Abdul Latif was arrested within days after the IC 814 was hijacked. Investigators say his confessional statement exposes how ill-prepared our intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism mechanisms were.
Latif provided infrastructure support to hijackers — rented accommodation, driving licenses and passports under false names — and executed the entire operation with considerable ease. Excerpts from his statement to CBI:
- Latif was born on June 1, 1969 in Amarpura village, Patan, Gujarat. After initial schooling, nine-year-old Latif went to Mumbai where his father owned a small business. He studied in Burhania High School, Nagpada up to Class VIII. Latif returned to his village and studied in a madrasa for five years.
- Latif then taught Quran before joining Mumbai’s Usmania Hotel as a cashier in 1992. Latif says the Babri Masjid demolition shattered him. He went to Saudi Arabia in 1993 and worked as an Imam for two years.
- He met Zakir Kashmiri, brother of Farooq Kashmiri, the second in command of Harkat ul Ansar/Harkat ul Mujahideen. In June 1995, Latif decided to join HuM to arrange Maulana Masud Azhar’s escape from Jammu jail.
- Latif returned to India in 1995 and went to Dhaka and Karachi on a Pakistani passport and then to Khosht in Afghanistan for a 40-day training. In 1998, he again went to Karachi via Dhaka and met Yusuf Azhar, brother-in-law of Maulana Masood Azhar.