Pakistan arrests suspected plotter

TUESDAY, DEC. 9, 2008

U.S. says man has al-Qaida link

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Troops raided a militant camp and arrested a suspected mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan’s first reported response to U.S. and Indian demands for action against alleged plotters on its soil, officials said.

The arrest Monday in Pakistani Kashmir of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi could signal the beginning of a wider crackdown aimed at reducing tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors and satisfying Washington.

Lakhvi is allegedly a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned group blamed for other attacks on its soil. Analysts say it was created in the 1980s by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies to act as a proxy fighting force in Indian Kashmir.

Many analysts suspect elements within Pakistan’s intelligence agencies keep some links with Lashkar and other militants, either to use against India or in neighboring Afghanistan, but U.S. counterterrorism officials say there is no evidence linking Pakistan state agencies to the Mumbai attacks.

President Asif Ali Zardari said the raid showed that Pakistan was committed to taking “action against the non-state actors found within our territory, treating them as criminals, terrorists and murderers.”

The United States says Lashkar is linked to al-Qaida. In May, the U.S. blocked the assets of Lakhvi and three other alleged members of the group, including its leader, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed.

Indian officials in New Delhi and Islamabad were not available for comment.


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