Testifying for the second day before a Mumbai court, 26/11 conspirator David Headley made a range of allegations about how the November 2008 attacks took place. Here’s what he revealed today.
The attacks were originally planned for 2007
Headley said that the LeT had planned to attack Indian defence scientists at the Taj Mahal Hotel a year before the 26/11 strikes.
“In November, December 2007, the LeT held a meeting in Muzaffarabad which was attended by Sajid Mir and Abu Kahfa. In this meeting it was decided that terror attacks would be conducted in Mumbai,” he told the court.
“The task of conducting recce of Taj Hotel in Mumbai was assigned to me. They (Sajid and Kahfa) had some information that there was going to be a meeting of Indian defence scientists at the conference hall in Taj Hotel. They wanted to plan an attack at that time,” Headley said.
“They also made a mock (dummy) of the Taj Hotel. However, the meeting of the scientists was cancelled,” he said, adding that prior to November 2007, the place was not decided where terror attacks would be conducted in India.
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.”
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus was originally meant to aid terrorists’ escape
Headley said the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) was surveyed not as a target, but for those terrorists (implying the 26/11 attackers) to escape.
“I made a video of the entire Colaba stretch from Leopold Cafe to the Chabad house (Nariman House). I also made a video of Siddhivinayak Temple as Sajid Mir (Headley’s handler in LeT) specifically asked me to do so,” he said.
Headley said he used GPS during his visits to Mumbai so that he could store the location of the targets as well locations in the Arabian Sea.
ISI asked him to recruit Indian armymen and spy for them
Headley said that he was asked by Pakistan’s ISI to recruit Indian armymen to spy for them. He said that the LeT was responsible for the terror attacks in India, and it can be speculated that all orders came from its top commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
“I met Major Iqbal of ISI in Lahore in early 2006. He asked me to gather military intelligence from India and also try to recruit someone from the Indian military to spy. I told Major Iqbal that I would do as he asked.”
“I cannot tell this court who specifically from LeT instructed to conduct terror acts in India. The group as a whole was responsible. We can, however, speculate that since Zaki-ur-Rehman was the head of operations of LeT, and hence all orders would have logically come from him,” he told the court.
Headley advised LeT leaders to challenge US decision to designate it as terror group
Headley said that he had “discussed with LeT leaders Hafiz ‘sahab’ and Zaki-ur-Rehman ‘sahab’ that it would be a good idea to take the US government to court to challenge its decision to designate LeT as a foreign terrorist organisation and banning it.”
“Hafiz said it was a good idea but then did not say anything more on it. Zaki thought it will be a long process and many agencies of the Pakistani government like the ISI will have to be involved,” he said.
Wife had complained to police about his LeT links
Headley, who is serving a 35-year prison sentence in the US for his role in the Mumbai attacks, also revealed that his wife had complained to police about his links with LeT.
“In December 2007, my wife Faiza lodged a complaint with the Racecourse police in Lahore alleging that I had duped her of money. “In January 2008, she complained to the US Embassy in Islamabad that I was involved in terrorist activities and was closely associated with LeT,” he said.
“Later when I asked her about this complaint, she told me that the “US Embassy officials seemed to have believed her,” he said.