At the closure of his deposition on day two, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Coleman Headley denied being paid either by Pakistani intelligence or the LeT for his activity in India, but the NIA in its chargesheet stated he had not just received money from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) but also high quality fake Indian currency. Headley’s deposition, which began on Monday, confirmed India’s long standing charge that Pakistan’s ISI and the LeT were behind the Mumbai attacks in 2008 that claimed over 166 lives.
According to the National Investigative Agency (NIA), in or around July 2006, ISI officer major Iqbal provided USD 25,000 to Headley in Pakistan for the purpose of establishing an immigration office in Mumbai and for travel expenses. Headley was also provided with high quality fake Indian currency for use in India.
This was not the only time; Headley was also paid approximately 1500 USD worth Indian currency to keep the immigration office running in Mumbai. He was to eventually close the Mumbai office and open a new business in Delhi that would be used as a ruse for future activities.
Headley said he visited Mumbai seven times on recce before the dreadful attacks of November 26, 2008. He said he came to Mumbai for the first time on September 14, 2006 and later on February 21, 2007.
Headley made three more trips in 2007 – in March, September and October. He came back twice in 2008 before the attacks – in April and July. Post the attacks, he came back to India on March 7, 2009, landing at the Delhi airport.
Headley however said he was trained by the LeT in the Daura-e-Sufa – a study course involving religious indoctrination at Muridke, Daura-e-Aam – preliminary military training, and Daura-e-Khas – more advance military training in handling weapons, arms, ammunition and explosives. Though, Headley wanted to go to ‘Azad Kashmir’ and fight the Indian army, he underwent Daura-e-Ribat that focuses on intelligence gathering, after he was told that he was “too old for taking up combat task”. He said the last training course included expertise on setting up a safe house in an unfriendly or enemy area, post which his handler Sajid Mir asked him to “settle down” in India.
So Headley arrived in Mumbai under the guise of an immigration consultant for his friend’s firm, Immigration Law Center in Chicago, and used his position to take general video footage of the city.
Here’s are recap of Headley’s testimony in the Mumbai court while deposing in the 26/11 trial:
1) LeT made two failed attempts in 2008 – in September and October – to attack India with the same set of 10 terrorists who carried out the fidayeen attack in November 2008. Their boat had crashed on the first attempt.
2) LeT operative David Coleman Headley visited Mumbai seven times before 26/11 for reconnaissance.
3) LeT commander Sajid Mir was his contact who had asked him to take general videos of Mumbai.
4) On Mir’s instructions, Headley changed his name from Syed Daood Salim Gilani to David Coleman Headley in Philadelphia, US, to conceal his identity and obtained a new passport .
5) Headley was attracted towards the militant organization after listening to speeches by LeT chief Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and Dr Hafiz Saeed, whose photograph he identified in the court.
6) Headley was formally inducted into the organisation in 2002 and underwent training in six courses over two years.
7) Pakistani terrorist outfit LeT had planned to attack Hotel Tajmahal Palace, located near the Gateway of India in Mumbai, in 2007 when a conference of Indian defense scientists was scheduled to be held there.
8) Apart from the places which were targeted by 26/11 attackers, Siddivinayak temple at Dadar and Maharashtra state police headquarters at Colaba were part of the initial plan.
9) The ISI was providing financial, military and moral support to all the three major terrorist organizations functioning out of Pakistan – Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen.
10) Headley’s ISI handler wanted to use him for military intelligence. Headley however was never tasked with a mission.