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Why the terrorists delayed the attacks

Vicky Nanjappa | December 19, 2008 12:50 IST
Last Updated: December 19, 2008 16:02 IST

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Sabahuddin and Fahim Ansari, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images] operatives who are in the Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad's custody, have revealed that the attacks in the city were delayed due to two reasons.

First, the fear that Ansari's confessions to the Uttar Pradesh [Images] police -- after he was arrested -- about his reconnissance of likely terror targets in Mumbai would have alerted Indian law enforcement agencies and led to heightened security in the city.

Second, the Lashkar could not procure enough weapons for the attacks by September 27, the day the atatcks were initially scheduled for.

Sources told that the two men, who were arrested in connection with the attack on the Central Reserve Police Force camp in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh earlier this year, confessed that after the attack on the CRPF camp two terrorists were dump carry extra weapons and ammunition near a lake, located around 3 km from Rampur.

Sabahuddin was to pick up those weapons later and hand it over to the terrorists bound for Mumbai by sea.

He told his interrogators in Mumbai that a Lashkar operative named Muzzamil called him from Pakistan and asked him to retrieve the weapons.

Muzzamil asked him to store the weapons in a secure location until the terrorists were on their way to India, Sabahuddin said.

He was told that more weapons would be arranged from Kashmir and sent to him.

This is what Sabahuddin told the ATS:

'I was told that the weapons would be dispatched from Kashmir and reach Nepal from where I was supposed to collect it. My bosses in the Lashkar told me there was no question of the weapons coming from Pakistan directly because of the beefed-up security on the border.'

'I immediately contacted Imran and Suhail, the two men who were part of the Rampur operation. They had dumped the weapons near the lake. However, before I could retrieve the weapons, I lost contact with them and hence could not retrieve the weapons.'

'Both Ansari and I were then arrested and this may have led the Lashkar to postpone the Mumbai operation.'

Surveying Mumbai:

Investigations reveal both Ansari and Sabahuddin surveyed likely targets in Mumbai and passed the information to the Lashkar. Sabahuddin told the ATS that he came to Mumbai from Nepal and secured a job at a private company.

'During my time in Mumbai I visited various places, including the Taj Mahal hotel [Images] and the Bombay Stock Exchange [Images] and prepared sketches of the same,' Sabahuddin said.

Ansari said he met Sabahuddin for the first time in Nepal. A resident of Mumbai, he joined the Lashkar after he was recruited by someone in Saudi Arabia when he went to work in the kingdom.

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