aka Abu Jundal
aka Abu Hamza
30 November 1980 |
Georai, Maharashtra, India
Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari aka Abu Hamza aka Abu Jundal is an Indian national, Islamic fundamentalist/terrorist belonging to Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba. He is accused of being involved in 2008 Mumbai attacks. Zabiuddin Ansari (Abu Hamza)'s name was listed in the list of "50 most wanted criminals sheltered in Pakistan" released by India on 21 May 2011. He had served as the handler of the 10 LeT terrorists during 2008 Mumbai attacks.
He is a suspect or an accused in several cases such as the Ahmedabad railway station blast case of February 19, 2006, the Aurangabad arms haul case of May 2006 and co-accused in German bakery blast case. He was deported from Saudi Arabia on 25 June 2012 and is currently in the custody of Indian security agencies.
Early life and marriage
Zabiuddin was born on 30 November 1980 in a village Hathi Khana mohalla in Georai area of Beed district in Maharashtra in western India. His father Syed Zakiuddin had worked as an insurance agent. Syed Zakiuddin's family consists of five sisters and one son, Zabiuddin. Zabiuddin had studied in Urdu up to Class X in Georai and joined Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Beed.
Ansari moved to Pakistan after his college. He married in 2009 to a Pakistani woman and has a son in Pakistan. The Pakistani passport he used, showed him as a resident of Sheikhpura in Pakistan's Punjab province.
Zabiuddin went to Pakistan for terror training in mid-2000s and recruited cadres for Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Indian Mujahideen. He was quickly promoted in the ranks of Lashker-e-Taiba after he was indoctrinated by banned SIMI post Gujarat riots in 2002.
Zabiuddin was introduced into LeT by a senior in college Fayaz Kagazi, who is suspected to be in Saudi Arabia. Fayaz also sent him for training to assemble bombs. He narrowly escaped an arrest in 2006 and reached Pakistan via Bangladesh.
Zabiuddin had lived in Pakistan for sometime after which he moved to Saudi Arabia where he worked as a teacher. He had been missing since 2005 and is known to have used at least ten aliases. Jundal also stayed for sometime in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The Central security agencies of India had interrogated many arrested terrorists to study the case of Zabiuddin. From these interrogations it was known that he had been operating out of terror camps in Karachi and Pakistan administered Kashmir It was also known that he was a key figure in the terror group Lashker-e-Taiba's plan to carry out the strikes in the remote areas of India.
He is a suspect or an accused in several cases such as the Kalupur station blast case of February 19, 2006, the Aurangabad arms haul case of May 2006 and co-accused in German bakery blast case.
Zabiuddin was the Hindi tutor and handler of the 10 terrorists responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that claimed 165 lives. Zabiuddin is believed to be one of the four LeT men who had come to send off Ajmal Kasab and nine other terrorists from Karachi a week prior they went to Mumbai.
Investigators allege that Zabiuddin Ansari was present in Lashkar’s Karachi based control room during the Mumbai attack. In telephone conversations between the terrorists and their handlers intercepted during the Mumbai attacks, a person speaking with a marked Mumbai accent can be heard instructing the terrorists to make a list of demands to the media. The men inside the control room also issued instructions to the terrorists on operational decisions including killing hostages.
Zabiuddin has claimed after his arrest that LeT chief Hafiz Saeed was also present in the LeT control room from where they had directed the Mumbai attack terrorist incident. Zabiuddin has also said that ISI and Pakistani army officials were involved in planning Mumbai attacks and had attended the meetings. According to him, those present at the control room later celebrated the terrorist attack and was later destroyed by ISI in 2008.
According to him, the coordinated attacks were previously scheduled for 2006, using Indian youth for the job. However, a huge cache of AK-47's and RDX, which were to be used for the attacks, was recovered from Aurangabad in 2006 thus leading to the dismantling of the original plot. Subsequently, Abu Hamza fled to Pakistan and along with Lashkar commanders, scouted for Pakistani youth for the attacks. In September 2007, ten people were selected for the mission. In September 2008, these ten terrorists tried sailing to Mumbai from Karachi, but failed to complete their mission due to choppy waters. The LeT terrorists tried again in November 2008 and managed to execute the final attacks.
