26/11 case: David Headley claims he told NIA about Ishrat Jahan
Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley on Saturday claimed that LeT commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi had told him about Ishrat Jahan 'operation' though he had also learnt about the case through the media.
David Headley. File pic
Headley, who testified before an anti-terror court here in the 26/11 case during his cross-examination on the fourth day, claimed that he had told NIA that 'a female member who had died in an encounter in India was Ishrat Jahan' and other things but could not say why they were not recorded by the agency.
However, he went back on a part of his statement to the NIA, saying that he did not tell the probe agency about Lakhvi informing him that 'Ishrat Jahan module' was a 'botched-up operation' and added that 'these were my thoughts'. He also admitted that he had 'no personal knowledge about Ishrat Jahan.' "When Lakhvi introduced Muzammil Bhat to me, he told me that he (Bhat) is one of the top LeT commanders and has done some operations like Akshardham temple, Ishrat Jahan etc... the rest were my thoughts... I came to know about Ishrat Jahan from media. These are my thoughts as to why Ishrat Jahan operation resulted in failure," Headley said
"No, I did not say this to NIA and cannot assign any reason why it has been so recorded," he told Judge G A Sanap in Mumbai.
The 55-year-old, who has turned approver in the 26/11 case, is being cross-examined by Abdul Wahab Khan, the lawyer of Jundal who is an alleged key plotter of the 2008 Mumbai siege, via a video-link from the US. NIA had recorded Headley's statement in the US in July, 2010.
On whether NIA read out the statement to him, Headley said, "No" and added that the agency just took down the notes.
To a question, the Lashkar operative, who has been convicted in the US for his role in the 26/11 attacks, said neither he had requested the NIA for a copy of the statement nor did they provide it to him. He also said that this is for the first time that he was being shown his statement in the court.
Headley said he told NIA that before Sajid Mir, Muzammil was the head of the group (LeT). Headley was then confronted with his own statement asking him why information about Bhat has not been recorded. To this, Headley said he cannot explain this. He also told Khan that he had told NIA about an 'unsuccesful operation near police naka in India' but could not explain as to why it has not been recorded in his statement. Headley also said that he told NIA that there was a woman wing in LeT and the mother of one Abu Aiman was heading it. He further said he had told NIA that "a female member who had died in an encounter in India was Ishrat Jahan" but could not say why this too was not recorded by the agency.
To a question, Headley further clarified that he had informed NIA that "this woman (Jahan) was an Indian and a LeT operative" but could not explain why this was not recorded in his statement. Replying to another question, he said, "It would be correct to say that I have no personal knowledge about Ishrat Jahan."
Ishrat Jahan was killed along with three others in an alleged fake encounter in Gujarat in 2004 While testifying in February, Headley had said that Jahan, a 19-year-old student from Mumbai, was affiliated to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Headley also said that he had told the agency that Muzammil's operations were all over in India and concentrated in Gujarat and Maharashtra but can't tell why this was not recorded in his statement.
"It is true that Lakhvi had introduced Muzammil to me in 2005," Headley said replying to a question. However, he denied that Lakhvi had told him that Muzammil was a top LeT commander whose every project fails. "Lakhvi did not tell me this and I also did not tell NIA about this," he said but failed to explain why this was reflected in his statement.
The terrorist, who is serving a 35-year-jail term in the US, was flanked by lawyers and US attorney while deposing from an undisclosed location.
Jundal is appearing via video-link from the high-security Arthur Road jail here.
On Friday, giving a new twist to his testimony, Headley had revealed that Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was Pakistan's Prime Minister in 2008, had visited his home within weeks after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks to condole his father's demise.
Headley had also said that his father, who was a Director General with Pakistan Radio, knew about his links with with LeT and was not happy about it.
Also, he told the court that he had nurtured a 'hatred feeling' towards India since childhood after his school was bombed in 1971 during the Indo-Pak war. The terrorist also said that he had told his friend Tahawwur Hussain Rana that all the nine 26/11 terrorists should be awarded Nishan-e-Haider, Pakistan's highest gallantry awards.
He also denied that NIA suggested to him to name Ishrat Jahan or that he met special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and Joint Commissioner of Police Atul Kulkarni in the US before his current deposition in the case.