The 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks were launched by Al Qaeda with the help of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, with an objective of precipitating a war between India and Pakistan that would force the latter to shift its troops from the tribal areas to the eastern border, slain Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad’s posthumously released book has revealed.
Shahzad was killed days before his book, Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11, was released.
The book is based on Shahzad’s intimate contacts within the network of terrorists aligned with Al Qaeda and seeks to prove that terror associated with the Taliban is nothing but Al Qaeda acting through its minions, Newsweek reported.
The book, described as a bombshell, makes no bones about the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Pakistan’s ‘asset’ against India, as an offshoot.
It was not Taiba that attacked Mumbai in 2008, but Al Qaeda with the help of Taiba, about which Inter-Services Intelligence did not know — or at least the ISI leadership did not, the report said.
The objective was to precipitate a Pakistan-India war that would force Pakistan to move its troops out of the tribal areas and redeploy them on the eastern border.
After the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Baitullah Mehsud and Fazlullah declared they would fight India together with the Pakistan Army, an offer that, the book says, was welcomed by ISI chief General Shuja Pasha.
The man who did this was Ilyas Kashmiri, Pakistan’s Kashmir related ‘asset’, who was once in Taiba, then in Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and finally in Al Qaeda as its top local commander.
The man who handled the nitty-gritty was former Major Haroon Ashiq who had defected to Al Qaeda emulating his brother Captain Khurram, who died fighting the Americans in Helmand.
Some sections of the book are more shocking, the report said, noting that Shahzad reveals that the Haqqani network is a part of the Al Qaeda empire in Pakistan while posing as an ‘asset’ of the Pakistan Army.
If the Pakistani Taliban are a pain in the neck of their former patron, they are also firmly ensconced inside the Haqqani network, said the report, adding that what the book ends up presenting is a statement of blurred boundaries between terror and governance in Pakistan.