Journalism in the Public Interest

Mumbai Case Offers Rare Picture of Ties Between Pakistan’s Intelligence Service, Militants

The confession by a key operative and other evidence gathered by U.S. authorities provides a rare look at the dealings between Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate and Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group. The question remains: How much did senior officials know about the attack?

An Indian soldier runs outside the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, India, on Nov. 27, 2008. An Indian investigators' report says Pakistani military and intelligence officers provided support to the plotters of the 2008 attack. (Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

Update May 2, 2011: As the world now knows, Osama Bin Laden was found not in a cave but just a short walk from the Pakistan's top military academy. That raises many questions about Pakistan, its military and security services.

We have long reported on the security services’ seeming double-games. Last year, we detailed the Mumbai attacks, laying out the evidence that officers in Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service, the ISI, collaborated on the plot with the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group.

This story was originally published on Dec. 29, 2010.

Pakistan's powerful intelligence service has been accused for years of playing a "double game": acting as a front-line U.S. ally in the fight against terror while supporting selected terrorist groups which serve Pakistani interests.

Now, for the first time, there is a detailed inside account of how that game is played. The U.S. investigation of the 2008 Mumbai attacks has built a strong case that officers in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) collaborated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group in the plot that killed 166 people, six of them Americans. U.S. and Indian investigators say their understanding of the ISI-Lashkar alliance is drawn from the confessions of David Coleman Headley, an American convicted of participating in the Mumbai plot, as well as documents, phone records and electronic eavesdropping.

Officials from both countries say they are persuaded that ISI officers recruited and trained Headley in spying techniques and gave him money and instructions to scout targets in Mumbai and elsewhere. Headley has told investigators that a Pakistani Navy frogman helped plan the maritime attack on Mumbai, according to a 119-page report recounting his interrogation this year by Indian authorities. The report, which was obtained by ProPublica, quotes Headley as saying his Pakistani intelligence handler took part in a discussion about a subsequent Lashkar plot to attack a Danish newspaper -- information that Pakistan did not share with Danish authorities.

In essence, U.S. and Indian officials say, Headley was more than a terrorist: He served as a Pakistani spy.

During the period that ISI officers allegedly helped Lashkar plan to kill Americans and Jews in Mumbai, the intelligence service was working closely with the CIA and U.S. military in counter-terrorism efforts and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was pledging his support for the U.S. campaign against militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials deny any link to Lashkar and point out that hundreds of ISI officers have died in clashes with militants. They accuse India of politically motivated distortion in the report on Headley's interrogation.

"It is a stereotype, a Pakistan-specific version of an Indian interrogation," said a Pakistani official who requested anonymity because of the sensitive topic. "The Indian version is totally distorted and fabricated as there was no involvement of the ISI whatsoever. Nor did any serving official interact with Headley or any of the perpetrators."

But U.S. investigators see much of Headley's account as credible, U.S. officials said. The investigators believe his main handler, a man identified only as Major Iqbal, was a serving member of ISI and one of several Pakistani intelligence officers who had contact with Headley, according to U.S. officials.

The Obama administration has expressed frustration with Pakistan's failure to bring to justice the suspected masterminds of Mumbai and to rein in Lashkar, the ISI's longtime proxy army against India. Recent intelligence shows Lashkar remains intent on striking the West, according to a U.S. official who requested anonymity.

Tensions between Washington and Islamabad worsened earlier this month when the CIA was forced to abruptly withdraw its station chief from Pakistan after his identity was made public in a lawsuit there. U.S. government officials suspect that the ISI leaked the station chief's name to Pakistani lawyers suing the CIA for deaths in drone missile strikes, the U.S. official told ProPublica. The official said the move may have been "tit-for-tat" because of a recent civil lawsuit filed in New York by relatives of the victims of the Mumbai attacks naming the ISI and its chiefs as plaintiffs along with Lashkar.

The ISI plays a dominant role in Pakistan's fractured government. Most experts see its long-standing alliance with militant groups as a mix of geo-political strategy -- extremists are a useful weapon against India -- and anti-Western ideology. Headley's story of his high-level dealings with spies and militants alike opens a door into a secretive underworld, according to officials and experts.

"I don't know of any other cases in which ISI has used and worked with Americans," said Charles Faddis, a former CIA counter-terror chief who worked in South Asia. "Having a guy like this would be great for LeT and ISI. The Indians are working off a profile of what they think enemy operatives look like. This guy does not fit that profile. He can walk through the screen without being seen."

When he spoke to Indian investigators in June, Headley repeated much of the account he had given U.S. investigators before pleading guilty in March to conducting reconnaissance for the Mumbai and Denmark plots, U.S. officials say. Since his arrest in late 2009, the FBI and Indian counterparts have spent more than a year checking his confessions against other evidence: witness testimony, phone and e-mail intercepts, travel and credit card records, data stored in his computer.

"Most of the Headley statement is consistent with what we know about the ISI and its operations," said an Indian counter-terrorism official who requested anonymity. "And it's consistent with what he told the FBI and what they told us. A lot has been cross-referenced to travel, communications, other evidence."

Aspects of the Indian report of the Headley interrogation have been previously disclosed, but its significance in detailing the ISI's interaction with Lashkar has not been fully described. This article is based on that document, U.S. court papers and interviews with Western and South Asian investigators, intelligence officials and experts.

Headley's revelations have led to differing interpretations. Indian leaders and some Western experts say his account reinforces accusations that the ISI plays an active role in terrorist operations.

"For the first time you have an American talking about this agency not just being aware of, but involved in, a terrorist plot," said Sajjan Gohel of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a security consulting firm based in London. "What have the last nine years since 9/11 been about? And all the money from the U.S. taxpayers to fund and stabilize Pakistan? Is that money being used for terrorism?"

On the other hand, U.S. counter-terrorism officials do not see evidence that ISI chiefs made an "institutional, top-down decision" to attack Mumbai, the U.S. official said. Some feel that Headley's nuanced, sometimes ambiguous narrative tends to exonerate the top spymasters. For example: Headley told investigators that the ISI's director general was apparently caught off-guard by the carnage in Mumbai, the Indian report says.

