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Was US consulate Headley’s target?

The NIA investigators suspect the LeT handler was actually agreeing with Headley’s idea of conducting a recce of the US Consulate, reports Debasish Panigrahi.

mumbai Updated: Nov 16, 2009 02:10 IST
Debasish Panigrahi

A closer analysis of the e-mails allegedly exchanged between David Coleman Headley and his Lashkar-e-Tayyeba handlers in Pakistan has led investigators to suspect that the word “Rahul” could be code for the US consulate in Mumbai, apart from film maker Mahesh Bhatt’s son Rahul with whom the US-based terrorist of Pakistani origin had got friendly. And that the US consulate at Breach Candy in the city could have been a terror target.

Official sources requesting anonymity said this view was gaining ground in the National Investigating Agency (NIA), which is conducting a probe into Headley’s conduct in India before the November 26, 2008, terror attacks in Mumbai and the purpose of his visit to half a dozen locations in the country in the past three years.

Following the 9/11 terror strike, terror groups across the world have been avoiding direct or indirect references to the United States in their internet communications to get around electronic snooping by the Americans.

Affidavits the Federal Bureau of Investigation submitted in court in the US during Headley’s trial reveal a series of e-mails with suspected LeT handlers detailing their plans and targets in India. In one such exchange on July 8, Headley told one of his Pakistani handlers, identified as LeT Member A in the FBI affidavit: “I think when we get a chance, we should revisit our last location and say hi to Rahul.” In reply, Member A said: “To see Rahul is a good idea coz have some work for you over there too. Matters are good enough to move forward.”

The NIA investigators suspect that what Headley actually meant was a visit to the US consulate at Breach Candy while saying hi to Rahul -- who worked at Moksha gym which is not far from the consulate building. Headley’s handlers were well aware of his proximity to Rahul Bhatt and hence the mention of just “saying hi” to him could be literally irrelevant, investigators suspect.

The NIA investigators suspect the LeT handler was actually agreeing with Headley’s idea of conducting a recce of the US Consulate.

There were several security alerts sounded at the US Consulate throughout last year and even after the 26/11 terror strike.