Friday, April 15, 2011

26/11 case: Will India become party to lawsuit in US against ISI?

NEW DELHI: Intending to nail Pakistan's lie over the role of ISI in the Mumbai terror attack, India is mulling the option of becoming 'party' to the lawsuit filed in a US court last year by relatives of two Americans -- who died in the 26/11 carnage – against top officials of the Pakistani intelligence agency and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists. 

A top government official said: "India may become party to the lawsuit and provide evidence to theNew York court. The matter can be taken up at the government-to-government level as well in support of the lawsuit under existing Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between India and US." 

The lawsuit, filed in November last year by relatives of Rabbi Gavriel Noah Holtzberg and his wife Rivka who were killed by Lashkar terrorists at Chabad House in Mumbai in November 2008, has accused the ISI of aiding and abetting LeT in killing 166 people, including six American citizens.

It said: "The ISI has long nurtured and used international terrorist groups, including the LeT, to accomplish its goals and has provided material support to the LeT and other international terrorist groups." The lawsuit referred to the disclosure made by American-Pakistani Lashkar terrorist David Coleman Headley and blamed top ISI officials for providing "critical planning, material support, control and coordination of the attacks (2611)". 

The New York court had subsequently issued summons to senior ISI officials including its chief, Major General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, and LeT leaders Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi. Though the lawsuit is now stuck in procedures after the Pakistan government decided to defend its spy agency and got 'waiver' for Pasha's visit to the US, India appears to be keen on following the matter in whatever way it can to expose the ISI. 

Officials here do not rule out the possibility of some back-channel efforts to help the petitioners which may also become a starting point for people of other countries whose citizens were killed by the Lashkar terrorists. 

Besides Indians, 28 foreign nationals including citizens of France, UK, Germany, USA, Singapore,Israel, Canada, Australia and Japan were gunned down by the terrorists during the three-day carnage in Mumbai. 

An official said: "The latest disclosure made by Headley's accomplice Tahawwur Hussain Rana that he acted at the behest of the Pakistan government and ISI has strengthened India's position." Although Rana may not get relief from the US court for himself on this ground, his account, officials here believe, will certainly open a debate when the trial against him begins in the Chicagocourt on May 16.

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