New Delhi: He belonged to a poor family, in an impoverished part of Pakistan. Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab’s journey from crime to jehad and to India began after his father refused to buy him new clothes on Eid.
Until then, the now 25-year-old Kasab — whose death sentence was upheld Wednesday by the Supreme Court of India — led a simple life in Pakistani Punjab’s Okara district. His father was a food vendor while a brother was a labourer in Lahore.
Kasab decided to quit home in 2005 after quarrelling with his father, who could not provide him new clothes because of poverty.
The disgusted young man then took to petty crime, graduating to armed robbery. A chance encounter with Jama’at-ud-Da’wah, the political wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba, changed his life for ever.
It did not take long for him to sign up for training with the bitterly anti-India Lashkar.
He was last seen in his village some six months before the November 2008 Mumbai attack. Apparently, he had sought blessings from his mother to wage jehad.
Kasab was among the terrorists who underwent strenuous training that is said to have had the backing of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
The Lashkar reportedly offered to pay his family Rs.150,000 for his participation in the Mumbai attack — on the assumption that he would become a “shaheed” (martyr).
Kasab and the nine other Pakistani terrorists sailed to Mumbai in two hijacked vessels with three targets in mind: the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Oberoi Trident Hotel and Nariman House.
Technology proved to be Kasab’s undoing.
He was captured on CCTV when he unleashed mayhem at the crowded Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus along with fellow terrorist Ismail Khan.
He was filmed carrying an AK-47, ammunition and dried fruit.
Kasab and Khan then hijacked a police vehicle after killing, among others, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare.
As they drove drove towards Metro cinema, Kasab reportedly cracked jokes about the bulletproof vests worn by the police.
As fate would have it, one of the tyres suffered a puncture, so they stole another vehicle.
This ran into a police barricade at Chowpatty.
Kasab and Khan tried to make a U-turn. The alert policemen opened fire, killing Khan.
A panicky Kasab pretended as if he was dead. But when assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Omble approached him, Kasab opened fire, killing him.
Omble took five bullets but — in an act of bravery that made him a posthumous hero — held on to Kasab’s weapon, enabling his colleagues to overpower him.
The entire incident was captured on video — for posterity.
Once in police custody, Kasab begged his interrogators to kill him, saying he feared for the safety of his family in Pakistan.
He knew he had violated a cardinal jehadi principle: Never surrender.
It was Kasab who first revealed that he and the other terrorists were in touch with their handlers in Karachi throughout the murderous mission.
Pakistan initially maintained that Kasab was not a Pakistani. But the Pakistani media was the first to disprove the claim. Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif confirmed his nationality.
Kasab’s father eventually revealed that Kasab was his son. With nothing left to conceal, Islamabad finally admitted in January 2009 that the Urdu speaking man was indeed a Pakistani.
In December 2009, Kasab retracted his confession. He said he had come to Mumbai to act in Bollywood films!