Abu Jundal: Wanted all over for strikes everywhere

Two days before the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives carried out a mock drill in Pakistan. The revelation came during the interrogation of Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal by the Delhi Police Special Cell, which arrested him on June 21.

The interrogation report says Ansari has admitted he was in the "control room" in Baitullah Mujahiddin near the international airport in Karachi, from where he had supervised the mock drill as well as the operation.

Present in the control room besides Ansari were Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi (the LeT military commander) and Abu Alkama, an LeT commander who had allegedly trained terrorists for the September serial blasts in Delhi that year. Sources said after the arrest of Lakhvi, the control room was destroyed so no documents could be found.

Sources said Ansari instructed the operatives to restrict the mock drill to two hours, apparently to ensure that the actual attack would not go on for too many days. During the drill, he used the same phone number and the same satellite phone set that he would use during 26/11.

He initially trained 12 potential attackers but only 10 decided to go ahead with the other two, the sources said, having lost "willpower". They said that after the attack, those in the control room had been worried by initial reports about the supposed arrest of Ismail, leader of the group, then relieved to learn it was Kasab who had been arrested.

While training those selected, Ansari had also organised a "daawat" to recruit operatives. "They would party with chicken, mutton, khamiri, bada. But they refrained from consuming wine," a source said. Fifty youths had received an invitation for the daawat. They began talking about the problems faced by Muslims, specifically during the post-Godhra riots. Later, they would discuss carrying out a jihad.

Born on November 23, 1981, Ansari, who has at least a dozen aliases, is said to have been recruited into the LeT by Fayaz Kagazi, who was his senior in college. Ansari is a BSc and had been pursuing his Masters in Hindi when he dropped out in his first year. Sources said Fayaz, who they suspect is now in Saudi Arabia, introduced Ansari to Aslam Kashmiri, who was arrested in the Aurangabad arms haul case in 2006.

It was Fayaz who sent Ansari to Kathmandu for two months' training in making bombs, they said. Ansari returned to Ahmedabad, where he is alleged to have helped carry out the blast of February 9, 2006.

After the arms haul, Ansari narrowly escaped arrest and was reportedly reprimanded by Lakhvi for the failure of that operation. Ansari then left for Kolkata, then to Bangladesh along with Fayaz, and then to Pakistan, sources said.

In 2009, Ansari married a Pakistani woman, Mariamme, and has a son with her. The family lives in Pakistan.

Although it was Aslam Kashmiri who gave the police the first tip about Ansari, the arrest came only on a disclosure by Mohd Adil alias Ajmal, a Pakistani member of the Indian Mujahideen who was arrested by the Special Team in November 2011. Adil disclosed that it was a Marathi Muslim called Zabiuddin who had been anchoring LeT operations, helped by Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal.

Bengal police too want to question him

Zabiuddin Ansari used Bongaon, West Bengal, to sneak from India into Bangladesh before moving on to Pakistan in 2006. While he was in Bengal, he recruited youths from Murshidabad, Malda and North 24-Parganas who would operate in those districts, police sources said. A Bengal police team has now reached Delhi to interrogate him.

Two LeT operatives linked to Ansari were arrested by the Bengal police in July 2008 from Murshidabad. Mohammad Mustaq Ahmed, trained in Pakistan, ran a small garment shop , while Hasan-ud-Jamal alias Hasan Master was a primary schoolteacher. Mustaq was given the responsibility of providing shelter to LeT members and looking after local recruitment. During interrogation, they reportedly confessed they had helped recruits cross over to Bangladesh so that they could reach Pakistan for training.

"We have information that Mustaq was the LeT linkman in West Bengal and he had links with Ansari. We need to interrogate Ansari and have sent a team to Delhi," an officer said. "However, we are sure Ansari did not return to Bengal after leaving in 2006."

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