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Now we’re even with India, said a ‘pleased’ Headley

world Updated: May 25, 2011 23:26 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

David Headley, the man who set up the Mumbai targets for the 10 Lashkar-e-Tayyeba terrorists, stared impassively when asked how he felt about the attacks, and said, "I was pleased".

Into the second day of the widely-awaited deposition, Headley revealed little that he hasn't already told Indian investigators during the seven days of questioning last June.

Headley is deposing as a state witness in the trial of Tahawwur Rana, charged with providing him with cover under which he surveyed the 26/11 targets.

He testified that when he met Rana in Chicago on his return to the US on December 8, 2008, they discussed the attacks. "I said to him, ‘Now we're even with India'," Headley said. Rana said "'They deserved it'," Headley testified.

Headley is not saying anything about his past as an agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of the US. Recruited to penetrate Al Qaeda, he is believed to have gone rogue and crossed over to the jihadists.

But how much did his DEA handlers know of the Mumbai plot? The US had warned India of attacks, with some specific details. But had it got them from Headley? And how much did he tell them?

It was later discovered that his wives had told the US authorities about Headley's Lashkar links. The tips were apparently ignored.

Headley is singing as a prosecution witness now having got himself a deal — assuring him immunity from being tried abroad (read India) — in a plea bargain.

His ongoing deposition, however, is his first public statement on the attacks.

But none of Headley's revelations have shocked or impressed India. "There is nothing new in his statement," said an Indian official.

The surprise will be Headley's statement on his DEA days. An email to his lawyer Charles Swift asking if he planned to question Headley on his days as a US agent went unanswered.