Journalist | Writer | Analyst
Today’s Observer has a fascinating account by Saeed Shah of his visit to the home of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman (a.k.a. Ajmal Kassab or Ajmal Kasai) in village Faridkot near Okara, Pakistan.
Ajmal is the man the Mumbai police have in their custody after having arrested him in the midst of the November 26 terrorist strike on the city.
As the BBC Urdu website photograph I include here makes clear, the village and the lane near Ajmal’s house is swarming with outsiders who look a LOT like the kind of agents from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence I am familiar with (having been followed by men like them several times during visits to Islamabad) especially the round guy with dark glasses and the other chap in a pullover and salwar-kameez …. [The full set of eight photographs can be seen here and the BBC Urdu account of the village can be accessed here.]
For my money, the Observer story would appear to settle the issue of Ajmal’s origins once and for all:
The mayor said there had been no local police investigation, suggesting that the authorities did not view this place with suspicion. But, over time, inconsistencies in the villagers’ accounts heightened suspicion that this was the place. ‘He [Amir] has lived here for a few years,’ said one villager, Mohammad Taj. ‘He has three sons and three daughters.’
Noor Ahmed, a local farmer, said: ‘Amir had a stall he pushed around, sometimes here, sometimes elsewhere. He was a meek man, he wasn’t particularly religious. He just made ends meet and didn’t quarrel with anyone.’
Still the picture was confusing. While sometimes confirming that Amir did live in the village, and had a son called Ajmal, on other occasions locals claimed to know nothing.
Finally one villager confirmed what was going on: ‘You’re being given misinformation. We’ve all known from the first day [of the news of the terrorist attack] that it was him, Ajmal Amir Kasab. His mother started crying when she saw his picture on the television.’
Attempts to meet Amir, the father, however, were not to be successful. Villagers eventually told us that he and his wife, Noor, had been mysteriously spirited away earlier in the week.