Mumbai attacks 'planner Abu Jundal was in control room'

Zabiuddin Ansari file picture
Image caption Ansari is being described as the "handler" of the 10 gunmen

India's Home Minister P Chidambaram has confirmed reports that Zabiuddin Ansari, also known as Abu Jundal, was in a militant "control room", guiding the gunmen in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Mr Ansari has been described as the "handler" of the 10 gunmen who carried out the assault on targets in Mumbai.

He was arrested on arrival at Delhi airport last Thursday. He was deported from Saudi Arabia on India's request, reports said.

The attacks claimed 165 lives.

Nine gunmen were also killed.

The sole surviving gunman from the attacks, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, was convicted of murder and waging war on India in May 2010 and given a death sentence.

Speaking to reporters in the southern Indian city of Trivandrum on Wednesday, the home minister said: "There was state involvement in the Mumbai attack. Jundal has confirmed that to us."

Reports said he was present in a "control room" set up the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and guided the gunmen during his attack.

Mr Chidambaram said India had been "tracking Abu Jundal for almost a year and hunted him down successfully".

A resident of a village in the western state of Maharashtra, Mr Ansari allegedly taught Hindi to the gunmen who carried out the Mumbai attacks, Indian media have quoted police sources as saying.

He left for Pakistan and later went to Saudi Arabia, they said.

The 60-hour siege of Mumbai began on 26 November 2008, targeting luxury hotels, the main railway station and a Jewish cultural centre.

Relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated sharply after India blamed the Lashkar-e-Taiba for the attacks.

After initial denials, Pakistan acknowledged that the assault had been partially planned on its territory and that Qasab was a Pakistani citizen.

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