Fahim, Sabauddin`s release punctures claims of Mumbai Police

Mumbai`s elite crime branch was left red-faced today after special judge M L Tahaliyani dismissed all charges against two suspected co-conspirators -- Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed -- in the 26/11 attacks case.

Updated: May 03, 2010, 21:46 PM IST

Mumbai: Mumbai`s elite crime branch was left
red-faced today after special judge M L Tahaliyani dismissed
all charges against two suspected co-conspirators -- Fahim
Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed -- in the 26/11 attacks case.

Former Commissioner of Mumbai Police Hasan Gafoor and
his deputy incharge of the Crime Branch, Joint Commissioner
Rakesh Maria had repeatedly claimed that Ansari and Ahmed had
carried out reconnaissance of various targets attacked by
Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists on November 26, 2008.

But the judge today dismissed the evidence against them
as "unreliable". "Prosecution evidence against Faheem Ansari
and Sabauddin Ahmed is unreliable...evidence falls short and
cannot be accepted," the judge observed in his ruling.

The case against these two was considerably weakened by
the reported confession in an American court by US terror
accused David Headley that he had reconnoitred the targets for
the Lashkar attackers.

While observing that the main Lashkar handlers had used
latest techniques like GPS, VoIP and Google earth while
preparing the attacks, the Judge said they could not have
relied on the maps allegedly prepared by Faheem and Sabauddin.

"The maps are more confusing than helpful," he said.

The judge, who convicted Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab,
the lone surviving 26/11 gunman, for the attacks, observed
that Kasab and his accomplice Abu Ismael never intended to go
to Chowpatty and according to the meticulous planning they
were supposed to stay at CST and hold hostages there.

After Headley`s confession of carrying out pre-attack
reconnaissance for the Lashkar assault on Mumbai, embarrassing
questions had started surfacing for investigators.

Early last year, Maharashtra prosecutors had charged
Mumbai resident Fahim Arshad Ansari on charges of having
carried out the reconnaissance which prepared the way for the
assault team.

Ansari was arrested in early 2008 for allegedly being an
undercover Lashkar operative who had been tasked with carrying
out pre-attack surveillance at the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had claimed that a map
found on the body of a killed terrorist known by the code-name
Abu Ismael was drawn by Ansari.

-PTI