"We should not assume that simply because the ISI policy is to sustain Lashkar that the leadership is aware of every detail in terms of the group's operations," said Stephen Tankel, author of the forthcoming book "Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba." "The ISI policy is not to allow Lashkar to cross certain red lines, but sometimes the interpretation by ISI handlers of what constitutes an acceptable operation is different than that of the leadership."

Between June 3 and June 9, investigators of India's National Investigation Agency questioned Headley for 34 hours in Chicago in the presence of U.S. prosecutors, FBI agents and his lawyers, the report says. He cooperated as part of a plea deal enabling him to avoid the death penalty. The Indian interrogation report offers Headley's story in his own words: the wild odyssey of a Pakistani-American businessman-turned-militant who was also an informant of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

At each step along the way, the ISI emerges as a central player.

Headley begins the account with his trip to Lahore in 2000 to visit his family home. While there, he befriended Lashkar's spiritual leader, Hafiz Saeed, who draws tens of thousands of followers to rallies.

Headley, a former heroin dealer, was on U.S. federal probation and working as a DEA informant, according to U.S. officials.

Over the next several years, Headley embraced the cleric's ideology. Between 2002 -- when Pakistan officially outlawed Lashkar -- and 2005, he did five stints at Lashkar terror camps where officers of the ISI and the Pakistani army helped provide arms, screening and training, according to the report and Western investigators. Lashkar assigned him to work with a militant chief named Sajid Mir, also known as Sajid Majid, who allegedly became a lead plotter of the Mumbai attacks. Western investigators say that Mir had close ties to the ISI and may be a former military or intelligence officer.

Throughout this period, Headley told interrogators, he saw Lashkar maintain an almost-symbiotic relationship with the ISI. The spy agency has "control over the most important operatives" of Lashkar and every chief "is handled by some ISI official," he said, according to the Indian report. An ISI brigadier general served as handler for Zaki-ur-Rehmane Lakhvi, Lashkar's military chief, who also "is close to the [Director General] of ISI," he said.

The ISI funds Lashkar and shields Saeed, the spiritual leader, from interference, Headley said.

"He is very close to ISI," Headley said of Saeed. "He is well protected."

The description conforms to what is known by foreign intelligence agencies, officials and experts said. Lashkar was born as a guerrilla force fighting against India's control of the disputed Kashmir region. In exchange for funding and direction from the ISI, the militant group has steadfastly avoided attacking the Pakistani state in contrast to al Qaeda, its longtime ally, and other groups. The ISI retains alliances to selected militant networks both because of ideological sympathy and a strategic imperative to fight Indian influence in the region, U.S. officials say.

Critics see those ties as a key source of violence and instability in the region. In a blunt speech this month in Washington, former Afghan spy chief Amrullah Saleh accused Pakistan of supporting Lashkar and also declared that the headquarters of the Taliban "are in Pakistani intelligence's basements."

Pakistani officials deny such allegations.

Headley began a direct relationship with ISI officers in January 2006 after Pakistani authorities briefly detained him for trying to smuggle arms into India, according to his account. An ISI officer named Major Samir Ali interviewed the American, then referred him to a Major Iqbal, who became his main handler in Lahore. Major Iqbal, described as fat, deep-voiced and in his mid-thirties, introduced Headley to a man identified as Lieutenant Colonel Shah, who promised Headley financial support for terrorist operations against India.

At subsequent meetings in safe houses, Major Iqbal gave Headley secret documents on India. He assigned a non-commissioned officer to give the American standard intelligence training. Headley learned techniques for detecting surveillance, developing sources and other skills, then practiced with the lower-ranking officer on the streets of Lahore. The specialized training lasted several months and continued intermittently afterward as Major Iqbal taught Headley how to use cameras and other devices for missions, the report says.

"I became close to Major Iqbal," Headley told interrogators. "The training given by this NCO under the guidance of Major Iqbal was much more scientific and effective than the trainings I did in the LeT camps."

Phone and e-mail evidence have corroborated Headley's contact with Major Iqbal and other suspected ISI officers, U.S. and Indian officials say. Major Iqbal has been detected directing intelligence and terror operations in other cases, officials say.

Because Lashkar keeps the spy agency informed about activities of its foreign militants, the arrest of Headley near the Pakistani border may have been part of a plan to recruit a promising American operative, the Indian counter-terror official said.

"I have come across previous cases of Lashkar recruits trained by ISI separate from the camp training," the Indian official said. "There was a guy from the south of India who underwent similar training. He was an attractive recruit because he was very articulate. He had connections to several militant groups and knew two or three languages."

Pakistani officials say they have not been able to identify Major Iqbal or confirm any involvement of military officers.

"It's possible people impersonate the ISI or the army," the Pakistani official said. "Uniforms have been stolen in the past for this kind of thing."

Headley said Major Iqbal gave him $25,000 to set up a front company in Mumbai as a cover while conducting reconnaissance for the attacks. Headley spent months scouting the Taj Mahal hotel and other targets for Mir and Major Iqbal, who also sent him on separate missions to gather intelligence on an atomic research center and military sites around India. Major Iqbal called Headley from a phone number with a 646 area code (one used in the New York area), the report says. This could have been a technique to conceal the origin of the calls in Pakistan and avoid eavesdropping by American and Indian intelligence agencies, experts say.

Headley told investigators that Major Iqbal contributed advice about tactical issues to the Mumbai plot: escape routes for the gunmen, setting up a safe house, hijacking an Indian vessel at sea. Headley said the major approved of Mir's decision to attack Western targets such as the Chabad House Jewish center directed by an American rabbi.

"He was very happy to know that Chabad House had been chosen as a target," Headley said.

The rabbi and his pregnant wife were killed by gunmen during the Mumbai attacks.

Headley reported separately to Iqbal and Mir, his Lashkar handler, but the two handlers coordinated with each other, the report said.

"The whole thing feels like ISI is trying to maintain plausible deniability," Faddis said, using the intelligence term for operating through an intermediary who can be disavowed. "They are running in parallel with LeT and clearly leveraging sources for their own purposes, but they are still trying to avoid being directly tied to the attack planning, most of the time."

