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Jun 28, 2009 at 09:18pm IST

LeT cell in Mumbai aided 26/11: BBC probe

London: Pakistan-based terrorist leaders who relayed precise police positions to the 26/11 attackers may have been guided by Lashkar members on the ground rather than by live television coverage, a BBC report reveals.

The investigative report, which is to be shown on BBC television on Monday night, says that leaders of the 10 terrorists who attacked Mumbai November 26 were directing events minute-by-minute on mobile phones, routing all calls over the internet.

Indian intelligence intercepts of the calls, some of which were obtained by the makers of the BBC programme, are crucial to the police investigation, especially in relation to the attack against the Jewish centre at Nariman House, according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph.

THE AFTERMATH: The BBC reports says terrorists were being directed on minute-by-minute details on 26/11.

"It is astonishingly clear from these calls that the terrorist leaders, said to be in Pakistan, knew every move the police were making as the hostage crisis unfolded," wrote Richard Watson, the BBC Newsnight correspondent who carried out the investigation.

He quoted an exchange translated from the tape:

(Terrorist in Nariman House) "Is there anyone in our building?"

(Terrorist controller) "Look at the terrace at the back - the police are there. There's a building under construction, they're on top of that building and there's a lot of police on the main road. You know the Merchant House? They're sitting behind the protruding rear wall and firing shells. You talk to them and God willing they'll leave."

Watson counters the Mumbai police view that the terrorist leaders were able to pinpoint precise police positions by carefully monitoring live Indian television coverage of the attacks.

"But these instructions seem remarkably precise for that. I know the kind of live-shots used in these situations and they would be unlikely to yield that kind of detail. It is far more likely that they had spotters on the ground who were feeding back information to their leaders about the police movements," Watson said.

"If this is true, then it means a Lashkar e-Taiba cell in Mumbai played a crucial role in the attacks which is still undiscovered," Watson wrote, admitting that the possibility of local Muslim involvement would be politically damaging for India.

The view was rejected by Additional Commissioner of Police Deven Bharti, who, asked if there were "logisticians" who were yet to be caught, told Watson, "No, I don't think so."

"This investigation has reached a logical conclusion and we have verified and cross-checked each and every fact available to us. This was a totally independent module of ten terrorists who were launched from the territorial limits of Pakistan like a commando group," Bharti said.

Watson wrote that in other disturbing telephone calls, a terrorist leader cynically consoles the Rabbi's wife in Nariman House suggesting she will live to celebrate the Sabbath if she cooperates by passing on demands to the Israeli consulate.

Hours later, he gave the order for their murder.

The journalist said forensic evidence gathered and analysed with the help of Scotland Yard and the FBI is "impressive".

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