'Gujarat riots spurred Jundal's radicalisation'

The 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat had spurred Abu Jundal, one of the handlers of the 26/11 attackers, to join the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT] terror group to take revenge on India and that led to his radicalisation and jihadi indoctrination, Indian investigators say.

Born in Mazalgaon in Maharashtra's Beed district in 1981, Jundal, then known as Sayyed Zabiuddin or Zaby in short to his family and friends, was just 20 when the Gujarat riots broke out.

He heard about the riots and their impact from his friends in the Students Islamic Movement of India [SIMI] when he was at the Indian Technical Institute [ITI] in Beed and this led to his anger growing, according to Indian investigators, who are continuing to question Jundal here after his arrest 21 June following his deportation from Saudi Arabia.

The Gujarat riots followed the killing of 58 Hindus returning from Ayodhya by the Sabarmati Express when two coaches of the train were torched at Godhra railway station on 27 Feb, 2002. Over 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in the carnage.

Jundal, who studied in an Urdu-medium school till class 10, apparently metamorphosed into the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attack after he was further filled in on the Gujarat riots and the atrocities on his fellow Muslims by his friends in Aurangabad, Malegaon and Parbhani, the investigators said.

In 2005, he was in Aurangabad in search of a job, but ended up becoming a key activist of the now proscribed SIMI.

It was in Aurangabad that Jundal came in contact with Fayyaz Kagzi, who later got involved in the 2006 arms haul in the city and the 2010 Pune German Bakery blast and is now a wanted man. Kagzi was the extremist element who shaped Jundal's life from then on and baptised him into the ways of terrorists, as also lit the fire of revenge in him, the investigators say.

Kagzi, too, belongs to Beed district and their friendship was the key reason Jundal could be led to join the LeT.

'Jundal, since then, had been searching for a way to avenge the Gujarat riots and his search ended in the LeT as the platform to chalk out a plan,' said an investigator, who grilled him.
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