Mumbai: The name Abu Hamza has haunted security agencies across India for the past eight years. The name has cropped up in almost every terror attack in the country since 2005, and he has managed to give the cops the slip on every occasion. However, on June 21 his luck ran out and the Delhi police arrested Sayed Zabiuddin, alias Abu Hamza outside Delhi's international airport.
Sources in Delhi said that Hamza’s name features in the 26/11 charge sheet as Abu Jundal, and that he was the one who was giving instructions to the 10 terrorists during the 26/11 attack from a Karachi-based camp in 2008.
Intelligence agencies were hot on his trail for the past three years and had been tracking his movements. He was recently traced to Saudi Arabia, and on government of India’s intervention was deported from Saudi Arabia. However, officials in Delhi refused to comment on the fact that he was deported.
The Delhi police maintained that Abu Hamza was picked up from Indira Gandhi International Airport while he was making an exit from the airport.
“The person who goes by the pseudonym of Abu Jundal has been apprehended and has been remanded to the custody of law enforcement agencies”, Home Minister, P Chidambaram said in New Delhi. However, he did not confirm that he landed in Delhi from a Gulf country.
Sources said that he has confessed to his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attack and has also confirmed that he was present in the Karachi control room from where 26/11 handlers were controlling the attack. He has been remanded to police custody by a Tis Hazari court till July 5. A Pakistani passport and some other documents have reportedly been recovered from his possession.
Officials from the Special Cell informed the court that Abu Hamza was required to be taken to Bihar, Hyderabad, Karnataka and Mumbai for investigation.
Sources said, he uses pseudonyms and is believed to have around 26 different names to conceal his identity during different operations of LeT.
In the intercepted 26/11 tapes, Abu Hamza was heard using Hindi words like ‘prashasan’ (government) and was directing the terrorists to conceal their Pakistani identity and instead identify themselves from Deccan Mujahideen hailing from Tolichowki in Hyderabad.
An MHA source said, “He has confessed to have worked with Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. He was present in the Karachi control room from where he was passing instructions to terrorists in Mumbai.”
“In his interrogation he has revealed the name of an accused who is an official of Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). His voice is now being matched with those intercepted during the 26/11 Mumbai operations,” said the MHA source.
NIA and other agencies are also likely to seek his remand for further questioning.
“Three people Abu Hamza, Abu Jundal and Abu Kasa had trained all the ten terrorists and were also giving them instructions during the 26/11 attack. They had also dropped the ten terrorists till Karachi bunder. One of them was Hamza. That’s why his arrest is a crucial one,” said a senior crime branch officer in Mumbai.
During the 26/11 trial in a special court in Mumbai, Ajmal Kasab, in his deposition had reportedly acknowledged his presence in the training camp. He had reportedly told the court that one person by the name of Abu Jundal had tutored 10 terrorists on how to speak Hindi.
In the intercepted calls, his pronunciation of Hindi words seemed like that of a person who is of Maharashtra origin. Hamza hails from Beed district in Maharashtra.
The monitoring of calls, intelligence inputs and tracking of his whereabouts helped intelligence agencies locate him, sources said.
India had also secured an Interpol Red Corner notice against him in which he was accused of crimes involving the use of weapons, explosives and terrorism.
The 30-year-old Zabiuddin, alias Abu Hamza, hails from Beed district in Maharashtra. He has trained at the Indian Technical Institute at Beed, and is believed to have become a jihadi after the 2002 Gujarat riots.
He was involved in many terror plots, and security agencies believe he played a part in an alleged plot to assassinate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. He first joined the banned group SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), and then the Indian Mujahideen and later the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba. Intelligence sources believe he has been a vital link between Indian Mujahideen and LeT.
Abu Hamza is an accused in the 26/11 attack of Mumbai and is also allegedly involved in the Pune German Bakery blast of February 2010 and the September 19 blast of Jama Masjid, New Delhi. Apart from that he is also believed to be involved in smuggling a cache of arms in Aurangabad in 2006. His role is also suspected in the attack on the campus of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore on December 28, 2005.