November 29, 2008 3:19:00 pm
Interrogation of the lone gunman nabbed alive by the Mumbai Police after Wednesday’s terror attacks has left investigators in little doubt that the unprecedented raid on the country’s financial capital was the work of Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba.
According to details of the interrogation accessed by ‘The Indian Express’, the man has been identified as Azam Ameer Qasab, a 21-year-old Pakistan national and is believed to have admitted that he is a Lashkar-e-Toiba operative.
According to a statement recorded by the police following his arrest, Qasab is a resident of Faridkot in Chipalpura Taluka of Ukhad Zilla in Pakistan’s Punjab. Qasam admitted that he was trained, along with several others, at two separate camps in Pakistan. The first camp lasted for close to three months and involved training in the use of firearms and explosives.
After a short break of a few weeks, the second camp focused on marine drills which were used by the attackers to land on the city’s shores. During his training, he was also shown CDs with footage of different spots in Mumbai including some of the locations targeted, Qasam is believed to have said. “During his preliminary interrogation, Qasam said that the instructions given to them were to fire on sight with orders that the maximum possible number of people should die at their hands,” said a police source who grilled Qasam.
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“He explained the way in which they had hijacked a trawler with a crew of five in them. He said they forced one crew member, Amar Singh Nazam, to travel with them till they were four nautical miles from Badhwar Park, and then killed him. He did not reveal the names of the other terrorists to us and said they were all assigned code names,” said the official.
Qasab was nabbed by officers of the D B Marg Police Station late on Wednesday night after they intercepted a Skoda car in which he was travelling with another attacker, identified as Abu Dera Ismael Khan (25), also from Pakistan’s Punjab, and was gunned down in the encounter at Girgaum Chowpatty. Qasab was later handed over to the state Anti-Terrorism Squad.
The police also recovered two assault rifles, five magazines, two automatic pistols and a grenade from Qasam and Khan.
The Director General of Maharashtra Police, A N Roy, told The Indian Express that nine suspects were being interrogated. “All I can tell you at this stage is that nine suspects are with us and that some of them were picked up from around the operational areas. Once we finish questioning them, many facts will emerge. The whole story will shortly unfold,” he said.
Top police officers said that live telephone conversations of the militants on their mobile phones were being monitored at Nariman House as the operation was in progress. A terrorist was taped as shouting on Thursday, once the NSG had begun storming the building: “We have to kill one of the hostages to make a point.”
The other conversations were about changing positions and exit routes. The intercepted tapes, with conversations in what officials describe as “Hindi with a Punjabi accent” are now being transcribed and also handed over to intelligence agencies. While combing operations for vital clues is yet to begin in earnest, officials say that at least two GPS direction finders were picked up by members of the commando teams from the Taj Hotel and Nariman House.
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