ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Mumbai police said Tuesday that the 10 men who carried out the terrorist attacks here belonged to a group of 30 recruits of the Lashkar-e-Taiba Pakistani militant organization (linked to al-Qaeda) who had been selected for suicide missions, and that the whereabouts of the other 20 were unknown.
It was the first time that that the Indian police had disclosed the larger number of suicide recruits, and while they said there was no reason to believe that the other 20 were in India, they expressed concern about such a possibility.
"Another 20 were ready to die," said Deven Bharti, a Mumbai Police deputy commissioner, in an interview. "This is the very disturbing part of it." The Indian police have consistently maintained that only 10 gunmen participated in the Nov. 26-29 attacks in Mumbai that left 171 people dead and raised tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan to the the highest in years.
Bharti said the information about the other recruits came from the sole surviving attacker, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, who was arrested during the attacks and has been in police custody ever since.
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The deputy commissioner also said that based on the questioning of Kasab, the 30 recruits were provided with highly specialized training, including learning marine combat skills.
Once Kasab and his nine fellow attackers were selected by Lashkar leaders, they were kept sequestered in a house for three months, the deputy commissioner said. Here they were further divided into two-man teams, each team assigned a different target within Mumbai to attack, information that they were forbidden from sharing with one another. They never saw the other 20 trainees again, the deputy commissioner said, according to the information provided by Kasab.
The Indian police also on Tuesday provided further names and photographs of the Mumbai attackers, and supplied new details of the weaponry and communications and navigation equipment that they used during their assault. The authorities had already identified two of the Mumbai gunmen, including Kasab, the lone survivor from the attacks, from the village of Faridkot, and Ismail Khan, from Deira Ismail Khan.
Each of the men had aliases, and they knew each other only by those aliases during their training, the police said. Only in the final few days before the attack, while they traveled by boat from the port of Karachi in Pakistan across the Arabian Sea to Mumbai, did they learn each others' true names, said Rakesh Maria, Mumbai's joint police commissioner.
At a news conference in Mumbai, Maria said the attackers carried a dozen grenades, a 9 mm handgun with two 18 round clips and an AK-47, along with seven to nine 30 round magazines, in addition to more than 100 rounds of loose ammunition. Maria had said previously that each terrorist also carried an 8 kilogram bomb. Three of these bombs were recovered and diffused, while the others exploded at various locations around the city, according to the police.
As the Indian police gave more information about the attackers, the Pakistani government publicly confirmed for the first time on Tuesday that its forces had seized two militant leaders, including the operational commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Bill WarnerPrivate Investigator
WBI Inc Private Detective Agency