Nation Crime 11 Feb 2016 ISI funded terror op ...

ISI funded terror operations and my trips to India, says David Headley

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SHAHAB ANSARI
Published Feb 11, 2016, 10:26 am IST
Updated Feb 11, 2016, 5:00 pm IST
Headley said that Major Iqbal of ISI gave him money to conduct reconnaissance of possible targets in India.
Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman (Photo: video grab)
 Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman (Photo: video grab)

Mumbai: Making fresh disclosures before a Mumbai court on Thursday, Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley told special judge G A Sanap that ISI was helping different terror outfits in Pakistan and was providing financial, military and moral support.

The LeT operative also said that RBI has turned down a request to open a bank account for their office in India.

 

Resuming his deposition via video-link after a day's break due to technical glitch at the US end, Headley told the court that Pakistan native Tahawwur Rana was aware of his connection with LeT and that he had gone to India for intelligence work on instructions of the terror outfit. He also revealed that all his India trips were sponsored by ISI to conduct reconnaissance of possible targets.

Headley said, “Rana also visited Mumbai just before 26/11 attacks and he had advised the latter to leave India.”

Giving details of his funding, Headley said, "Before coming to India in September 2006, he received USD 25,000 from ISI's Major Iqbal."

 

Read: Centre Pakistani-American terrorist welcomes Headley's revelations      

"I also got 40,000 in Pakistani currency from LeT operative Sajid Mir between April and June 2008," he told the court, adding that Major Iqbal used to regularly send him money in instalments.

Also, Major Iqbal gave me counterfeit Indian currency once or twice in 2008, he said.

Besides, Abdul Rehman Pasha, also from ISI, gave me Rs 80,000, Headley said.

"Tahawwur Rana (Headley's associate and a Pakistani native who operated a Chicago-based immigration business) used to send me money from the US in September 2006 when I came to India to do intelligence work on instructions of LeT," he told the court.

 

The 55-year-old, who recently turned approver in the case, also said that "it was my idea to open an office in India. It was a part of my cover (as an immigration consultant). I had discussed this with Major Iqbal and Sajid Mir and they both agreed to it."

"I also told Rana that Major Iqbal had asked me to do intelligence work in India. Iqbal told me that if Rana was reluctant to be associated with this (Headley's India operations) then he (Headley) should appeal to his (Rana's) sense of patriotism towards Pakistan," he testified.

 

"But Rana was not reluctant and he agreed readily for me to go to India," Headley said.

Headley also revealed that Rana had visited Mumbai before the terror attacks. "I advised Rana to leave India before the attacks as I was afraid that he would be in danger," he told the court.

Headley disclosed that Rana had asked Raymond Sanders (who ran an immigrant law centre in Chicago) to submit an application to the RBI to open a bank account for their office in India. However, RBI turned down the request, he said.

Later, in January 2009, Major Iqbal told Headley to close down his office in India, the court was told.

 

Headley told the court that LeT had planned attacks on the famous Akshardham Temple to avenge the Babri Masjid demolition.

He had heard that Muzammil Butt had planned an attack on the Akshardham Temple 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 here.

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 ten 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.

Earlier on Tuesday, Headley had told the court 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.”

 

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.”

 

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