Sabauddin Ahmad (24), a Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operative arrested in February 2008 for an attack on an army camp in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, has said that the terror group’s chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi masterminded the July 11, 2006, train bombings in Mumbai. The November 26, 2008, terror attack was also planned by Lakhvi, whose custody has been sought by India.
A copy of Sabauddin’s 40-page confession, made while he was in the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force’s custody, is with Hindustan Times. Sabauddin is currently in the Mumbai Crime Branch’s custody.
Sabauddin said he had flown to the United Arab Emirates from Karachi on July 1, 2006. Six days later, he flew to Dhaka and stayed at Hotel Midway on VIP Road. He heard of the train bombings on July 11, as he was trying to cross into India.
The same day, Muzammil, Sabauddin’s trainer at the Lashkar camp at Baith-ul-Mujahideen in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), asked him to return to Pakistan. Sabauddin said he flew to Karachi, heading straight to the camp. “I discussed the train blasts with Abu Anas [a Lashkar operative]. He told me that those responsible for the blasts had escaped to safe destinations. Lakhvi had forbidden all talk of the train blasts,” Sabauddin said in the confession.
Sabauddin, from Madhubani district in Bihar, was a good student, passing his Secondary School Certificate exams from Darbhanga with a first class in 1999. He joined Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) the next year for his 10+2 in science.
After the 2002 Gujarat riots, Sabauddin met one Ajmal from Gaya in Bihar, who was pursuing a BTech at AMU. Ajmal befriended him and influenced him to “fight against the injustice meted out to Muslims”. In March 2002, Ajmal took Sabauddin to one Salim Salar in Jamalpur, Uttar Pradesh. Salar was a key Lashkar operative, sending youths to Pakistan for terror training.
Sabauddin was sent to Baith-ul-Mujahideen via Jammu and Hilkaka in the Pir Panjal range. At the camp, he was trained in arms and explosives as well as river crossing, rock climbing and border crossing. The camp was controlled by Lakhvi, he said.
After 45 days, the batch of 70 jehadis was taken to training camp run by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) at Marwah in Pakistani Punjab. “There too we were given similar training for about 50 days with an emphasis on weapons use,” Sabauddin said.
In October-November 2002, the Lashkar’s annual meeting was held over three days at Pattoki, 12 km from Lahore. It was attended by top leaders like Abd-ur-Rehman Makki, Abd-us-Saalam Gulvi, Lakhvi and Abu Hamza.
Later, Muzammil arranged a meeting between Sabauddin and Lakhvi in Islamabad. “Lakhvi asked me to go to the ISI and work with them as they needed a dedicated jehadi,” said Sabauddin.
Eventually, Sabauddin was taken to the Markaz Taiba, headquarters of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, LeT’s parent body, where its chief Hafeez Sayed stayed. Sabauddin was later taken to Lahore to meet one Colonel Kayani, an ISI staffer. “Kayani sent me to a safe house near Batta Chowk in Lahore,” said Sabauddin. He met Sayed in March 2003 during prayers at Moch Darwaz mosque in Lahore.
Sabauddin said the ISI prepared his Pakistani passport, using which he flew to Kathmandu, Dhaka, Colombo and the UAE, before arriving in Bangalore to enroll in a college, as directed by the Lashkar. He said he provided shelter and safe passage to Abu Hamza, who planned the attack on the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore on December 28, 2005.
After the Rampur attack, when he was in Kathmandu, Sabauddin was asked by Muzammil to meet a man who went by the code name of ‘Saquib’, but whose real name was Fahim Ansari. Ansari was originally a resident of Goregaon (E) in Mumbai.
"I helped Ansari cross into India. He went to Mumbai and established himself, but did not get the weapons for suicide attacks — because the Rampur attackers had thrown away their weapons,” said Sabauddin. “I had to get the weapons picked up and stored as one more attacker was being sent from Kashmir.” With this in mind, Sabauddin went to the hotel where Ansari was staying in Kathmandu. “However, I was arrested there by the Nepal police.”