Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the main accused in the Mumbai terror attacks, on Monday confessed to his role, admitted he was a Pakistani and narrated in chilling detail the events leading to the killing spree that left 180 people dead in the boldest terror assault India has seen.
In a dramatic twist to the 26/11 case, Kasab also recounted how he and his associates undertook the sea voyage from Karachi to Mumbai to strike at 13 locations here on the night of Nov 26, 2008.
His sudden and unexpected confession took Special Judge ML Tahilyani and others by surprise. Kasab started by addressing Tahilyani in Urdu: "Sir, I want to make a confession in the court. I plead guilty to the crimes for which I have been charged."
The confession, which comes as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in India for a five-day visit, could prove to be a boost for India's stand vis-?-vis Pakistan on the issue of terror.
Kasab's confession included minute details of his role in the attacks on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Cama Hospital nearby.
He revealed in the court names of his Pakistani handlers, including Abu Hamza, Abu Jundal, Abu Kafa and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who saw them off when they boarded a ship at Karachi.
Hamza, who Indian intelligence agencies believe was behind the attack on the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore in December 2005, advised them on how to go about the terror attacks, said Kasab. He also described how he placed a bomb in a taxi that later exploded at Mazagaon, a south Mumbai area.
Naming Lakhvi of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as "the mastermind" behind the Mumbai mayhem, Kasab recounted how he and his associate Abu Ismail (who was shot by the police) went to a CST public toilet and assembled one of the bombs by installing a timer on it for use later.
He stunned the courtroom by giving details of his encounters with then Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare and his associate Vijay Salaskar inside Cama Hospital and how he finally killed him.
It was in the same firefight that the terror duo killed another senior police official, Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte, before hijacking a police jeep and escaping toward Girgaum Chowpatty.
Kasab was arrested by a group of police who had set up a road block there on the morning of Nov 27. The siege of the city that began Nov 26 night finally ended on the morning of Nov 29.
Kasab described how the entire journey from Karachi to Mumbai was completed in four different boats at various locations in the Arabian Sea and how they finally landed in South Mumbai's Colaba in an inflatable rubber dingy, opposite Badhwar Park, the residence of top railway officials.
Finally, they hailed public taxis to go to different locations that night (Nov 26) to carry out the biggest terror strikes on the country.
Kasab interspersed his shocking confessional with the statements given by several of the 124 witnesses already examined by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam to prove his point.
All through his confession, he kept naming his handlers and his associate Abu Ismail, who gave detailed instructions, maps, weapons and other equipment to the 10-member group for the terror attacks.
According to Nikam, Kasab's confession came after he discussed the entire issue with his government-appointed lawyer SG Abbas Kazmi.
"This is a victory of truth, and a victory for the prosecution. His confession came all of a sudden and he has admitted to all the crimes against him," Nikam said.