Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Hamza
alias Abu Jundal, a much-wanted terrorist who was among six instructors or handlers of the men who attacked Mumbai on 26/11 has been arrested by the Delhi Police. 166 people died in that attack in 2008.
Home Minister P Chidambaram has confirmed that Ansari is in Indian custody. "The person who goes by the pseudonym of Abu Jundal has been apprehended and remanded to the custody of our law enforcement agencies," he said. Police sources said Ansari has been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Explosives Act and the Passport Act.
The arrest of Ansari, who has an Interpol red corner notice against him, is being looked at as a big breakthrough in the Mumbai 26/11 investigations. He is named in both the case chargesheet and the dossier that India has handed to Pakistan. This is the first time that investigating agencies have in their custody a man who was on the inside of the 26/11 plot. Mumbai police have reportedly asked a local court for a production warrant to seek his custody.
Jundal was arrested on June 21. The Delhi police officially maintains that he was picked up from the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Though the circumstances of the arrest are unclear yet. Home Minister P Chidambaram refused to confirm or deny reports that he had been deported from another country on India's request.
Ansari, allegedly a member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which carried out the Mumbai attacks of 2008, was in Pakistan when ten terrorists sailed into Mumbai from Karachi. Indian intelligence sources believe that he had tutored the men in Hindi. Taped intercepts of the conversation between the attackers and the handlers had Ansari, as Abu Jundal, making the chilling statement, "Yeh to sirf trailer hai, asal film baaki hai
(this is just the trailer, the film has yet to start rolling)."
With his arrest, intelligence sources say, the mystery of a voice on those transcripts that spoke Hindi words like 'Prashasan
' (administration), 'Udharan
' (example) and 'yuvak
' (youth), suggesting an Indian was in Pakistan among those coordinating the attacks in Mumbai. He allegedly directed the terrorists to conceal their Pakistani identity and to identify themselves as members of Deccan Mujahideen hailing from Toli Chowk in Hyderabad.
Ansari's voice samples will now be matched against the recordings. Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested after the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, has mentioned Abu Jundal's role in his plea to a special court.
30-year-old Ansari allegedly belongs to the Georai area of Beed district in Maharashtra. He is also wanted for attacks on Mumbai trains in 2006 in which 180 people were killed. His name first surfaced in an arms haul case in Aurangabad in 2006, when a huge cache of explosives was found in a car and another vehicle with more RDX was intercepted. Ansari gave the police the slip. Bangalore police say Ansari is one of the absconding accused in the 2005 Indian Institute of Science (IISC case) attack case too. "We want to take custody of him and interrogate," said Bangalore Police Commissioner B Dayananda.
Ansari, who has trained at the Indian Technical Institute at Beed, is believed to have become a jihadi after the Gujarat riots. Among the many terror plots that security agencies believe he played a role in, was also an alleged plot to assassinate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. He is alleged to have first joined the banned group SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), then the Indian Mujahideen and later, the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba. Intelligence sources believe he has been a vital link between the Indian Mujahideen and the Lashkar.
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna congratulated the Delhi Police for the arrest. "The Delhi police have been doing a magnificent job. Let them go through the investigation, they will then send a report to the government and we shall act accordingly," he said.