India discloses hometowns, names of alleged Mumbai killers

Christian Science MonitorDecember 9, 2008 

NEW DELHI — Indian officials released the names and hometowns of all 10 suspected Mumbai attackers Tuesday, saying it has pinpointed them even to individual postal codes within Pakistan.

With the disclosure, India is continuing to ratchet up pressure on Pakistan, apparently hoping that strong evidence will compel the international community to take a hard line against its neighbor.

Officials within Pakistan, including President Asif Ali Zardari, had previously cast doubt on India's assertions that the terrorists who ran amok in Mumbai for three days last month were Pakistani. Tuesday's announcement, including photos of nine of the 10, is intended to prove Indian claims beyond cavil.

"There's no way you can raise (pressure) unless you prove these guys were from there," says Devesh Kapur of the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania.

Chief police investigator Rakesh Maria did not explain how he uncovered the identity of the attackers, though one of the militants survived and has been interrogated.

All the suspects were between 20 and 28 years old, Mr. Maria said, and hailed from the Pakistani heartland of Punjab. The poor, rural areas of Punjab are fertile recruiting ground for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant outfit linked to the attacks by US and Indian intelligence. Pakistan took the operational commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba into custody Sunday.

Pakistani officials have complained that India has not yet shared sufficient intelligence, while leaks to the media have stoked anti-Pakistan sentiment.

"The Indian allegations have to be supported by verifiable evidence, and the US needs to help verify the evidence," writes Shuja Nawaz, author of "Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within," in an e-mail.

"But it is better that these exchanges be done quietly rather than in the public spotlight," he adds.

Pakistan points to ongoing operations as evidence that it will act on credible intelligence. In addition to detaining senior Lashkar-e-Taiba leader, Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, it has also arrested Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of another militant group - Jaish-e-Mohammed - accused of attacking the Indian Parliament in 2001.

Yet India may be skeptical. After the 2001 attack, Pakistan rounded up militants and outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, but their leaders were later freed and their organizations allowed to regroup.

Those arrested will not be extradited to India, said Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan's foreign minister.

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