Captured Mumbai gunman’s chilling confessions
The gunman captured in last month’s Mumbai attacks had originally intended to seize hostages and outline demands in a series of dramatic calls to the media, according to his confession obtained Saturday by The Associated Press.
Mohammed Ajmal Kasab said he and his partner, who assaulted the city’s main train station, had planned a rooftop standoff, but they couldn’t find a suitable building, the statement to police says.
The two killed dozens of people inside the station, but it’s unclear if they ever held hostages.
Kasab’s seven-page confession, given to police over repeated interrogations, offers chilling new details of the three-day rampage through India’s commercial center that left 164 people plus nine gunmen dead.
He said the assault, which started Nov. 26, was initially set for Sept. 27, though he doesn’t explain why it was delayed. The gunmen had been told by their handlers to carry out the attacks during rush hours when the station is teeming with commuters.
After reaching Mumbai, Kasab and his partner, Ismail Khan, the group’s ringleader, headed to the train station by taxi.
“Ismail and myself went to the common toilet, took out the weapons from our sacks, loaded them, came out of toilet and started firing indiscriminately toward the passengers,” Kasab told police.
As a police officer opened fire, the two militants retaliated with grenades before entering another part of the station and randomly shooting more commuters.
The men then searched for a building with a rooftop where they had been told to hold hostages and call a contact named Chacha, whom Kasab identified as Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the suspected mastermind behind the attacks.
Chacha, which means “uncle” in Hindi, would supply phone numbers for media outlets and specify what demands the two should make.
“This was the general strategy decided by our trainers,” Kasab said.
After failing to find a “suitable building,” however, the two men instead stormed a hospital where they looked for hostages and exchanged more gunfire with police, he said.
Kasab, 21, confirmed he was Pakistani national and said he was trained by Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist group banned by Pakistan in 2002 and blamed by India in the attacks. He said he was given lectures on India security and intelligence agencies, as well as instruction in how to evade pursuing security forces.
Police said Saturday that Kasab has also written to Pakistani officials to request legal help.
In a letter written Thursday, he asks for “legal aid” from the Pakistani consulate and to meet with a consular representative, said Rakesh Maria, Mumbai’s chief investigator.
The letter was forwarded to India’s government to relay to Pakistani officials, but it was unclear whether it had been delivered, Maria said.
Pakistani officials were not immediately available for comment.
A number of Indian lawyers — including a prominent group of Mumbai attorneys — have refused to defend Kasab against criminal charges amid outrage over the attacks.
Kasab is being held on 12 offenses, including murder and waging war against the country, but has not yet been formally charged.
Islamabad has refused to acknowledge Kasab’s nationality, complaining that India has yet to furnish any evidence.