Judge orders ban on Mumbai attacker's court statement

A message the sole surviving Mumbai massacre gunman hoped to get to his backers in Pakistan was ordered to be kept secret by a judge in India today.

A message the sole surviving Mumbai massacre gunman hoped to get to his backers in Pakistan was ordered to be kept secret by a judge in India today.

Ajmal Kasab yesterday unexpectedly pleaded guilty to taking part in the attacks that killed 166 people.

Today he described the political and religious indoctrination he said he received from his handlers in Pakistan, but Judge M.L. Tahiliyani issued an order banning journalists from reporting his comments, saying it was not in the interest of communal harmony.

The judge also banned reporting of Kasab’s message to his handlers.

The judge deferred until tomorrow a decision on whether to accept Kasab’s confession.

Kasab has admitted being recruited by a Pakistani militant group while he was looking for training to become a professional robber.

He also described how he sprayed automatic gunfire at commuters at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station while a comrade hurled grenades during the terrorist attack last November.

Kasab told the court his mandate was “to open fire at CST and hold people hostage on the upper floor”.

“We were also directed to fire at the person who came to free hostages,” he said.

The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow with no decision on whether Kasab’s confession will be accepted. He faces the death penalty if convicted on charges of murder and waging war against India.

The confession, which Kasab says was made voluntarily, gave strength to India’s claims that terrorist groups in neighbouring Pakistan were behind the well-planned attack, and Islamabad was not doing enough to clamp down on them.

Kasab said yesterday he confessed after months of denials because the Pakistani government has acknowledged that he was a Pakistani citizen.

He said that four men – some of them known leaders of the Pakistan-based Islamic extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba – sent him and other fellow attackers to Mumbai from Karachi, Pakistan.

They travelled by boat arriving November 26 in Mumbai, where they unleashed three days of mayhem. The 10 gunmen, armed with automatic rifles and grenades, split into pairs and killed people at the railway station, a Jewish centre, a hospital and two five-star hotels.

Kasab and Abu Ismail took a taxi to the railway station where they killed more than 50 people.

“I was in front of Abu Ismail who had taken such a position that no one could see him,” Kasab said. “We both fired, Abu Ismail and I. We fired on the public,” he said.

From the railway station, the two went to Cama hospital. A few more were killed there. The pair then went to Chowpatty beach in a hijacked vehicle where Ismail was killed and Kasab was captured after a shootout with police.

Kasab was treated for wounds and has since been held in solitary confinement in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail, where the trial is being held.

As part of the confession, he told how he became involved with Lashkar-e-Taiba. He said he had become unhappy with his low wages as a shop assistant in the Pakistani town of Jhelum and left for Rawalpindi with the intention of becoming a professional robber.

While attending a festival in Rawalpindi, he and a friend decided to seek out the mujahedeen, who they thought could help train them as bandits. They went to a local bazaar and were directed to the local Lashkar office, he said.

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