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'LeT wanted to set up operational base in Colaba'

'LeT wanted to set up operational base in Colaba'

Author: IANS
Publication: The Hindu
Date: March 1, 2009
URL: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/000200903010914.htm

The Pakistan-based terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, had plans to set up an operational base in a rented accommodation in posh Colaba in south Mumbai in early 2008 to coordinate the 26/11 terror plan, according to investigators.

The plan could not materialise because of some reasons, and finally, the 'operational base' was set up in Room No.14, Batatawala Chawl, Nagpada, also in south Mumbai.

Incidentally, Badhwar Park in Colaba where the LeT planned to set up the operational base, is an exclusive multi-storeyed residential complex, housing some of the top officers of Indian Railways (IR), including high-ranking functionaries of Central Railway, Western Railway and Konkan Railway.

The choice of Badhwar Park was considered crucial to the entire scheme of the conspiracy for its proximity to the targeted locations.

This was corroborated by the fact that the terrorists selected the Machhimar (fishermen's) Colony, opposite Badhwar Park, as the landing point and then dispersed to their respective destinations in five groups.

Details in the 11,000-plus page Mumbai Police charge sheet point to the Mumbai terror mission of the LeT as a well-planned strategy of its chief Hafiz Sayyed and chief of operations Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, according to Assistant Commissioner of Police A.T. Duraphe.

Indications are that the conspiracy could have been hatched in mid-2007 and finally implemented a year later, on November 26, 2008.

One of the conspirators, Fahim Ansari, originally a resident of Motilal Nagar, Goregaon suburb in north-west Mumbai, was arrested in February 2008 by the Uttar Pradesh police and was handed over to Mumbai Police December 18, 2008. Between December 2007 and January 2008, under an assumed name of Sahil Pawaskar, he made unsuccessful attempts to rent a flat in the Badhwar Park.

Later, from the Nagpada room, Ansari conducted detailed reccee of iconic and important locations in Mumbai. He even procured a Reliance mobile number for his communications.

To camouflage his intentions, Ansari, known by over half a dozen aliases, enrolled himself for a course with SoftPro Computer Educational Council, located at Engineering Building, right opposite the Bombay Stock Exchange building - which was targeted in the March 12, 1993, terror attacks.

After completing the detailed groundwork, Ansari handed over the maps and other papers to Sabahuddin Ahmed, an important LeT functionary in India.

On his part, Sabahuddin got in touch with the LeT's Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Abu Kaahfa and passed on the information to them.

"It was these maps and directions which enabled the arrested terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir, alias Kasab, and his nine associates to arrive with absolute precision at the targeted locations and to comprehend the topography and layout of the targets," Duraphe noted.

When they finally struck November 26, 2008, they succeeded in killing over 170 people and injuring 300 more in the terror attack which lasted nearly 60 hours.

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