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Headley narrates Pakistan Navy man's links to 26/11

By Lalit K Jha and Himani Kumar
May 26, 2011 23:08 IST
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Mumbai attack co-accused David Headley on Thursday told a US court that a Pakistani Navy man was present during discussions with his ISI handler Major Iqbal on landing sites and arrival of Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists by sea.

Headley also said he had attended over 50 training sessions with the powerful Pakistan's intelligence agency and that he always briefed Iqbal first during his visits to Paksitan. Iqbal was briefed at a Lahore safehouse, he said.

The 50-year-old Pakistani-American gave details of the Mumbai attack plot involving his Pakistani handlers while being cross-examined by the defence attorney Charles D Swift on the fourth day of the trial of Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani of Canadian origin and another co-accused in the case.

Headley said ISI provided him a special discourse in Lahore for carrying out surveillance ahead of the Mumbai carnage dissatisfied with the military and espionage training received by him from the Pakistan-based terror outfit LeT.

"ISI did provide me (espionage) training," he said, adding that he had attended 50 training sessions over a period of time.

Headley replied in the affirmative when asked by Swift if anyone from the Pakistan naval establishment was present during meetings with Iqbal on landing sites in Mumbai to carry out the attack.

"When discussing the landing site, someone from the Pakistan Navy was present -- clean shaved, military bearing, hair cut."

Q) Do your know his name?

A) Abdur Rahman was his name.

During questioning, Headley also said he did not know anyone in ISI above Major Iqbal.

Headley also beleived that his LeT handler Sajid Mir had a separate handler in the ISI.

The training by the Pakistan intelligence agency to Headley was provided by Iqbal on the streets and in a two-storey safe house in Lahore near the airport, Headley told the jury during the course of questioning by Swift.

Headley told the court that when he met Major Iqbal in 2006, he expressed dissatisfaction at the military and espionage training that he had received from the LeT earlier. Major Iqbal, who was identified by Headley as 'Chaudhery Khan', told him that the training received from LeT was "not very good" and was "very elementary", so he decided to give instructions to him.

It was a two-storey house in a residential neighbourhood and there was a small compound outside the house, Headley said when pressed by Swift during the closing hours on the third day of the trial on Wednesday.

The statements formed part of the testimony of Headley, who has pleaded guilty.

These disclosures, which further cements India's charges that elements of ISI were involved in the 26/11, is also corroborated by information given by federal prosecutors in the documents to the court, which have been unsealed.

Headley said he had taken videos of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai several times and also inside of a train station.

Q) Video surveillance at railway station was an egress route (act of getting out of target area)

A) Yes

Q) That was Major Iqbal's planning

A) Yes

Q) You were not detected?

A) Yes

Q) This is the landing site, you identified

A) Yes

Q) What were you looking for? 

A) Looking for something safe where we could not be detected.

Headley said he went to the Taj to video the area on numerous times and that he had stayed in the Taj on April 7, 2007 along with his second wife (from Morocco) with me.

He testified he used the occasion to video tape and take pictures and that his second wife was covered in a veil.

Headley said Iqbal had a unique cell phone (with US number) with which the Pakistani contacted him when he was in India.

Q) You first briefed Major Iqbal when you arrived in Pakistan

A) Yes.

Q) How long?

A) Hour a long, many a times, some time three or four times. He would take the videos, copy them and next day he would come and have questions for me.

"In April 07, it was not clear if Taj was the target. I considered it as a possibility, but it was not clear if that was going to happen at that time," he said.

"No one was present when Major Iqbal met me. Some time he took notes. At the safe house in Lahore. I was shown at one time and then remembered. It is in a very densely populated area. No I used to drive my own car. He called me up, or I called him up," he said.

Q) It was a fairly unique cell phone.

A) Major Iqbal had a unique cell phone (with US number). So that he contacted me when I was in India. He gave me the number.

Headley said he briefed Sajid Mir sometime in Muzzafarabad and sometime in Rawalpindi and it would be more or less the same given to Major Iqbal.

Q) Sajid did not knew everything Major Iqbal did?

A) Yes

A) Few days, I would stay there (at Sajid Mir).

Q) Did Sajid had an ISI handler?

A) Yes

Q) Based on how you were handled?

A) Yes, presumed that Sajid Mir also had an ISI handler.

Headley said in May 2008 the attack was postponed due to inclement weather. "During the briefings that I had in Pakistan they did not consider that period safe to travel to the sea."

He said the first planned attack was in September, then in October and finally happened in November.

Headley further said that on the ninth of November his Pakistani handlers were still working on it (attack) more closer than ever.

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