Abu Jundal alias Syed Zabiuddin held the reins of a dedicated talent-spotting drive to recruit cadre in Saudi Arabia, the alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander, arrested by the Delhi Police after being deported from Riyadh, has claimed if investigators are to be believed.
Code-named 'Operation Daawat' or simply 'Daawat' (dinner reception), the drive had allegedly been in place ever since Jundal left Pakistan and settled in Saudi Arabia at the behest of his handlers Muzammil and Zaki-Ur-Rahman Lakhvi post the execution of the 26/11 attack in Mumbai, sources claimed.
Interrogators said implementing the recruitment drive had been the main reason behind Jundal's deliberate 'exile' in Saudi Arabia - throughout which he had operated a small taxi business as a front.
"The daawat would be held from time to time and was organised with the help of local priests and religious leaders - who would disseminate the invitation among men hailing from the Indian subcontinent, at local mosques," an officer, who has interrogated Jundal, claimed.
Interrogators claimed that the dinner, which had several delicacies on the menu though expressly forbade the consumption of alcohol, would follow sermons on the Holy Quran before broaching the topic of the Godhra riots of 2002.
Jundal, whose own revulsion at the riots had nudged him towards Jihad, the interrogators claimed, had one of these lined-up before being picked up by Saudi authorities.
"He would choose 2-3 men, seemingly inclined towards fundamentalism, from each dinner. They would then be invited for further discussions before being sent for training. Around 50 men had been recruited in this manner so far," the officer said.