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Mumbai gunman: 'We were sure to die'

By Sara Sidner, CNN
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Mumbai gunman to hang
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab convicted for his role in Mumbai attacks
  • He is sentenced to death
  • In video-taped interview, he says he trained with militant group in Pakistan
  • Interview not allowed as evidence by judge

Mumbai, India (CNN) -- Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab is a hated man in India. The sole gunman to be captured alive in the November 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, Kasab has been sentenced to death for his role in the bloody three-day siege that killed more than 160 people.

So who is this man who is so despised in India? Some of the details remain unclear.

Indian authorities are not even sure of his age. Kasab insisted he was a minor, but the court ordered medical tests and determined he was at least 20 years old.

He was captured by police overnight after the first day of the attacks. The police officer credited with capturing him held only a Lathi (a Hindi term for stick or cane).

Kasab was held directly responsible for killing people inside Mumbai's main train station. Security video showed Kasab wielding an assault weapon as he and another man sprayed bullets into the crowded terminal.

Just after he was caught, authorities say Kasab confessed to taking part in the attacks in which he and nine others carried out a plan to take over five-star hotels and a Jewish cultural center -- and wreak havoc on India's financial capitol.

Police videotaped Kasab's interrogation while he was lying on a hospital bed in Mumbai with minor injuries. When Kasab's case finally went to trial last year, he recanted the story he told at the hospital, saying police coerced the confession.

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But police denied using any form of coercion. Kasab would go on to confess and recant again during his trial. He was ultimately convicted of waging war against India, and murder and terrorism offenses.

CNN obtained a copy of the video of the hospital interrogation and what follows here, in a translation from Urdu, is some of what Kasab told police in 2008, just hours after being apprehended. It was then that police learned that Kasab, who is believed to be from a village in Pakistan called Faridkot in Punjab province, was a member of a banned Pakistan-based militant group called Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, or LeT:

Kasab: "My father told me we are very poor. Then he introduced me to LeT men. Then they sent me for further training." Kasab is speaking to the officer sitting by his hospital bed. The hospital room is quiet and a video camera travels from the interrogator, who is asking questions in a calm tone, to Kasab whose eyes are closed. His body is covered with a thin gray woolen blanket. Kasab reveals his father is a street hawker in Lahore.

Police officer: "Is your father also connected to the LeT?

Kasab: "No."

Police officer: "How do they invite people?"

Kasab: "They keep telling people it's a Jihad. It's a very honorable and daring job. You earn respect; it's a work of God. You will earn a lot of money and your poverty will be eliminated."

Police officer: "I hope you are not lying about your father."

Kasab: "No, he was the one who introduced me to LeT and also lectured me."

Police officer: "How long was your training? (By LeT)."

Kasab: "I was trained for three months."

Police: "When were you trained?"

Kasab said he can't remember. Then he suddenly said: "When was Benazir killed? It was during that time."

Here, Kasab is referring to Benazir Bhutto, a charismatic Pakistani politician who was assassinated while campaigning to become Pakistan's Prime Minister in 2007.

Kasab: "There were 24 to 25 boys in my training class."

Kasab said he didn't know who any of the other boys were, except one he became friends with.

Police officer: "Were you not allowed to talk?"

Kasab: "No we were not, they were very strict."

Then the officer began asking questions about the 2008 attack on Mumbai.

Police officer: "Where were you planning to go after the attack?"

Kasab: "We were sure to die."

Police officer: "How?"

Kasab: "Our boss used to tell us that, 'You will go to heaven.' I said that I don't like all this and I don't want to stay here."

Police officer: "How many shots did you fire?"

Kasab: "Can't say. Around two, or two-and-a-half magazines."

Police officer: "What was his occupation?" the officer asked, in reference to Kasab's father.

Kasab: "He was a hawker in Lahore."

Police officer: "How many people did you kill?"

Kasab: "I have no idea, we just kept shooting."

Police officer: "Who was your target?"

Kasab: "Common public."

Police officer: "When were you going to finish it?"

Kasab: "We were told to keep firing until death. I am also a human being."

Kasab's voice started to break as he responded when more questions were asked and then he began to moan.

Police officer: "You have killed people like you?"

Kasab: "Yes, God will not forgive me."

Police officer: "Where else have you attacked before this?"

Kasab: "Nowhere, it is my first operation."

And it will be his last. In a trial that lasted a year, Judge Madan Tahaliyani said the evidence left him with no choice: "He shall be hanged by neck until he is dead," Tahaliyani read aloud to the court.

The judge made it clear he could not use just the videotaped statement as evidence in the case because Kasab had recanted it. Consequently, in order for him to make a decision, the judge said the prosecution had to supply corroborating evidence. In the end, the judge agreed with the majority of the evidence against Kasab, including GPS records, tapped phone conversations, and security video -- finding the case against him to be overwhelming.

 
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