David Coleman Headley — the suspected Lashkar operative in the United States — travelled India nine times during 2006 to 2009, visiting different cities in the country including Delhi, Ahmedabad and Lucknow.
Headley’s last visit to India — ostensibly to set up a visa facilitation agency — was in April 2009.
Indian intelligence agencies have gleaned details of Headley’s visits from the immigration record and have been able to establish the places where he stayed in the country.
“As of now, the (security) agencies are going through the CCTV footage at hotels where he stayed, where the data is
available to see if we can identify the people he met,” a senior government official said on Tuesday.
Nearly 40 to 50 teams of investigators of intelligence agencies — intelligence bureau and special branches of the state police concerned — are currently trying to track back every movement made by Headley alias Dawood Gilani during his visits.
As part of this exercise, investigators have established the hotels where he stayed. “In some places, he did stay in
private houses, possibly friends or relatives of people he knew in the United States,” a government official familiar with the investigations said.
So far, investigators have only come across Indians — businessmen, casual acquaintances or otherwise — who knew him as an American in India to set up business. “We have found people of this kind who met him here,” he said.
With his western name, Headley — who had converted to Christianity — had succeeded in obtaining a long-term business visa. “For all we know, he could have even addressed meetings of business lobbies too,” the official said, suggesting that his US passport and western name would have ensured that he did not face scrutiny in India.
A home ministry official said investigators would also look at the possibility of Headley facilitating US visas for Students Islamic Movement of India activists in the country who could become part of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba’s sleeper cell network in the US.
The official said India would send another team of intelligence officers once the Chicago court confirmed Headley’s detention by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Once the court confirms the detention, investigators from other countries concerned including India would be able to seek his interrogation,” the official said.
The first joint team of the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing, that spent a week in the US, has returned with some answers. “Since the Indian team could not have interrogated him directly, the team did seek the FBI’s cooperation and handed over some questions to which India wanted the answers,” the officials said.
The FBI had put the questions to Headley and his associate, Tahawwur Hussain Rana and communicated the responses to the visiting Indian team.