Editor’s Note—This is part three of a four-part series [1, 2, 3, 4] on the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.
- The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower in flames (Priyam Dhar).
IV. “No Hostages Should Remain Alive”
1 A.M. Kasab Interrogation: Part I
Ajmal Kasab spoke before a question was asked: “I have committed a big mistake.”
He lay flat on the hospital mattress, a brown blanket covering his naked body from feet to chest. His hair was wet with sweat. Gauze bandages swathed his arms from wrists to biceps, but the girth of his forearms suggested a solid build. Another patch covered the right side of his neck. Exposed was a gash on his clean-shaven chin. His eyes were squeezed shut as the police interrogator, standing at the edge of the bed, introduced himself to the prisoner and the video camera that was rolling.
“On whose insistence?”
“At the behest of Chacha.” The mysterious Uncle Zaki.
“Who is this Uncle?”
“The one from Lashkar.”
“Lashkar what? Which village is he from?”
“I don’t know about his village. But he has an office . . . He keeps visiting the office.”
“Who sent you here?”
“My father said we were very poor . . . Our condition would improve . . . We will have food to eat, clothes to wear.”
“Was he your real father?” the interrogator asked
“Real father . . . real father,” Kasab mumbled.
“What’s your name?”
“What’s your age?”
“Where is your village?”
“Faridkot”—in the Okara district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The interrogator asked about his family background. Where his father lived and worked, his siblings and their occupations. His surname, Kasab, meant butcher, he explained, but no one was involved in that line of work anymore. He said he quit school years ago and had since taken menial jobs in construction.
Some time in 2007, he said his father took him to Uncle Zaki to work for him. His aggrieved tone of voice implied that he was either forced or misled into doing so. “Uncle Zaki would say, ‘Work with me. You will bring a good name to your family. You will get money. It is Allah’s work.’”
“What happened next?”
“He told my father to leave me in the office. From then on I was in Allah’s custody.”
Kasab said he, along with about twenty-five other recruits, began training in winter, shortly after Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. Their trainers were hardened men who demonstrated how to use grenades, Kalashnikov rifles, and handguns. He said he only knew one other person there.
“Where were you supposed to go after today’s incident?”
“Nowhere. We were meant to die.”