Live: Taj attack in 2007 was cancelled due to logistics, says Headley

  • HT Correspondent and Agencies, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 09, 2016 14:09 IST
In his revelation Headley said that two attempts were made prior to the final attack on November 26, 2008. (PTI)

1:45 pm Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley on Tuesday said that the LeT had planned to attack Indian defence scientists at the Taj Mahal Hotel a year before the 26/11 strikes and that he had conducted a recce of the Naval air station and the Siddhivinayak Temple.

Headley also said that he was asked by Pakistan’s ISI to recruit Indian armymen to spy for them.

The task of conducting recce of Taj Hotel in Mumbai was assigned to Headley. They (Sajid and Kahfa) also made a mock (dummy) of the Taj Hotel.

Headley later said that the “plan to attack the conference hall in Taj was cancelled due to logistical reasons, like it was not possible to get weapons and personnel to the hall.”

12.32pm ISI supports Lashkar “I was working for ISI (Pakistan’s external espionage agency, Inter-Services Intelligence) also and met many people from Pakistani Army, Headley told the court court.

11:45 am Headley in 2008 carried a Sony Ericsson phone given by Maorj Iqbal, and a GPS device which was given by Sajid Mir. He also used phone camera to record.

Headley also revealed that ISI provides military, financial and moral support to terrorist organisations including LeT.

10: 45 am LeT was targetting Siddhivinak temple

LeT leaders had specifically asked Headley to survey Siddhivinayak temple at Dadar for a possible terror attack. In fact CST station was not a target initially and was first surveyed to use as an exit point for terrorists. Multiple targets included Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (Mumbai), Naval, Air station, Maharashtra Police state headquarters, Oberoi Hotel and CST.

10:00 am Ex ISI chief Major Pasha was part of LeT, reveals Headley

Headley said that in 2006, ISI official Major Pasha and LeT functionary Sajid Mir and others met to discuss plans to set up a business for (him) Headley in Mumbai. Later, in November 2007, he met LeT top leaders when the proposed terror attacks on Mumbai were planned in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, he told Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

This meeting came in the wake of Headley’s recce trips to Mumbai since the previous year (2006) when he made video recordings of various locations, including the iconic Hotel Taj Mahal Palace, and they studied the recordings of the hotel very carefully, especially the entry-exit routes.

Headley said he conducted a surveillance of Taj Hotel’s second floor when he stayed there with his wife Faiza.

Headley also admitted that he had met both LeT) commander Hafeez Saeed and then operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in Pakistan.

When asked by Special PP Ujjawal Nikam, “why was Mumbai particularly targeted for the attack? Headley replied: I don’t know why. The plan to attack conference hall in Taj Hotel (Mumbai) was for logistics reason, i.e. for personnel and weapons, Headley revealed.

9: 15 am Headley further revealed that he was asked by LeT to gather military intelligence in India and also recruit someone from Indian military for spying.

9:00 am In 2007 LeT had planned to attack Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai to target a proposed meeting of defence scientists

The deposition of David Coleman Headley continued at a special Mumbai court on Tuesday morning. The deposition revealed that Pakistan-based terrorist organisations are working in tandem with and under the advice of ISI.

Headley also revealed that Let had planned to attack Taj in November 2007 to target a proposed meeting of defence scientists. The conspiracy to conduct the terror attacks started in November 2006, he added.

“In Nov-Dec 2007, a meeting took place in Muzaffarabad (Pakistan) which was attended by Sajid Mir, Abu Khafa and me. In this meeting,they assigned me the task of conducting recce of Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai,” Headley said.

Headley also said the motive of United Jihad Council in Pakistan is to organise terror attacks in India.

8:30 am Headley’s wife Faiza had in January 2008 complained to US Embassy in Islamabad that he was involved in terrorist activities.

Headley also suggested to LeT bosses Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur-Rehman Lakhvi to challenge decision of US government designating LeT as foreign terror outfit and banning it.

Headley tells court of earlier failed attacks

In his revelation Headley said that two attempts were made prior to the final attack on November 26, 2008.

According to Headley, the first attempt was made in September 2008, which failed because the boat hit some rocks in the ocean. The people on board were saved as they were wearing life jackets. However, the weapons and explosives were lost.

He said that the second attempt was made after a month in October 2008.

Senior lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani told the media that Headley has told the special court that he acted on the advice of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.

Jethmalani said Headley disclosed that the same ten people, who came on November 26, had come twice earlier but their attempts failed.

Headley, one of the main conspirators in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, deposed as a witness in the case and admitted that he had come to the city with a false identity at the behest of his colleague and handler Sajid Mir, a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative.

True follower of LeT, reveals Headley

Headley further 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. He said he had visited Mumbai seven times prior to the attacks on November 26, 2008. He even visited Delhi in March 2009 after the attacks.

Headley reveals nexus between ISI and LeT

Nikam, who questioned Headley for nearly five hours, said he had also revealed meeting a “Major Iqbal” and “Mr Ali” whom the American said were serving with Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“It is clear, we think, that there was a close nexus between ISI and LeT. That is what has been gathered from the revelations made from Mr Headley,” said Nikam outside the sessions court in Mumbai.

Headley, the son of a former Pakistani diplomat, was sentenced after admitting scouting targets for the Mumbai attackers. He spent two years researching sites, even taking boat tours around the city’s harbour and befriending Bollywood stars as part of his cover.

After initially denying involvement, Headley confessed and cooperated with US authorities to avoid the death penalty.

Nikam said Headley had told the Indian court he had joined the LeT in 2002 and received two years of “military training”, including “in handling sophisticated weapons like AK47s”.

He added that Headley said he had received training from LeT founder Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks.

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