Dec 10, 2008

India - Mumbai attackers part of bigger suicide team - NYT

The 10 men who conducted the attacks in Mumbai belonged to a group of 30 recruits selected for suicide missions and the whereabouts of the other 20 are unknown, the New York Times reported.

India has no reason to believe the other 20 are in India, but that could be a possibility, the newspaper's website ( quoted Mumbai Police Deputy Commissioner Deven Bharti as saying on Tuesday.

"Another 20 were ready to die," Bharti said. "This is the very disturbing part of it."

It was the first time Indian police had disclosed the larger number of suicide recruits from the Pakistani militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. They say only 10 gunmen took part in the Nov. 26-29 attacks in Mumbai that killed 171 people and raised tensions between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan.

Information about the other recruits came from the sole surviving gunman, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, who was arrested during the attacks and has been in police custody since then.

The 30 recruits were given highly specialised training, including marine combat skills, Bharti said.

Once Lashkar leaders had selected Kasab and his nine fellow attackers, they were kept sequestered in a house for three months. They were then divided into two-man teams, each team assigned a different target within Mumbai to attack -- information they were forbidden from sharing with one another, Bharti said.

They never saw the other 20 trainees again, Bharti told the Times, according to information provided by Kasab.


Indian police on Tuesday identified for the first time a fifth suspect in their probe into the attacks and disclosed new details of the weaponry they used.

The new suspect was arrested in February along with Indian-born Fahim Ansari, who was caught carrying maps that highlighted a number of the city landmarks that were hit in the assault, lead Mumbai police investigator Rakesh Maria said.

The man, who police identified only as Sabauddin, has been in jail in Uttar Pradesh with Ansari since they were arrested for an attack on a reserve police camp, Maria told a news conference.

Investigators want to question them about their links to homegrown Islamist militant groups and the Mumbai attacks.

Two others have been arrested for helping the gunmen get mobile phone cards, along with Kasab.

"What we have learned from Kasab is they were told: open random fire, kill as many people as you can, take hostages, then go to a vantage location and stay put," Maria said.

Maria on Tuesday also identified the nine gunmen that were killed and released pictures of eight of them. One was burned too badly, so his picture was withheld, he said.

Each of the 10 gunmen was armed with about a dozen grenades, a 9 mm pistol with two magazines, one AK-47 assault rifle with about seven magazines and 100-150 rounds of ammunition, he said.

"They called themselves fedayeen squads," he said, referring to the term for suicide attackers.

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