India accuses Pakistani Army officer of involvement in Mumbai attacks(Read article summary)
The colonel, accused of facilitating communications between the attackers and handlers in Pakistan, was named along with 34 other suspects.
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Indian police have named a serving colonel of the Pakistani Army in connection with the November Mumbai (Bombay) attacks, in which 164 people were killed. The colonel has been accused of facilitating communications between the attackers and their handlers in Pakistan using "voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)." A charge sheet filed by the Mumbai police on Wednesday lists the colonel as one of 35 suspects wanted in connection with the attacks. Investigations by the Indian authorities also hint at the involvement of another Pakistani Army official and a government employee in the attacks.
According to The Guardian, VoIP calls made by the attackers were traced to the officer, who is wanted for questioning by the Indian authorities.
An 11,509-page charge sheet filed by the Mumbai police yesterday named the officer as Colonel Sadatullah, the highest-ranked Pakistani to be implicated in the three-day siege of two luxury hotels and other sites that strained tensions between the two neighbours.
Sadatullah is a colonel in the special communications organisation (SCO), a telecommunications agency of the Pakistani government run by officers from the army's signal corps....
Indian investigators say the calls were made using voice over internet protocol, or VoIP, a cheap way of making international calls. They were traced to an IP address created with CallPhonex, a VoIP service provider based in New Jersey, in the US. Payments for the calls were made by opening an account in the name of Kharak Singh, from India.
However, payments to the account were made by wire transfer through MoneyGram and Western Union Money Transfer by two Pakistani nationals, Javed Iqbal and Mohammed Ishtiaq. The two used the email address ID firstname.lastname@example.org to communicate with CallPhonex. Indian investigators say there was contact between this email address and Sadatullah's official email, email@example.com, which police say is the email service for all SCO officers.
The Mumbai-based daily The Times of India explains that "the SCO ... stands for Special Communications Organization, a telecommunications agency of the Pakistani government which is run by officers from the Army's signals corps and operates only in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the conflict-wracked Northern Areas."
Police also suspect the involvement of another army officer, who is referred to only as the "major general" in telephone calls between the ten Islamist gunmen who carried out the attacks and their alleged handlers in Pakistan, Mr [Rakesh] Mariah [the head of the Mumbai police crime branch] added.
The Mumbai Police Cyber Crime Cell tracked the two officials – Colonel R. Saadat Ullah and Khurram Shazad – during their search for Kharak Singh, the name used to open a VoIP account with Callphonex, a US-based service provider. The account was opened on October 21 and 22, 2008. On October 27, an initial payment of $250 was wired to the account via Moneygram. The moneygram agent, Paracha International Exchange, was traced to Lahore....
During investigation, it came to light that the communication with Callphonex was made using the e-mail ID firstname.lastname@example.org. The ID was accessed from at least 10 Internet Protocol addresses. It is from one of these that the cell traced the location of Saadat Ullah and Shazad.
In response to these allegations, the Pakistani Army minimized its connection to the Mumbai attacks, reports The Times of India.
However, the Pakistan army downplayed its link to the Mumbai terror carnage and said that the chargesheet filed on Wednesday is very vague on the link.
Speaking to TIMES NOW, Brigadier Azmat Ali, Pak army spokesperson said, "[The] chargesheet does not accurately identify armyman allegedly linked to 26/11. There are many Colonel Sadatullahs in the Pakistan army. We are trying to find out if this is true or it is all a media speculation."
On Wednesday, Indian police charged Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab, the lone surviving gunman of the Mumbai attacks, along with two Indian nationals, with "waging war" against India, reports the BBC. All three could face the death penalty.
The BBC report adds, however, that the Pakistani Army has not been directly implicated in the Mumbai attacks.
[The charge sheet] does not establish any connection to the underworld of Mumbai nor does it mention any Inter-Services Intelligence (Pakistan intelligence agency) or Pakistani army officials.
As Mr. Qasab's trial begins, the Pakistani authorities have "raised the prospect that Indian authorities could have padded evidence to buttress its claims that Pakistani nationals were involved in the attacks," reports the Indian daily, The Hindu.
Last month, Islamabad submitted a 30-point questionnaire to New Delhi, in response to a formal dossier of evidence handed over by India. For the most part, the questionnaire sought evidence that will be needed for a possible criminal trial of Lashkar terrorists in that country.
But, government sources told The Hindu, several elements of the questionnaire have caused disquiet – among them, thinly-veiled insinuations that evidence was tampered with and allegations that the role of Indian nationals in facilitating the attack were being glossed over.