LAHORE: Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistan-born sole surviving Mumbai attacker who was sent to gallows on November 21 in Pune, was in fact a street criminal who had joined the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) while looking around to buy weapons to commit robberies.
Ironically, or exposing the Indian duplicity, the day Kasab was hanged to death, India had voted against a United Nations General Assembly resolution that called for abolishing the death penalty.
Kasab was the second person to have been hanged across India over the past 15 years. Before him, a former security guard was hanged in 2004 for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old school girl. Kasab, who had no last wishes before being hanged, was a resident of the Faridkot area in the Okara district of Punjab and was amongst the 10 Pakistani militants who had sneaked into Mumbai on the night of November 26, 2008, letting lose a reign of terror and killing 166 people.
Even though Pakistan partially admitted that the Mumbai attacks were planned partly on its soil, it denied any official involvement. During hearing of the case, Kasab initially pleaded not guilty but later confessed, admitting that he was one of the gunmen who had been trained to Mumbai by the chief operational commander of the Lashkar, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.
The seven Pakistani plotters behind the 26 Mumbai attacks, including Kasab’s handler Lakhvi, are already being tried by an Anti Terrorism Court inside the premises of the Adiala Iail, Rawalpindi. In his first confessional statement given to the Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police in 2009 and shared with the Pakistani authorities by their Indian counterparts, Kasab had described his conversion from an aspiring street criminal to a loyal soldier for LeT.
Kasab said in his confessional statement: “I had been residing in Faridkot since my birth and studied up to class IV in a government school there. In year 2000, however, I left the school and went to stay with my brother near Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. I worked as a labourer at various places till 2005, visiting my native place once in a while. One day, a person named Shafiq came there and took me with him.
He was from Jhelum and had a catering business. I started working for him for Rs120 per day. Later, my salary was increased to Rs200 a day. I worked with him till 2007. While working with Shafiq, I came in contact with Muzaffar Lal Khan. Since we were not getting enough money, we decided to carry out robberies to make big money. So we quit the job and went to Rawalpindi, where we rented a flat. Afzal had located a house for us to loot. We required some firearms for our mission. While we were in search of firearms, we saw some Lashkar-e-Toiba stalls at Raja Bazaar in Rawalpindi on the day of Eidul Azha. We then realised that even if we procure firearms, we would not be able to operate them. Therefore, we decided to join LeT for weapons training”.
“We reached the LeT office and told a person there we wanted to join the LeT. He noted down our names and addresses and directed us come the next day. The next day, there was another person with him. He gave us Rs200 and some receipts. Then he gave us the address of a place called Markaz-e-Toiba, Muridke, and told us to go to there. It was a LeT training camp. We went to the place by bus and showed the receipts at the gate of the camp. We were allowed inside. Then we were taken to the actual camp area. Initially, we were selected for a 21-day training course called Daura Aam. From the next day, our training started. After Daura Aam, we were selected for another training programme which was also for 21 days. We were taken to Mansehra in Buttal village, where we were trained in handling weapons”.
“After that, we were told that we will begin the next stage involving advanced training. We were taken to a LeT camp in Shawai Nullah near Muzaffarabad for advanced training... We were then taken to Chela Bandi Pahari area for a training programme, called Daura Khaas, of three months. It involved handling weapons, using hand grenades, rocket launchers and mortars.
There were 32 trainees in the camp, of which 16 were selected for a confidential operation by one Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi alias Chacha. But three of them ran away from the camp. Chacha sent the remaining 13 with a person called Kafa to the Muridke camp again. At Muridke camp, we were taught swimming and made familiar with the life of fishermen at sea. We were given lectures on the working of Indian security agencies. We were shown clippings highlighting atrocities on Muslims in India. After the training, we were allowed to go to our native places. I stayed with my family for seven days. I then went to the LeT camp at Muzaffarabad”.
“After the training, Chacha selected 10 of us and formed five teams of two people each on September 15. The date fixed for the operation was 27 September . But the operation was cancelled for some reason. We stayed in Karachi till 23 November and then left from Azizabad in Karachi, along with Zaki and Kafa. We were taken to the nearby seashore. We boarded a launch. After travelling for 22 to 25 nautical miles we boarded a bigger launch. Again, after a journey of an hour, we boarded a ship, Al-Huseini, on the high seas. While boarding the ship, each of us was given a sack containing eight grenades, an AK-47 rifle, 200 cartridges, two magazines and a cell phone”.
“Then we started towards the Indian coast. When we reached Indian waters, the crew members of Al-Huseini hijacked an Indian launch. The crew of the launch was shifted to Al-Huseini. We then boarded the launch. An Indian seaman was made to accompany us at gunpoint; he was made to bring us to the Indian coast. After a journey of three days, we reached near Mumbai’s shore. While we were still some distance away from the shore, Ismail and Asadullah killed the Indian seaman in the basement of the launch. Then we boarded an inflatable dinghy and reached Badhwar Park jetty”.
“I then went along with Ismail to VT station [in Mumbai] by taxi. After reaching the hall of the station, we went to the toilet, took out the weapons from our sacks, loaded them, came out of the toilet and started firing indiscriminately at passengers. Suddenly, a police officer opened fire at us. We threw hand grenades towards him and opened fire at him. Then we went inside the station threatening the commuters and randomly firing at them. We then came out of the railway station searching for a building with a roof. But we did not find one. Therefore, we entered a lane. We entered a building and went upstairs. On the third and fourth floors we searched for hostages but we found that the building was a hospital and not a residential building. We started to come down. That is when policemen started firing at us. We threw grenades at them…”
“A bullet hit my hand and my AK-47 fell out of my hand. When I bent to pick it up another bullet hit me on the same hand… Ismail was injured in the firing too. The police removed us from the vehicle and took us to a hospital where I came to know that Ismail had succumbed to injuries. My statement has been read to me and explained and it has been correctly recorded”, Ajmal Kasab’s confessional account concluded.
Nevertheless, when the trial of the 26/11 accused was formally initiated on April 17, 2009, Kasab pleaded not guilty and sought retraction of his confessional statement. But almost three months later, on July 20, 2009, Kasab had stunned everybody in the Mumbai courtroom by making a surprise guilty plea, admitting his role in the three-day Mumbai rampage, which eventually led to his hanging on November 21.