An Indian court has pardoned Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley on the condition that he will reveal “every fact” regarding the conspiracy behind the brazen 2008 Mumbai attacks.
This has led to expectations that Headley’s deposition from the US via video link will throw up fresh revelations about the role of LeT leaders and Inter-Services Intelligence operatives in planning and executing the strike that killed 166 people.
But four years ago, Headley made many startling revelations when he was interrogated in the US by a team of sleuths from India’s National Investigation Agency.
Here are 10 things that Headley, now serving a 35-year prison sentence in the US, told the NIA:
1. Every major action of the LeT is undertaken only after the approval of the terror group’s founder, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed. Headley maintained that Saeed had “full knowledge” of the Mumbai attacks, which were launched only after his approval.
2. The Mumbai attacks were possible only because of the “complete support of the ISI”. The money used by Headley for conducting surveillance activities in Mumbai was provided by one “Major Iqbal” of the ISI.
3. Headley said every important member of the LeT is handled by one or more ISI officials. He said his own ISI handlers were Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali. A Brigadier Riyaz was the handler of LeT operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the main accused in the Mumbai attacks case in Pakistan.
4. Headley told the NIA that when Lakhvi was arrested in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, then ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha visited Lakhvi in jail to understand the conspiracy behind the attacks.
5. The LeT originally had plans to send its operatives through Nepal or Bangladesh to attack only the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, but after March 2008, the group decided to carry out multiple attacks in the financial hub after sending its members by sea, Headley said.
6. The LeT had formed a “naval wing” under an operative named Abu Yaqoob that “will be potentially used against India”.
7. After hearing intercepts of communications between the attackers in Mumbai and their handlers in Karachi, Headley said he recognised the voices of three people who were giving instructions to the attackers. He identified these people as Sajid Majeed, Abu Al Qama and Abu Qahafa.
8. Headley told the NIA that he believed “local Indian boys” were part of the LeT’s “Karachi set-up” which was created to launch operations into India by using “militants of Indian origin”. This set-up is headed by Abdur Rehman alias Pasha who was involved in other attacks on India, he said.
9. More than a year before the Mumbai attacks, the LeT paid Rs 8.5 lakh in April 2007 to a man named Niyamat Shah from Pakistan’s Khyber tribal region to smuggle arms and explosives to India. Shah was also involved in smuggling drugs to India.
10. Headley told the NIA that besides the targets in Mumbai, he had conducted surveillance of and shot videos of other targets for future attacks, including the residence of the Vice President, India Gate, Paharganj near the New Delhi railway station, the CBI office and the office of the Israeli airline El Al in Mumbai.