New Delhi: Abu Jundal aka Abu Hamza, whose real name is Zabiuddin Ansari (he has 10 aliases) is being interrogated by intelligence and police officials about his role as a handler during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.
Here are the top 10 developments in this story:
- Abu Hamza has allegedly confessed that he was in a control room in Karachi during the 26/11 attacks, 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.(Read: 26/11 control room was located in Karachi)
- He has allegedly said that officers from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI were also in this control room. He, however, said Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Sayeed was not in the Karachi control room.
- Hamza has reportedly revealed that on the second day of the Mumbai attack, he was asked to leave the control room and "take rest" by Zaki-ur Rehman Lakvi, one of the founding members of LeT.
- Hamza has also said that the attacks 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. 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)
- Hamza was arrested by police in Saudi Arabia last year in connection with a forgery case. He had spent around a year in the jail when US investigating agencies learnt of his arrest. Indian intelligence agencies were then alerted and they collected DNA samples from his family members in Beed and sent them to Saudi Arabia. That helped persuade Saudi Arabia to hand him over. (Read: How India tracked Hamza)
- Pakistan had reportedly been pressuring Saudi Arabia against deporting Hamza to India. 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.
- He has allegedly said that after Ajmal Kasab was caught alive during the 26/11 attacks (the other nine terrorists in Mumbai were killed), the handlers who had worked the phones to them were asked to leave Pakistan immediately. He travelled to Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport.
- In 2010, a suspected Lashkar terrorist named Lal Baba Mohammed Sheikh was arrested by the NIA after the German Bakery was bombed in Pune; 17 people were killed. Sheikh told interrogators that Hamza had played a part in the Pune terror attack. He listened to the 26/11 recordings of the phone conversations between the Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai and their handlers in Karachi, and identified Abu Hamza's voice. He said this man was Zabiuddin Ansari from Beed. Indian intelligence agencies then began tracking Hamza.
- Hamza, currently in a Delhi jail, is in the custody of the Delhi Police. He will stay there till July 5. The Mumbai Police wants to question him about the 2006 attacks on local trains in Mumbai, in which 180 people were killed. It moved the Tis Hazari court in Delhi today seeking his custody. The Bangalore Police wants to interrogate him about his alleged role in a bomb blast outside Chinnaswamy Stadium during a cricket match in 2010. The National Investigation Agency which is handling the 26/11 case, also wants to interrogate him.