NEW DELHI – The Pakistani-based militant group blamed for the Mumbai attacks kept an Indian militant as a "point man" to shepherd gunmen across India's porous borders to stage attacks, police said Wednesday.
Sabauddin Ahmed, accused of managing militant safe houses in Nepal, was being brought to Mumbai for questioning in last month's attacks that left 171 dead. Ahmed was arrested in February following a deadly raid on an Indian police station.
Ahmed's position in Nepal extends the reach of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group investigators blame for the Mumbai siege, and could represent another blow to Indian officials who say Pakistan-based militants were entirely responsible.
"He was their main point man in Katmandu, a very trusted man by Lashkar," said Amitabh Yash, director of the police's Special Task Force in Uttar Pradesh, which arrested him.
Police said it was too early to determine whether Ahmed was involved in the Mumbai siege, but he was arrested along with another Indian militant who was found with a map highlighting Mumbai targets. Police say the operative, Faheem Ansari, had been preparing for the attacks since 2007.
Ahmed told interrogators he had contacts with several officials from Pakistan's spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Yash said.
"He named a lot of ISI officers," Yash said.
Islamabad's civilian government has denied its state agencies were involved in the Mumbai attacks, but said it was possible that the militants were Pakistanis. It has pledged to cooperate with India.
Rakesh Maria, Mumbai's chief police investigator, said Wednesday that further evidence of links between the Pakistan-based Islamic charity Jemaat-ud-Dawa and Lashkar has emerged. He said the head of the charity Hafiz Mohammed Saeed gave a motivational speech to the 10 gunmen who attacked Mumbai at the end of their training.
India's junior foreign minister demanded Tuesday that the U.N. Security Council declare Jemaat-ud-Dawa a terrorist group, saying it was a front for Lashkar, which was banned in 2002.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammed Sadiq, declined comment.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa — which sprang up after Pakistan banned Lashkar in 2002 following U.S. pressure — runs a chain of schools and medical clinics throughout the country and has helped survivors of two deadly earthquakes in recent years. It denies any links to Lashkar.
The 10 gunmen were trained principally by three senior Lashkar leaders, including the mastermind of the siege, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, said Maria.
Officials have said Lakhvi was arrested Sunday in a raid on a militant camp close to the Indian border. Another senior leader, Zarar Shah, was also in Pakistani custody, officials said.
In Russia, meanwhile, the head of that country's federal anti-narcotics agency said a notorious Indian gangster, Dawood Ibrahim, helped in the attack.
Ibrahim "provided his logistics network for the preparation and implementation of the attacks," the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta quoted Viktor Ivanov as saying.
India has said Ibrahim fled to Pakistan after staging Mumbai bombings in 1993.
As is often the case when Russian law enforcement officials talk about terrorism, Ivanov gave no details and provided no actual evidence.