‘I have been exposed,’ he said after Kasab talked of Indian handler

FP

When Ajmal Kasab's statement about Abu Jundal's role in training the 26/11 terrorists was splashed in the Indian media, Zabiuddin Ansari alias Jundal told one his contacts in Pakistan: "I have been exposed".

That was just one of Ansari's conversations that the Indian intelligence agencies intercepted. The agencies were listening in to most of what Ansari was speaking on telephones as he moved between Muzaffarabad, Rawalpindi and Karachi.

Though the agencies began tracking Ansari in 2006 when he was named as a suspect in the Aurangabad arms haul case, it was the confession of Sabahuddin Shabbir, accused in the January 2008 attack on the CRPF camp in Rampur, that confirmed his identity and presence in Karachi. Later, Kasab spoke about Jundal, the Indian operative who had given the 26/11 terrorists language and location training.

Though Ansari knew he was "exposed", sources say, he sounded undeterred and was busy plotting future attacks, among others, on targets such as the Israeli embassy and RSS establishments in New Delhi.

The next breakthrough for the Indian intelligence agencies came in June 2009 when it was confirmed that Ansari was given a Pakistani passport, in the name of Riyasat Ali, and may soon leave the country. Immediately, Indian missions and foreign airports were alerted on the suspect's new identity (there was already a red-corner notice issued against him after the 26/11 attacks). The move to Saudi Arabia came in February 2011, and sources say, even the picture of Ansari's arrival quickly reached Indian authorities.

As India pressed its case, it was finally on June 21, 2011 — exactly a year before he was deported to India — that the Pakistani passport-holder Riyasat Ali was detained in Saudi Arabia. Then began the process of convincing the authorities in Riyadh that the suspect was wanted for a number of terror attacks and was an Indian national.

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