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IB boss meets Jundal, grills him on ‘state actors’

delhi Updated: Jun 29, 2012 10:29 IST
Harinder Baweja
Harinder Baweja
Hindustan Times
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Nehchal Sandhu, the director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), recently made a rare visit to the interrogation centre at an undisclosed location in Delhi to question Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, the 26/11 handler who was among those who allegedly coordinated the Mumbai attack from a control room in Karachi.

Accompanied by a special director, Sandhu, India’s seniormost IB official, spent several hours on Tuesday questioning Jundal on his links with ‘state actors’ — officials within the Pakistani establishment — police sources told HT. Sandhu has a fine reputation of being an operations man and he is now joining the dots in one of the worst terrorist attacks against India.

Despite the testimony of Pakistan-born US terrorist David Coleman Headley, Pakistan has been denying any official role in the Mumbai attacks. Headley had named several Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) officials who he had been in touch with, but Pakistan has refused to cooperate in the investigation.

Fresh information from Jundal is expected to strengthen India’s case. Sandhu, officials reveal, quizzed Jundal on various aspects, including terror training camps operating on Pakistani soil, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) hierarchy and the level of proximity between the ISI and LeT.

With the help of Google maps, Jundal apparently also explained the exact location of the Bait-ul-Mujahideen camp in Pakistan’s Muzaffarabad. He also gave details of the activity in this camp. Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving terrorist of 26/11, had also described the camp to his interrogators in Mumbai.

At this camp, 10 terrorists were trained under LeT’s operational commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. The training was supervised by a visitor whom Lakhvi referred to as ‘major general’. Believed to have close links with the ISI, Lakhvi was allowed to coordinate terror activities from within his jail room in Rawalpindi, Jundal told Indian interrogators.

This confirms information US investigators shared with India. Jundal revealed full details of the goings-on within the control room from where the Mumbai attack was being directed. He has apparently revealed details of ‘state actors’ who kept visiting the control room through the three days that Mumbai was besieged by terror.

If home minister P Chidambaram has reiterated the involvement of the Pakistani state, it comes from Jundul’s confession. He was taken to Karachi from Dhaka (after he fled India) without any documentation and that can only be facilitated by the ISI, the source said. The fact that he went to Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport also speaks of the support he had from within the establishment.