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Missed 26/11 target: Malabar Hill

Staff Reporter

Only Ajmal’s partner Ismail knew where it was: Prosecution

Prosecution presents in court technical evidence collected by investigators

Fingerprints on Kuber match with Ajmal’s

Mumbai: Mumbai’s swish Malabar Hill, which is the address of the Maharashtra Chief Minister and the Governor, would have been counted among the terror-stricken sites of the November 26, 2008 attacks. The only person who knew the target of attack at Malabar Hill was Ismail Khan alias Abu Ismail, companion of gunman Mohammad Ajmal Amir ‘Kasab’. However, the secret got buried with Ismail when he was killed in the Chowpatty encounter.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam referred to page 38 of Ajmal’s confession. As per the statement, Ajmal asks Ismail, “Where do we go?” Ismail replies, “Malabar Hill.” Ajmal states: “When I asked where in Malabar Hill, Ismail said, ‘Will tell once we reach there’.”

The two, according to Mr. Nikam, were on their way to the south Mumbai spot after opening fire at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. A series of attacks marked their journey. They wreaked havoc on Cama Hospital, killed top police officers, proceeded towards Metro junction and fired there, set off towards the Vidhan Bhavan where they commandeered a police Skoda and headed for Chowpatty. By this time, the police had been alerted of their route. They intercepted the terrorists at Chowpatty and killed Ismail.

1,820 witnesses

Mr. Nikam on Saturday presented the case and put forth technical evidence collected by the investigators. While the 26/11 case has 1,820 witnesses in all, the prosecution will examine up to a hundred witnesses of the 12 incidents that occurred. A photographer of a popular daily who snapped a picture of Ajmal and another journalist from the same daily, who produced CCTV footage, are among the prosecution witnesses.

Five foreign experts, all from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, will be examined on technical data. Mr. Nikam presented technical evidence pointing to the nexus between Ajmal and the nine deceased accused, and among Ajmal, the deceased and the wanted accused.

A diary, allegedly belonging to Abu Ismail, recovered from Kuber, the trawler used by the terrorists, mentions the names of all the 10 accused and carries a chart of duty hours for Ajmal and the rest, Mr. Nikam told the court. Distribution of arms and ammunition among the 10 accused, the longitude and the latitude of four places in India and sea routes find mention in the diary.

Mr. Nikam said the document had very strong evidence against Ajmal.

Three out of five GPS handsets recovered from Kuber were examined by the FBI. The agency probe revealed the data of sea and land routes used by the accused from Karachi to Badhwar Park in Mumbai and from Badhwar Park to Leopold Café at Colaba here.

As for the Yamaha engine of the inflatable rubber dinghy, the FBI opined it was manufactured by Yamaha Motor Corporation in Japan and shipped to a firm, Business and Engineering Trends in Pakistan.

Five Nokia mobile handsets recovered were made in China and shipped to Pakistan. Technical evidence also included fingerprints on a glass cabin on the Kuber, which matched with Ajmal’s. The DNA found on the various articles recovered from Kuber matched with that of the accused.

Six pieces of pink foam were found to match in appearance and physio-thermal characteristics with the foam wrapped around unexploded bombs.

Subsequently, Ajmal’s backpack, recovered from the terrace of Cama Hospital had a Rexene set of a bomb, Mr. Nikam said.

In the light of the technical material, Mr. Nikam said, Ajmal retracting his confessional statement was an afterthought and would not affect the prosecution case.

Meanwhile, defence lawyer Abbas Kazmi met Ajmal for 45 minutes. Mr. Kazmi told the media that Ajmal spoke about his family.

Asked about his client’s reaction to the technical evidence presented in court, Mr. Kazmi said Ajmal did not understand what was going on.

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