ISI Provided Me Training in Lahore: Headley


AP Photo/ Tom Gianni

In this courtroom sketch, David Coleman Headley is shown in federal court, in Chicago.

ISI Provided Me Training in Lahore: Headley

PTI | Lalit K Jha/Himani Kumar/Chicago | May 26, 2011

Dissatisfied with the military and espionage training received by Mumbai attacks accused David Headley from the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Pakistan‘s spy agency ISI provided him a special discourse in Lahore for carrying out surveillance ahead of the 26/11 carnage.

“ISI did provide me (espionage) training,” Headley told a Chicago court as he was grilled by the defence attorney Charles D Swift on the third day of the trial today of Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana, another co-accused in the 26/11 attacks.

The training by the Pakistan intelligence agency to Headley was provided by Major Iqbal, who was his ISI handler, on the streets and in a two-storey safe house in Lahore near the airport, the 50-year-old Mumbai terror accused told jury during the course of questioning by Swift.

Headley told the court that when he met Major Iqbal in 2006, he expressed dissatisfaction at the military and espionage training that he had received from the LeT earlier.

Major Iqbal, who was identified by Headley as ‘Chaudhery Khan’, told him that the training received from LeT was “not very good” and was “very elementary”, so he decided to give instructions to him.

It was a two-storey house in a residential neighbourhood and there was a small compound outside the house, Headley said when pressed by Swift during the closing hours on the third day of the trial.

The statements formed part of the testimony of Headley, who has pleaded guilty.

These disclosures, which further cements India‘s charges that elements of ISI were involved in the 26/11, is also corroborated by information given by federal prosecutors in the documents to the court, which have been unsealed.

Despite repeated questioning, Headley said that he did not know the full name of Major Iqbal, but was sure that he was from the ISI. He was introduced as Major Iqbal to him.

Although Major Iqbal was never seen by Headley in military uniform, he came to meet him several times in a military jeep and his subordinates had military designations, he said.

Headley said he never went to the ISI headquarters and added that he was introduced to Major Iqbal by military personnel, a fact corroborated by the unsealed document.

The ISI and Major Iqbal were particularly motivated by the fact that he was US born and an American national, this would have concealed his real identity in India.

“They (ISI and Major Iqbal) wanted me to have a business so as to have the ability to have a long-term stay in India. In discussion with them, I suggested to take the help of Dr Rana’s (Tahawwur Rana) business to get this objective,” he said.

After completing training in LeT camps in Pakistan, Headley wanted an assignment in Kashmir but he was not given his favourite assignment, as the Lashkar leaders wanted to use him for something else.

According to the new documents, it was in February 2002 that Headley began attending training camps in Pakistan for LeT.

By December 2003, Headley had attended five separate courses, and had been trained in, among other topics, Lashkar’s philosophy, the use of weapons and grenades, combat tactics, survival skills and counter surveillance methods.

After completing several camps, Headley became acquainted with senior LeT member Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi (Zaki), who was responsible for Lashkar’s military operations.

Headley also visited a nuclear power plant in India at the direction of Major Iqbal in April 2008.

“Additionally, based on instructions from Major Iqbal, Headley visited a nuclear power plant in India to conduct surveillance,” federal prosecutors said in its 57-page documents giving details of the case and the modus operandi of Headley and other Lashkar operatives with regard to the Mumbai attacks.

In April 2008, Headley returned to Mumbai. As instructed, he conducted surveillance of potential landing sites, and took boat rides around the Mumbai harbor, using the GPS and making videos.

In his last surveillance trip to India before 26/11, Headley, at the instruction of Major Iqbal, bought 15 red bracelets to be worn by the attackers so that they can disguise as Hindus, according to unsealed court documents.

While the LeT leadership made plans for fool-proof attacks in Mumbai, the ten men involved in the carnage made a number of mistakes thus leaving crucial clues behind for Indian intelligence agencies, according to court documents.

These mistakes were conceded by the LeT mastermind Sajid Mir in multiple conversations with Headley.

According to the court documents, in a later meeting with Sajid, he related to Headley that certain attackers had not followed his instructions, and had failed to sink the boat that was hijacked for their ingress to Mumbai. Sajid related that one of the attackers mistakenly left on this boat a satellite phone that had been provided to him.

“Indian authorities located this boat, recovered this phone, and provided it to the FBI for forensic analysis. Stored in the phone’s contacts were two numbers identified as ‘Wasi.’ The phone had been used to contact ‘Wasi’ on November 24, 2008, and had recovered a call from ‘Wasi’ on November 25, 2008,” the documents said.

Filed On: May 26, 2011 11:31 IST

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