Day 2: David Headley deposes in court : 'Scientists conference at Taj, Siddhivinayak were on LeT's hitlist'

On day two of his deposition before Special TADA Court Judge G A Sanap, via video-conferencing from the US, LeT operative and 26/11 attacks’ prime accused David Coleman Headley revealed that the extremist group had planned to target a conference of defence scientists at Taj Hotel in 2007.

David Coleman Headley
David Coleman Headley 

He even claimed that Siddhivinayak temple was on LeT’s hitlist and he was specifically asked to shoot a detailed video by his LeT contact, Sajid Mir. Headley also informed the court that he had met LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and its top commander, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, personally while undergoing a leadership course.

Winding up the day’s proceedings, Judge Sanap asked Headley whether he found any of the questions offensive. He also told Headley to maintain the court’s decorum, to which he replied, “I am sorry.”

Headley was asked about 160 questions yesterday, and the hearing is likely to go on for another two days.

Ujjwal Nikam (N): For how many days did the leadership course last?
David Headley (H): Five days.

N: Did you meet any of the LeT leaders during this time?
H: I met Hafiz Saeed sahib and Zakir-ur-Rehman.

(Headley added that it was Ali, an ISI agent, who introduced him to Major Iqbal, as he could be useful for intelligence work in India.)

N: What did Major Iqbal ask you to do?
H: During our meeting, Iqbal said I would be used for recruiting Indian Army personnel to work as ISI spies.

N: What was your reply?
H: Yes.

'I'm aware of al-Qaeda'
N: Are you aware of the organisation, al-Qaeda?
H: Yes.

N: Was your friend, retired Major Abdul Pasha, part of al-Qaeda?
H: Pasha had left Lashkar to join al-Qaeda.

'Second wife files myriad complaints'
N: When did you meet your second wife?
H: I met Faiza in 2007 and married her.

N: Did she file any complaint against you?
H: Yes. I think it was in December 2007. She had
filed numerous complaints against me. One of them being that I was an abusive husband and had taken away all her money.

N: Was one of them pertaining your involvement in terrorist activities?
H: No.

N: Next day she filed a complaint at the US embassy in Islamabad?
H: Yes. It was January 2008.

N: Did she mention your involvement with the LeT?
H: That’s correct.

'Hafiz and Lakhvi: Head and heart of LeT'
N: You mentioned Lakhvi yesterday, who is he?
H: He is the operational commander of LeT in ‘occupied Kashmir’.

N: And Saeed?
H: He is the group’s spiritual head.

N: Who appointed Lakhvi?
H: Hafiz sahib.

N: When and where did you first meet Lakhvi?
H: In 2003, at LeT’s Muzaffarabad headquarters.

(Headley identified Lakhvi when his photo was shown via video-conferencing.)

(Replying in negative when asked whether he knows Aarif and Abdul Wazid alias Zarra Shah, Headley said several anti-India extremist groups work in tandem.)

N: Are you aware of Jaish-E-Mohammed (JeM)?
H: Yes. I have heard of it.

N: Where is it based?
H: I think, in Pakistan.

N: Is there any relation between LeT and JeM?
H: They coordinate, is all I know.

N: Which terrorist organisations work for the United Jihad Counsel?
H: Hijbul Mujahideen, Lashkar and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.

N: How many of these organisations are against India?
H: All of them.

N: When was the first time Lashkar wanted to attack Mumbai?
H: November 2007.

N: Where did this meeting took place?
H: At Muzaffarabad in December 2007.

N: Who all attended this meet?
H: Sajid Mir and Abu Khafa.

N: Were you a part of it?
H: Yes.

N: What work was assigned to you in that meeting?
H: To survey Taj Mahal Hotel, which I already had. I showed them my videos, following which they started asking questions. Later, we did a mock-up of Taj.

N: What did they ask?
H: They enquired about the entry and exit points and the conference hall.

N: Why were you asked to take pictures of the hall?
H: They knew that a meeting of Indian defence scientists would be conducted in the conference hall soon.

