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Key suspect in Mumbai terror attack held

Monday June 25, 2012 09:57:28 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Abu Jindal Hamza, an Indian mastermind in the Mumbai terror attack and an alleged member of the Indian Mujahideen group, has been finally arrested, officials said Monday.

Hamza, 30, was arrested at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here June 21 after his deportation from Saudi Arabia, a police officer said. A court sent him to 15 days police custody.

Hamza was one of six people who were holed up in a "control room" in Karachi and directing the audacious Mumbai attack by 10 Pakistani terrorists in November 2008. The carnage left 166 people dead.

He was one of those who were heard on radio intercepts directing the terrorists to their targets in Mumbai and telling them who to kill. He had trained the killers to speak Hindi.

Hamza had told the Pakistani terrorists to convey to the media that the Mumbai attack was "just a trailer and the movie was still to come".

In the intercepted tapes, he spoke Hindi words and told the terrorists not to reveal their Pakistani identity.

He wanted them to instead claim they belonged to Toli Chowk in Hyderabad and were members of a supposedly homegrown 'Deccan Mujahideen' group.

"It's an operation we had been preparing for months. He was brought to Delhi from Saudi Arabia, which deported him on our government's request," the police officer said.

Some said Hamza, whose real name is Sayyad Zabiuddin, was a more important catch than even Kasab, the only one among the 10 Pakistanis who was caught.

An electrician by training, he had studied at the Indian Technical Institute in Beed, his home district in Maharashtra.

He went by many other aliases including Riasat Ali and Ansari. He had been living in Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport.

Hamza had been on the run since 2006 when he was linked to the discovery of weapons in Aurangabad. He is also accused of involvement in a blast in Ahmedabad.

An Interpol red corner notice had been issued against Hamza.

A former activist of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Hamza later came in contact with the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which was blamed for the Mumbai strike.

An officer said they would get hold of his voice samples -- to link him with the intercepted communication.

The arrest is expected to reveal more facts about the Mumbai operation that continues to cast a shadow on India-Pakistan ties.

Any new information could strengthen India's demand asking Pakistan to speed up the trial of the other suspects in the case.

But counter-terrorism expert Ajai Sahni didn't agree.

"Don't think his arrest will have a significant impact except that the process to prosecute him in the Mumbai attack will begin," Sahni told IANS. "Broadly, it is one more suspect being caught.

"As far as Pakistan is concerned, we have given enough evidence to them to prosecute the suspects. Pakistan is complicit with the suspects, and there is no forum to where we can take this for adjudication.

"This arrest helps us in strengthening our case against Pakistan that their soil was used against India in the Mumbai attack."

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said: "Delhi Police has been doing a magnificent job."

Meanwhile, a Mumbai court issued a warrant to produce Hamza before it.

The warrant was issued by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistra P.S. Rathod on an application filed by the 26/11 case Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and investigating officer Ramesh Mahale.

Nikam said Hamza was part of the criminal conspiracy hatched in Pakistan.

In his confession of 2009, Kasab said Hamza was an Indian and had been in telephonic contact with the killer group during the Mumbai carnage.







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