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Headley reveals he changed name, visited India 8 times prior to 26/11

india Updated: Feb 08, 2016 12:16 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
David Headley

Headley told the court that he was a US national and changed his named to Sayeed Daood Gilani primarily to join and help the LeT after he was advised to do so by Siraj Mir, an LeT commander. (PTI)

Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley told a Mumbai court on Monday that he changed his name from Sayeed Dawood Gilani to David Headley to help the dreaded terror outfit carry out the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Headley, a United States national, is deposing before a sessions court from an American jail via video conferencing in connection to his role in the 26/11 terror strikes.

.Read more: 10 things David Headley told NIA about 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks

Headley said he was asked by the LeT to take several videos of Mumbai to prepare for the coordinated terror strikes that left 166 people dead and was advised by Siraj Mir, an LeT commander, to change his name.

He came to India eight times before the 26/11 attacks, and came directly from Pakistan on seven of those occasions, Headley said.

He also told the court that he applied for a visa in the US for India twice and gave wrong information in the form on most occasions.

Read more: 26/11 Mumbai attacks: Headley pardoned but the whodunit continues

The deposition started around 7.15 am, after another LeT operative, Abu Jundal alias Zabiuddin Ansari, who is facing trial in the 26/11 case, told the court that he wanted a new lawyer and asked the court to adjourn the hearing for 15 days. But session judge GA Sanap rejected the plea and began deposing Headley.

Headley was produced before the Mumbai court for the first time on December 10, when he said he was ready to depose and turn approver in the 26/11 Mumbai trial if he was pardoned.

Read more: David Headley: From a video store operator in NY to 26/11 accused

The court then granted a pardon to Headley and accepted him as a prosecution witness.

While giving the order the court had observed, “The entire conspiracy could be unearthed and proved if one of the conspirators comes to court with the request of pardon.”

“The conspiracy of the 26/11 Mumbai attack was hatched outside India. Abu Jundal alias Zabiuddin Ansari is facing charges in the Mumbai attack as a co-conspirator. No direct evidence is there so far for the offence of criminal conspiracy. In this case fortunately for the prosecution David Coleman Headley has willingly decided to unfold the conspiracy which was hatched outside India,” observed the judge.

Headley along with his partner Pakistan-born businessman Tahawwur Rana, had played a key role in the strikes. In 2010, Headley pleaded guilty in 26/11 attacks, admitting he had carried out a reconnaissance of the targets for the LeT before a US court. Headley had allegedly provided videos of various locations to LeT, where terrorist attacks were carried out. He had also provided useful information about the safe landing places which the attackers had used on the night of November 26, 2008.