An alleged key plotter in the 2008 Mumbai attacks now in Indian police custody had been living in Saudi Arabia for two years and was ‘talent-spotting’ for another ‘massive attack’, an Indian police official said on Tuesday.
Sayeed Zabiuddin Ansari, also known as Abu Hamza and Abu Jindal, was arrested at Delhi airport on June 21 on his arrival from Saudi Arabia. Police revealed his arrest only on Monday, after interrogating him for five days about the three-day rampage in the financial hub of Mumbai that killed 166 people. Police said Ansari helped coordinate the attack by 10 members of militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) from a ‘control room’ in Karachi and also helped to train the gunmen.
Until his arrest, Ansari had been living in Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport, an official at New Delhi’s anti-terrorist police unit told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
During his stay in the Saudi kingdom, Ansari sought to recruit volunteers for another Mumbai-style attack, the official said. He would not say where the planned attack was to have taken place or even whether India was the target.
Asked how India had learned of Ansari’s whereabouts, the official said: “We had inputs and we acted on them.” He would not elaborate, but some Indian media, quoting sources, said the United States, which has sought to deepen its counter-terrorism relationship with India, had provided the information.
The Hindu newspaper, quoting government sources, said the arrest came after months of painstaking diplomatic talks between Riyadh, Washington and New Delhi. Indian officials had travelled to Saudi Arabia to lobby for him to be handed over, it said.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2012.