Washington, Dec.4 : A former Pentagon official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity, has claimed that American intelligence analysts suspect that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai last week were trained by former officers of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Pakistan Army.
The comment comes even as the Pakistani leadership consistently maintains that it has no concrete evidence of Pakistani involvement in the attacks that led to the death of nearly 200 people and injuries to another 300.
According to the New York Times, American officials have not been able to establish a direct link to between the terrorists and federal authorities in Islamabad. But this has not stopped US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from coming to India and Pakistan, and demanding that Pakistan unequivocally extend all possible support to India to track down the perpetrators of the incident.
Fingers are being pointed at the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which Indian and American officials say carried out the Mumbai attacks.
Though officially banned, the group has hidden in plain sight for years. It has had a long history of ties to Pakistan's intelligence agencies. The evidence of its hand in the Mumbai attacks is accumulating from around the globe:
.According to the Indian police, the one gunman who survived the terrorist attacks, Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, 21, told interrogators that he trained during a year and half in at least four camps in Pakistan and at one met with Mohammad Hafeez Saeed, the Lashkar-e-Taiba leader.
.And according to a Western official familiar with the investigation in Mumbai, another Lashkar leader, Yusuf Muzammil, whom the surviving gunman named as the plot's organizer, fielded phone calls in Lahore from the attackers.
Today, the Lashkar-e-Taiba operates openly in Lahore. Its militant wing, Western officials say, has used camps in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir and Pakistan's tribal areas to change from a group once focused primarily on Kashmir into one now determined to join the ranks of a global jihad.
Critics in Pakistan of the ISI maintain that the intelligence agency still protects Lashkar.
"We're not saying there's a direct hand in it but you have to think there's some learning going on, emulation going on, there are influences or contacts of some kind," a senior American official said.