Indian investigators say Headley's confession portrays Iqbal as a mastermind of the attacks. U.S. investigators analyze his account differently, attributing a more limited support role to the ISI officer.

In the interrogation, Headley implicated other Pakistani military men. He said a Pakistani Navy frogman helped plan the portion of the assault that involved hijacking an Indian vessel at sea, according to the report. Headley described attending a two-day meeting of plotters in Muzzafarabad in 2008 at which the guest of honor was the crew-cut, clean-shaven frogman named Abdur Rehman. He gave the Lashkar chiefs technical advice, the report says.

"They had discussed various landing options along the coast of Mumbai," Headley said. "The sea chart brought by the frogman was discussed. ... The frogman told them that the sea became rough after the month of June. ... [He] told me to check the position of the naval vessels on the Indian side so as to avoid a gunfight."

ISI officers supplied a boat for a failed first attempt to send the gunmen to Mumbai and intervened when the American's chaotic personal life got him in trouble just two months before the attack, the report says.

Headley had married a Moroccan medical student in Lahore in 2007, though he already had a Pakistani wife and a third wife in New York. The Moroccan wife quarreled with him and visited the U.S. embassy in early 2008 to warn officials that she thought her husband was involved in terrorism, according to U.S. officials.

In September, the wife also complained about Headley to "senior police officials" in Lahore, the Indian report says. Headley said Pakistani police jailed him for eight days; his account does not specify the charges. Headley's Pakistani father-in-law put up bail and "Major Iqbal also helped me [in] this case," Headley said.

The incident, which could not be independently confirmed, joins a list of a half-a-dozen missed warnings from Headley's wives and associates dating back to 2001.

The Pakistani official denied the story. Noting that Headley had worked for the DEA, he blamed U.S. officials for failing to tell Pakistan about intelligence that was shared with India in 2008 warning about a possible attack on Mumbai.

"He was not arrested in Lahore in September 2008 as he claims," the Pakistani official said. "The U.S. had intelligence reports about this plot but they were not shown to Pakistan. Perhaps with Pakistan alerted, the plots could have been avoided."

Headley said the Mumbai plot caused -- and resulted from -- conflict in the Lashkar-ISI partnership. Disillusioned militants demanding a bigger role in fighting in Afghanistan were defecting to al Qaeda and the Taliban, while chiefs of Lashkar and the ISI tried to keep the main focus on Kashmir, he said.

In response to the dangerous internal rifts, Lashkar decided on a spectacular al Qaeda-style strike on Western targets in Mumbai, and the ISI approved the shift in tactics, Headley explained.

"The ISI I believe had no ambiguity of understanding the necessity to strike India [and]... shifting and minimizing the theater of violence from the domestic soil of Pakistan," he said.

The analysis rings true, according to officials and experts.

"Lashkar's senior leaders are sometimes pulled between adherence to the ISI and their dedication to pan-Islamist jihad," Tankel said. "Meanwhile, the ISI is trying to pressure the group enough to keep it in line and not so much that it fragments. That becomes more difficult as LeT integrates further with other outfits and a segment of its members agitate for breaking free of ISI control."

Three months after the Mumbai attacks in November 2008, the ISI arrested Lakhvi, the Lashkar military chief, and six other militants. In a potentially significant revelation, Headley said Gen. Ahmed Suja Pasha, the director general of the ISI, went to see Lakhvi in custody, according to the report.

"Pasha had visited him to understand the Mumbai attack conspiracy," the report quotes Headley as saying, without further elaboration.

Pakistani officials deny that the spymaster made the jailhouse visit. U.S. and Indian officials and experts are more willing to believe the story.

Headley's language suggests that Pasha, who had become director only two months before Mumbai, was surprised by the attack or at least its dimensions. This reinforces the U.S. view that top ISI brass were not involved.

Once again, Indian officials disagree. They believe Pasha visited the jailed Lashkar chief to ensure his silence and obedience.

"I think Pasha was aware of the plot beforehand, or he is not chief of the ISI," the Indian counter-terror official said.

Headley's testimony that Lashkar bosses have high-ranking ISI handlers, if accurate, suggests that information about the plot must have circulated among senior ranks of the spy agency. Key questions center on how much ISI liaison officers to Lashkar -- in addition to Major Iqbal -- and others in the spy agency knew about the Mumbai plot, U.S. investigators say.

ISI officers certainly knew of Lashkar's increasing determination to take its terror campaign into the West, Headley said. The report describes a crucial meeting in November 2008. After almost two years maintaining a careful distance from each other, Headley's handlers from the ISI and Lashkar paid him a joint visit in Lahore, the report says.

"This is the first time Major Iqbal and Sajid came together to my home," he said. "We discussed about the Denmark project."

The project was a plot to attack a Danish newspaper that had published caricatures of the Prophet Mohamed. Mir directed and funded Headley's subsequent reconnaissance on the newspaper's offices in Denmark, according to the report and U.S. court papers. But U.S. officials have not previously mentioned Major Iqbal's involvement in the high-stakes meeting to launch an attack in the heart of Europe.

"The presence of Iqbal at a meeting about the Denmark plot is pretty seismic," Gohel said. "They take it to the next phase. Either the hierarchy was aware or there was no accountability."

Experts said Iqbal's visit alongside Mir sent a message of trust to Headley. But the extent to which the major approved of the Danish plot, and the degree to which he was acting on his own, remain unclear.

"I think this was a particularly sensitive discussion and somebody above Iqbal's pay-grade told him to sit in and be present for the conversation between Headley and Mir," Faddis said.

Major Iqbal soon cut off contact with Headley because "the Mumbai investigation was getting bigger and hotter" and a suspect had revealed "ISI cooperation" in the plot, the report says. Lashkar shelved the Denmark project, so Headley continued plotting and scouting in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe under the direction of al Qaeda, U.S. court documents say.

But Headley did not sever all links to the ISI. He remained in touch with Ali, the major who had first recruited him, until June 2009, even during trips back to the United States, he said. The report does not say whether Major Ali knew Headley was conducting reconnaissance for al Qaeda and Lashkar until his arrest in October of 2009.

