The mention of the 313 Brigade in the conversations of the Mumbai terrorists during the November 26-29 attacks has investigators puzzled,as they have still not been able to decipher exactly what the term refers to.
There is a 313 Infantry Brigade in the Pakistani Army,comprising regiments from the 22 Baluch,30 Frontier Force and Wing Frontier Corps. Initially,the investigators thought the mention of 313 Brigade in the terrorists conversations referred to this. All the more so because a repeated reference to Major General saab was also picked up in the conversation,which led the investigators to believe that the terrorists might have some links with officers of the Pakistani Army. As it happens,a Pakistani Army officer Colonel R Sadatullah was named in the chargesheet filed by Mumbai Police as the person whose Internet account was used to pay for the VoIP calls made by the terrorists.
But lately,investigators have been exposed to a new fact that has forced them to consider an alternative explanation. It appears that Brigade 313 is also the name under which a motley group of terrorist organisations in Pakistan including Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad have organised themselves for operational purposes.
Believed to be led by the chief of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami,Qari Saifullah Akhtar,Brigade 313 is said to have close connections with Taliban elements in Pakistan.
Akhtar,an accused in the Marriott Hotel bombings in Islamabad last year,is said to have direct links with al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden,Mullah Omar and Ayman al-Zawahiri,and observers say there is a distinct influence of al-Qaeda on Brigade 313.
Another member of this group is Matiur Rehman,who at one time was known to be the chief of al-Qaeda in Pakistan. Sources said investigators are now probing whether the terrorists were actually referring to this group of Mujahideen outfits when they mentioned Brigade 313. They said this fresh line of investigation could throw a new light on the probe and lead to other people who might be involved in the conspiracy.