'Undercover policeman' held over links to Mumbai terrorists

ONE of the two men arrested for buying mobile phone cards used by gunmen in the Mumbai attacks is a counter-insurgency police officer who may have been on an undercover mission.

Officials in Indian Kashmir demanded that police in Calcutta, where the suspect is being held, release him.

Only two people have been arrested since the end of the bloody siege that killed 171 people. Indian officials have blamed the attacks on Pakistani extremists.

A senior police official in Indian Kashmir said one of them, Mukhtar Ahmed, is part of a semi-official counterinsurgency network whose members are usually former Kashmiri militants.

Calcutta police have been told Ahmed is "our man and it's now up to them how to facilitate his release", said the officer, who spoke anonymously.

"This is not true," said Rajeev Kumar, a top Calcutta police official.

Tauseef Rahman, who was also arrested, allegedly bought Sim cards for the mobile phones by providing fake documents, including identification cards from dead people, Kumar said yesterday.

Rahman, of West Bengal state, sold them to Ahmed, Kumar said. Both men were arrested on Friday and charged with fraud and criminal conspiracy.

The Sim cards were later used by the gunmen, but police said they were still investigating how the 10 gunmen obtained them.

Police also said an Indian man arrested in February in northern India carrying hand-drawn sketches of Mumbai hotels, the train terminal and other sites that were later attacked was being brought to Mumbai for renewed questioning.

They are hoping the man, Faheem Ansari, can shed more light on the attacks.

Rakesh Maria, a senior Mumbai police officer, said he believed there was a connection between Ansari and the Mumbai attacks.

"Ansari was trained by Lashkar (banned Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba] and sent to do reconnaissance," Maria said.

The interrogation of the lone surviving gunman from the Mumbai attacks, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, 21, revealed that the gunmen had detailed pictures of the locations, Maria said. "They were pretty elaborate photographs," he said, adding that they had also used maps from Google to study the targets.

Maria said Kasab had told them he was one of five children of Mohammed Amir Kasab, a poor street food seller in the Pakistani town of Farid Kot.

Maria said that as a teenager Kasab became a low-level thief, robbing people at knife-point. But he dreamed of starting his own gang and was put in touch with a man who offered to send him for weapons training.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that British and American officials had to intervene to prevent India carrying out a swift retaliatory strike on Pakistan following the Mumbai terror attacks, a senior Pakistani diplomat claimed tonight.

According to the BBC World Service, Wajid Shamsul Hassan, the Pakistani High Commissioner in London, said he learned from sources that India was about to launch a military strike to "teach Pakistan a lesson".

Hassan said he had alerted Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari to the threat.

He said the President in turn contacted high-level British and American officials, who intervened to calm the situation.

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported yesterday that Pakistan had put its forces on high alert after a hoax caller pretending to be India's foreign minister spoke threateningly to President Asif Ali Zardari two days after the attacks.

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