Mumbai, Feb 9: Today's deposition by David Headley was a lot about the ISI and the Pakistan army's role in the 26/11 attack. During his deposition before a Mumbai court today, he took more names of those part of the Pakistan establishment when compared to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba itself which carried out the attack.
Another interesting aspect of the deposition today was Headley taking the name of Basheer, the man who received him at the Mumbai airport when he made his first visit in 2006. He said that Basheer was a friend of Tawahhur Rana who made all the arrangements for him in Mumbai. [Live Updates: Attacking the Taj hotel was crucial, says David Headley]
This could be considered as the biggest take away from the Headley deposition and one must bear in mind, none have investigated this link in India.
The follow up was lacking:
All through the testimony, the prosecution posed questions to Headley. There were certain key points that Headley spoke about and there was never any follow up question from the prosecution. For instance take the Basheer link. Although reported several times, none really know who exactly this man is. [Who received David Headley at the Mumbai airport?]
What one can say is that he is of Indian origin and a friend of Tawwahur Rana. Now Rana is a friend of Headley's who made travel arrangements for him. Moreover Rana had also served as a doctor in the Pakistan army. Basheer becomes a key link and yet it was surprising that this angle was never probed. Neither did the prosecution press too much on this issue today.
One would have also expected some questions on who else had Headley met in Mumbai and did he seek assistance from anyone else.
The other aspect was when Headley said that the original plan was not to attack CST first. He said although a reconnaissance was conducted of the CST or VT station, it was meant to be used as an exit point for the terrorists. No questions about where they were planning on exiting to or what exactly Headley meant when he said this were asked.
Takeaways from Headley's deposition:
Headley today was asked to identify various persons who were part of the attack. Sajid Mir was a name he took a lot as he was directly reporting to him. While Pakistan has always denied the existence of this man, Headley today told the court when shown the photograph, " yes he is the one."
The other person he identified today was Major Iqbal. This was another name that Pakistan had vehemently denied. However Headley spoke about this army officer from Pakistan who had played such a key role in the attack. Right from training him in intelligence gathering to providing him equipment to conduct surveys of targets in Mumbai, Major Iqbal played a very important role leading up to the attack.
Headley further took the name of Major Pasha who was part of the 6 Baloch regiment in Pakistan. He was closely associated with the ISI and even joined the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Headley said. However, Pasha according to Headley is now with the al-Qaeda.
Further, Headley speaks about the role of the ISI in the attack. The manner in which he detailed the relationship between the ISI and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba was quite telling although one must confess that it is quite an open secret. The ISI is a moral and financial support for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba he says. He further stated that when he had told Hafiz Saeed to challenge the ban on the Lashkar-e-Tayiba he was told that he would need to consult with the ISI first.
Will Pakistan act or at least react?
After every such deposition concerning Pakistan the first question is will they act? The fact of the matter is that India will prepare a dossier give it to Pakistan and they on the other hand are most likely to acknowledge the receipt of the same. They will neither act nor react. For starters the information that Headley has put out is 6 years old.
If Pakistan had to act it would have done so by now. Secondly, the US telling India that it will help bring the perpetrators of the attack to Justice is yet another run of the mill statement. The US had first information about all that Headley had said, but since 2009 there has been no action.
In a nut shell this testimony aids the prosecution in strengthening the case against Abu Jundal the man who gave Hindi tuitions to the ten terrorists. Moreover, legally it is always considered to be strong when a testimony is made before a court rather than before an investigating agency.