26/11 plotter Abu Jundal sent to judicial custody

      The suspected key plotter of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008, Sayeed Zabiuddin Ansari, was sent to judicial custody till October 8 by the sessions court in New Delhi. He was produced before the court on Thursday. The court also directed that after the current judicial custody expires, Ansari would have to be produced before a Special Court of National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Ansari, also known as Abu Hamza and Abu Jindal, was arrested at Delhi airport on June 21 on his arrival from Saudi Arabia . The police revealed his arrest only on Monday, after interrogating him for five days about the three-day rampage in Mumbai that killed 166 people. According to prosecution, Ansari helped coordinate the attack by 10 members of Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group from a ‘control room’ in the Pakistani city of Karachi and also helped to train the gunmen who laid siege on prime spots in Mumbai for three days. Until his arrest, Ansari had been living in Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport. An official of New Delhi 's anti-terrorist police unit had revealed this to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Speaking to media after Ansari was produced before the Sessions Judge in New Delhi on Thursday, the lawyer for the NIA, Ahmed Khan, said that Mumbai’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had transferred the case to the NIA. “We asked for him to be produced in the court for a hearing on October 08 and the court has given that date. He will be produced before the Special Court of National Investigation Agency (NIA) on October 8 at 2 p.m. Ansari's arrest has cast a fresh spotlight on Pakistan's history of backing militant groups as a tool of its foreign policy. Pakistan ’s military intelligence agency, the ISI, nurtured the emergence of the LeT in the early 1990s to serve as a proxy to fight Indian forces in Kashmir. Pakistan denies backing militant groups, but experts believe the security establishment maintains a relationship with LeT. Pakistan's government has not commented on Ansari's arrest.

The Mumbai attacks heightened tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since 1947, and have continued to cast a pall over fragile relations ever since. Ten militants arrived on the Mumbai shoreline in a dinghy on November 26, 2008, before splitting into four groups and embarking on a killing spree. They held off elite commandos for up to 60 hours in two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre in the city. The only attacker to survive was sentenced to death in 2010. A voice believed to belong to Ansari was recorded talking to the gunmen attacking the Jewish centre. He is reported to have told the attackers to convey to the media that the “attack was a trailer and the entire movie was yet to come”.

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