26/11 Lashkar handler held

26/11 Lashkar handler held

Zabiuddin arrested at airport

26/11 Lashkar handler held
In a major breakthrough in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case, the Delhi police have arrested a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) handler who, they said, coordinated with Ajmal Kasab and company from a distant control room in Pakistan, as they ran amok in the city in 2008.

The suspect, Syed Zabiuddin alias Abu Jundal, 30, is also suspected to be involved in a blast in Ahmedabad and the 2005 IISc Bangalore attack, police officials said. Jundal has been sent to 15-day police custody.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram confirmed that “the person who goes by the pseudonym of Abu Jundal has been apprehended and has been remanded to the custody of law enforcement agencies.”

Home ministry officials, however, refused to comment on reports that Jundal, who was arrested on June 21, was deported from a Gulf country.

The arrest is likely to buttress India’s claims of Pakistan’s involvement in the Mumbai attacks as a senior Home Ministry official revealed that LeT operative has already mentioned involvement of a person suspected to be a senior ISI functionary. At the home secretary level talks with Pakistan last month, India presented voice samples of LeT chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and others, seeking action against them.

Zabiuddin, also known as Abu Jundal and Riyasat Ali in his circles, is from the Georai area of Beed district in Maharashtra. The police claim to have arrested him at Indira Gandhi international airport on June 21. 

He had sought refuge in Pakistan after his name figured in an arms haul case in the Aurangabad area of Maharashtra in 2006. The LeT then inducted him into the core team to execute the 26/11 attacks, because of his familiarity with the country. Lakhvi, with help from ISI, had set up a control room in Karachi for monitoring the terrorist strike in the country.

Zabiuddin, along with his acolytes Wassi, Zarar, Buzurg, Kafa and an ISI officer known as major general, were present in the Karachi control room during the Mumbai carnage, directing the ten terrorists, a Home ministry official said.

Officials said Zabiuddin’s voice samples will now be matched with the voice in a recorded telephonic conversation in which Abdul Rehman alias Saquib and Fahadullah, bestowed with the responsibility of killing the Jews at Nariman Point, were being instructed on their modus operandi.
While nine of the ten assailants perished in the battle with security forces, Kasab was captured. He revealed the entire plot allegedly hatched and nurtured by Pakistan state actors.  

During interrogation, Kasab referred to Zabiuddin as an Indian who taught the team Hindi. In the intercepted tapes, Ansari was also heard using typical Hindi words like “prashasan (administration)” and directing the terrorists to conceal their Pakistani identity and identify themselves as the Deccan Mujahideen from Toli Chowk in Hyderabad.

Zabiuddin, missing since 2005, sneaked into Pakistan through Nepal in 2006. After being trained, he started mentoring the terrorists for the Mumbai attack. He was in constant touch with members of the banned SIMI and the Indian Mujahideen (IM).

His name featured in a dossier to Pakistan comprising India's most wanted. He was also on the Interpol’s wanted list since September 2009.

For the last four months, Zabiuddin lived in Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport issued in the name of Riyasat Ali, for recruiting cadres for LeT.

The Delhi Police started looking for Zabiuddin after his name cropped up during an interrogation of a suspected Indian Mujahideen operative, arrested from Bihar last year. “Since then, we were gathering intelligence about Zabiuddin. He was finally spotted in Saudi Arabia from where he was deported and arrested in Delhi. His interrogation will unravel conspiracy behind most of terror attacks in India,” the officer said.

MHA officials said the Mumbai police and the NIA, which is also probing David Headley’s role in the 26/11 attacks, will take his custody to extract more information on the terror plot.

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