MUMBAI, India – The only gunman captured during the terror attack on Mumbai says he was promised that his impoverished family would get $1,250 if he died fighting for militant Islam, security officials said Wednesday.
The captive, 21-year-old Ajmal Amir Kasab, is from Faridkot village in the Punjab region of Pakistan, according to the two Indian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss details gleaned during a week of interrogation.
Kasab was arrested hours after the three-day rampage began the night of Nov. 26. Photographs of the young man walking calmly through Mumbai's main train station — assault rifle in hand — have made him a symbol of the attacks that killed 171 people, including 26 foreigners.
India has blamed the banned Pakistan-based extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba for the carnage. But in an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, expressed skepticism that the man in custody is a Pakistani citizen.
According to the Indian security officials, Kasab was a day laborer, like one of his brothers, before joining Lashkar. He recounted being told that if he was "shaheed" — or "martyred" — his family would receive 100,000 Pakistani rupees, or about $1,250, they said.
Kasab said that he and the nine gunmen killed during the attack were hand-picked for the Mumbai rampage after intensive Lashkar training, the officials said.
He told police that after landing by boat in Mumbai, the attackers split into two-man teams. Kasab and another gunman, Ismail Khan, took a taxi from the waterfront to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, where they killed 54 people before fleeing. They planted a bomb under the driver's seat of their taxi that exploded later, apparently so it would divert police during the attacks.
Kasab also said the team brought in bombs to be placed outside the entrances of the two luxury hotels that were attacked — timed to explode four hours and 57 minutes after they were set — and were intended to kill the police that the militants believed would surround the buildings.
Two bombs outside the Taj Mahal hotel were defused by police. A third bomb, at the Oberoi hotel, was set off by police in a controlled explosion.
Kasab also said the gunmen took amphetamines to stay alert during the attacks, the security officials said.