A terrorist carrying detailed sketches of targets in last week’s Mumbai massacre was captured earlier this year, it emerged today.
Faheem Ansari, an Indian member of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, was arrested in February in north India carrying hand-drawn sketches of hotels, the train terminal and other attack sites that were later attacked in Mumbai.
Ansari said he was trained in Pakistan in the same area where surviving gunman Ajmal Amir Kasab said he was prepared for the attacks.
Ansari told police about a planned Lashkar attack on Mumbai, providing eight or nine specific locations to be targeted.
Ansari admitted carrying out reconnaissance in 2007 of different Mumbai sites, including the US Consulate, the stock exchange and others that were not attacked last week.
Authorities want to know if Ansari, who is still in Indian custody, helped last week’s attackers plan their massacre.
He was arrested on February 10 in the city of Rampur after suspected Muslim militants attacked a police camp, killing eight constables. He said he was there to collect weapons to bring to Mumbai for a future attack.
A security services source said Ansari’s arrest did not derail Lashkar’s plans for an attack. “When they found that their mole in Bombay had been caught ... they carried out the operations in a different way,” he said.
Despite his arrest and confessions India apparently failed to act on the information.
Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambara, India’s top law enforcement official, admitted today there were government “lapses” in last week’s terror attack.
The assault on India’s financial capital left 171 dead and 239 wounded.
Surviving gunman Kasab, 21, has told interrogators he had been sent by Lashkar-e-Taiba and identified two of the plot’s masterminds.