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26/11: Why ISI continues to shield Sajid Mir

Last updated on: November 29, 2013 15:12 IST

Terror operative Abu Jundal’s trial on December 9 is likely to open a new war of words, for his claims on another LeT operative Sajid Mir, who, Jundal has claimed that was a ‘khaas aadmi’ of the ISI. Vicky Nanjappa reports

Abu Jundal alias Zabiuddin Ansari, the Hindi tutor of the 10 terrorists who carried out the 26/11 attack in Mumbai says that Lashkar-e-Tayiba’s elusive commander Sajid Mir was indeed in the custody of the Pakistani officials, but was let off easily two days after the attack.

Jundal, who was one of the men in the control room at Karachi during the attack, had stated earlier that Mir, who also goes by the alias Sajeed Majid was also part of the control room.

Jundal’s latest revelation regarding Mir comes at a time when his trial is all set to begin on December 9. He is being tried for the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case and also the 26/11 attacks.

Jundal, during his several hours of questioning by both the National Investigation Agency and the crime branch had provided several details regarding Mir, who also handled David Headley.

Two days after he was arrested and brought down from Saudi Arabia, he had told the agencies that Mir was an important man in the Pakistan establishment and none of them were allowed to speak much with him. They were also told that Mir was closely guarded and was a “khaas admi (a favoured person).”

However, Jundal’s latest claim that Mir was kept in custody and then let off is interesting as it only proves that Pakistan was shielding him.

While Jundal said that he was taken in for questioning by Pakistani authorities, Indian intelligence officers have countered this claim, and have said that it was a debriefing session which was undertaken by the Inter-Services Intelligence, following which, he was let off.

Mir was intentionally kept in ISI’s custody since they knew that India would be baying for his blood and any further details on him would directly link to the Pakistan establishment.

Mir, according to various accounts and investigations was part of the Pakistan army. He later joined the ISI and was working for them. His primary role was to set up the foreign operations of the LeT, and in this regard he worked closely with operatives out of Pakistan.

He had played a crucial role in recruiting operatives in France and then his biggest assignment was of course the 26/11 attack. During this attack he was Headley’s handler, who too during his interrogation has confirmed the same, only falling short of linking him to the Pakistani establishment.

Jundal’s account regarding Mir would come up during his trial and his statements before the judge would be yet another step towards linking the Pakistan establishment with the Mumbai attack.

Jundal further has also claimed that Mir set up the control room in Karachi along with LeT’s top leaders Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Abu Kafa. The control room at Malir, Karachi was closed down immediately after the attack.

Mir was taken into safe custody for two days and then asked to leave.

From Karachi, Mir is said to have gone to Muzzafarabad, from where he disappeared. The Baitul Mujahideen camp at Muzzafarabad where the terrorists were trained was shut down and a new one was set up in an area known as place called Chela Bandi.

After staying at Chela Bandi for a couple of days, Mir was summoned to Islamabad.

“We heard nothing about him after that,” Jundal told the police.

“These would be key aspects during the trial," said an officer who has interrogated Jundal.

His advocate, Ejaz Naqvi said, “Jundal has retracted most of what he has said.” The trial will commence on December 9, and the charges are likely to be framed on the same day, Naqvi said.

Vicky Nanjappa