That man with ten heads | books | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Feb 22, 2018-Thursday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

That man with ten heads

Excerpts from a new book by S Hussain Zaidi and Rahul Bhatt piece together a picture of David Headley, arch villain of 26/11.

books Updated: Nov 26, 2012 12:19 IST

Headley and I
S Hussain Zaidi with Rahul Bhatt
Harper Collins
Rs. 359 PP 256

'I am a bastard child' - Rahul Bhatt
"My father wanted to name me Mohammed Bhatt. He actually did name me Mohammed. For a little while after I was born, that's who I was - Mohammed Bhatt...

Let me introduce my father, Mr Mahesh Bhatt. Mr Bhatt is very proud to call himself a bastard child. Of course, he is justified in doing so, as his mother and father never got married. But despite the fact that my mother and Mr Bhatt were legally married, I have always felt like an illegitimate child... The reason is simple. Though Mr Bhatt fathered me, he never fulfilled the paternal responsibilities that come with having a child. That makes me a super bastard child.

In the days when he was still making his mark in the Hindi film industry, Mr Bhatt had… an almost public affair with Parveen Babi… Finally, they (my parents) took the decision to part ways… But for some reason, my father decided to reconcile with my mother… The family was complete again… and I was born.

The moment my father found out that his wife had given birth to a baby boy, he decided to name him Mohammed, in keeping with his secular ideals… It was only after some neighbours… intervened… telling him that in these times of turmoil… his expression of secularism would not be appreciated… that he finally relented and named me Rahul Bhatt.

Throughout my childhood... I never really felt my father's presence in my life... The most potent feeling that I experienced was one of intense hatred towards Mr Mahesh Bhatt."

Going to jehadi school
'Tell me about your training, Mr Headley,' Behera said.

You clearly had a lot of training with Lashkar-e-Taiba, and they must have trusted you a lot.'

Headley beamed. 'Yeah, they trusted me.'

'So what kind of training did you get exactly?'

"After the first two preliminary stages-the Daura-e-Amma and Daura-e-Sufa-I progressed to the next. The training became much more practical, and I learned to translate my acceptance and belief in Salafi Islam and radical ideology into action.

In April 2003, I volunteered for the Daura-e-Khaassa in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. There were thirty or forty of us in the group that underwent the Daura-e-Khaassa training, which lasted for a full three months. During that time, we were taught the importance of being soldiers of Islam and how jehad should be the raison d'être for all Muslims."

The David I knew
"The first thing that struck me was David's eyes: one was brown and one green. I had never met anyone with mismatched eyes before… Every time he walked into a room, one couldn't help but notice this big six-foot, broad-shouldered, white, handsome Yank… He took pride in his looks, was in love with the glint in his eyes and his beauty creams, and was terrified at the thought of going bald… He definitely had taste, be it in women or his only poison, Dom Perignon, or in his love for money and luxury...

During one of these meetings, David told me that he wanted to take Vilas and me to Pakistan… I told him that I was afraid I would be kidnapped and murdered like Daniel Pearl. To this David said that nobody would dare to touch me if I was with him…

Then he said something that, at that time, I assumed was in jest. 'You know,' David said, 'all you guys have to do is change your names. People in that part of the world might not like Indians.' He waved his hand at Vilas. 'We can name Vilas here Akbar!'

We laughed at Vilas's incredulous face. The very thought of the hardcore Shiv Sainik being rechristened with a Muslim name was hilarious. David then looked at me and said, 'Maybe you should have a name like Mohammed Atta!'

Looking back, I feel a shiver run down my spine as I realize how devious David was."

Headley shoots Mumbai
"I came back to Mumbai on 10 April 2008, armed with instructions to find an entry point, and also to conduct a recce of BARC, which I've mentioned before. Apart from my trusty camera, my handlers had given me another piece of equipment to help aid my assignment - a Garmin GPS instrument.

All I had to do was enter the coordinates of all the possible landing sites as well as the exact location of the targets, and it would acquaint my LeT masters with the layout of the city and help them figure out the best place to land in Mumbai.... I came back to south Mumbai, hired a boat at the Gateway of India, and started cruising along the Mumbai Harbour.

Very soon, I was openly filming along the coastline, expecting to be intercepted at some point by either the coastguard or the navy... I was not stopped even once… That day it so happened that I landed up near Budhwar Park at Cuffe Parade. It wasn't thronging with people like the other beaches along the Mumbai coastline, and once the sun set, the place was quite dark. I realized that if the attackers came by night, they would have the perfect cover - the darkness of mother nature."

Faces behind the mask
"In Greek, the word hypocrite means actor, and Headley was both... He wasn't loyal to anyone… He married four women and cheated on each one. He had his masters in the US - the FBI, the CIA and the DEA - but he double-crossed them as well... When he came to India, he behaved like an American but was actually a Pakistani. It was as if the man was Ravana personified, with ten heads and ten different faces."