'Uncle' named as Mumbai terror conspirator

Andrew Buncombe
Monday 08 December 2008 17:47 GMT

Hours after Indian police began interrogating the sole surviving gunman in the Mumbai attacks, a key conspirator was named as Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

The man who uses several identities but is nicknamed Chachu, or Uncle, is said to be a founder and operations chief of Laskar-e-Toiba (LeT), the group accused of plotting the Mumbai attacks.

He and another senior LeT member, Yusuf Muzammil, are said to have been central to the plotting, maintaining contact with the 10 militants by satellite phone during the attacks.

Officials said some of the conversations may have kept the gunmen aware of the movements of police and commandos. They may also have decided which hostages were to be killed.

Reports suggest Lakhvi, usually based in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, moved to Karachi in August, the port city from where the militants set off, so he could direct operations. The survivor, named as Ajmal Amir Kasab, apparently told police Lakhvi had helped "indoctrinate all the attackers".

American officials said Lakhvi, 48, born in the Okara district of Pakistan, has directed military actions in Chechnya, Bosnia, Iraq and South-east Asia. They say that in 2006, he sent out word to LeT's members to begin training operatives for suicide bombings. In a previous instruction, he told operatives to mount attacks in well-populated areas. Indian officials say Lakhvi also oversaw Azam Cheema, accused of being a ringleader in the bombing of the Mumbai rail network in 2006 that killed more than 200 and left 700 injured.

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