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Why Ansari holds the key to the terror probe

By Vicky Nanjappa in Mumbai
December 11, 2008 00:42 IST
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The three key men, who will help crack the Mumbai terror attack case, will be Ajmal Kasab, Fahim Ansari and Sabhahuddin.

Sabhahudin and Fahim Ansari are the two Lashkar-e-Tayiba operatives who were arrested in connection with the CRPF attack at Rampur, Uttar Pradesh earlier this year while Ajmal is the lone terrorist who was arrested for the Mumbai attack. 

Though the Mumbai police have sought for the custody of Sabahuddin first, Ansari's interrogation will be the key to the Mumbai terror attack case. While Sabahuddin played the role of a financer more than a plotter, Ansari is the man who did the recce in Mumbai and also prepared sketches of the locations that were attacked. 

What Ansari told the Uttar Pradesh police: A senior police officer from Uttar Pradesh told that Ansari has confessed to be being an LeT operative. In his statement before the police, he said that he had trained in Pakistan last year before carrying out the CRPF attack.

"I trained in handling explosives under a man called Kafa who was my instructor. I began training in March, 2007 at the Baitul Mujahideen camp. During training, I was shown maps of Mumbai several times and Kafa and I located several important locations in Mumbai which could be attacked," he said.

Ansari who originally belongs to Mumbai was recruited by Sami Ahmed in 2005. Ahmed was picked up by the Bangalore police in 2006 on the grounds that he was involved in subversive activities. Ansari was working in Dubai and he was recruited by Sami when he had come down to Mumbai on holidays. He was handpicked by the LeT since he showed keen interest in the ideology of the dreaded outfit. After being picked up by Sami, he received a call from Wali Aziz, an LeT operative from Pakistan. He was asked to return to Dubai and told that his transport to Pakistan would be arranged. In 2007, he was taken to Pakistan and he trained there for 10 months.

Prior to carrying out the CRPF attack, Ansari was sent to Mumbai as he was familiar with the city. He was first asked to identify important locations on a map and then sent to Mumbai by his leaders. Ansari said they identified several areas in Mumbai and it was only later that they zeroed down on the Taj and Oberoi.

During the recce in Mumbai, Ansari got information about the Mahalakshmi Race course, Mantralaya, Gateway of India, DGP's office, Azad Maidan, Bombay Stock Exchange, Trident, Taj, Churchgate and also the Breach Candy hospital.

After gathering details about these locations, he returned to Pakistan via Kathmandu. At Kathmandu, he met Sabahuddin who completed the attack on the Indian Institute of Science and was returning to Pakistan.

He also said during his interrogation that he passed on the information he had gathered to Sabahuddin who was in charge of raising funds for the attack. He also reveals that he constantly kept in touch with his superiors in Pakistan through satellite phone and updated them about the progress.

During his visit to Mumbai he prepared maps of all the places that he had inspected and collected every detail regarding security, area and also the feasibility of attacking the place.

Apart from this he also clicked photographs and shot videos of the places inspected by him. He says that the same footage was shown to the men who finally carried out the attack at Mumbai.

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Vicky Nanjappa in Mumbai