Pakistan charged Lakhvi and six other militants in the Mumbai attacks, but their trial has stalled. Pakistani officials say lack of evidence has prevented them from identifying or arresting Major Iqbal, Mir and other suspected masterminds. But they insist that they want to get to the bottom of Headley's explosive allegations.

"Pakistan is considering an interrogation of Headley, making a request to the U.S.," the Pakistani official said. "We are pursuing the matter. Pakistan is committed to not allowing its soil to be used for terrorist attacks on any other country."

Raju Rajendran

Dec. 30, 2010, 10:50 a.m.

>>Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service has been accused for years of playing

They are not powerful. If they are, then they should be able to contain these terror groups that operate in Pakistan soil..

Qari Saifullah Akhtar - as reported entirely by the Pakistani press:

Dec 29, “The News” of Pakistan:

LAHORE: Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the al-Qaeda-linked ameer of the Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI), has been freed by the Punjab government under mysterious circumstances despite the fact that he is still wanted in several high-profile cases of terrorism.

His most significant target was to blow up the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant at Kundian, Punjab, by using a group of five Americans who had already been convicted by an anti-terrorism court in June 2010 on terrorism charges.


However, it is not for the first time that Qari Saifullah, believed to be a tool of the intelligence establishment, has eluded prosecution. Though his role in the Karachi suicide attack targeting the welcome procession of Benazir Bhutto could not be explored further due to an apparent lack of interest by the agencies, his previous involvement in a failed coup plot in 1995 had projected him as one of the deadliest militants who, from the establishment’s viewpoint, had gone astray. A total of 40 army officers were arrested by the Military Intelligence (MI), including four serving army officers, headed by Major General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi and Brigadier Mustansar Billa. However, Qari Saifullah was described as the ideologue of the religiously motivated khakis. The arrested army officers were accused of plotting to first take over the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi during the Corps Commanders Conference and overthrow the Benazir government to enforce Khilafat system in Pakistan.

Qari Saifullah was arrested on September 23, 1995 when the Pakistani Customs Intelligence personnel stopped a Brigadier’s staff car, which was leading a cavalcade of several vehicles, including a truck carrying arms and ammunition. Video and audio cassettes of their statements that were to be broadcast on the state run TV and radio after the coup were also discovered. The arrested comprised two groups, the inner group of plotters who attempted to topple the government and the larger group of sympathisers who extended their moral/verbal support and were more or less motivated by their plan to extend complete support to the cause of mujahedeen in Jammu Kashmir. It was further revealed that the plan included plotting to kill Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and some cabinet members including the incumbent President Asif Ali Zardari, who was a federal minister at that time.

The Field General Court Martial (FGCM) was constituted at Attock and was presided by Major General Zahid Hasan amongst four other officers (two Brigadiers and two Colonels including then Brigadier — later Lieutenant General — Javed Alam Khan. The suspects were charged under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 and Pakistan Penal Code for “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline”, “conspiring to wage war against Pakistan” and “attempting to seduce any person from his allegiance to the government”.

However, the trial proved quite easy as Qari Saifullah Akhtar decided to become approver against his fellow plotters and acted as a star prosecution witness. There was documentary evidence in the form of the tapes, arms and ammunition and none of the accused really denied the charges either. After investigations were completed, the FGCM started its proceedings on December 31, 1995 and the sentences were announced on October 30, 1996.

The coup plotters were convicted by the FGCM and awarded different sentences ranging from two to 14 years. Qari Saifullah was kept under protective custody for a few months and as soon as the second Bhutto government was dismissed in 1996, he was set free by the agencies; he went to Afghanistan and was inducted into the cabinet of the Taliban ameer, Mulla Omar, as his adviser on political affairs.

End quote

Further info

HuJI traces its origin to Jamiat Ansar-ul-Afghaneen (Companion of the Afghans) founded in February 1980 in Karachi’s Jamia Binoria (Deoband seminary) by Maulana Irshad Ahmad, Maulana Muhammad Akhtar and Maulana Abdul Samad Sial. HuJI itself was founded in circa 1984 by Qari Saifullah Akhtar (original name Maulana Muhammad Akhtar), Haji Nasrullah Langriyal (who is still in an Indian jail) and Fazlur Rehman Khalil who later broke away to form his own group, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM).

Qari Saifullah Akhtar, (‘Saifullah’ meaning ‘Sword of Allah’ was a pseudonym that Maulana Muhammad Akhtar took) is a Pashtun from Waziristan and a product of Karachi’s Jamia Binori. He became political adviser to Mullah Omar in Afghanistan and built terror training camps in Kandahar, Kabul and Khost.

Because of his closeness to Mullah Omar, his group, HuJI was originally called ‘Punjabi Taliban’. When the Taliban fell after 9/11, he first fled to South Waziristan, then to Saudi Arabia and finally to UAE from where he was arrested. He was arrested in Dubai and extradited to Pakistan on Aug 8, 2004.

The Pakistani ISI and the Generals deserve a Nuremberg style trial for crimes against humanity.

Look at the bright side:  Pakistan’s ISI is no more untrustworthy than those of our “conservatives” who entangled us with Pakistan.

Anything you learn about how either thinks applies to both, and the key to both is that their primary driver is pure self-interest; all else is a facade.

They’re all the same…Pakistan’s ISI, our “conservatives”, Iraq’s Ba’athist party, the PRC’s Central Committee…all the same.

Agnostic Muslim

Dec. 31, 2010, 5:16 p.m.

This is extremely poor journalism. Your entire story is based on the alleged accounts presented in the so called ‘Indian report based on the Headley interrogation by India’. That is hardly an unbiased and neutral source when it comes to Pakistan, given that the Indians have for years made knee-jerk allegations against Pakistan, and have a history of vilifying Pakistan and hostility and aggression towards it.

The fact that the so called ‘Indian interrogation of Headley’, and therefore a large part of your story, is concocted nonsense, is easily established by the publicly available accounts of Headley’s interrogation by US authorities. Nowhere in that account are the fantastic allegations made in the Indian report (about active ISI officers and Pakistani naval commandos) to be found.

A little less bias and objectivity when reporting on such issues that affect the image of a nation and its institutions would be in order on your part.

