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November 27, 2012

How did jailed Mumbai attacks mastermind become a father?

Islamabad

November 27, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Four years down the road since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the Indian authorities have posed a tricky question to their Pakistani counterpart: How did commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the former operational chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT) and the alleged architect of the 26/11 massacre, was able to father a child while in high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi since his arrest in December 2008?
According to well-informed sources in the Pakistani security establishment, the intriguing query, which has yet to be answered by the authorities in Islamabad, was posed on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Mumbai mayhem which killed 165 people, including many foreigners.
The Indian authorities have based their question on the confessional statement of Syed Zabiuddin Ansari aka Abu Jandal, an Indian national who allegedly travelled to Pakistan to send off Ajmal Kasab and nine other LeT militants from Karachi, a week before they went to Mumbai. Abu Jandal was arrested and deported to India [by Saudi Arabia] on June 21, 2012.
During subsequent interrogation, Abu Jandal has already confessed that he was present in the LeT’s Karachi based control room during the Mumbai carnage. His confessional statement gives a detailed account of the entire Mumbai operation and Lakhvi’s continuous monitoring of the carnage from Karachi control room. In telephone conversations between the attackers and their handlers which were intercepted during the attacks, a person speaking with a marked Mumbai accent can be heard instructing the attackers to make a list of demands to the Indian media.
His voice samples have already matched with those of Abu Jandal, who has also told interrogators that Hafiz Saeed was also present in the LeT control room along with Lakhvi from where they had directed the Mumbai mayhem.
Despite being an Indian, Jandal held a Pakistani passport and a National Identity Card, which were issued in the name of Riyasat Ali, a resident of Muridke which headquarters the Lashkar. While sharing Jandal’s confessional statement with their Pakistani counterparts, the Indian authorities have quoted him as saying that Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi told him over phone [from Adiala Jail in 2010] that he has just fathered a child.
Lakhvi also told him that the jail authorities had allowed his youngest wife to visit him in the jail to perform conjugal rights under a special arrangement. Lakhvi’s son is almost two years old now. Both Lakhvi and Jandal worked in close coordination to train and arm Ajmal Kasab and the nine others who had travelled to Mumbai through the sea route to carry out the deadly 2008 attack.
The Indian authorities have cited Jandal’s statement to allege that Major Sameer Ali from the ISI had visited the LeT’s Karachi control room when the Mumbai attacks were in progress and given instructions to Lakhvi. His statement is also being used by the Indians to allege that Lakhvi is being treated as a VIP prisoner by the Pakistani authorities at the Adiala Jail where he has also been provided with a mobile phone facility to enable him to communicate with the LeT cadres.
Approached for comments, a senior official of the Adiala Jail who wanted to remain anonymous denied any information of Lakhvi having been given an opportunity to see his second wife at the Adiala Jail where the trial of the alleged Mumbai attackers is going on.
The jail official said that keeping in view the ambiance of the Rawalpindi prison, it was almost impossible for an Adiala prisoner to perform conjugal rights, even if he is allowed to do so. The official informed that in compliance with a 2009 decision of Federal Shariat Court (FSC) that married prisoners can see their spouses, the jail authorities have already acquired 87 acres of land to build family suites.
But he regretted that the Punjab government has yet not released funds to build these suites at the Adiala Jail which has over 6,000 prisoners, including 200 women and juvenile prisoners.
Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was arrested by the Pakistani authorities on December 7, 2008 along with 12 other LeT operatives from the Muzaffarabad headquarters of the organisation in the Shawai Nullah area. Following the Mumbai attacks, it was Ajmal Kasab who had first named Lakhvi as his trainer as well as the chief plotter of the attacks. Shortly afterwards, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had provided Pakistan with a taped conversation between Lakhvi and the 26/11 attackers when the terrorist operation was still on. The FBI had analysed the tape and concluded that Lakhvi was one of the speakers and that he was the handler of the attackers.
According to Kasab’s confessional statement, Lakhvi aka “Chacha” had offered to pay his family Rs150,000 for participating in the Mumbai attacks and another Rs100,000 after he becomes a martyr. However, despite an Indian demand for Lakhvi’s extradition, Pakistan had refused to hand him over to Delhi, saying it would hold the trial of the alleged 26/11 planners on its own, as per the law of the land since all those arrested were Pakistani citizens. As things stand, Lakhvi and four others – Zarar Shah, Hammad Amin Sadiq, Abu Qama and Shahid Jameel Riaz – are being tried by an anti-terror court in Rawalpindi, inside the premises of the high-security Adiala Jail in the garrison town.