FBI officials to be witnesses in Kasab's trial
9 Feb 2009, 0410 hrs IST, C Unnikrishnan, TNN
MUMBAI: As Indian investigation into the 26/11 terror attacks is drawing to a close, the Mumbai police has got the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials as witnesses in the trial of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive.
It is a rare incident where a foreign investigation agency is being made witness in connection with a case in India.
Commissioner of police Hassan Gafoor confirmed to TOI about including FBI officials as witnesses. "There are various scientific tests done by the FBI which is better equipped," he said.
However Gafoor refused to elaborate. "We have completed all the procedures for them to appear as witnesses. I cannot disclose further details as the chargesheet is yet to be filed." Besides FBI officials, there will be over hundred witnesses that include doctors, forensic experts and other eyewitnesses.
A FBI team was in Mumbai soon after the attack to carry out various forensic tests and lend their expertise in the investigation.
Sources said FBI had taken Kasab's DNA samples and had examined undiffused bombs and arms and ammunition used by the terrorists. They had also examined other material recovered from the terrorist, sources said.
"FBI had helped us in the investigation of Thuraya satellite phone recovered from the terrorists. The service provider to this phone is based in the Middle East and FBI used its resources to get the details - crucial for investigation - from the master switch in Sharjah," a police official said.
Sources said it was FBI which found out that the Yamaha engine fitted in the inflatable raft that Kasab and his fellow jihadis used to reach Mumbai was sold by a dealer in Lahore. Indian agencies approached the Americans for help after the Yamaha representatives in China failed to get them the crucial fact despite trying.
The help and expertise of FBI was also crucial for procuring details of calls made through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), as well as the route from which payment was made for the VoIP card from Callphonex of the US. Weapons experts from the US agency also established the Pakistani connection to 9mm pistols and hand grenades, manufactured in Peshawar's Diamond Nedi Frontier Arms Country and Pakistan Ordnance Factory near Rawalpindi, in that order.
Making the FBI part of the probe will only prove the veracity of the Indian investigation and the country's case against Pakistan, the official added.
FBI has got a legal locus in the case because casualties included American nationals, requiring it to register an independent case. That apart, the partnership between the FBI and Mumbai cops underline how intelligence agencies are required to pool their resources to meet the challenge of terrorist networks who work across national boundaries. More so, because of the historical wariness of Indian agencies about teaming up with Americans.
Mumbai police is likely to file a chargesheet in the terror attack case within a fortnight. "There will be a single chargesheet for all the terror acts. Kasab will be chargesheeted for murder, for gunning down people at CST and Cama hospital besides killing police personal at Girgaum Chowpatty. He will also face trial for hijacking a Skoda vehicle in an effort to escape. He will be the conspirator in all other attacks at Nariman House, Hotel Taj and Trident-Oberoi, since it is part of a single conspiracy," an official said.
Pakistan trained Faheem Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed will also be mentioned as conspirators in the case. Fahim had done the recee of all the places attacked and handed it over to Ahmed who went to Pakistan and handed it over to LeT handlers. Fahim and Ahmed, who were arrested by the UP police for terror attack there (UP), are currently being interrogated by the Mumbai police. Police, however, believes that Ajmal did not know either of them. In the chargesheet, 14 others including Zakhir-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Kahafa Hafiz Saeed Abu Hamsa will be shown as wanted.
Mumbai police insisted that there was no local support and attack was carried on the basis of the information provided through this recee.