Sanctions targeting a Pakistani-based terrorist group may have been minimized after a government official tipped the group off in advance. That disclosure, reported by the Guardian, is among the hundreds of thousands of State Department documents released by the WikiLeaks website.
In January 2009, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told the American ambassador in Islamabad of his suspicions that the chief minister in Pakistan's Punjab province alerted Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) leaders that United Nations sanctions against the group were imminent. The minister's brother, Nawaz Sharif is a government opposition leader.
The sanctions came in response to LeT's suspected role behind the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
Zardari "discussed his increasing frustration with Nawaz Sharif's government in the Punjab, whom he believed had tipped off Jamaat ul-Dawa (JUD) about the assets freeze ordered by the federal government," a secret State Department cable said. JUD is the charity arm of LeT.
As a result, officials found JUD "bank accounts contained surprisingly small amounts," the cable said.
The cables also discussed efforts to diffuse tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the terrorist attack.
One month later, a briefing in anticipation of a visit by Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, described Zardari as "far from perfect," but still a "pro-American and anti-extremist; we believe he is our best ally in the government."
Though Pakistan had arrested LeT and JUD leaders and closed their camps, U.S. officials remained uncertain whether the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence service, had "abandoned its policy of using these proxy forces as a foreign policy tool."
Since those cables were written, American David Coleman Headley, who played a significant role scouting targets for the Mumbai attacks, told Indian investigators that rogue elements in the ISI worked hand-in-glove with LeT, including coordination during planning of the attacks.