Baby-faced terrorist who became the face of 26/11 Mumbai attacks

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When police asked Mohammad Ajmal Kasab whether he felt pity for the people he gunned down during one of India’s bloodiest militant attacks, he said he had given it some thought beforehand. He had been assured “you have to do these things, if you’re going to be a big man and get rewarded in heaven”, according to video footage of his interrogation.

Friends in his home village in Pakistan’s Punjab province remember a boisterous, playful boy who loved films and karate. His aunt said she was proud of him.

But the image of Kasab, a baby-faced youth, filmed toting an AK-47 as he embarked on a killing spree at a crowded Mumbai railway station, became the face of carnage in Mumbai.

A classmate, speaking to Reuters by phone and not wanting to be identified, said Kasab had left his village in search of work when he was a poor teenage labourer. Another schoolmate remembers taking karate lessons with him. “He comes from a very humble but noble, honest family. His father was a street vendor selling snacks on a cart. Kasab did not send any money home and his family is still as poor as they were before he left. He was probably trapped by some religious group,” recalls Haji Mohammad Aslam, Kasab’s neighbour who owns a shop where his family lived.

“He was very active, always jumping around. He loved watching films,” Aslam told Reuters by phone. “He would stay out until midnight watching TV in shops and street restaurants. He grew up in our hands; he was a playful boy and it’s not possible that he did all this.”

“This news is hell for us,” Shahnaz Sughra, Kasab’s aunt, told Reuters by phone. “...Even if he did something wrong, we just want his body. Even if he did something wrong, I am proud that he taught the enemy a lesson in their own country.”

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