“GLOVES COME OFF?”
[This is the clearest sign yet that the US is actually dumping Pakistan in favor of its preferred relationship with India (SEE: US lawmakers tell Obama, dump Pakistan and go with India). Will the “gloves come off,” in the American campaign against Pakistan, forcing a geostrategic split, with the US and India on one side and China and Pakistan on the other?]
(Reuters) – Four Pakistanis have been charged as co-conspirators in the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans, U.S. prosecutors said on Monday.
The four were previously mentioned, but not named, in indictments charging American David Headley and Pakistani-born Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana with helping to identify targets in Mumbai.
Headley and Rana have also been charged in a plot to attack a Danish newspaper that was never carried out.
Headley pleaded guilty in March 2010 and is cooperating with U.S. investigators about taking several trips to India — and later to Denmark — to scout targets for the coordinated and lethal assault.
Rana has been held since his arrest in 2009 as a conspirator with Headley, and his U.S. trial is scheduled to begin May 16. His attorney was not immediately available for comment.
All of the four newly-indicted figures are linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the largest and best-funded Islamic militant groups in the region. The group is blamed for the November 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which killed 166 people in India’s commercial capital.
Those newly indicted were Sajid Mir, Abu Qahafa, Mazhar Iqbal, and a fourth defendant known only by the alias “Major Iqbal.” None are in U.S. custody. All four are believed to be in Pakistan.
They were charged with six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens and other charges related to the Mumbai attack and providing support to Lashkar, identified as a terrorist organization by the United States.
Mir was also charged in the plot against Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper aiming to revenge the publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammad that enraged many Muslims and prompted protests.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago had requested the superseding indictment handed up by a grand jury on April 21 charging the four to be sealed to give the government time to alert U.S. agencies and consult with foreign authorities.
The Mumbai attack strained already difficult India-Pakistan relations.
India has said it is not satisfied with the pace of Pakistan’s investigation, and has demanded more people be put on trial for the attack, including the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.
(Reporting by Andrew Stern; Editing by Laura MacInnis)
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