`Initial plans for 26/11 involved only 2 fidayeen`
Washington: Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) had been gathering surveillance material for an attack against the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai since 2006 and the initial plans involved one or two fidayeen, according to a US scholar.
Initial plans called for one or two fidayeen to storm an annual software conference held there and then to flee the country, writes Stephen Tankel, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank.
"The surging jihad in Afghanistan, and eruption of violence in the tribal areas led to fierce ideological debates among militant outfits regarding where to focus their violence," he writes citing David Headley, the Pakistani-American operative who conducted surveillance for the 2008 attacks.
Headley described how the aggression and commitment of those fighting in Afghanistan influenced some fighters to leave Kashmir-centric groups like LeT, which he believed contributed to LeT`s decision to "consider a spectacular terrorist strike in India", Tankel writes.
"Who initially floated the idea of upping the ante is uncertain, but between early 2008 and the summer of that year the planned one- or two-person operation expanded into a 10-person assault against multiple targets," he wrote.
Several of those targets were added as late as the summer - a month before the attacks were originally scheduled to occur, writes Tankel, who is also author of the forthcoming book "Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Toiba".
One of them was the Chabad House, chosen because of the credibility that would come from killing Israeli and American Jews, the most common visitors.
According to Headley, every major LeT operative had an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) handler and all of the group`s major operations were conducted in coordination with these officers, Tankel notes.
His handler was allegedly one Maj. Iqbal, who Headley said provided approximately $25,000 for surveillance trips to India and, Headley believes, additional funding for a boat that sank during an aborted attempt to strike Mumbai in September 2008.
"If Headley is to be believed and every major LeT member had an ISI handler, then it is reasonable to assume others in the ISI were also aware of the operational details given that a number of the group`s senior leaders were involved in planning the attacks," Tankel concludes.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Dadri lynching: Is Kejriwal spreading poison between Hindus and Muslims?
- Muslims asked to sprinkle cow urine on body in order to be part of Garba festivities
- Dadri lynching: Rahul Gandhi reaches Dadri, meets victim Iqlakh's family
- Dadri lynching: Prime accused's father refutes allegations; says son is innocent
- Congress workers blow up pigeons by blasting them inside rockets
- Sonia begins Bihar polls campaining; accuses PM Modi of 'narrow-mindedness'
- Indrani Mukerjea's FSL report rules out drug overdose, says no chemicals found in stomach wash
- Lynching case in Dadri: Rahul meets victim Iqlakh's family, says touched by people's desire to maintain harmony
- Indrani Mukerjea regains consciousness, out of danger, says hospital
- Russia bombs ISIS headquarters in Syria, video goes viral on internet - Watch