Sunday, December 3, 2023

Headley was tasked with recruiting spies from Indian Army

Mumbai, Feb 9 (IANS) Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headley on Tuesday described how he was assigned to gather military intelligence in India and recruit spies from the Indian Army.

On the second day of his deposition through videoconferencing from a US jail before the Special TADA Court here, Headley said he was tasked with luring spies from the Indian Army to work for Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

In his response to questions posed by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, Headley admitted to working both for the LeT and the ISI.

Headley on Monday revealed that the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks were planned over a year in Pakistan.

Detailing the planning for the 26/11 strike, Headley said in November-December 2007 he had attended a meeting in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir along with his LeT contact Sajid Mir and Abu Khafa, in which they asked him to conduct a recce of the Hotel Taj Mahal Palace and other locations in Mumbai.

At the meeting, the LeT leaders gave information about a conference of Indian defence officials and scientists at the luxury hotel opposite Gateway of India which they wanted to hit, Headley told the court of Special Judge G.A. Sanap.

He was specifically asked by his handlers to survey and videograph the second floor of the hotel which he did along with his wife Faiza, selected the landing site for the vessels which would sneak in from the Arabian Sea at Colaba, and discussed everything with Major Iqbal of the Pakistan Army.

Besides Hotel Taj, Headley made videos of Leopold Cafe, Colaba Police Station, the local markets and restaurants in Colaba, the naval and air force stations, the Maharashtra Police headquarters, Hotel Trident-Oberoi, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, and the Siddhi Vinayak temple in Prabhadevi.

“Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal were satisfied with the videos and photos of the hotel which I gave them,” Headley said, adding that the plan to target Hotel Taj conference hall was later scrapped for “logistics reasons”.

All the data and locations were stored in a GPS device for future uses, he added.

Headley unravelled before the Special Court how the LeT and Al-Qaeda, which he termed a “terrorist organisation”, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahiddeen and other groups in Pakistan function under the “United Jihad Council” and were working against India.

He said the LeT and ISI have a close nexus with the ISI providing the “financial, military and moral support”, Nikam later told media persons.

Admitting that he served both the LeT and ISI, he said Hafez Sayeed was LeT’s “spiritual leader,” Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was its “operational commander” and worked with the sole aim of spreading terror in India.

Headley said that in 2003, he was present at a LeT meeting when Maulana Masood Azhar made a guest speech about his anti-India activities and his release from India (in December 1999 in exchange for passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814).

Headley’s deposition will resume again on Wednesday, Nikam told media persons.

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