Security agencies had been chasing him for 3 years in Delhi. The first tip-off about his presence in Saudi Arabia was given by a terrorist who was arrested by the Indian security agencies in connection with the 2010 Jama Masjid attack. Intelligence agencies, including western agencies, zoomed in on Ansari's location after he set up a website for recruiting youth for Lashkar under an alias Kaasif. This alias was known as one used by Ansari to the Indian intelligence agencies. Also, the US agencies noticed a high traffic between Ansari's website and other jihadi websites they were monitoring, and they asked Saudi intelligence to detain Ansari.
The arrest of Abu Jundal could be more significant than that of Ajmal Kasab as Jundal was amongst six main planners of the attacks. His evidence could have more credibility because of his presence in Pakistan. Investigation has confirmed some state support during the attacks when Abu Jundal and others from a control room in Karachi gave orders to 10 attackers.
Initial attempts to get Zabiuddin into custody had failed because although a native of Beed in Maharashtra, he had used a Pakistani passport to travel to Saudi Arabia, under alias Riyasat Ali. The passport also showed his father's name as Mohammed Khushi and residence as to Sheikhupura in Punjab, Pakistan. According to Indian home ministry Pakistan’s ISI exerted immense pressure on Saudi Arabia for months, to prevent Jundal being handed over to India. He was considered a prized catch by India, due to his status as a Lashkar-e-Taiba insider who could expose the role of ‘Pakistani state actors’ in the Mumbai attack. In a diplomatic game that involved three countries, India, too, stepped up pressure and sent several documents to the Saudi authorities to establish that Jundal may be using a Pakistani passport, but was actually an Indian citizen.
According to Indian Government sources, his arrest came after months of diplomatic negotiations involving authorities in Riyadh, Washington DC, and New Delhi. Indian dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia in recent months, had also lobbied Saudi authorities for assistance in Ansari’s case. Intelligence Bureau director Nehchal Sandhu is known to have directly worked with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, then director General of Saudi Intelligence agency Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah during the investigations. The Indian and Saudi Intelligence services had identified Ansari on the basis of intercepted phone communications.
DNA test was also used to establish his identity. A DNA sample obtained from Ansari's family was sent to the Saudi authorities by India. The DNA test had matched and Saudi authorities were persuaded for handing him to India.
On 21 June 2012, the Intelligence Branch took custody of Abu Hamza alias Sayed Zabiuddin on his deportation from Saudi Arabia at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, and on 25 June 2012, formally handed him over to Delhi Police, that announced the arrest, for him to be produced at the New Delhi Court for trial. The arrest of Sayed Zabiuddin was touted as the most significant development in the 2008 Mumbai attacks case after Kasab's arrest.
In July 2012, he was interrogated by several Indian security agencies for several cases of which he is accused.
Pakistani Passport and IDs
Zabiuddin although being an Indian, held a Pakistani passport and two Pakistani identity cards, which pointed towards Pakistans's involvement. One of the two Pakistani identity cards provided to him was for internal use in Pakistan while the other was to be used outside Pakistan. His Pakistani passport was issued in the name of Riyasat Ali, and was arranged by a senior Lashkar commander and Mumbai attack plotter Muzammil.
His Pakistani passport and National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis were made in the name of Riyasat Ali. The documents had mentioned his address at a place close to Muridke, where the Lashkar-e-Taiba headquarter is situated. His National Identity Card also mentions that "he is entitled visa free entry to Pakistan". The special entitlement and the documents were and evidence of high level Pakistani state support to facilitate his seamless travel in and out of Pakistan. However, Pakistan has strongly rejected any insinuation of involvement by state actors in any acts of militancy in India. It is also stated by Consulate General of Pakistan that any National Identity Card holder is entitled to visa free entry into Pakistan and this is not a special treatment. The visa-free entry laws of Pakistan are similar to those in Australia, Canada, Egypt, France and United States. Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani while on a visit to India offered a joint investigation into Mumbai attacks.
The Karachi Project
The Karachi Project was created by Pakistani intelligence agency I.S.I. along with Lashkar-e-Taiba to train Indians in Pakistan on bomb blasts. The scheme receives funds from Pakistan and Gulf countries. According to Abu Jundal the scheme continues to be a threat. Accordingly, the Delhi Police has registered a criminal case of conspiracy to launch another terror attack on India.
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|26/11 tape: Zabiuddin Ansari briefing the terrorists at Chabad House, Nariman Point, Mumbai from The Hindu retrieved on 25 June 2012|