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LeT cell in Mumbai played crucial role in Mumbai attacks: BBC

By H S Rao in London
June 28, 2009 22:02 IST
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Pakistan-based terrorist leaders who conveyed precise police positions to the 26/11 attackers may have been guided by LeT spotters on the ground in Mumbai rather than by live television coverage, a British Broadcasting Corporation investigative report claimed on Sunday. The report, to be shown on BBC Television on Monday night, said that leaders of the ten terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26 were directing events minute-by-minute on mobile phones, routing all calls over the internet.

The BBC Newsnight correspondent, Richard Watson, who carried out the investigation said "it is astonishingly clear from these calls that the terrorist leaders, said to be in Pakistan, knew every move the police were making as the hostage crisis unfolded." But these instructions seem remarkably precise for that. "I know the kind of live-shots used in these situations and they would be unlikely to yield that kind of detail. It is far more likely that they had spotters on the ground who were feeding back information to their leaders about the police movements," Watson said. If this is true, then it means a LeT call in Mumbai played a crucial role in the attacks which is still undiscovered, Watson wrote, admitting that the possibility of local Muslim involvement would be politically damaging for India. 

According to the report, Indian intelligence intercepts of the calls, some of which were obtained by the producers of the BBC programme, are crucial to the police investigation, especially in relation to the attack against the Jewish centre at Nariman House. Watson quoted an exchange translated from the tape: "Terrorist in Nariman House) "Is there anyone in our building?" (Terrorist Controller) "Look at the terrace at the back - the police are there. There's a building under construction, they're on top of that building and there's a lot of police on the main road. You know the Merchant House? They're sitting behind the protruding rear wall and firing shells. You talk to them and God willing they'll leave." Watson countered the Mumbai police view that the terrorist leaders were unable to pinpoint precise police positions by carefully monitoring live Indian television coverage of the attacks.

According to the BBC, the view was rejected by Additional Commissioner of Police Deven Bharti, who, asked if there were logisticians who were yet to be caught said: "No, I don't think so." Bharti said "This investigation has reached a logical conclusion and we have verified and cross-checked each and every fact available to us. This was a totally independent module of ten terrorists who were launched from the territorial limits of Pakistan like a commando group."

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H S Rao in London
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