India Hands Over Attacks Dossier To Pakistan

The Indian government has compiled a dossier of evidence on last November's attacks in Mumbai that it presented to Pakistan and to countries that lost citizens in the attacks. Siddharth Varadarajan, of the Hindu newspaper, says Indian authorities began to record phone calls between the militants and their handlers soon after the incident began.

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

India's prime minister said yesterday that official agencies in Pakistan supported the deadly attacks in Mumbai in November. And India has given Pakistan its dossier of evidence on those attacks. The evidence includes transcripts of stark telephone exchanges between the militant attackers and their handlers. One of the attackers informs his supervisor, we have five hostages. His handler tells him, inflict the maximum damage. Keep fighting. Don't be taken alive. Another handler orders, kill all hostages except the two Muslims. Keep your phone switched on so that we can hear the gunfire. There is the sound of gunshots and cheering.

Those phone exchanges were intercepted and recorded by Indian authorities. Siddharth Varadarajan of the newspaper the Hindu has read the full dossier of evidence. He joins us from New Delhi. And explain for us, please, how India was able to intercept and then trace these calls.

BLOCK: Well, what the dossier claims is that they began to monitor phones into and out of the Taj Hotel shortly after the incident began. And one of the phones that they intercepted was a call made by a New Jersey number to one of the terrorists inside the hotel, which suggested to them that this was a suspicious call. And subsequently, they unraveled the number that this New Jersey number was calling as well, because it was a call made through a voice-over Internet protocol service, and basically began to trace out other numbers. And that's how they say they unraveled the full set of numbers that the terrorists and the handlers were using.

I suspect that they probably had the assistance of the United States, perhaps the National Security Agency, because the kind of capabilities involved in monitoring calls of such a huge scale would require enormous amount of computing power, which perhaps the Indian side would not have had by itself.

BLOCK: And they were recording these calls, obviously, too.

BLOCK: Absolutely, the calls were being recorded. And I think once they were able to latch onto numbers, they were, I think, actively listening to some of these calls even as they were being placed.

BLOCK: What's the evidence that the handlers on the other end of these phone calls were actually in Pakistan?

BLOCK: Well, essentially, what the government says they have managed to unravel is, based on tracing the origins of the voice-over Internet protocol virtual number, it was a straightforward money transfer through Western Union. Now - suggesting the account was actually opened in the name of an Indian by the name of Karach Singh(ph), but the money was paid by an individual who gave as I.D. proof to Western Union a Pakistani passport, and there is a Pakistani passport number.

So that's one element of why the government is saying that the handlers were in Pakistan. And in addition, I think, they have evidence - there was a satellite phone recovered from the trawler that these guys used to get to Bombay, which had numbers that more directly were traced to Pakistan.

BLOCK: There is a telling moment in these transcripts where one of the attackers admits on the phone to his handler, we made a big mistake. What was that mistake?

BLOCK: What one of these transcripts reveals is that there was a plan to essentially scuttle or sink this trawler, the Kuber. And what one of the transcripts says is that when they were moving from the trawler to their dinghy, there was a big wave, and there was also some panic among the terrorists that there was a navy ship approaching.

So they seem to have left the trawler in a great hurry, and they didn't open the lock. I don't know what exactly that means, I presume some way to sink the boat. And they told the handlers that this was a big mistake they did. We forgot the satellite phone of one Ishmael(ph) on the boat, and that seems to have been quite a big blunder for them.

BLOCK: Now that this dossier of evidence has been given to Pakistan, what do you expect to happen now?

BLOCK: You know, the signals are a bit confused. I think, you know, we've had a rather unfortunate exchange of angry statements by the foreign ministries on both sides. So I don't know what's going to happen. I mean, it's possible that the Pakistani authorities might begin to investigate some of the leads that the Indian side has come up with, but I think a lot will depend on the kind of international pressure that the United States and other, you know, friends of Pakistan are able to bring to bear on Islamabad.

BLOCK: Mr. Varadarajan, thanks very much for talking with us.

BLOCK: Thank you.

BLOCK: That's Siddharth Varadarajan with the Indian newspaper the Hindu, speaking with us from New Delhi.

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