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Rediff.com  » News » We don't expect new details from Headley's testimony: NIA

We don't expect new details from Headley's testimony: NIA

Last updated on: May 26, 2011 08:17 IST

We don't expect new details from Headley's testimony: NSA

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Vicky Nanjappa
National Investigating Agency's 119-page interrogation report of David Headley matches that of what the suapect in the 26/11 terror attacks is saying in a Chicago trial court. Vicky Nanjappa reports

A source in the NIA says that the details that have been emerging at the moment are similar to the one which Headley had already told them.

"Although it reiterates our stand that the entire attack was controlled by the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan, we would still wait more intently for  Tahawwur Rana's testimony. Whatever Headley has been telling the court will only strengthen our case," he said.

"However, as we already pointed out, the chargesheet will be filed only once we complete Rana's interrogation, which will only take place once this trial is over," said the source.

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Image: LeT operative David Headley

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'After 26/11, LeT set up a naval wing'

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The NIA says that it would be surprising if Headley reveals any further details on the existing case. Moreover, Headley was anyway expected to stick to his earlier version as his plea bargain does not permit him to speak more than what he has already divulged.

Since certain portions of the report are being produced verbatim, it just shows that the testimony is exactly what Headley had said both to the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the NIA.

Following the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba set up a naval wing for future operations.

"The wing is specifically created to carry out more sea-borne attacks against India. In future, expect more terror strikes from the sea. LeT's naval wing is headed by Yakub and he has roped in Abdur Rehman from the Pakistan Navy to assist him. LeT has recruited a Pakistan Navy frogman to take care of sea-related operations," the source said.

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Image: The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai during the 26/11 attack

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'I had wanted to skip recee of Chabad House'

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Excerpts from the 119-page report, in Headley's words:

Even before I could scout targets for the 26/11 attack, the LeT heads had selected men who would carry out the attacks. I was shown photographs of the 10 attackers by my handler, Sajid Majid.

One of the 10 terrorists was part of the team which attacked Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's rally in Srinagar in 2004. I was also shown pictures of Ajmal Kasab and Abu Ismail, who attacked the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

I was also introduced to Muzzamil, who, I was told, carried out the Chittisinghpura massacre and the attack on the Akshardham temple.

During my visit to India in March 2008, I carried out a recce at the Chabad House at Nariman Point.  I had first decided to give this place a skip, but my ISI handlers insisted that I should survey the place as it was one of the prime targets.

I shot videos of Chabad House and other targets from my mobile phone and clicked pictures using my camera. I get the feeling that the 26/11 attack was planned by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the ISI 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 be involved in jihad and join the battle in Afghanistan.

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Image: The Chabad House, days after the attack
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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'The ISI wants to keep the Kashmir and Afghanistan issues separate'

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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 among 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 such as the one in Mumbai to keep the outfit together.

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'The Shiv Sena is still a major target'

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

In 2008 I visited Pune and surveyed the German Bakery. I even handed out sketches and videos of the targets that I had videographed. It was then that I told Pasha that it would be better if we staged an attack on the National Defence Academy in Pune, which today is under the LeT's radar.

I suggested that if we targetted the NDA, we could kill more Indian soldiers than Pakistan managed to kill in all its wars with India. I have also exclusively surveyed targets for the ISI.

The ISI backs every project carried out by the Lashkar. During my meeting with Pasha, he revealed that the ISI was behind the Mumbai train blasts in 2006.

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Image: Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray
Photographs: Sahil Salvi
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'The ban on LeT went unchallenged'

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I started training with the Lashkar in 2003. Back then, there was a lot of talk regarding the ban on the outfit. During a meeting with LeT founder Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, there were suggestions from other cadres that the ban should be challenged and they should take legal recourse.

However, Sajid said that this would open a can of worms and give India the opportunity to provide proof against them.

I travelled to Maldives, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka. I used to travel using my real name (Dawood Gilani). It was only after I came to India I changed my name to David Headley as I had been instructed to do so.

During my stint for the 26/11 attack, 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 there.

For that, I tried to get close to Rajaram Rege, the Public Relations Officer there.

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Image: An LeT guerilla fighter

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'Ilyas Kashmiri runs an army of fidayeens'

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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. I had even introduced Pasha to some of my contacts who used to deal in drugs.

I had spoken about these contacts with Rahul Bhatt, but he didn't know the context. 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 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 in New Delhi 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: Ilyas Kashmiri heads the Pakistan-based terror group Harkat-ul-Jehad-Islam
Photographs: Mian Kursheed/Reuters
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'We talked of dropping CST as a target'

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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. 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.

In addition to conducting surveys, I was also asked to check if the SIM cards 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 Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus as a target.

I had 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: The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant
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'I had volunteered to blow myself up'

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After the 26/11 attack, I was told that both Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed were arrested in Pakistan. Sajid told me there was nothing to worry about and we had received clearance to carry out another major attack on the Jamnagar oil refinery.

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

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 after the 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. However, we were all pleased with the attack.

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Image: The Jyllands-Posten House in Copenhagen
Photographs: Reuters
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We are waiting to interrogate Rana: NIA

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NIA sources say that looking at their own report and the testimony, they could not find any new leads in the case.

"However we would be able to take an appropriate decision once Rana's testimony is complete, and we interrogate him ourselves," the source said.

Meanwhile, this issue will be discussed on the prime minister's return from Africa. Indian officials at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia say that they are reviewing the situation, and once they are back there would be a meeting of the ministry of home affairs, the National Security Advisor and the NIA to take this matter forward.

 


Image: Tahawwur Rana

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