Agnostic Muslim, do you think the Indian interrogation occurred without US officials being present?  Do you think US officials would keep quiet if Indians made up something about Headley’s interrogation?

its time the world stops pakistan and ISI from their nefarious activities to bring peace to the world .also ISI and the pak goverment must be tried in the international court of justice

Why does it take the West about 20 years to understand what actually happens in the East ? Indians have been knowing this for the last 2 decades and been shouting at the top of the voices for some attention from the west regarding Pakistan as a terrorist state. I personally do not even understand why we bother, if we know Pakistan has a hand in it, why don’t we just go to war and destroy the terrorist camps.

The nexus between the ISI and global terrorism is news only in the West; and that too because of the foiled plot to attack Denmark. This plot to attack a Western country, and not the murderous terror played out in Mumbai where the victims were mainly Indians whose lives scarcely matter, is the reason why the West has begun to rethink its long-standing relationship with the Pakistani terror machine. However, the West will learn that carving out distinctions between terrorism inflicted on brown people and that attempted on white people is fallacy; and the genie that they nurtured for decades is out of the bottle for keeps.

Someone said that “look at the bright side”.
For indians having lost 166 lives and maimed many earning members of families that is a very difficult thing.

For Americans it just means funding more and more Paki groups. And then when it goes wrong they want to look at the bright side.

All the American public knows what pakis are and money to them goes to a bottomless pit.
The Paki generals actually loot the money. When the Paki public or politicians get suspicious they throw in Mumbai style events to make a smoke screen.

I think this state of affairs will continue as long as US has money and Pakis willing to accept it.

Indians will have to keep making body bags, a mis fortune for accepting/keeping quiet with Paki mischiefs.

Indians will never learn the lessons from Israel.

Average Indians hate pakistanis no end due to this.
Even sincere help during floods was not accepted by Paki Army and they publish conspiracy theories :)

Paki Army is what we in india call “Hijra” in india.

They do not have guts to come in the open.
trying to wedge india with its proxy set ups.
Well they can hoodwink the US but not indians.

The Floods were a good measure of Paki lawlessness. They differentiated internally while giving away Relief supplies.

Talk of Average life of a Paki then you know they deserve what they get because they never do any good to others.


as of all the comments and in perticular two of the posters,
i suggest that instead of counter arguments and perhaps blamings .. we can undertake a confirmetory action like put Pak + ISI off the civilized world and see the difference !!!

Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 11:49 a.m.


The investigation did indeed occur with US officials present, and was intended to be off the record given that Headley had entered a plea agreement with US authorities in exchange for providing information about his activities.

The information provided by Headley is a matter of public record, and in it while Headley talks about a couple of individuals who could be Army officers, there is nothing concrete and certainly nothing along the lines of the fantastic accounts published in the Indian media and in the Indian report, about ISI officers and naval commandos etc.

Secondly, since the Indian interrogation was supposed to be off the record because of Headley’s plea agreement, US authorities will not comment either way on the absurd allegations made by the Indians allegedly based on Headley’s interrogation, since that would be a violation of the plea agreement and could jeopardize the case in the US.

Again, if the Indian accounts are true, then why are they not in the Headley testimony made to US officials?

Lies and more lies and propaganda, and pro-publica has played a shameless role in advancing Indian propaganda and lies.

Agnostic Pakistani

Jan. 1, 2011, 12:56 p.m.

As a Pakistani and a devout Muslim, I can say that no one can sanctify killing of innocent people in any religion. That is the biggest mistake, the Mullah ISI nexus is making, the common man of Pakistan has no control on its government. IGood or bad, patriotic or terrorist or both, ISI must be brought under civilian rule and not under divine rule of Mullahs and omnipresent Pakistani Army.

Everything is a propaganda to Agnostic Muslim because he knows only mistrust and nothing else. If only a video recording of the control room of ISI was needed, he would have denied that. Just as they said that Osama did not carry out 9/11 and that someone else face was shown as Osama using plastic surgery.

Hello Agnostic Muslim.

I totally agree with you; all are lies and propaganda.

Let the ISI or the concerned pakistanis share the voice samples requested by Indian Home Minister and Let it be tested in laboratary owned by common by friend of both India and Pakistan.

That will decide who was behind these attacks.


Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 1:15 p.m.


When there is a clear discrepancy between the publicly available testimony provided by Headley to US authorities and the alleged Indian report (which cannot be verified since it was off the record) then how else can the discrepancy be explained?

Indians are acting as if this propublica report is some sort of damning evidence against the ISI, when all it is is a regurgitation of the propaganda in the Indian media.

Journalistic integrity and objectivity have been thrown out the window in favor of sensational headlines based on almost no evidence, and the use of obviously biased sources.

Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 1:19 p.m.


Pakistan has its demands from the Indians with regards to information and testimony related to the Mumbai attacks, and India has it’s own.

India has already argued that the individual who was heard on the tapes was Lakhvi, who is under arrest in Pakistan. I fail to therefore see how an analysis of the tapes would implicate the ISI or exonerate it, since the people on the tapes are under arrest in Pakistan anyway, and not part of the ISI or Army.

Agnostic Pakistani,

Bringing ISI under civilian control is a good and simple idea. The sooner they do the better for them.

Look at Bangladesh ! As per Pakistanin Military they are inferior creatuers; that is why they killed   million Bangladeshis. Today they are much more stable than Pakistan and they are on the path of economic development.

But for Pakistan ther is no hope at all.
Sorry for being pessimist in this matter.

Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 1:29 p.m.

To Propublica:

You should have the integrity and objectivity to point out that most of the fantastic allegations, in the alleged Indian report on the interrogation of Bradley, implicating the Pakistani military and intelligence in the Mumbai attacks, are not present in the testimony of Headley to US authorities, and that there is no way to validate the Indian report. Merely regurgitating Indian propaganda without establishing the facts or cross-checking the veracity of their claims with the existing publicly available Headley deposition to US authorities was the least you could do.

