Continuing his expose on the role of Pakistan-based terror organisations, its army, spy agency ISI and others, LeT terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headley on Tuesday described how he was assigned to gather military intelligence in India and recruit spies from the Indian Army.
On the second day of his deposition through video-conferencing from a US jail before the special TADA court in Mumbai Headley said he was tasked with luring spies from the Indian Army to work for Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
A man identified as Major Ali of the Pakistan Army wanted him to note troop movement in India as part of the plan to infiltrate the military establishments here.
“He wanted me to note the movement of troops in India. He wanted someone to spy on matters of military intelligence, movement of officers. He wanted me to develop contacts with officials of Indian military forces with a purpose to gather intelligence,” said Headley.
In response to questions posed by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, Headley admitted to working both for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the ISI.
Headley on Monday revealed that the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks were planned over a year in Pakistan.
Detailing the planning for the 26/11 strike, he said that in November-December 2007, he had attended a meeting in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir along with his LeT contact Sajid Mir and Abu Khafa, in which they asked him to conduct a recce of Hotel Taj Mahal Palace and other locations in Mumbai.
At the meeting, the LeT leaders gave information about a plan to strike during an upcoming conference of Indian defence officials and scientists at the luxury hotel opposite the Gateway of India which they wanted to hit, Headley told the court of Special Judge G.A. Sanap.
However, that plan -- to be executed a year before the Mumbai terror attacks -- was subsequently dropped as the conference itself was cancelled, he added.
Headley was specifically asked by his handlers to survey and videograph the second floor of the hotel which he did along with his wife Faiza, when they stayed there between September 14-28, 2006, and selected the landing site for the vessels which would sneak in from the Arabian Sea at Colaba.
He said he had met Major Iqbal of the Pakistan Army first time in 2006 at a house in Lahore and discussed the matters with him.
Besides Hotel Taj, Headley made videos of Leopold Cafe, Colaba police station, markets and restaurants in Colaba, the naval and air force stations, the Maharashtra Police headquarters, Hotel Trident-Oberoi, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, and the Siddhi Vinayak temple in Prabhadevi.
“Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal were satisfied with the videos and photos of the hotel which I gave them,” Headley said, adding that the plan to target the Hotel Taj conference hall was later scrapped for “logistics reasons”.
All the data and locations were stored in a GPS device provided by Sajid Mir and Abu Khafa, which he later handed over to Sajid Mir, Headley added.
Headley unravelled before the special court how the LeT and Al Qaeda, which he termed a “terrorist organisation”, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahiddeen and other groups in Pakistan function under the “United Jihad Council” and were working against India.
He said the LeT and the ISI have a close nexus with the spy agency providing the “financial, military and moral support”, Nikam later told media persons.
Admitting to his links with both the LeT and the ISI, Headley described Hafiz Saeed as LeT’s “spiritual leader,” while Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was its “operational commander” and both worked with the sole aim of unleashing terror in India.
Headley said that in 2003, he was present at a LeT meeting when Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar made a guest speech about his anti-India activities and his release from India (in December 1999 in exchange for passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814).
He met Azhar at the location, around 150 km from Lahore, and the same year he met Lakhvi in Muzafarrabad at the LeT headquarters.
However, it was at a meeting in 2006 attended by Sajid Mir, Muzammil, Abu Khafa it was decided that he should go to India.
On Monday, Headley deposed roughly on the period between 2003 and 2005 and on Tuesday, he threw light on the period after 2005 till 2008, and the deposition will resume again on Wednesday, Nikam told media persons.