26/11 planner also said that LeT planned to target Indian defence scientists and Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak temple.
Terror outfits Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen are given ‘financial’ and ‘military’ support by the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley said on Tuesday as he made fresh revelations including about an aborted plan to target Indian defence scientists and the famous Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai.
Deposing before a court in Mumbai for the second day via video-link from the United States, he said he was working for Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, besides LeT, and that he knew about ISI official Brigadier Riyaz being the handler of LeT's top commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who was the mastermind of the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai.
“I was also working for ISI and had met many people from the Pakistan Army,” he told Special Judge G A Sanap during his deposition which will resume on Wednesday.
He named three officials of the Pakistan army and ISI -- Colonel Shah, Lt Colonel Hamza and Major Samir Ali – besides retired army officer Abdul Rehman Pasha who was closely working with LeT and Al Qaeda.
Headley said his assessment was that the ISI and LeT were coordinating with each other.
“The ISI provides financial, military and moral support to terror outfits Jaish-e-Mohammed, LeT and Hizbul Mujaideen,” he said, even though he claimed that his opinion was formed on the basis of hearsay.
Headley, who had visited Mumbai seven times to scout for targets, revealed that plans to target Mumbai had started over a year before November 26, 2008 and that LeT initially wanted to attack a conference of Indian defence scientists at Taj Mahal Hotel for which even a dummy of the hotel was prepared.
But the plan to target scientists was dropped because of logistical reasons, like difficulty in smuggling in weapons and personal and lack of details about the schedule of the meet, he said.
He said he had also conducted a recce of the famous Siddhivinayak temple and Naval air station.
He said the LeT group as a whole is responsible for the terror attacks in India and it can be speculated that all orders come from Lakhvi since he is its ‘top commander’.
Headley, who had told the court on Monday that he was a ‘true follower’ of LeT, said on Tuesday that ISI official Brigadier Riyaz was the handler of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
When shown a photograph of Lakhvi, he identified him.
Headley said he had been asked by the ISI to recruit Indian army personnel to spy for them.
Giving details about plans to target India’s commercial capital, Headley said, “In November-December 2007, the LeT held a meeting in Muzaffarabad (in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) which was attended by (LeT operatives) Sajid Mir and Abu Kahfa. In this meeting, it was decided that terror attacks would be conducted in Mumbai. The task of conducting recce of Taj Hotel in Mumbai was assigned to me.”
He said LeT operatives Sajid Mir and Abu 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. They also made a mock (dummy) of the Taj Hotel.’
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,’ he said, adding another reason for dropping of the plan was that he could not get details about the schedule of the conference.
About plan to target SiddivinayakTemple, Headley said, “Sajid Mir (Headley’s handler in LeT) specifically asked me to make video of it.”
Prior to November 2007, he said, the targets in Mumbai had not been decided.
Continuing to spill the beans, he said that, “I met Abdul Rehman Pasha (retired Army officer) in Pakistan in early 2003 at a mosque in Lahore. When I first met Pasha he was with LeT. At that time he had no relation with Al Qaeda, but may be after two years, he left LeT to join Al-Qaeda.”
“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,” Headley said.
“Samir Ali also wanted me to do some intelligence work in India. I was in contact with Samir Ali over phone,” he said.
On his links with militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s founder Masood Azhar, he said, “I know Maulana Masood Azhar as I saw him once in October 2003. He is the head of Jaish-e-Mohammed. In October 2003, there was a gathering of LeT and he was a guest speaker there.”