Agnostic Muslim, there is a guy called Ajmal Amir (Kasab) who was caught alive with enough evidence and witnesses, if you say that even he is Indian propaganda then I am sure I am hitting my head against a stone wall. Kashmir is a disputed territory, Mumbai is not. I hope you appreciate the difference. We saw in Indian Media how former ISI chief Hamid Gul claimed on Pakistani television that India should be grateful that we sent only 10 men and not 1000. All roads and ‘sea routes’ lead to Pakistan, denial only makes it worse and creates more conspiracy theories in a country of million conspiracies and billion conspiracy theories.  IP phones/Satellite phone traced back to Pakistan; GPS system used on boats traced back to Karachi, Yamaha boat engine bought in Pakistan. All audio recordings are available, come forward and send us the audio samples. Else, you will be accused of being a bigger propaganda than India.

Lashkar e Toiba has become a terrorist organization and day is not far when they will kill 1000 of westerners either in a biological/chemical attack or mumbai style gunman attack. Their hatred of westerners and Jews goes far beyond than securing freedom of Kashmir from India as Mumbai Chabad House attack showed.

This article is full of soft facts - while the investigation report is credible (something not directly linked in the article).

Its a known fact that ISI is behind the Mumbai attacks. The fact that India has not been able to do much about it shows the impotence of the Indian government - you dont need to attack another country to defend yourself.

Also it shows the Pakistan’s state machinery is sponsoring terrorism.

Obviously people and government are 2 different things - the Pak govt can be inefficient (which govt is not) and indirectly sponsoring terrorism via ISI, the common man on the street in Pakistan is innocent.

Its a complex fact - not the same evil that Taliban preaches, in the name of Islam.

Enough evidence exists including testimony of Ajmal Amir Amin (Kasab), his native village of Okara, his extensive training at LeT camps, BBC reporter establishing his village to prove Indian interrogators right. Headley only corroborates that evidence, if at all any Headley was ever needed. Why are LeT camps needed, what for in the heart of Pakistan 35 miles from Islamabad we hear? Is Pakistan army involved in training or deliberately turning a blind eye to those camps? Or Pakistani Govt has no control or writ 35 miles out of Islamabad? What is LeT’s role in furthering Pakistan foreign policy and objectives?

Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 1:56 p.m.

Amit Jain:

Ajmal Kasab has not offered any credible evidence implicating the ISI or PA - heck, he’s withdrawn his testimony and changed it half a dozen times already.

The only thing Ajmal kasab has provided implicates some of the people who interacted with him during his recruitment and training, and he hasn’t provided any credible evidence to support any claims of ISI/PA/PN involvement.

Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 1:58 p.m.


“ts a known fact that ISI is behind the Mumbai attacks.”

How is it a ‘known fact’ when there is still no credible evidence implicating the ISI and PA in the attacks?

You do understand the definition of ‘fact’ don’t you?

Indian histrionics and propaganda are not ‘facts’.

Agnostic Muslim,

Can you please provide the voice samples of Pakistan army Major Sajid Mir who directed the 26/11 terrorists in Mumbai over phone while they were carrying out the attacks to the FBI Lab in USA.


India says this is one of the CREDIBLE EVIDENCES

The World wants to know the truth whether all these are facts of fiction.

Agnostic Muslim : About the “known fact”.

This is not a murder mystery. All roads, all signals point to ISI. You are welcome to disregard it.  Certainly I am not in it for the propaganda.

International terrorism cases dont throw up facts so readily when we talk of collaboration across borders between the ISI and their LeT agents.

I dont think India is coming out of this “shining”. But people around the world are waking up to Pakistan’s ISI ‘s richly deserved reputation, on the other hand.

ISI is not the pakistani people - let me be clear.
Nothing can be proven on a forum like this, or anywhere else.  But if a person or rather a government (rather ISI) has a pattern of repeated actions - sooner or later that becomes known in public. Reputations are made on that basis of long term patterns.

I always maintain that Indian Islam, Pakistani Islam is the one that can prove to the world the beauty of that religion.  But my friend, government and people are 2 very separate things. And when a government is the puppet of an intelligence agency forget about progress.

All intelligence agencies RAW, CIA, ISI are evil by definition.. The difference is do you want your country ruled by an Intelligence agency or politicians.?

Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 2:37 p.m.


The voice samples implicate Lakhvi and one other gentleman who are already under arrest in Pakistan - how exactly then does the provision of voice samples constitute some sort of evidence against the ISI/PA?

India itself claimed that the person on the other end of the phone line was ‘Lakhvi’ and Kasab reportedly confirmed that. Lakhvi is under arrest in Pakistan, so what will voice samples provided to India accomplish?

They are only useful in a Pakistani court for the prosecution against Lakhvi and his associate.

Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 2:43 p.m.


So basically the central point of your long rant was that there is no evidence implicating the ISI or Pakistan Army in the Mumbai attacks, and you only have a ‘conspiracy theory’ to support your allegations.

Don’t forget that the US has supported, and killed, millions more people than Pakistan ever has through support for proxies. US supported proxies committed a genocide of the indigenous population in Guatemala. US supported proxies and dictators committed massacres and atrocities galore in Latin America - from the Samozas in Nicaragua to the dictators of Chile and Argentina - not to mention the hundreds of thousands dead in Asian conflicts.

India herself supported terrorists in East Pakistan, that committed a genocide of the non-Bengali population there,just as it was responsible for the creation of the LTTE in Sri Lanka, that caused hundreds of thousands to be killed.

So by your logic, one can extrapolate from past American and Indian actions supporting terrorist proxies and easily come to the conclusion that America and India are in fact behind the TTP and Baluch terrorists in Pakistan.

Agnostic Muslim : “Rant” - I thought you were the one ranting ...

You can twist and extrapolate based on facts, but not on mere opinions - because what I posted are merely my opinions and nothing more… My opinions have nothing going for them, except the vast majority happens to share them.

You have an interesting Handle / UserId though… Looks like you’re trying to prove a point with your ID?

Hey what crap are you discussing. The fact is that:-

1. There are no terrorists in Pakistan..
2. There is no Taliban LeT or any other terrorist organisations.
3. All Madarsa and other organisations are only social workers.
4. There are no anti India speeches done.
5. There is no Anti India propaganda done in PTV
6. Americans are killing civilians in missile in drone attacks. there are no militants..
7. world histrionics and propaganda about terrorists and ISI’s involvement is false..
8. I am a common man from pakistan and still I can argue here that ISI is pure as allah pak!

