Mumbai: The gunmen who attacked Mumbai took orders from the operations chief of a Pakistani militant group who was designated a terrorist by the United States in May, Indian security officials said on Thursday.
The lone surviving gunman told his interrogators he and the other nine attackers were in contact with Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, whom the United States says is the operations chief of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group.
LeT made its name fighting Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region and is on US, UN and Indian terrorist lists. It has in the past had links with Pakistani intelligence.
India blames LeT for 2006 bombings on Mumbai trains, and a 2001 attack on India's parliament that fuelled tension that pushed India and Pakistan to the brink of a fourth war.
Gunman Azam Amir Kasav told his interrogators they spoke to Lakhvi and other LeT leaders during their boat journey to Mumbai and also while they battled commandos inside two Mumbai hotels, where most of the 171 people who died in the attacks were killed.
According to two senior Mumbai police officials involved in the investigations, information on several calls made to Pakistan was contained on a satellite telephone found on a fishing boat hijacked and used by the gunmen on their journey to Mumbai.
"They were given directions like where to land the dinghy, where to keep the bombs," said a security official, referring to the small boat the attackers used to come ashore in Mumbai.
They also found a GPS navigation device that had a route plotted back to Karachi, the officials said.
Kasav, who agreed to come to Mumbai on the promise of cash for his poor family, told officers that their handlers gave them "strategic advice" about the operation over the telephone and directed their movement, one of the officers said.