The Mumbai terror attacks have been in the works for at least a year. The interrogation report on Ajmal alias Abu Mujahid, who the media have been referring to as Ajmal Amir Kasab, reveals that he underwent 21 days of physical training and Darsh-e-Quran (Quran recital) at a Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) camp at Muridke in Punjab in Pakistan last year. This training programme was called Daura-e-Shufa (era of simplicity).
<b1>“He does not remember the date, but recalls that he was in training, along with 24 others, when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated,” the interrogation report states. Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007. This timeline is corroborated by the confessions of Fahim Ahmed Ansari, who was arrested, along with four others, by the UP Special Task Force in February this year.
Following this, after a gap of one or two days, Ajmal, the only terrorist captured alive by the police, was sent to Manzera in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for another 21-day training programme called Markaz-e-Taiyyaba (centre of pure). He was taught how to use automatic rifles, including AK-47s and M-16s, and pistols. On completing his arms training, he had to undergo two months of Khidmat (service) training — as a cook in the camp kitchen.
The courses were very intensive and gruelling and not all recruits made the cut. Ajmal did, and was then sent to another LeT camp in the Cherapadi Pahadi region of Muzzaffarabad in PoK in June-July this year.
For the next two-and-a-half months, he received advanced training from ustads (teachers) in firing AK-47s, rocket launchers and mortars and was also taught how to use GPS systems and marine compasses. The camp commander was a terrorist called Saif-ur-Rahman, alias Chachu (who his fellow terrorist Ismail was trying to call when they were cornered in Mumbai). Ajmal was also trained by terrorists who had returned from Jammu & Kashmir. This bunch of battle-hardened desperados were highly respected by members of the camp and called “Gazi”.
Apart from arms training, Ajmal and the other “students” were also taught how to withstand intensive interrogation and mislead interrogators. The methods were primitive and brutal — they were thrashed for several days during training to prepare them for “hostile interrogations”. Having “qualified”, Ajmal and his cohorts were taught to operate maritime vessels.
His handlers now considered him a finished product. He proceeded to Azizabad in Karachi where he and nine others were briefed about their deadly mission. The group of 10 started in a medium-sized boat from an isolated creek in Azizabad on November 23. Three or four nautical miles into the sea, they boarded Al Hussaini, a larger, sea-faring vessel. They were given a bag each, which contained eight grenades, one TT pistol with one or two magazines, an AK-47 with three double magazines, a gas lighter, a dry fruit packet weighing 500 gm, loose ammunition, one mobile phone with an Indian SIM card and a walkie-talkie. Each of them was also given fake ID cards.
By 12.30-1.00 pm, they were within reach of Mumbai, but the instructions were to launch the operations only after nightfall. So, they slowed down and waited for the sun to set. At 6.30 pm, the group of 10 boarded a rubber speedboat, fitted with a new Yamaha engine and came ashore in India’s financial capital at 8.30 pm.