Sunday, November 30, 2008
The only terrorist captured alive after the Mumbai massacre has given police the first full account of the extraordinary events that led to it – revealing he was ordered to ‘kill until the last breath’.
Azam Amir Kasab, 21, from Pakistan, said the attacks were meticulously planned six months ago and were intended to kill 5,000 people.
He revealed that the ten terrorists, who were highly trained in marine assault and crept into the city by boat, had planned to blow up the Taj Mahal Palace hotel after first executing British and American tourists and then taking hostages.
Mercifully, the group, armed with plastic explosives, underestimated the strength of the
105-year-old building’s solid foundations.
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As it is, their deadly attacks have left close to 200 confirmed dead, with the toll expected to rise to nearly 300 once the hotel has been fully searched by security forces.
Yesterday, Kasab chillingly went through details of Wednesday night’s killing spree across the city, which ended when he was cornered by police.
He pretended to be dead, which probably saved his life. It was only when he was being transferred to hospital by ambulance that his accompanying officer noticed he was still breathing.
Once inside Nair Hospital, Kasab, who suffered only minor injuries, told medical staff: ‘I do not want to die. Please put me on saline.’
And as Indian commandos ended the bloody 59-hour siege at the Taj yesterday by killing the last three Islamic gunmen, baby-faced Kasab was dispassionately detailing the background to the mayhem.
He described how its mastermind briefed the group to ‘target whites, preferably Americans and British’.
Some of the militants, including Kasab, posed as students during a visit to Mumbai a month ago, filming the ‘strike locations’ and familiarising themselves with the city’s roads.
One police officer said: ‘That, thankfully, never happened because we managed to stop them.’ Police insist that Kasab confessed to being a member of the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has denied involvement in the carnage, and claimed he and the others were trained in the Muslim country.
Intelligence analysts are keeping more of an open mind, however. And some political observers point out an unhelpful tendency by the Indian authorities continually to blame ‘Pakistan elements’ without solid evidence.
Some speculative reports emerging from New Delhi even suggested Pakistan’s intelligence services had a hand in training the terrorists.
Meanwhile, claims that up to seven of the terrorists could have been British men of Pakistani origin, who had connections to West Yorkshire, were being widely discounted.
A top Indian official, Maharashtra state chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, said there was ‘no authentic information’ to suggest that any British citizens were involved.
The UK Foreign Office also said there was ‘no evidence’ that any of the terrorists were British.
This article was posted: Sunday, November 30, 2008 at 10:00 am