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Headley reveals Lashkar's chilling agenda of terror

Last updated on: January 4, 2011 15:32 IST

Headley reveals Lashkar's chilling agenda of terror

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Last year, a team of the National Investigation Agency had interrogated Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative David Headley for nearly 30 hours in the presence of his lawyer and investigators of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During the interrogation, Headley, who is currently serving a jail term in the United States under a plea bargain, offered some chilling insights into the workings of the terror outfit. He also revealed shocking details about why the LeT had planned the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai and the terror strikes Lashkar bosses are planning next. 
 
What Headley told the NIA:

"I get the feeling that the 26/11 attack was planned by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence to shift the focus of the world from the Afghanistan issue. They also felt that there was a need to instill confidence in the cadres, who were getting demoralised and restless. A lot of them wanted to do Jihad and join the battle in Afghanistan.

Reportage: Vicky Nanjappa

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Image: David Coleman Headley

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'Shiv Sena continues to be a target'

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"The Lashkar subscribes to the Salahi faith of Islam and they believe that they should instill the rule of God. The Lashkar has been inclined towards the battle in Kashmir and over a period of time there was a debate amongst the cadres about joining the battle in Afghanistan. The ISI was very clear that it wanted to keep the issues of Kashmir and Afghanistan separate. This debate within the Lashkar was leading to a split and the ISI felt that it needed to stage an attack like 26/11 in order to keep the outfit together.

The Lashkar has not stopped speaking about (Shiv Sena chief) Bal Thackeray and during my meeting with (LeT founder Hafiz) Saeed, he had said that the chief of the Sena had damaged a Muslim nation. The Shiv Sena continues to be a big target for the Lashkar.

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Image: Bal Thackeray

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'I was told to videograph Shiv Sena Bhavan'

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"During my stint in Mumbai, my handler Sajid was particular that I conduct a proper survey of the Taj Mahal Hotel. I was also told to videograph the Shiv Sena Bhavan. I had visited that place and even chatted with some of the security guards over there. I tried to get close to the Public Relations Officer of that organisation, named Rajaram.

I got close to Ilyas Kashmiri after the 26/11 attack. He belonged to the 313 brigade of the Al Qaeda. I also got in touch with Abdur Hashim aka Pasha who was a retired major of the Pakistan Army. Pasha was first asked to fight the Taliban, but he refused to do so and began training Lashkar men.

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Image: Sena Bhavan in Mumbai

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'I made videos of several targets in Delhi, Goa and Pune'

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"I had even introduced Pasha to some of my contacts who used to deal in drugs. I had spoken about these contacts with (film director Mahesh Bhatt's son) Rahul Bhatt, but he did not know in what context I was talking about this.

Pasha was an important man in the set-up and he had asked me to survey various targets in India. He has a lot of anti-India operations up his sleeve and he runs an army of fidayeens (suicide bombers) for this purpose.

Pasha had insisted that I join the Al Qaeda and I readily agreed. I conducted a survey of the National Defence College at his behest. I have also made videos of several targets in Delhi, Goa and Pune. All this material is with him and it could be used for future attacks.

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Image: Rahul Bhatt

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'We had also planned on attacking the BSE'

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"We had also planned on attacking the Taj President, the Naval Air Station, the World Trade Centre, the Siddhi Vinayak Temple and the Bombay Stock Exchange. However these targets were later traded for the Chabad House (in Nariman Point, Mumbai). Pasha was aware of this change. In fact, he was thrilled when the plan changed.

When I was conducting a survey of the Taj Mahal Hotel, I came across a jewellery shop and planned on staging a robbery there. I had thought that this money could be used for the attack. My plan was well received initially, but then it fizzled out.

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Image: Bombay Stock Exchange

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'The LeT did not want Benazir Bhutto to survive the attack'

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After conducting these surveys, on one my return trips to Pakistan, I got the news that (former Pakistan prime minister) Benazir Bhutto had been shot. When I visited the Lashkar camp, I saw that a lot of the Lashkar cadres were praying hard that she does not survive the attack. It was around this time that one Major Haroon and I planned on assassinating (former Pakistan president) Pervez Musharaf for his Lal Masjid operation.

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Image: Benazir Bhutto

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'We discussed dropping the attack on CST'

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"In addition to the job of conducting surveys, I was also told by my handlers to check if the SIM connections which were to be used by the 26/11 attackers would work in India. I did that at the Wagah border and told them that the connections were working fine. Around the same time, we held a discussion about dropping the attack on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

I suggested that there could be a number of Muslims among the commuters there and they could lose their lives. But my apprehensions were dismissed and I was told that the attack would be conducted during the Iftari and no Muslims would be out at that time.

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Image: Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

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'My wife complained that I was not taking care of her'

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"I faced a lot of problems while carrying out my operations. After my marriage to Faiza, she complained on various occasions that I was not taking care of her. She even met Saeed and told him that I did not care for her. When Saeed asked me to give her more attention, I told him that I was busy with my work. He didn't say anything after that. She was very upset with me and even had me arrested in Lahore for a week, but I was released later.
 
After the 26/11 attack, I was told that both (Lashkar operative) Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed were arrested in Pakistan. My handler Sajid told me there was nothing to worry about and we had recieved clearance to carry out another major attack on the Jamnagar oil refinery.

Both Saeed and Lakhvi got preferential treatment in jail. Both were given home made food and their families were free to visit them anytime they wanted.

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Image: Hafiz Saeed

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'Lashkar and Al Qaeda are planning the Karachi Project'

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"After this, I was told that I should not stay in touch with any of my handlers since there was a lot of pressure on them following this attack. I then moved on to the Denmark project which was being coordinated by Ilyas Kashmiri and Pasha. I even volunteered that I was ready to blow myself up for any such project. However, when this operation was being planned, I was arrested.

Currently, the Lashkar and the Al Qaeda are planning a big operation called the Karachi Project. This has the blessings of the ISI. An ISI worker called Colonel Shah is a handler for Pasha, who is the mastermind of the Karachi Project.

The Lashkar plans to launch these attacks from Maharashtra and Gujarat. They plan on staging this attack from the sea. The men who have been picked up for this operation are from Kashmir. They are the ones who have lost their loved ones due to India's aggression.

The Karachi project could involve attacks on the National Defence College, the Raksha Bhavan and the Rajkot oil refinery which the Lashkar has conducted surveys of".


 


Image: National Defence College in Delhi

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