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...seek release of IM men

india Updated: Dec 25, 2008 00:42 IST
Debasish Panigrahi

The objective of the 10-member Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) fidayeen (suicide) squad, which carried out the 26/11 attacks, was not just to kill innocent people but also seek release of terror operatives, including 20 members of the Indian Mujahideen (IM).

This has been revealed by the lone arrested terrorist, Ajmal Amir Kasab, during his month-long interrogation, crime branch officials have told HT.

The squad were to obtain the operatives’ release by creating multiple hostage situations and seek the terrorists’ release in return for the hostages.

However, the plan could not materialise because of prompt police retaliation, technical problems faced by the mobile phones they were carrying and the death of the group’s leader Ismail Khan early in the attack.

Sources quoting from Kasab’s interrogation details revealed the LeT’s operations in India had suffered a severe setback following arrest of their cadres by security forces in different parts of the country with the last major round of arrests being that of IM operatives by Mumbai police’s crime branch.

“They were told that most of the arrested cadre were lodged at the Arthur Road prison,” said an officer. “Telephone numbers of leading Indian TV news channels had been fed on the mobile phones given to them for making their demands during the hostage crisis.”

But the group faced its first crisis when Kasab and Ismail failed to locate the “first floor” shelter at CST railway station where they were supposed to take hostages. Topping it, railway police retaliated quickly by firing at them. Even when the duo ran out of CST, Ismail desperately tried desperately to contact other members of the group and his handlers — Rehman Chacha and one Kazi. However, his SIM card did not work. This is when Kasab and Ismail thought of creating a hostage situation in any building they came across and Cama hospital became the next target. But here too they were challenged by the police forcing them to abandon the idea and run for cover.

Sources also said that the group had been asked to eliminate all the hostages as soon as their demands were meet and later kill themselves too.