Major Iqbal, a serving ISI officer: report

Washington: Pakistan national Major Iqbal, who has been indicted by US federal prosecutors for his involvement in the Mumbai terrorist attack, was a serving ISI officer, a media report said on Wednesday.

Filed before a Chicago-court, the indictment identified Major Iqbal as one of the masterminds who directed and funded months of reconnaissance in Mumbai by David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American businessman who was once an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Headley was arrested in October 2009 and is cooperating with US and Indian officials, said a report published in the ProPublica.Com.

The indictment describes Major Iqbal as "a resident of Pakistan who participated in planning and funding attacks by Lashkar."

But US and Indian officials and Indian court documents allege that Iqbal was a serving officer in Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, said the report, which was also published in The Washington Post.

Major Iqbal allegedly acted as Headley`s main handler.

The Major was one of at least three ISI officers who are suspected of being involved in recruiting, training and directing him in terrorist activities, according to US and Indian investigators and Indian court documents.

The indictment filed on Monday, which named four more Pakistani conspirators charged with carrying the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 allegedly on behalf of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), however never mentions the Pakistani security forces or their alleged role in the attacks.

"But it represents a major development in a secretive, diplomatically sensitive prosecution set for trial next month, because Pakistan is considered a close US ally in the fight against terrorism. Prosecutors charged the four Pakistanis with playing lead roles in the attacks by the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group that killed 166 people, six of them Americans," the report said.

Besides Major Iqbal, other individuals are Sajid Mir, Mazhar Iqbal, Abu Qahafa, besides an unnamed individual identified as `Lashkar Member D`.

Sajid Mir was a resident of Pakistan associated with Lashkar who supervised others associated with it and served as a "handler" for Headley and others who were directed to carry out actions relating to planning, preparing for, and carrying out terrorist attacks on behalf of LeT.`

While Abu Qahafa was an associate with LeT who trained others in combat techniques for use in terrorist attacks; Lashkar Member D was LeT Commanders.

Major Iqbal participated in planning and funding attacks carried out by LeT in Mumbai, federal prosecutors said.

All of them have been charged with six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India as well as the material support of terrorism and conspiracy to murder.

ProPublica said the other significant figure indicted Monday is a longtime Lashkar chief named Sajid Mir.

"Mir remains at large, according to investigators, despite the fact that he allegedly was a key plotter in the Mumbai attacks. His voice was caught on tape directing the slaughter by telephone from a Pakistani safe house, according to officials and documents," it said.