How old was Ajmal Kasab when he was recruited into the Lashkar-e-Tayiba to carry out the 26/11 attacks? Going by an interrogation report prepared by the Bangalore Police, Kasab was 16 when he was roped into the LeT.
The interrogation report of the Bangalore police is related to the attack on the Indian Institute of Science in 2005 and a team had managed to question Kasab in 2009 when he was alive.
The questioning was to do with his knowledge of the IISC attack, and surprisingly Kasab did make a point where he spoke about meeting Abu Hamza, the mastermind of the attack in which a professor lost his life and four others were injured.
Kasab, who was born in 1987, was 16-years-old when he met Hamza in 2003.
“During his interrogation Kasab gave out sketchy details about the IISC attack. He however said that he had met with Hamza in 2003 and was aware that a plot to carry out a strike in Bangalore was being planned.
“The IISC attack finally took place in 2005. Kasab said that Hamza was one of the men who opened fire at the IISC, adding that Hamza was given charge of the operation,” sources in the Bangalore Police said.
However Hamza, according to his co-accused Sabahuddin Ahmed, was taunted for the failure of the attack and was kept away from important roles for a considerable amount of time. Hamza’s name, however, cropped up again during the 26/11 attacks.
Kasab met Hamza in Karachi for the first time in 2003. It was the same year that Kasab was roped into the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
The interrogation gives the indication that Kasab was roped in at the age of 16 and was trained under Hamza. Kasab said he was introduced to Hamza and was told that he would teach him the art of sharp shooting.
“Abu Hamza did carry out training programmes at some terror camps in Pakistan, but then got busy with the IISC attack plot.
“However on his return to Pakistan Abu Hamza maintained a low profile as per instructions.
“It was once again in 2006 that Hamza became active and trained us”, Kasab also told the police.
Hamza, according to the Intelligence Bureau files, is a Pakistani national. Many had proclaimed him dead, but the latest intelligence input on him would show that he is very much alive in Pakistan.
The confessions by Kasab also go on to show that the amount of planning that went into the 26/11 attacks. It appears that the Lashkar was planning this attack since the past decade and had begun the recruitment process in 2003 itself.
Indian intelligence officials say recruiting Kasab at the age of 16 only goes on to show the mindset of some people in Pakistan.
“Youth are lured with false assurances and are given the impression that they would become heroes; and at the age of 16 it is only natural for a youth to fall to that trap,” an official said.
Sources in the Bangalore Police, however, said that it is not surprising that Kasab was roped in at the age of 16.
“There have been instances where youth are picked up at the age of 14 and are given terror training.
“These are fidayeen fighters who are trained all through the year and then kept on stand by. They are chosen for an attack and by the time they enter into the field they are completely battle ready,” another official pointed out.
Kasab was hanged on November 21, 2012 at Pune's Yerawada prison.
Image: 26/11 attacker Ajmal Kasab