David Headley hated India since 1971 air raid on his school

Mar 26, 2016, 08:56 IST | Sailee Dhayalkar

The LeT terrorist revealed how he developed hatred for India when he witnessed the bombing as an 11-year-old; denied being present in the control room during the November 2008 attacks

On the third day of 26/11 plotter David Headley's cross- examination, things got personal. Headley revealed how his hatred for India stems from a bombing he witnessed in school as an 11-year-old. This bombing later became his reason to plan the 26/11 attacks, thus avenging the assault he witnessed at his school.

While he denied being present in the LeT control room during the 26/11 attacks, David Headley revealed that LeT commander Sajid Mir told him they had planned to attack Mumbai twice before 26/11 attacks. Pic/AFP
While he denied being present in the LeT control room during the 26/11 attacks, David Headley revealed that LeT commander Sajid Mir told him they had planned to attack Mumbai twice before 26/11 attacks. Pic/AFP

While being cross examined by Abu Jundal's lawyer Abdul Wahab Khan, Headley told the court he hated India and Indians and wanted to cause them maximum damage ever since he was a child.

Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s former PM had visited Headley’s home after his father passed away in 2008
Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's former PM had visited Headley's home after his father passed away in 2008

Asked about the reasons behind his hatred, Headley said, “My school was bombed in 1971 by Indian planes and that time, I developed this feeling.” People were killed in the attack, he said, adding it was one of the reasons why he joined the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

David Headley also admitted to conducting a recce of an army cantonment in Colaba
David Headley also admitted to conducting a recce of an army cantonment in Colaba

He also told the court that he went to Kashmir because he thought they needed help to fight Indian troops.

Speaking about his training, he said in July 2004, he attended a seminar where LeT chief Hafiz Saeed made a presentation on killing an Indian who accepts money from LeT and provides information to India. Headley also admitted to conducting a recce of an army cantonment in Colaba and the Maharashtra Police Headquarters. He also said that he had carried out surveillance of a nuclear power plant in order to recruit people working there (for LeT).

Foiled attack plans
Headley said information on the 26/11 attack was not shared with him but LeT commander Sajid Mir left a message for him saying, 'the game is afoot', meaning that the process of the attack had begun.

It was after Ramzan in 2008 when Mir came to Headley's house and told him that the first attempt of attack had been foiled as the boat they were travelling in had hit a rock.

After sometime, Mir told Headley that the second attempt on Mumbai would be by October 2008. But soon after, he told him that attempt had failed as well. Mir also told Headley that the attackers had spotted an Indian fishing vessel and an attempt was made to open fire on it but the vessel escaped.

Mir also told Headley that after the failed attacks, the boys were demoralised and sent back to a safe house but later, in mid-November, the force in Karachi was ready for a third attack. After this, Headley said Mir had informed him that one of the Pakistani terrorists (Ajmal Qasab) had been arrested in the Mumbai terror attacks and they were asking others (terrorists) in Chabad house to negotiate his release in exchange of Israeli hostages.

The Lashkar terrorist said he had never personally talked to the Israeli Embassy to negotiate this because he was in Lahore at that time.

To another question suggesting his presence in the control room in Pakistan (from where the attackers were being guided by handlers), Headley denied it and said, “The records are available and I am ready to give my voice sample.”

Headley told the court that he was not in contact with Mir during the attack.

Highest Pak honour
Headley also mentioned that when he was talking to Tahawwur Rana, his Military school friend, he told him that all the nine attackers who died in attack should get the Nishan-e-Haider, which is Pakistan's Highest Military gallantry award in Pakistan.

Headley said that a month after the attack, a relative in Philadelphia was interviewed by law enforcement agency FBI in which they had enquired about his whereabouts. He admitted he had informed about this to former Pakistani army office Abdur Rehman Pasha.

Asked if he was apprehending his arrest for 26/11 terror attacks, Headley said he was just curious to know why were they (FBI) asking about him. The LeT terrorist said that even after FBI enquired about him from his relatives, he did not contact the agency and continued with his Denmark Mickey Mouse Project and his visit to Mumbai.

'Gilani visited my house'
Regarding his family, Headley said his father Sayed Salim Gilani was a famous radio broadcaster in Pakistan. His brother Daniel and few other relatives, whose names he refused to provide, were working for Pakistan establishments. He said his brother and relatives were not aware of his LeT ties, but his father knew about it and objected to it.

Headley also said Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's Prime Minister in 2008, visited his home following the death of his father.

“It is not correct to say that the then Prime Minister of Pakistan — Yousuf Raza Gilani — had attended the funeral of my father who passed away a month after the Mumbai terror attacks on December 26, 2008. In fact, he (Gilani) visited our house (in Pakistan) a few weeks thereafter,” the Pakistani-American terrorist told special judge GA Sanap, who is hearing the case against Abu Jundal in the sessions court.

On Ishrat Jahan
Headley had made headlines in February after he said that Ishrat Jahan (killed in a 2004 encounter with Gujarat cops) was an LeT member. During yesterday's cross-examination, however, he said he did not disclose anything about any women cell and suicide bomber cell in LeT, because he was not asked. He denied that NIA suggested to him that he name Ishrat Jahan (in the case). He also refuted meeting special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and Joint Commissioner of Police, (Crime) Atulchandra Kulkarni in USA before his deposition in February this year.

Headley also replied in the negative when asked about being treated for mental illness in 1992.

He also denied being at a rehab centre for a year. He said, “Yeh kya kya cheeze mere khaate mein daal rahe hain Wahab Sahab. Nahin, aisa koi wakya nahin hua (Wahab Sahab, what all things are you ascribing to me...nothing of this sort happened).”

'I am a bad man'
At an instance when Khan questioned Headley on his guilty plea agreement, Headley said he doesn't remember the proposal of the agreement, which he had discussed with his lawyers. After saying he does not recall whether the plea deal was made by his lawyers on his instruction, he chuckled and said, “Mein bohot kharab insaan hu…maan gaya hu mein. (I have accepted that I am a bad man)”.

— With Agency Inputs

Shiv Sena's 'fundraiser' in US
Continuing his questions on Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, Abdul Wahab Khan asked Headley if he had intended to organise a fundraiser for the Shiva Sena in the US and invite Bal Thackeray for it. Headley replied in the affirmative. “Was the plan to attack him in the USA?” Khan asked further to which Headley said, “No”. The plan was not discussed with the LeT or with Bal Thackarey. “I never even met him,” he said.

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