There’s now a leaked confession in India from the one live terrorist out to the news, and it made the rounds yesterday. It came out very fast, and I’ll withold judgement on its veracity until more of the real evidence comes out. The confession does lay out a realistic timeline, but there are a few gaps I find in it.
Normal terror Logistics, and the fact that the terrorist shot more than 250 rounds they were supplied with tells me there were more than the 10 stated. I would suspect there are others who did just logistics work and facilitation, and there are the unknown financiers. Those are the real leads that need to be followed up on, the weapons used, the RDX, the grenades, etc. did not materialize out of thin air, someone bought them.
Azam said he was member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, but the Kashmir- based Pakistani militant group has denied any role in the attacks.
Founded as a guerilla group to fight the Indian army in Kashmir, the group was banned by the Pakistani government after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks, but reportedly continues to enjoy the backing of some Pakistani politicians and security officials.
A native of Faridkot in Pakistan- occupied Kashmir, Azam revealed the names of his fellow terrorists, all Pakistani citizens: Abu Ali, Fahad, Omar, Shoaib, Umer, Abu Akasha, Ismail, Abdul Rahman (Bara) and Abdul Rahman (Chhota).
But the 10 men were apparently not the only ones directly involved: Another group, he claimed, had checked themselves into hotels four days before, waiting with weapons and ammunition they had stockpiled in the rooms.
The 10 men in Azam’s group were chosen well: All were trained in marine warfare and had undergone a special course conducted by the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Preparations were also detailed, and started early.
Azam and eight others in the team made a reconnaissance trip to Mumbai several months before the attacks, pretending to be Malaysian students. They rented an apartment at Colaba market, near one of their targets, the Nariman House.
The chief planner of the attacks also visited Mumbai a month before to take photographs and film strategic locations, including the hotel layouts.
Returning to Pakistan, the chief plotter trained the group, telling them to ‘kill till the last breath’.
Surprisingly, the men did not expect themselves to be suicide terrorists. Azam said they had originally planned to sail back on Thursday – the recruiters had even charted out a return route, stored on a GPS device.
On the evening of Nov 21, Azam’s group set off from an isolated creek in Karachi in a boat. The next day, a large Pakistani vessel with four Pakistanis and crew picked them up, whereupon the group was issued arms and ammunition.
Each man in the assault team was handed six to seven magazines of 50 bullets each, eight hand grenades, one AK-47 assault rifle, an automatic loading revolver, credit cards and a supply of dried fruit. They were, as some media put it, in for the long haul.
A day later, the team came across an Indian-owned trawler, Kuber, which they boarded. They killed four of the fishermen onboard, dumped their bodies into the sea, and forced its skipper Amarjit Singh to sail for India.
The next day, they beheaded the skipper, and one of the gunmen, a trained sailor, took the wheel and headed for the shores of Gujarat, India.
Near Gujarat, the terrorists raised a white flag as two officers of the coast guard approached.
While the officers questioned them, one of the terrorists grappled with one of them, slit his throat and threw his body into the boat. The group then ordered the other officer to help them get to Mumbai.
On Nov 26, the team reached the Mumbai coast.
Four nautical miles out, they were met by three inflatable speedboats. They killed the other coast guard officer, transferred into the speedboats and proceeded to Colaba jetty as dusk settled.
The Kuber was found later with the body of the 30-year-old captain onboard.
At Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade – just three blocks away from Nariman House – the 10 men got off, stripped off the orange windbreakers they had been wearing and made sure to take out their large, heavy backpacks.
It was there that they were spotted by fisherman Prasan Dhanur, who was preparing his boat, and harbour official Kashinath Patil, 72, who was on duty nearby.
“Where are you going?” Patil asked them. “What’s in your bags?”
The men replied: “We don’t want any attention. Don’t bother us.”
Thinking little of it, Dhanur and Patil, who said they did not see the guns hidden in the backpacks, did not call the police, and watched the 10 young men walk away.
Then the carnage started.
On hitting the ground, the 10 men broke up.
Four men headed for the Taj Mahal Hotel, two for The Oberoi Trident, two for Nariman House and two – Azam and Ismail – for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus by taxi.
At the railway station, Azam and his colleague opened fire, targeting Caucasian tourists while trying to spare Muslims.
The two gunmen also destroyed the CCTV control room, throwing grenades into it.
It was here that Azam was photographed, dressed in light-grey combat trousers and sneakers, a rucksack on his back, toting his AK-47.
According to one security expert, the way he carried the assault rifle revealed months of training.
The two men left the main hall of the railway station littered with bodies and pools of blood, then moved on to Metro Cinema and then to the Girgaum Chowpatty area in a stolen Skoda.
It was there that their plans started to unravel.
At the Girgaum Chowpatty area, Azam and Ismail were intercepted by anti-terror troops from the Gamdevi police station, and they ended up trading shots.
Azam managed to shoot dead assistant police inspector Tukaram Umbale, while one of them also gunned down anti-terror squad chief Hemant Karkare.
Ismail, however, was eventually killed, while Azam himself was shot in the hand. Pretending to be dead, he fell, and the two men were taken to Nair Hospital.
But police soon spotted him breathing and quickly evacuated the hospital’s casualty ward, and brought in the anti-terror squad to interrogate him.
In the end I won’t be surprised if other Kashmiri groups like Harkat ul Mujahideen, Harkat ul Mujahideen al Islami, Jaish e Muhammed, and Al Qaeda are involved. All of these groups including Lashkar e Toiba declared loyalty to Al Qaeda in September 2007. Any or all of the above could have aided with planning, logistics, finance, or training, and it’s likely that one of these groups did.