Indian police have arrested a key suspect accused of coordinating the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 166 people were killed and more than 300 wounded, media reports said yesterday.
The Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency quoted unnamed police sources as confirming the arrest of Abu Hamza, also known as Sayed Zabiuddin, an Indian-born member of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Hamza was allegedly one of the handlers based in Karachi, Pakistan, who issued instructions by telephone to the 10 Islamist gunmen as they stormed two luxury hotels, a Jewish center, a restaurant and a train station in Mumbai.
Hamza, who has used a string of aliases, was arrested at Delhi’s international airport on Thursday when he arrived from the Middle East and he has since been remanded in custody, PTI reported.
Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only gunman caught alive during the 60-hour assault on Mumbai in November 2008, was handed down a death sentence by the Bombay High Court last year.
PTI described Hamza as the 30-year-old “Hindi tutor” to the gunmen and said that he came from the western state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital.
Delhi police spokespersons said they were unable to immediately comment on reports about the arrest.
India blames the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant outfit, which is banned in Pakistan, for training, equipping and financing the Mumbai gunmen with support from “elements” in the Pakistan military.
Pakistan has indicted seven alleged perpetrators over the attacks, but their trial, which began in 2009, has been beset by numerous delays, triggering Indian accusations that the process is a sham.
The US in April offered a US$10 million reward for information leading to the conviction of Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, who lives openly in Pakistan and is accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks.