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CRPF camp attack dress rehearsal for Mumbai?

By Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru
January 14, 2009 14:09 IST
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Investigations into the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai have revealed that the attack on the Central Reserve Police Force camp in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, was just a dry run and more of an exercise to smuggle arms and ammunition for the attack on Mumbai.

An investigating officer told that Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists Sabahuddin Ahmed and Fahim Ansari -- whose names are likely to figure in the 26/11 attacks chargesheet -- confessed before their interrogators in Mumbai that the Rampur attack was aimed at distracting security agencies to enable the smuggling of arms into Mumbai.

Sabahuddin told interrogators that the Rampur operation was carried out according to the brief given to him by Yusuf Muzzamil, the Lashkar terrorist and one of the conspirators behind the Mumbai attacks.

As reported by this correspondent earlier, Ahmed smuggled in arms from Nepal and arranged for them to be hidden near a lake in Rampur.

'I first got in touch with Imran Shehzad to procure the weapons and store them in a house in Rampur. Shehzad (who is part of the Rampur attack case), managed to procure three rifles,' Sabahuddin said.

'We realised there was a need for more weapons for the Mumbai attack. Muzzamil then directed me to get in touch with a man by the name Abdul Meer, a Lashkar person based in Kashmir. I was told that Meer would make arrangements for more weapons for the Mumbai attack. Meer owned a printing press in Kashmir and used to arrange weapons for the Lashkar,' he added.

Sabahuddin then got in touch with a man named Mohammad Sharrief, who in turn contacted Meer for the weapons. Sharrief procured more weapons and stored it in his brother-in-law's house. All this took place while security agencies were trying to crack the Rampur case.

The next plan was to send Fahim Ansari back to Mumbai. Ansari had returned from Mumbai after conducting a survey of important targets, which were to be attacked by the Lashkar.

'After Ansari handed over sketches and videos of the places he had visited in Mumbai, we ordered him to get back to Mumbai and wait for the consignment of weapons. Fahim's job was to collect the weapons and store them, and later hand them over to the men who were training for the Mumbai attack,' Sabahuddin told interrogators.

Both Sabahuddin and Ansari have said on several occasions that the Mumbai attacks were originally planned for September.

However, before Ansari could return to Mumbai and collect the weapons, he was picked up by the security agencies. Soon Sabahuddin was arrested, and the Lashkar had to be postpone its plan.

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru