Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, standing trial for facilitating the 2008 Mumbai attacks, had toured Indian nuclear power plants while scouting targets to attack.
Headley, who spent months sizing up targets in Mumbai, told a Chicago court on Tuesday that he had visited the sites but there was never a formal plan to attack them.
He said he was given a GPS device to locate possible targets including Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Hotel and the headquarters of Hindu right-wing political party Shiv Sena. He said he spent two years scouting airport and bus terminals as well as Jewish Chabad houses in three Indian cities. The Chabad houses were thought to be homes for Israeli intelligence units.
Headley said that Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) Sajid Mir was in Karachi on the eve of the attack, solely to coordinate and stay in touch with attackers in Mumbai.
Washington-born Headley is the prosecution’s star witness in the US government’s case against Chicago businessman Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who stands accused of providing Headley with a cover and acting as a messenger. “Rana had sought revenge against the Indian people for a 1971 attack at the military school where we had met,” Headley, 50, said. However, Rana
has insisted that he was “duped” into letting his old friend use his immigration services company as a cover.
After the Mumbai attacks, Headley met Rana in December 2008 in Canada, where Rana also has citizenship, and told him of plans to attack Danish newspaper Jylland-Posten that had published cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) which had caused widespread protests across the Muslim world, including Pakistan.
“Lashkar wanted to plan something,” Headley said. “We were all infuriated.”
After the Mumbai bombings, Headley and an associate came to Waziristan to meet an al Qaeda representative about plans to bomb Denmark. In June 2009, Headley said he met with Rana about the plot.
Headley highlighted his trips to England and Denmark in 2009, shortly before his arrest, to meet Ilyas Kashmiri’s associates and conduct further surveillance of Jylland-Posten’s offices. Headley testified that he met two men in England to convey Kashmiri’s message to them regarding the Denmark plot. However, contrary to Kashmiri’s instructions, the men said they couldn’t supply arms or manpower to conduct the attack nor, Headley said, “did they seem into it [the plot]”. And despite Kashmiri’s message, the men were only able to provide £2,000 against a promised £10,000.
ISI shrugs off supposed link
Meanwhile, the ISI on Wednesday shrugged off Headley’s testimony. In Monday’s hearing, Headley had said he was under the impression that the LeT and the ISI were working together.
“I have nothing to say on this. This is his opinion, whatever he’s saying,” a senior intelligence official said, requesting anonymity. “Major Iqbal. The name itself means nothing. How many Iqbals are there in the Pakistan Army or ISI? And if he is what he’s quoted to be, do you think he would have given his real name?”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2011.
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