In a significant claim, Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley on Thursday said that Ishrat Jahan -- who was killed in an alleged fake encounter in 2004 in Gujarat --was actually a suicide bomber of Lashkar-e-Tayiba terror outfit.
The disclosure is likely to ignite a fresh row around the controversial encounter.
Testifying via video-link from the US, Headley spilled the beans on the 19-year-old Mumbra girl and picked up her name when quizzed by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam about a "botched up operation" mentioned to him (Headley) by LeT commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi.
Headley told the court that Lakhvi had mentioned to him about a "botched-up operation" conducted in India by another LeT operative Muzammil Butt where a female member of the terror outfit was killed.
Prodded by Nikam to elaborate on the operation and the members involved in it, Headley said, "(I was told) It was a shootout with police in which a (female) suicide bomber was killed."
To which the prosecutor prompted three names of which Headley picked up Jahan before telling the court that "there is a female wing in the LeT and one Abu Aiman's mother headed it."
Four persons -- Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar -- were killed in an encounter with Gujarat Police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.
The city crime branch had then said that those killed in the encounters were LeT terrorists and had landed in Gujarat to kill then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The CBI, which took over probe from the Gujarat high court-appointed Special Investigation Team, had filed charge sheet in August 2013 saying that the encounter was fake and executed in the joint operation by the city crime branch and Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau.
In further disclosures, the 55-year-old, who recently turned approver in the 26/11 case, also told the court that that LeT operative Muzammil Butt was the head of his (Headley's) group before Sajid Mir.
He told the court that a person, whom he identified as Abu Dujuna introduced him to Muzammil.
Headley said that he and Muzammil had once visited Kashmir to fight against the Indian troops.
Earlier in the day, Headley exposed how ISI and LeT majorly funded terror operations in India and financed him from time to time and that Pakistan native Tahawwur Rana visited Mumbai before the terror strikes in November 2008, which left 166 people dead and 309 injured.
The deposition of Headley could not take place on Wednesday due to a technical snag in the video conference in the US.
Headley told the court that LeT had planned attacks on the famous AkshardhamTemple to avenge the Babri Masjid demolition.
He had heard that Muzammil Butt had planned an attack on the AkshardhamTemple in Gujarat.
“When I asked Muzammil about this, he said that since Indians demolished Babri Masjid (in 1992), it was justified for us to attack Indian temples also,” he told the court.
The LeT operative-turned approver in the case, said that one of the 26/11 handlers Abu Kahfa, who was also part of the training programme before the brazen Mumbai siege was in continuous touch with the 10 terrorists who sneaked into the city and held it to ransom for over three days.
“Along with Sajid Mir, Kahfa was talking to the 10 terrorists from a control room in Karachi and was giving them instructions. Kahfa’s nephew was one of the ten boys who had come to India,” Headley told the court.
He further said that after the 2008 terror strikes, which left 166 dead and 309 injured, he met Sajid Mir in Rawalpindi where “he (Mir) told me that he was very happy with the attacks”.
“Even I felt very happy,” he said.
Headley also told the court that he knew Haji Ashraf, a businessman in Lahore who was in-charge of the finance wing of LeT.
He also said that he knew Al-Qaeda’s Ilyas Kashmiri and had met him once.