N: What was the plan?
H: To attack them.

N: What was the reason behind the attack?
H: Logistics.

N: Can you elaborate?
H: Amassing personnel and weapons to attack.

N: When was the plan cancelled?
H: I think in January 2008.

N: Why attack Mumbai?
H: I don’t know.

N: When did you first visit Mumbai after joining LeT?
H: In September 2006, from Karachi

N: Did you recce Taj Hotel?
H: Yes, several times in 2007.

N: How?
H: I stayed at the hotel with Faiza.

N: Who instructed you to visit the second floor of Taj?
H: Sajid Mir.

N: When was the conference of defence scientists scheduled?
H: I don’t know. I think the mission to attack the conference hall was aborted following zero knowledge about the conference dates.

N: To whom did you give the videos and pictures of Taj after going back to Pakistan?
H: Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal.

N: During your Mumbai visit, which places did you shoot?
H: Railway stations, Taj Mahal hotel and the World Trade Centre.

N: During your second visit in 2008, what did you do?
H: This time, I surveyed multiple targets and selected landing sites.

N: Name the places?
H: CST station was not surveyed as a target, but as an exit point for the attackers. The other places surveyed were Taj Mahal, Oberoi, State police headquarters of Maharashtra, Chabad House, BARC, Colaba causeway, including Leopold café, naval air station and Siddhivinayak temple, of which I was specifically asked to shoot videos and take multiple pictures.

N: Whom did you pass on this information to?
H: Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal.

N: Did you use Global Positioning System (GPS) during your Mumbai visit?
H: Yes.

N: Who provided it?
H: Mir and Abu Khafa. They gave it so that I could store locations, including that of the Arabian Sea. After saving the locations, the device was handed over to Mir.

(Headley identified the videos and photos of Oberoi, CST station and Leopold café documented by him)

N: How many set-ups were established to execute the attack in India?
H: I don’t know.

'ISI and LeT related'
N: What is the relation between ISI and LeT?
H: My assessment is that they coordinate with each other.

N: How do they coordinate?
H: They provide financial, military and moral support to each other.

N: Whom does ISI support?
H: In my opinion, its Hijbul Mujahideen, Lashkar and Jaish-E-Mohammed.

N: Were you an ISI agent too?
H: Yes.

N: Who all did you meet?
H: Met several ISI officers, including Colonel Shah and Lieutenant Colonel Humza. But I didn’t meet Brig Riaz.

N: Did you save Major Sameer Ali’s number in your e-mail?
H: Yes, I did.

N: Is Major Ali (ISI) the same as Major Sameer Ali, whose number you had saved?
H: Major Ali and Major Sameer Ali are two different persons.

N: Then explain who is this Major Sameer Ali?
H: He is from ISI.

N: Why did you save his number?
H: Because even he wanted me to do his work in India. He was connected to LeT. We often spoke over the phone.

N: Do you know who is Lakhvi’s handler ?
H: I heard from others that it was Brig Riaz.

N: Is Riaz working for the ISI?
H: I don’t know.

'Not paid by ISI or LeT'
N: Why did you visit UAE on April 17, 2007?
H: To attend some business.

N: What type of business?
H: It was some investment in Dubai.

N: You were getting handsome amounts. Was it the reason for investments?
H: Yes, but from my business.

N: Did LeT or ISI pay you?
H: This is complete nonsense.

(Nikam objected to the answer.)

'Met Maulana Masood Azhar only once'
N: Do you know Maulana Masood Azhar?
H: I’d heard of him before meeting him once.

JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar
JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar

N: Where did you meet him?
H: At Renala Khurd, about 100 miles south of Lahore. It was an LeT meet in October. He was one of the speakers.

N: What did Maulana mention in his speech?
H: He generally spoke about his incarceration in India and his subsequent release.

N: What kind of activities did Maulana carry out against India as a free person?
H: He was the head of Jaish-e-Mohammed organisation and was placed under house arrest. I don’t know much.

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