Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headley revealed a goldmine of information for Indian authorities on various aspects leading to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, while deposing via videoconference from a US jail before Special TADA Court Judge G.A. Sanap here on Monday.
He gave names of the officials connected to the Pakistan Army and spoke of their role, its dreaded Inter-Services Intelligence, the LeT and others who were involved in the conspiracy, planning and execution of the 26/11 attacks which killed 166 people and injured hundreds more.
Among the stunning disclosures was the fact that two unsuccessful attempts had been attempted in Mumbai in September and October 2008 which failed, before the final strike at multiple locations in south Mumbai on November 26-29, 2008.
Headly also named the feared LeT founder Hafez Sayeed and his close associate Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi - both suspected right from the beginning since the investigations were launched by Indian agencies after the 26/11 attacks.
He named two people directly linked with the Pakistan Army and ISI - Major Iqbal and Major Ali and unraveled how he (Headley) was arrested by Pakistan Army around 2002 when he was going to meet a drug smuggler to send arms and ammunitions consignment to Kashmiri groups fighting the Indian Army.
Right at the start, Headley revealed that he was born on June 30, 1960 in the US and shifted to Pakistan later where his name was Daood Sayeed Gilani. Headley, 54, provided details of his passport and his seven-eight trips to Mumbai and one to New Delhi between 2006-2008 before the 26/11 attacks, including seven via Pakistan, one via UAE, and another trip to Mumbai in July 2009, after the terror attacks were executed.
Here are the highlights of David Coleman Headley’s revelations from his deposition on Monday, which will resume on Tuesday by 7am IST.
# When the public prosecutor in the 26/11 case Ujjwal Nikam asked Headley what is Jihad according to him, Headley said, “Jihad is to fight against enemies of Islam.”
# Headley revealed his intentions “to go to Kashmir to fight against Indian troops”, but Lakhvi found too him old for the training and didn’t let him go. But they agreed to use him for some other purpose.
# Headley visited 5-6 militant training camps in Pakistan. He also attended Daura-e-Suffa, Daura-e-Amma, Daura-e-Khasa, Daura-e-Ribat leadership courses. During these courses, he was taught that India is enemy of Islam.
# Headley said he joined LeT after being “influenced” by its head Hafeez Saeed. He then took his first “course” with them in 2002 at Muzaffarabad, and did LeT’s work on directions of Hafeez Saeed.
# Dr Tahawwur Hussain Rana helped Headley to get Indian visa. Headly met him in a military school in Punjab province. Dr Rana was his schoolmate for 5 years. After school, Rana became a doctor in Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi.
# Sajid Mir (an LeT operative) was using the email Id “firstname.lastname@example.org” to communicate. Major Ali introduced Headly to Major Iqbal of Pakistan ISI. Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal were happy to see my Indian visa. Sajid Mir was guiding Headley on getting visas.
# Headley and retired major Abdur Rehman Pasha were arrested in Landi Kotal near Pakistan-Afghanistan border because the former looked like a foreigner.
Headley further said: “During my arrest, Major Ali came to interrogate me and I was having some Indian literature in my possession. During the interrogation I gave information to Major Ali that I’m holding a business office in India. He thought that I will be beneficial for gathering intelligence from India.”
# First attempt to attack Mumbai via sea route was made in September, 2008, but the boat hit rocks in the ocean, and weapons and explosives were lost, but those on board survived, Headley told the Mumbai court via a video link. He then said that the second attempt to attack was made in October 2008, with those involved in 1st attempt involved in this as well, but even this attack failed.
“The third and final attack on Mumbai was successful.”
# Headley said that all details except the place of birth, date of birth, mother’s nationality and passport number, were incorrect in his visa application. In essence, most of the information on his visa application was false so that he would not blow his cover.
# After 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks , Headley visited India on March 7, 2009, from Lahore . His seven visits to India prior to the attack were directly from Pakistan and 1 from UAE.
# Admitting he was a LeT operative, Headley name one Sajid Mir as his main contact in the terror group. He also revealed Sajid Mir wanted him to set up some business or office in India
# Headley admitted that he was a true follower of the LeT and had changed his name from Dawood Gilani to David Coleman Headley for the purpose of acquiring a new passport to come to India.
# Headley also revealed that he recced the vice president’s house in New Delhi, India Gate and the CBI headquarters.
# Headley said it was LeT handler Sajid Mir who asked him to take general videos of Mumbai.
In December last year, Headley was pardoned by the court after her agreed to turn approver and appear before it connection with the 26/11 trials. His deposition is likely to unravel the conspiracy and nail Pakistan’s lies in connection with the attacks.
According to media reports on Sunday, Headley has reportedly confessed that 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks were masterminded by Pakistan’s terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba and had approval of Pak’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI).
(With inputs from agencies)