Who were the 26/11 handlers???
A very big question from the Mumbai terrorist attack...
Despite all the twists in the 26/11 trial, security experts believe that one of the biggest mysteries is the identity of Pakistan-based handlers who guided each step of the terrorists during the terror attack.
Under intense international pressure Pakistan has arrested and charged seven men for conspiracy behind the attack. This includes LeT operations chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi who was one of the chief architects of the attack.
‘‘Yet to date no one knows who the handlers were, said Sajjan Gohel, Director for International Security at London-based Asia Pacific Foundation (APF), an intelligence and security think tank.
‘‘Mumbai was a unique attack because terrorism was imported into the city. It was an attack by remote control,’’ said Gohel. Gohel, who has had access to transcripts of phone conversations between the gunmen in Mumbai and their handlers in Pakistan, said there was a marked difference between the background of the footsoldiers carrying out the killings and the men who were dictating them. ‘‘The gunmen are struck by the grandeur of hotels they entered. They were amazed by the large mirrors and stopped to look at them. The handlers in fact had to goad them to get a move on and remind them that they were in the middle of an attack,’’ Gohel said.
In sharp contrast, the handlers spoke good English and were well-versed in military tactics. They were clearly men with a formal military background. However, till date their identities have not been established. The names the terrorists used to address them figure on the list of 35 wanted accused in the chargesheet prepared by Indian investigators but no one really knows who they are. After the arrest of David Coleman Headley by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US, there was speculation that he was one of the handlers. India has asked for his voice samples so that it could be determined through techniques like voice spectrography if his voice is their on the tapes.
Intelligence officials, however, believe that the handlers are members of Pakistani army or ISI. This would mean that they are a part of the establishment itself. That also explains why their identities remain a complete mystery till date despite the fact that they were the ones who guided the carnage in Mumbai in real time.
‘‘Pakistanis know who they are but will not go after them because it will expose the link between international terrorism and the Pakistani state. Thus they have just decided to keep mum and do nothing about it,’’ said a serving Indian intelligence officer.