USA and other collaborators would become sensible.

I too was drawn into the article by, at first, thinking there must be a connection between the Orthodox Jewish people in the picture and the Mumbai terrorist attack. I am not bothered by that though as I did read the entire article and thought it to be quite relevant and very well done!

@ Jeb Fimple
There was connection. Those people in the picture were killed in the terrorist attack. Nariman House apartment was sort of Orthodox Jewish place run by them to help Jews in India and those visiting. It seems Headley who is now in Jail in USA had made a survey of the place earlier and helped ISI/Lashkar terrorists to put this as target as hte place where some American Jews were there.

The place has been renovated now again and now it also plans to run a Shabbat dining place.

Lets make no mistake. West supports benign India’s rise.However, the key word is benign and it would oppose any development that would mean an independent foreign policy of India as a threat.

In this regard, China also concurs and hence the competition between China and west to curry influence in Pakistan & Afghanistan (for other geo political purposes as well.

Given,India’s political structure and bureaucracy its unable to get its act together most of the time…and hence the Headleys get away anyways.

If i am not wrong, the set of people who are now reporting these Perfectly connected stories, would have been the same ones who got the world to believe in Iraqi government having WMD’s.
Guys, seriously, do you think the whole world is hollywood or bollywood? And as for those Hindus commenting on Islam, they need to look into their own Caste based backyard before they comment on a progressive religion like Islam. Get your facts right kids!

Its NOT a Hindu-Islam issue. The issue is simply one of Pakistan and US colluding to use terror as a proxy for war against India. This is amply demonstrated by Headley being allowed to go scot free by both of them till end 2009.Period.

Enlightened Engineer

Nov. 26, 2010, 2:14 p.m.

Sajid Mir came to India on the pretext of watching a cricket match. Now India is hosting the world cup. I wonder how many people will sneak in. I say ban all pakistani nationals even if they have a dual citizenship like Daood Gilani

s.Chidambaram Iyer from India

Dec. 6, 2010, 3:47 a.m.

There appears to be a powerful lobby in the pentagon to plead the case of Pakistan.This lobby, shortsighted as it is, is working against the national interest of the US, by default(yes), by design (doubtful). President Obama and his advisers should put him wise to this danger, that threatens the US more than anything else. China is nowhere seen in the horizon by the US diplomats and the pentagon. Why?

s.Chidambaram Iyer from India

Dec. 6, 2010, 3:48 a.m.

There appears to be a powerful lobby in the pentagon to plead the case of Pakistan.This lobby, shortsighted as it is, is working against the national interest of the US, by default(yes), by design (doubtful). President Obama’s advisers should put him wise to this danger, that threatens the US more than anything else. China is nowhere seen in the horizon by the US diplomats and the pentagon. Why?

To unravel the lobby you need to follow the money.
http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2004/10/25/85141.shtml. Who provides the funds to the current incumbents in their elections is a good indicator.

Who funds the terror machinery? How is it that 8-10000 militants have held up worlds largest military in the region for 10 yrs? Good questions to ask.So you mean there is ano China lobby in US?

Hindu mentality = Opportunism

To keep the facts right, Opportunism is what has brought India to hurriedly invest into Afghanistan, where it was once supporting USSR. !!!!.....Opportunism is to yap like a Mad dog till people decide to kill the dog or what it is barking at. Right now, Pakistan is a soft target, while Indian Bollywood dances away its worries to merry tunes.

One has to understand the Indian / Hindu psyche to see the opportunism which is driving the current slanderous allegations against Pakistan. India, now that its clearly stated is a “self appointed BIG DOG” of South Asia is shallower than most of the people understand. Trying to crush smaller sized states under its weight, it really fails to realise that the situation can and will easily turnaround against it.

We here in PAkistan are no war mongerers, but i have seen and heard enough venomous Hindu jingo to realise : They dont want peace !! They can not accept Pakistan….!!

By opportunistic, I deduce you mean amoral and practical.Its moral to incite violence in the name of stretgic depth but amoral to build roads and hospitals, what logic is this? So its opportunistic for India to publicise Pakistan’s complicity with terror groups or control of terror for the last two decades. So its opportunistic to raise the issue of sponsorship of terrorism of which India is a victim.Its funny when you say India has tried to crush smaller states, when all of them have been lined up goodies by the real opportunistic Chinese and already against it due to Pakistan-China opprotunism such as in Srilanka, which perpetrated war crimes.Yes, India cannot and will not accept a Pakistan that to its core is not just anti-India and has been for 60 years but now also anti-hindu for no reason whatsoever except because thats what keeps the one’s in power, in power.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
.

Pakistan’s Terror Connections

The Mumbai terror attacks have revealed evidence of the extent of the ties of Pakistani intelligence to terrorist groups and the flaws in the U.S fight against Pakistan-based terror.

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