Nation Crime 10 Feb 2016 ISI funds LeT & ...

ISI funds LeT & JeM: David Headley tells Mumbai court

Published Feb 10, 2016, 8:56 am IST
Updated Feb 10, 2016, 8:59 am IST
ISI gave financial, military and moral support to LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen.
Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley (Photo: AFP)
 Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley (Photo: AFP)

Mumbai: Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley, now turned approver in the 26/11 Mumbai attack case, told a special court here Tuesday through video testimony from the United States that he was working for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, which he said gave financial, military and moral support to LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen.

Answering a question by special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, Headley admitted that he had worked for the ISI besides Lashkar, and that he knew about ISI official Brig. Riyaz being the handler of LeT’s top commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind behind the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. He also said that during his stay in Pakistan, Col. Shah, Lt. Col. Hamza, Maj. Samir Ali, Maj. Iqbal and retired Army officer Abdul Rehman Pasha, who was closely working with LeT and al-Qaeda, were among the ISI personnel who were coordinating with him.


Read: Was working for ISI, met many people from Pakistan army: David Headley

Headley also told the court that he had done surveillance of key locations in Mumbai like the Naval Air Station, the Siddhivinayak temple and the state police headquarters on Lashkar’s instructions. He also deposed on the operations planned by LeT in Mumbai prior to 26/11, adding these were not executed for various reasons. One such plan was to attack a conference hall in the Taj Mahal Hotel during a meeting of Indian defence scientists. But this was called off as the LeT could not arrange the logistics for it.

Headley said he was specifically asked to survey the Siddhivinayak temple as a target. He also said the Naval Air Station and the Maharashtra state police headquarters were among the planned targets, but these plans were not executed. The recording of Headley’s evidence will continue on Wednesday.

Read: 26/11 terror attacks: India to give Pakistan Headley dossier

Headley said he had visited Mumbai for the first time in 2006, but then he was not given any specific targets to survey, and only asked to take general videos and pictures of different places in Mumbai. “To set up office and make my cover authenticated so that I could stay there (in Mumbai) and I could do surveillance,” he said.

“I did surveillance of multiple targets as well as selected landing sites,” Headley added. According to Headley, a meeting was held between him, Abu Kahafa and Sajid Mir at LeT’s headquarters in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This was sometime in November or December 2007, when Headley was tasked with doing surveillance at the Taj, and specifically at the convention hall (conference hall) on the second floor as they had information that a conference of defence scientists was going to be held there soon. But this plan was later cancelled. When prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam asked him the exact reason why the plan was cancelled, Headley said it was mostly due to “logistical problems”, which he later meant getting the necessary personnel and weapons.

Read: David Headley wanted to fight against Indian Army in Kashmir, says Public Prosecutor

He also did surveillance at the Oberoi Hotel and the entire stretch of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Marg in Colaba, where Leopold Café (one of the places hit in the 26/11 attacks) is located, as well as Chabad House (Nariman House), another actual target on November 26, 2008.

The LeT operative also said he had been asked by the ISI to recruit Indian Army personnel to spy for them. Headley told special judge G.A. Sanap: “I met Maj. Iqbal of ISI in Lahore in early 2006. He asked me to gather military intelligence from India and also try to recruit someone from the Indian military to spy. I told Maj. Iqbal I would do as he asked.”

Read: Was inspired by Hafiz Sayeed's speeches, reveals David Headley

Another ISI officer, Samir Ali, also wanted him to do some intelligence work in India, Headley told the court. On Abdul Rehman Pasha, Headley said he met the retired Pakistan Army officer in early 2003 at a Lahore mosque. “When I first met Pasha he was with LeT. At that time he had no relations with al-Qaeda, but may be after two years, he left LeT to join al-Qaeda,” he said.

On his links with Jaish-e-Mohammed’s founder Masood Azhar, Headley said: “I know Maulana Masood Azhar as I saw him once in October 2003. He is the head of Jaish-e-Mohammed. In October 2003, there was a gathering of LeT and he was a guest speaker there.”

Read: From Daood Gilani to David Coleman Headley: A timeline