More twists and turns in the Abu Jundal chase story as new details emerge. NDTV has now learnt that after Lashkar operative Jundal aka Abu Hamza
- whose real name is Zabiuddin Ansari and who has 10 aliases - was picked up in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan tried to get him deported to Islamabad. But the US stepped in and prevented that from happening.
Jundal was allegedly sent to Saudi Arabia by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) to scout for new recruits. About eight or nine months ago, he made a phone call from there to Pakistan, which was intercepted by the US. Around the same time India's intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing picked up his movements and began to track Jundal.
It was reportedly on pressure from the US that the Saudi authorities arrested Abu Jundal last year in connection with a forgery case. The moment that happened, sources say, Islamabad allegedly muscled in and demanded that he be deported immediately to Pakistan. Jundal was in Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport and Islamabad reportedly claimed that Jundal was a wanted criminal in that country. Sources say that Pakistan was worried that once India had access to the handler, it would be able to irrefutably establish how Pakistani "state actors" - possibly from the ISI and the country's army - were linked to 26/11.
Jundal has allegedly given interrogators details about his role as a Lashkar-e-Taiba handler during the 26/11, 2008 attacks in Mumbai describing the control room in Karachi and that he served as one of six handlers who instructed the ten terrorists in Mumbai on how to execute the attacks at different landmarks. The location of that control room is in an elite area of Karachi inhabited by Defence personnel, and Jundal has allegedly said that officers from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI were also in this control room.
The US, sources say, stepped in and prevented Jundal's deportation to Pakistan. India had meanwhile engaged with the Saudis and was trying to convince them to deport Jundal. All available evidence was furnished, but his fingerprints were not available. After much persuasion, India finally convinced the Saudi government to use DNA samples that investigators had obtained from Jundal's family in Beed, Maharashtra.
In May, an Interpol Red Corner notice was issued in preparation of Jundal's deportation. He was finally brought into India on the intervening night of June 19 and 20.
Jundal or Hamza has allegedly confessed that the attack unleashed upon Mumbai in 2008 was originally planned to be executed two years before that. However, the attacks could not take place in 2006 after a huge cache of arms and ammunition to be used in the attacks was discovered in Aurangabad. It was then that his name, Ansari, first emerged as a potential terror suspect. Hamza then escaped to Bangladesh, reportedly without any papers, and later went to Pakistan. (Read: 26/11 was planned originally for 2006)
Hamza, 31, is from the Beed district in Maharashtra, and studied at the Indian Technical Institute. He worked for a while as an insurance agent. Then the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 turned him into a jihadi. He was originally a member of the Indian Mujahideen (IM), an Indian terror group, and was close to its founder, Riyaz Bhatkal. He was recruited by the terror group Students Islamic Movement of India or SIMI. A few years later, he was in Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir when he entered the ranks of the LeT. (Read Abu Hamza's journey)