New Delhi, June 26 (IBNS): Members of Pakistani spy service ISI were part of the conspiracy and execution of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the arrested key plotter of the strike Abu Hamza has told police, media reports said Tuesday.
Sayeed Zabiuddin Ansari, also known as Abu Hamza and Abu Jindal, who has confessed to being among the six men tasked with guiding the ten Pakistani terrorists during the three-day-attack on Mumbai, was arrested at Delhi airport on June 21 on his arrival from Saudi Arabia.
During his questioning by authorities the 30-year-old Indian-born militant went as far as saying that Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) operatives were present in the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) “control room” in Karachi and were part of the entire conspiracy, reports said.
The disclosure is being seen in India another damning testimony of the role played by elements of Pakistani administration in the 2008 strike that killed 166 people and wounded more than 300, bolstering similar statements made by David Coleman Headley and Ajmal Kasab.
While Kasab is the lone surviving terrorist from the attack and still under trial in India, Pakistani American Headley, who was arrested by the U.S., had scouted the locations for the attack, known in India as 26/11.
Indian investigators believe Ansari could be crucial in exposing LeT's deep-rooted links with Pakistani "state actors" who foster militancy in India, and mount further pressure on the country to prosecute suspects living freely including alleged mastermind Hafiz Saeed.
According to a police official, for two years Ansari had been living in Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport and had been "talent-spotting" for another Mumbai-style "massive attack", even though he has not yet said where the planned target was.
India’s foreign ministry meanwhile offered little information over what led to Ansari’s capture, saying that arrest was an 'achievement' for India and denying that it posed any threat to the resumed India-Pakistan dialogue.
Media reports said Ansari’s arrest came after months of painstaking diplomatic talks between Riyadh, Washington and New Delhi which saw Indian officials travel to Saudi Arabia to lobby for him to be handed over.
There were also reports that claimed Pakistan had exerted pressure on Saudi Arabia not to release him into Indian custody over fears that it could compromise the identity of the “state actors” - most likely from the ISI and the army - who were linked to the Mumbai attacks.