Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley on Saturday said that his handlers told him that “nothing will happen against” Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed and that actions taken by Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency against them and other LeT members in 26/11 case are “superficial”.
Shedding more light on terror activities post 26/11 attacks, the 55-year-old terrorist, who is testifying via a video-link from the US since Monday, said he visited the Indian Army Southern Command headquarters at Pune in 2009 on the instructions of ISI’s Major Iqbal, who wanted him to recruit some military personnel to get “classified” information.
Headley, who turned approver in the case, told a court in Mumbai on Saturday that in March 2009 he had visited Pushkar, Goa and Pune and had recced the cities as sought by Ilyas Kashmiri of Al-Qaeda.
He also said that after Pakistan government started investigating the 26/11 attacks, he was told by his handler, Sajid Mir of LeT, that “both Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed are safe and nothing will happen against them.”
Headley told the court that Abdul Rehman Pasha, a former Pakistan army major who joined LeT and later al Qaeda, told him that the action taken by Pakistan Federal Investigation
Agency against Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, Hafiz Saeed and other LeT members are “superficial”.
He said that on March 16, 2009 he went to Pune and visited the Southern Command headquarters there.
“Earlier too, Major Iqbal had also asked me to visit this place. At that time, I had made a general video of the (Army) station from outside,” he said.
Also, “Major Iqbal wanted me to try recruiting someone from the Army who would give us classified information. It was the same like the BARC (drill).”
“In all three cities, I took general videos of several locations there,” he said.
The LeT operative also revealed details of e-mails between him and his main contact Sajid Mir.
“From July 3, 2009 to September 11, 2009, there was an exchange of emails between me and Sajid Mir of LeT. I had time and again expressed concerns about the safety of the leadership of LeT,” he told the court.
“From December 2008 onwards, after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, the Pakistan government was conducting investigations, interrogating people and pursuing people from the LeT which is why I wanted to know if Hafiz Sahab and Zaki Sahab were safe,” he added.
Headley also said that Mir had replied to his e-mails and said that “Zaki Sahab is doing fine…. His morale is high even though he was in prison (at that time) and he was not
Headley and Mir had referred to Hafiz Saeed as the “older uncle” and Zaki as the “younger uncle” in the e-mails using code language.
The court was told that on August 20, 2009 Headley had sent a mail to Mir asking if “older uncle” (Hafiz) was also under investigation and would be arrested to which Mir replied after three days saying that “the older uncle is fit and healthy and is moving back and forth for his business” even as Mir asked Headley to not put ears to rumours.
Mir also assured Headley that “both Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed are safe and nothing will happen against them.”
Yesterday, Headley told the court that al-Qaeda was in touch with him to attack Delhi’s National Defence College and unravelled the plot by LeT and ISI to target Mumbai airport,
BARC and the Naval air station here.
Headley had also told Special Judge G A Sanap that he attempted to develop close relations with a Shiv Sena member (Rajaram Rege) as he thought LeT would be interested in future to either attack the Shiv Sena Bhawan here or assassinate its head (late Bal Thackeray).
Headley also claimed he discouraged the LeT about Naval air station and Siddhivinayak temple as targets for the attack as they were heavily guarded.
Headley had said that his handlers in Pakistan spy agency ISI and LeT wanted to target Mumbai airport and Naval air station during the terror attack in November 2008.
He also said NDC was a high-value target as it housed senior military officers, from Brigadier to General rank.
Headley also said that as per Kashmiri’s orders, he also visited the Chabad houses located in Pushkar, Goa and Pune as they were secondary targets of the terror outfit.
He 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.
Headley had also identified the executed lone 26/11 convict, Ajmal Kasab, when he was shown a photograph of him.
In further disclosures, he said that after he had conducted a reconnaissance of 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.
He also spilled beans on how during his last visit to Mumbai in July 2008, he had gone to Siddhivinayak temple and made a video of it besides purchasing red and yellow wrist bands so that the ten youths (attackers) could wear it as a cover so that people would think they were Indians.