Any Takers?

Not every Pakistani is a terrorist. But evey Terrorist has a PAKISTANI connection

thugs navigated 1500 km distance from karachi to mumbai. it beyond any know terriorist afghan/kashmir organisation capablities. it obvious that it happend with help with expert inside pakistan military

Agnostic Muslim:

If the US interrogators were going to ask exactly the same questions as the Indian ones, there was no need for Indians to interrogate Headley.

The specific concerns, the background information and context in which the two teams interrogated Headley are different.

In any case, the Pakistani modus operandi is clear, which is deny, deny, deny, admit.  E.g., from 1999 to about a few weeks ago, it was “No Pakistani armed forces were involved in Kargil”.  Then we see the awards with army ranks and all, on the Pakistani army website for army personnel “martyred” during the Kargil fight.

The world’s opinion of Pakistan is built from **many** such episodes over the years, and not just one ProPublica report. 

Enjoy that reputation, it is hard-earned.

Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 6:18 p.m.

That’s the problem, when the Western media joins in the fray of promoting ‘opinion’ instead of facts, and pen articles based on biased sources without verification, then of course opinion is going to be poisoned. Lets not forget that this same media promoted the case for Iraqi WMD’s with such gusto that they were able to poison the minds of most Americans in favor of the war- the case against Pakistan has even less evidence suporting it than there was against Iraq.

Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 6:23 p.m.


The fact that they traveled from the coast of Pakistan to Mumbai means nothing - most of the fishermen in the region could probably do that without the GPS (widely available) that the Mumbai attackers used - not to mention the hundreds of thousands of active and retired civilian and military sailors both countries possess. To make a case for institutional PA/ISI support on the basis of the journey is just nonsensical.

Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 6:30 p.m.


The context of the interrogations and the questions asked could not have possibly been different enough to solicit the discrepancies between Headley’s testimony to US authorities and Indian authorities. Headley provides details about the people he interacted with in his testimony to US authorities, and while there is some suspicion that a couple might be serving or retired Army officers, Headley is unable to provide either rank or complete names to assist in identification. There is no way Headley went from that to the alleged details concocted in the Indian report and shamelessley parroted by propublica without verification.

Arthur - To your comment “Not every pakistani is a terrorist”—

I think thats unfair and harsh. In Pakistan the common man goes about his business of life, just like an American, or an Indian, or as a citizen anywhere.

Its important to separate people from state actors such as Pakistani Military, or ISI. The ISI and military hold everyone of their own citizens hostage.

Given the Taliban issue, the Afghan issue - can friends and neighbors help Pakistan make a transition to a real civil rule, where these uniformed traitors cannot blackmail their own nation?

India has been hurt, maimed and bled due to the cancer within Pakistan. Kayani (the great patriot) will wave the flag of Indian threat to continue the blackmail.

The only fault of the Pakistani citizenry is in believing that India & the world is responsible for that cancer. You see, because they are pure.

Agnostic Muslim

Jan. 1, 2011, 8:34 p.m.


Yet more (flawed) psycho babble about Pakistan and Pakistanis does not change the fact that there is no credible evidence implicating the ISI or PA in the Mumbai attacks, and that the discrepancy between the statements made by Headley to US authorities and Indian authorities clearly points to the Indians being up to their usual tricks of propagating lies to malign Pakistan.

Lets not also forget that India has played its own role in ‘hurting, maiming and bleeding’ its neighbors - whether through supporting terrorists and insurgents that engaged in the genocide of non-Bengalis in East Pakistan, and then invading it to break it off, or through supporting terrorists in Baluchistan, or through supporting Tamil terrorists in Sri Lanka through creating, funding and training the LTTE.

The only fault of Indian citizens is to shroud themselves in this cocoon of denial and block out the sins of their own nation against the people of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Kashmir, and pretend as if they are blameless and then parrot the absurd lie of ‘India has never been an aggressor against anyone’.

Agnostic Muslim -

Change the first word in your ID - and it fits the stereotype that others have of your people.

Namely - “Brainwashed Muslim” or “Militant Muslim” or “TakingIslamTooSeriously Muslim”—It will suit your line of argument better.

Can you say a few sentences in your dialect to your brothers or relatives, without uttering the word Inshallah at the end of each sentence ? - then your agnosticism will be an apt user-id.

Lakhvi and Hafeez Sayeed are creation of Pakistan’s ISI, without ISI they will starve to death. They are terrorists hiding behind charity organizations, in a nation where all institutions have collapsed and only Islamists can take on the corrupt politico feudal lords on behalf of the common people. Jamaat ud dawa did a good job by helping needy during Pakistan floods but LeT its hidden arm killed 200 innocent people with women and children to prove their brutality and barbarism.

This is great reporting by ProPublica. Thank you very much. However, the underlying refrain in this and related stories is a puzzlement at why the ample evidence of state-sponsored terrorism emanating from Pakistan were not followed upon. The answer is rather simple; so long as the US believed that the terror was aimed at India and Indians, it couldn’t be bothered. Pakistan was a useful ally during the Cold War and our spooks and military secretly admired the ruthless and warmongering Pakistanis. Pre-9-11 they were, after all, not all that different from the many right-wing death squads that we always had an affinity for. This fondness is apparent even today in the manner that we continue to lavish billions to a rogue military which is actively involved in killing and maiming our troops in Afghanistan.

Death Sentence to Lakhvi will prove sincerity of Pakistan’s judiciary and its govt, they are all on the borderline of credibility. Kasab the lone survivor, the talking parrot has openly identified Lakhvi. Lakhvi has no defense except the Armour of ISI.

Who trained LeT in navy tactics? Taliban are a landlocked terrorist group, the terrorist who entered India were master swimmers and divers. Surely, one govt’s navy division. Such intense training cannot be given without army/navy background. And why choose Mumbai instead of daily attacks in Kashmir. Can Lakhvi take that decision, do the multi-million dollar planning without army support? Surely, the aim was to bring India’s financial capital to its knees with jealousy of its economic growth, who else but Pakistan establishment.

