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Pressure on Pakistan mounts; U.S. intercedes

Burned-out interiors on the top floors of the Taj Mahal Hotel, where the terror attacks in Mumbai finally ended on Saturday, are shown in a picture taken by the Mumbai Fire Brigade.

Associated Press/Mumbai Fire Brigade

Burned-out interiors on the top floors of the Taj Mahal Hotel, where the terror attacks in Mumbai finally ended on Saturday, are shown in a picture taken by the Mumbai Fire Brigade.

WASHINGTON — American and Indian authorities said Tuesday there was now little doubt that militants from inside Pakistan had carried out the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Indian officials, saying they had identified three to four masterminds of the deadly assault, stepped up pressure on Pakistan to act against the perpetrators of one of the worst terror attacks in India's history.

The emerging consensus came as the Bush administration increased its diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan over the attacks, dispatching the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, to the region. He will join Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was scheduled to arrive in India today.

Both officials are expected to issue stern warnings to the government of Pakistan to crack down on militant groups in Kashmir and the tribal areas along the border of Afghanistan, top American aides said.

Two senior American officials said Tuesday that the United States had warned India in mid October of possible terrorist attacks against "touristy areas frequented by Westerners" in Mumbai but that the information was not specific. Nonetheless, the officials said, the warning echoed other general alerts this year by India's intelligence agency, raising questions about the adequacy of India's counterterrorism measures.

Details about the attack planners also became clearer on Tuesday. The only gunman captured by the police told his interrogators that one of main plotters was a fugitive known to Indian authorities: Yusuf Muzammil, a leader of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to a senior Indian police official and a Western official.

The group, though officially banned and once focused primarily on Indian claims to disputed Kashmir, maintains its leadership in Pakistan and is believed to have moved its militant networks to Pakistan's tribal areas.

Muzammil, who is the right-hand man to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakvhi, the operational commander of the group, talked by satellite phone to the attackers from Pakistan when the gunmen were in the Taj and Oberoi hotels, the Western official said.

The mounting evidence increased the pressure on the United States to find a way to resolve the tensions between Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed neighbors. The officials said there was still no evidence that Pakistan's government had a hand in the operation, although investigators were still searching for clues of outside support for the terrorists.

There's very little doubt that Lashkar-e-Taiba is responsible, but beyond that more information is needed, said a senior American official, who was briefed on the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity, citing its continuing nature.

Terror in digital age: india Attackers were high-tech

The heavily armed attackers who set out for Mumbai by sea navigated with GPS equipment, according to investigators. They carried BlackBerries, CDs holding high-resolution satellite images, and multiple cell phones with switchable SIM cards that would be hard to track. They spoke by satellite phone.

Emerging details about the 60-hour siege of Mumbai suggests the attackers made sophisticated use of high technology in planning and carrying out the assault that killed at least 173 people and wounded more than 300. The flood of information on the attacks — on TV, cell phones, the Internet — was exploited by the assailants to direct fire and cover their origins.

"Both sides used technology. The terrorists would not have been able to carry out these attacks had it not been for technology. They were not sailors, but they were able to use sophisticated GPS navigation tools and detailed maps to sail from Karachi to Mumbai," said G. Parthasarathy, a security expert in New Delhi. "The public also sent text messages to relatives trapped in hotels and used the Internet."

When the gunmen called to their leaders, they used satellite phones calling voice-over-Internet-protocol phone numbers, making it harder to trace, said terrorism expert Praveen Swami. Once on the scene, they used hostages' cell phones to stay in contact with one another.Washington Post

Pressure on Pakistan mounts; U.S. intercedes 12/02/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 10:48am]
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