Perpetrators and masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks

A look at some of the masterminds and perpetrators of the November 26, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.

Updated: November 3, 2016 10:12 am

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab

The lone attacker to be caught alive by the police, the 21-year-old jihadi became the face of the 26/11 attacks after pictures of him walking into the CST station, AK-47 in hand, were splashed on the front pages of newspapers around the world. After being captured, he became one of the most well-guarded prisoners in India in decades. Originally from Faridkot village in Dipalpur taluka of Okara district in Pakistan’s Punjab province, he is believed to have been a petty thief before he met a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative while trying to buy a gun and was assigned the code name of Abu Mujahid for the 26/11 operation. He was paired with group leader Ismail Khan and the duo indiscriminately spilled blood at the CST railway station, and also gunned down key police officers Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar. They were finally intercepted by the DB Marg police at Girgaum Chowpatty on Mumbai’s famed Marine Drive where Kasab was captured and Khan killed. Kasab was hanged on November 21, 2012 after he was sentenced to death by the Bombay High Court and the verdict of which was upheld by the Supreme Court.

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Hafiz Mohammed Saeed

Named as one of the fugitives in the 26/11 chargesheet, Hafiz Saeed founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba along with two other Pakistani university professors – Zafar Iqbal and Abdul Rehman Makki – in the Kunar province of Afghanistan in 1986. His outlawed group has been involved in the anti-India insurgency in Kashmir and is also accused of several high-profile terror attacks across India. Saeed is named as one of the chief conspirators of the plot to attack Mumbai. He is believed to have supervised one of the many training sessions of the ten attackers and also wished them luck and waved them off before they set sail for Mumbai near Karachi.

Zarar Shah

Another top Lashkar commander named in the 26/11 chargesheet, Zarar Shah played a key role in monitoring the training and progress of the ten terrorists chosen for the attacks. While the attacks were on in Mumbai, Shah is believed to have been in touch with the terrorists on their mobile phones, giving them constant operational and motivational instructions. These conversations were intercepted and recorded by the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad. In the crackdown following 26/11, Shah was also arrested along with Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Some reports said he was singing in custody and had confessed to his role in the 26/11 attacks.

Javed Iqbal

Not much is known of Javed Iqbal’s role in the 26/11 plot, and he has not been named in the chargesheet. Yet, Iqbal was one of the few Lashkar operatives who were arrested by Pakistani authorities in the face of intense diplomatic pressure from India and the US. Along with another associate, he was in charge of the Voice Over Internet Protocol calling platform used by the terrorists during the 26/11 attacks. according to Pakistan, Iqbal, who was based in Spain, was lured from Barcelona to Pakistan. He is believed to have made payments in Spain and Italy to acquire the VOIP numbers used by the terrorists.

Abu al Qama

Arrested by Pakistani authorities in a crackdown following 26/11 along with Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, Abu al Qama is another top Lashkar commander who is said to have played an important role in the attacks and has been named as a suspect in the case. He was one of the Laskhar commanders who closely monitored the preparations of the ten chosen terrorists at training camps in Pakistan. Abu al Qama was also named as a top commander based in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir by several Indian Mujahideen operatives arrested by the Mumbai Police before 26/11.

Abu Hamza

Named as a key suspect in the 26/11 case, Abu Hamza is a top Lashkar operative who, according to the Mumbai Police Crime Branch, was one of the handlers and trainers of the group of ten terrorists chosen for the attacks. Hamza played a hands-on role during the training phase of the operation. He is also alleged to be involved in the attack on the Indian Institute of Science In Bangalore in 2005.

Abu Kahfa

Another Lashkar fugitive, Kahfa played a lead role in guiding and mentoring Ajmal Kasab and the nine other terrorists chosen for the operation. He watched over the training of the group extremely closely. Kahfa’s name was one of the first revealed to the investigators of the 26/11 plot, as it figured in conversations that were being intercepted by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad. Kahfa constantly provided instructions to the terrorists over their mobile phones, even as they were engaged in fierce gunbattles with the police and the National Security Guard. Fahim Ansari is also believed to have told his interrogators that he met Kahfa at the Baitul Mujahideen headquarters of the Lashkar. Kahfa had enquired with Sabahuddin about the availability of taxis near the office of the Maharashtra Director-General of Police in Mumbai while planning for the attack.

Yusuf alias Muzammil

Yusuf is a key Lashkar handler of the ten attackers and is named as a fugitive in the chargesheet. He was closely involved in the indoctrination and training of the terrorists and was regularly in touch with them during the attacks. His conversations with the attackers too were intercepted and recorded in real time by the police and the intelligence agencies. Yusuf is also believed to have been the one who had instructed Fahim Ansari to survey several important spots in Mumbai, and had ordered him to deliver photographs, videos and maps of these spots to Sabahuddin Ahmed in Kathmandu.

Colonel R. Saadat Ullah

The mobile phone numbers used by the terrorists and their controllers were connected to an account created with Callphonex, a Voice Over Internet Protocol service provider based in New Jersey. The e-mail id kharak_telco@yahoo.com was used while communicating with Callphonex to create the account. The Cyberl Crime Investigation Cell of the Mumbai Police found that this e-mail id was accessed from ten different Internet Protocol (IP) addresses located in Lahore, Chicago, Kuwait, Moscow, Rawalpindi and Gulberg in Pakistan. The Rawalpindi IP address was listed as belonging to Colonel R. Saadat Ullah from the Special Communications Organisation, Qasim Road – a unit of the Pakistani Army which looks after telephone networks in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the Northern Areas.

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