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SAUDI ARABIA, U.S. AND INDIA COOPERATE TO CAPTURE MUMBAI “26/11” ATTACKER ABU JINDAL
Syed Zabihuddin Ansari (a.k.a Abu Jundal) is infamous for being the “voice” that delivered orders from a control room in Pakistan by telephone to the terrorists who infiltrated Mumbai's Taj hotel on November 26, 2008, a day now remembered as “26/11” (Times of India, June 27). He was recruited into Pakistan-based Lashakr-e-Taiba (LeT) in 2003 after a friend introduced him to LeT’s commander for Jammu and Kashmir operations, Aslam Kashmiri. He then underwent basic training in Daura-e-Aam, a 21-day basic combat course, and Daura-e-Sufa, a 21-day religious course. He carried out a pipe-bomb blast in Ahmedabad, Gujarat Province in 2005 and escaped from police in Aurangabad, Maharashtra Province in 2006 after the police tracked his accomplices and him in vehicles that were loaded with a cache of 30 kg RDX explosives, 10 AK-47s and more than 3,000 bullets (DNAIndia [New Delhi], June 26).
A native of Maharashtra, the capital of which is Mumbai, Abu Jindal rose to become the “highest-ranking” Indian citizen in LeT by the time of the Mumbai attacks in 2008 (www.defence.pk, June 28). After the attacks, he used a Pakistani passport issued in Karachi to travel to Saudi Arabia where he resided until his capture in early 2012. In Saudi Arabia, he created websites to recruit Indian youths into new terrorist cells, but Indian intelligence followed the recruiter’s electronic trail and discovered that the recruiter’s Facebook account belonged to “Zabihuddin Ansari,” who claimed to be living in Riyadh. Both the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Indian intelligence were then able to identify four of his e-mail accounts and uncover his conversations with contacts in India (Times of India, June 28).
Saudi security forces cooperated with Indian and U.S. intelligence to capture Abu Jindal in early 2012 and transferred him to Indian security forces at the Delhi airport on June 21. The intelligence of most immediate value that India will obtain from Abu Jindal is about his contacts with networks of Indian Mujahideen (IM) fighters in India (IBN Live [Mumbai], June 28). Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Minister of Interior denies Pakistan’s responsibility for Abu Jindal, asserting that “Zabihuddin is Indian, he was caught in India, he did everything in India. Why are you blaming Pakistan (The Hindu [Islamabad], June 27)?”
ABU USMATUL AL-ANSARI ANNOUNCES BOKO HARAM BREAKAWAY FACTION
On June 4, Abu Usamatul al-Ansari appeared in a video to explain the ideology of his group, Jama'atu Ansarul Musilimina fi Biladin Sudan (Supporters of Islam in the Land of Black Africa). His group first became public in January 2012 when it issued a statement in Kano announcing the formation of the group. The group is yet to carry out any attacks and its actual size and strength are unknown to anyone on the outside, but the implications of an international-minded terrorist group, presumably based in Nigeria, is a troublesome development for Nigeria and the West African region. Already the region is threatened by Ansar Dine, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA), Boko Haram, and other criminal and militant networks.
The video released on June 4 featuring Abu Usmatul al-Ansari was in Arabic language, but also dubbed in Hausa, the dominant language of northern Nigeria and southern Niger, and English (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnmJN7DEiRU&feature=player_embedded). In the video, Abu Usmatul al-Ansari distinguished the Supporters of Islam in the Land of Black Africa from Boko Haram by emphasizing three of the group’s core beliefs: First, he claimed that his group will not kill innocent non-Muslims, except in "self defense;" second, that the group will not kill "innocent security operatives" unless they attack his group; and third, that the group will defend the interests of Islam and Muslims throughout all of Africa, not only Nigeria or any particular state. Boko Haram, in contrast, does kill innocent non-Muslims and security operatives and has focused its attacks exclusively in Nigeria.
Abu Usmatul al-Ansari’s group likely broke away from Boko Haram because of internal disagreement over Boko Haram’s operations. In the first statement released in January, al-Ansari described Boko Haram, which has killed nearly 1,500 Nigerians in attacks since late 2009, as “inhuman to the Muslim Ummah (Sahara Reporters, January 31).” Al-Ansari’s promise to bring back the “lost dignity to the Muslims of Black Africa” and references to Sokoto Caliphate founder Usman dan Fodio in the January statement show that he accepts traditional religious institutions in Nigeria. If al-Ansari’s statements represent the beliefs of the Supporters of Islam in the Land of Black Africa, then the group may be more amenable to negotiations with Nigerian authorities; however, the group appears to be more committed to international terrorism than Boko Haram.