Acceptance and Joy

Jan. 2, 2011, 10:16 a.m.

I don’t believe anything said by any “intelligence” agency, police military and other figures in place of authority. I never forget the story on the Guardian of Americans dressed as Iraq men, caught doing terrorist acts. Why are you all so naive to think that what is reported here is actually the truth?

What can we verify? Nothing.

Everything has become a construct, including how we believe crap that has nothing to do with reality. Reality is : government lie, agencies lie and we build our reactions on a immense pile of lies.

Agnostic Muslim is a Pakistan ISI agent who believes in Al Taqiya (Deception) to be carried out against non-Muslims as per Quran verse 3:28. Excellent disinformation campaign by him proves he is a real Muslim, Mumin (A believer). There is no shadow of doubt that Pak Army ordered ISI to carry out this terror attack. Names like LET and Deccan Mujahedeen were used to mislead the public about the origin of the attack. Pak Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani was in charge of 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai and he should be charged with mass murder.

For those of you harping on the supposed difference between what Headley told US authorities and what he told Indian investigators, let me point out the US cable recently published by Wikileaks which talks of American discomfiture and displeasure about the revelations he made about ISI’s link with the LeT terroist plot on Mumbai. It is not just Pakstan. The US too has been ‘double crossing’ the world for far too long.

==> Agnostic Muslim



“The voice samples implicate Lakhvi ” ==> I am not talking about Lakhvi. I am talking about Major Sajid Mir, from Pakistan Army.

India also claimed it was Major Sajid Mir from Pakistan Army who ordered the killing of Jewish Old lady Norma Rabinovich and who directed other operations.

“so what will voice samples provided to India accomplish?” ==> Again, PLEASE DONT PROVIDE ANY SAMPLES TO INDIA; SEND IT TO FBI LAB, USA, MI6, French and German Intelligence agencies. These Govts are publicly scolidng your government and agenceis.

“They are only useful in a Pakistani court…..” ===> The objective is not to punish Lakhvi, but to clear Pakistan’s name.


A small step in this regard will result in a giant leap in Pakistan’s credibility.

A broken fence between two neighbors can be easily fixed when the neighbors are on frendly terms.
But if the broken fence is and has been for the last 60 years, THE source of revenue for one powerful member of the family, then why would that member want the fence fixed.
That member will procreate, mentor and support offsprings that wiil ensure the fence is never fixed.

All Pakistanis may not be terrorists but all terrorists do have Pakistani connections as proven again and again.

Let us examine some facts:
1. Nobody forced Pakistani government to facilitate relocation of Osama bin Laden from Sudan to Afghanistan in 1996. Benazir Bhutto’s democratic government of Pakistan chose to do so of its own free will.
2. As Sandy Berger, Clinton’s national security advisor told 9/11 Commission in 2004, Pakistani Army was the midwife of Taliban. UN report on Bhutto killing released on 4/15/10 confirmed this fact when it noted that “The PAKISTANI MILITARY ORGANIZED AND SUPPORTED THE TALIBAN TO TAKE CONTROL OF AFGHANISTAN IN 1996“. So in a way, Pakistani government was in charge of Afghanistan when 9/11 attacks were carried out and hence Pakistani government was responsible for those attacks.
3. Pakistani ISI Director General Mahmud Ahmad had asked Omar Sheikh (the kidnapper of Daniel Pearl) to send $100,000 from a Dubai bank account to Mohammed Atta (the lead 9/11 hijacker) one year before those attacks. Mohammad Atta used that $100,000 for flight training, living expenses and to purchase flight tickets on the day of 9/11 attacks in US and returned unspent $25,000 back to same Dubai account. Musharraf was forced to retire ISI director General Mahmud Ahmad after Wall Street Journal exposed General Ahmad as the chief financier of 9/11 attacks. Pakistani ISI was heavily involved in planning of 9/11 attacks as corroborated by former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham.
4. Ex-CIA official Bruce Riedel said in an interview on 1/29/2009 that ‘‘In Pakistan, the jihadist Frankenstein monster that was created by the Pakistani army and the Pakistani intelligence service, is now increasingly turning on its creators. It’s trying to take over the laboratory.’’ Pakistani Army and Intelligence Service (ISI) chose to create this ‘jihadist Frankenstein monster’ with full blessings and financing by Pakistan’s democratic governments in 1990s.
5. Declassified DIA Washington D.C., “IIR (intelligence Information Report) Pakistan Involvement in Afghanistan,” dated November 7, 1996 states how “Pakistan’s ISI is heavily involved in Afghanistan,” and also details different roles various ISI officers play in Afghanistan. Stating that Pakistan uses sizable numbers of its Pashtun-based Frontier Corps in Taliban-run operations in Afghanistan, the document clarifies that, “these Frontier Corps elements are utilized in command and control; training; and when necessary combat“.
6. Declassified U.S. Department of State, Cable “Pakistan Support for Taliban” from Islamabad dated Sept. 26, 2000 states that “while Pakistani support for the Taliban has been long-standing, the magnitude of recent support is unprecedented.” In response Washington orders the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to immediately confront Pakistani officials on the issue and to advise Islamabad that the U.S. has “seen reports that Pakistan is providing the Taliban with materiel, fuel, funding, technical assistance and military advisors. [The Department] also understand[s] that large numbers of Pakistani nationals have recently moved into Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban, apparently with the tacit acquiescence of the Pakistani government.” Additional reports indicate that direct Pakistani involvement in Taliban military operations has increased.
7. Witness how Musharraf fooled Bush by pretending to join US fight against terrorism while sheltering Mullah Mohammed Omar’s QST terror network in Baluchistan and Haqqani’s HQN terror network in Waziristan, while milking Uncle Sam in the process.
8. ‘Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) based in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, is the No. 1 threat to US/NATO mission in Afghanistan. At the operational level, the Quetta Shura conducts a formal campaign review each winter, after which Mullah Mohammed Omar (Afghan Taliban Chief) announces his guidance and intent for the coming year‘ as General McChrystal narrated in his August, 2009 report to President Obama. But US can not even use its drones to destroy QST that is causing daily deaths of US/NATO soldiers in Afghanistan since 2002!

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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