26/11 trial: Headley deposes, names Saeed & ISI in court

RSTV Bureau
File photo of David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani -American LeT terrorist. A Mumbai court directed that Headley must be produced in the 26/11 terror attack case on December 10 by video-conference while allowing a plea by Mumbai police to make him an accused. PTI Photo

File photo of David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani -American LeT terrorist. PTI Photo

Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative David Coleman Headley has made startling revelations while deposing before a Mumbai court via video conference in the 26/11 attack case. His testimony will again continue at 7 am on Tuesday, February 9.

In today’s deposition Headley named Pakistani intelligence agency  ISI in connection with the case. He also named LeT chief Hafiz Saeed for the first time in court. He revealed that he joined the terror outfit after being influenced by Saeed and underwent a training “course” with as early as 2002 in Muzaffarabad. There he learnt how to operate AK47s, wxecute bomb explosions and reccees.

He revealed that he had come to India 7 times before the terror attack was executed on November 26, 2008. He also confessed that the attack was successful only on the third attempt. The previous two attempts made in September and October, 2008 had failed. He also revealed that Sajid Mir, who is also an accused in the case, was his main LeT contact for the operation. Mir, is also suspected to be
an operative of Pakistan’s ISI.

“He revealed a lot about Major Iqbal and Major Ali, both of them were there in ISI. It was Major Iqbal who trained him and he also unravelled names of few LeT trainers before the court,” said Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam after the hearing.

“I am absolutely satisfied with what Headley has revealed in today’s deposition. Headley has given certain sensational revelations during his deposition. He confirmed that he met Hafiz Saeed and he identified his picture as well,” Nikam added.

Headley, who is a Pakistani-American is currently serving a 35-years prison term in the US. He was made an approver in the case by a Mumbai court and this is the first time that he deposed before the court. In the US, Headley has been accused of conspiring to carry out the deadly terror attack which killed 166 people.

Headley also revealed that he was initially prepared to fight the Indian Army in Kashmir, but LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi told him that he has something more “adventurous” planned for him.

In his deposition which began at 7 am this morning, Headley said that he was a “true follower of LeT” and had been in India a total of 8 times – 7 times before 26/11 and once after that.

According to his statement, Headley changed his name from Dawood Gilani to David Headley in 2006 so that he could easily enter India.

File Photo ( PTI )

File Photo Let chief Hafiz Saeed (PTI)

“I applied for change in name on February 5, 2006 in Philadelphia. I changed my name to David Headley to get a new passport under that name. I wanted a new passport so that I could enter India with an American identity….After I got a new passport I disclosed it to my colleagues in LeT of which one of them was Sajid Mir, the person with whom I was dealing with. The objective for coming to India was to set up an office/business so that I can live in India. Before the first visit, Sajid Mir gave me instructions to make a general video of Mumbai,” Headley told the court.

He also added that he had furnished all “wrong” information “to protect his cover” in his Indian visa application.

He drew maps, took video footage and scouted several targets for the attacks including the Taj Hotel, Oberoi Hotel and Nariman House during his recce visits which provided vital information for the 10 LeT terrorists and their handlers, who launched the attack.

The attacks unleashed in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 continued for 3 days and left a total of 166 people dead.

Last month on December 10, 2015, the Mumbai court made Headley an approver in the case and directed him to depose before the court.

Earlier, on October 8, 2015 the Mumbai Police had moved an application before the same court saying that Headley deserves to be tried by this court together with 26/11 key plotter Abu Jundal in the case as both of them are conspirators and abettors behind the terror attack. The application also said that Headley had entered into a plea agreement with US in 2010 and had willingly and voluntarily agreed that he was part of the conspiracy behind the 26/11 attack.

Reacting to Headley’s testimony, the government said that it will finally end the ambiguity over the role of Pakistani “state and non-state actors” and the case to its logical conclusion.

“The difference between the state and non-state actors will come to an end after this statement,” Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told reporters in Delhi.

(With inputs from PTI)