David Headley confession: ISI wanted me to recruit an employee from BARC
Testifying via video-link, David Headley told the court he was interested in developing close relations with a Shiv Sena member as he thought that LeT would be interested in future to either attack Sena Bhavan or assassinate its head
Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley today told a court here that ISI and LeT wanted to target Mumbai airport and Naval air station during the 26/11 terror attack, and that he had videographed Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and was asked to recruit someone from there to work with the Pakistani spy agency.
Testifying via video-link from the US, he also told the court he was interested in developing close relations with a Shiv Sena member as he thought that LeT would be interested in future to either attack Sena Bhavan or assassinate its head.
"Major Iqbal expressed disapproval of certain areas I had recced as targets. I felt that Major Iqbal was unhappy because Mumbai airport was not selected and included as one of the targets for the 26/11 attack," Headley said. In another major revelation, Headley said he had videographed BARC at Trombay in Mumbai in July 2008 and that LeT had asked him to recruit some employee of BARC who would work for ISI.
"I also visited and videographed BARC. Major Iqbal told me that in some future date I should recruit some employee of BARC who would give us classified information and would be ready to work for the ISI," Headley said, adding that he had handed over the video to Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal.
In further disclosures, 55-year-old Headley, who recently turned approver in the 26/11 case, said that after he had recced Mumbai, he had several meetings in Pakistan with
LeT leader Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Sajid Mir, Abu Kahfa and Abdul Rehman Pasha and Major Iqbal.
Headley revealed that during his last visit to Mumbai in July 2008, prior to the 26/11 attacks, he had surveyed and videographed the Chabad House in south Mumbai. "I don't know who was staying there. Sajid Mir and Pasha asked me to survey this place and said that it was an international location as it had Jewish and Israeli people," he said.
Headley said he discouraged the LeT about Naval air station and Siddhivinayak temple as targets for the attack. "I discouraged them (LeT) about Naval air station and Siddhivinayak temple as targets as then all the ten attackers would have had to concentrate on one target only," he said.
He further disclosed that during this visit, he had also gone to Siddhivinayak temple and made a video of it. "I purchased the red and yellow wrist bands.... I forget the name of it. I thought that the ten youths could wear it as a cover so that people would think they were Indians.
"Nobody asked me to do so. I saw a man selling it outside the temple, so the thought occurred to me. After I returned to Pakistan, I gave those wrist bands to Sajid Mir
and explained to him that practising Hindus in India wear this and hence, it would be a good idea if the ten gentlemen (attackers) also wear it as it would look like they are
Hindus," he said.
Headley also said that during his last visit, he had purchased five books from a shop at the Taj Hotel. "During the same visit I also visited the Nalanda book shop inside Taj Hotel where I purchased five books. One of the books was 'Indian Army Vision 2020'. I was interested to know the progress of the Indian Army in the future," he said.
When Judge G A Sanap asked Headley why he had purchased the other four books, he said, "The other books were pictorial and beautiful, hence I purchased them. There is
nothing sinister about those books. The first book was sinister."
Headley told the court that he had finalised Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade as a landing site for the ten attackers, as the area is covered with shanties and hutments from the
main road, and hence he thought it would give tactical advantage to the terrorists.
"In May 2008, I visited US. I could not meet Tahawwur Rana (Headley's business partner), but I spoke with him on the phone. I said that I had gone to India and selected landing site," he said.
Headley said that LeT commander Zaki-ur-Rehman wanted to finalise Gateway of India as the landing site for the 10 terrorists as it was very close to the Taj hotel. "I, however, said it was not a good idea as the attackers would be required to go through Gateway of India by crossing naval installation and they could be detected. Zaki Sahab and others agreed to my suggestion," he said.
"When Zaki Sahab saw the targets I had selected, he said this was very important and has to be done properly. Zaki Sahab said surveillance for the attacks should be done properly. He said this would give a chance to take revenge for all the bomb blasts India had done in the past in Pakistan.
Zaki Sahab wished me good luck," he said.He told the court that the idea to divide the ten terrorists in different groups was also discussed in one of the meetings in Pakistan.
Headley is serving a 35-year prison sentence in the US for his role in the Mumbai attacks, in which 166 people were killed.
(With inputs from Sailee Dhayalkar)