New Delhi, Dec 11: David Headley was pardoned on Thursday, Dec 10 by a court in Mumbai after he agreed to turn approver. An approver basically aids the court or the investigation by spilling out details of the operation and in this case, Headley has agreed to tell the court everything he knows regarding the 26/11 attack.
Headley does have a plea bargain deal with the United States of America which bars an extradition or a death sentence. Hence even if the Mumbai court were to convict him, he will not serve a sentence in India.
The question is what will Headley tell the court? Will he go beyond what he has already told the FBI?
While he has told the FBI and the National Investigating Agency quite a lot, there are still grey areas in his confession and that includes his links in India. Let us take a look at what Headley is likely to tell the court.
I was under a person by the name Sajid Majid who incidentally is the personal assistant of Abdur Rehman Makki who is also the foreign affairs in-charge of the Lashkar.
My training went on for nearly 3 years and finally in the year 2005, I started showing signs of frustration since I was not being assigned any real job. I wanted to fight in Kashmir, but the Lashkar decided to use me for another operation and this is when the 26/11 attack was suggested.
At this time they also discussed with me the various possibilities of striking in various cities and suggested that I go to cities such as Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi and Pune.
During these discussions Rana who was my college mate and also a deserter from the Pakistan army got involved in this entire operation.
I was told that I need to change my name for the India operation and also set up an immigration office for Rana. I then left for the US where I obtained a visa from the Indian consulate on my US passport.
The 26/11 operation was a huge one and there were many who were involved in it. Hafiz Saeed was the man who knew everything about the attack and in the Lashkar circles nothing happens unless it has his blessings.
The others from the Lashkar who were completely involved in the attack were Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi , Sajid Majid (Sajid Mir), Muzzammil, Abdur Rehman, Abu Al-Qama, Abu Kafa, Abu Anas, Abdul Aziz, Abu Hamza and Yaqub.
The first time that I arrived in India was on September 14 2006. I was told specifically not to call any of my Pakistan contacts and I stayed in touch with Rana who was in Chicago who kept the handlers in the loop about what I was doing.
The first thing I did was to open an immigration office and appointed a Parsi woman as a secretary. The first part of my job involved shooting videos of the Corporation building, Gateway of India, the Police headquarters, VT Railway station, Central Railway Station, Leopold Café. I sent these across and my job was appreciated.
For the Taj I used Google earth and the entire route was also planned through this. The remaining targets too which were attacked was surveyed by me and I used my mobile camera most of the time to shoot videos.
My handlers in this attack were Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali. Prior to my operation I was however more in touch with Major Iqbal who is a non commissioned officer and he is the one who trained me on intelligence gathering and also on how to take cover.
I preferred this part of the training since I found it to be more scientific and much better than the training I received at the Lashkar camps.
The role of the Pakistan establishment
I was then introduced to their senior Lt Colonel Hamza. I was told specifically about the attacks on India and I was even given 25000 dollars for the operation. My stint in surveillance: Every member of the Lashkar has a handler who is an ISI officer.
While I was controlled by Sameer and Iqbal, Lakhvi was under Briagier Riyaz who was also in the know of this entire operation.
During our initial discussions on this attack the plan was to carry out an attack only at the Taj. Although all details regarding the targets were provided, the Lashkar and the ISI wanted to carry out an attack on Taj which was hosting an annual conference of Software Engineers.
This was to be to staged by three persons in the month of September, but the boat that was carrying the attackers hit a rock on the way to the target and it has to be brought back.
Stint in Mumbai
During my stint in Mumbai, I had surveyed the Taj on six occasions and I had even moved in with my wife Faiza into that place as I did not want any suspicion. I was told by my handlers that they wanted extensive work on the Taj.
During the training stage, the Pakistan navy was involved and they had discussed with the Lashkar the various landing operations. I was part of these meetings and I was told by Lakhvi to verify during my visit these landing options since they did not want any Indian vessel coming in the way.
I did this according to the instructions given to me. I then landed in Mumbai where I carried out a survey of the landing options and in the month of April 2008, I landed in Cuff Parade and reported back that this could be a safe landing place.
During this time I used to go on boat rides and studied the options.
A failure at first
During my operation I also picked up red threads that are worn by Hindus and handed it over to the Lashkar men.
These threads were worn by the ten men and the Lashkar was pleased with me since they thought that this would create a diversion when investigations would commence. The Lashkar men made another attempt to carry out the attack in the first week of November, but this operation failed since they were unable to capture an Indian boat and use it to land at Mumbai.
I had thought that this operation had fizzled out and began focusing on the Denmark operation which we called as the Mickey Mouse project. However on November 26th I received an SMS from Sajid asking me to switch on the television and the operation had begun.
After the attacks were completed I met with Sajid and he told me that they did try and secure the release of Kasab but that did not work. The plan to prolong the operation at VT too was cut short and the attackers ended up killing some policemen.
Why the 26/11 attack was planned
I get the feeling that the 26/11 attack was planned by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the ISI to shift focus of the world from the Afghanistan issue. Moreover they also felt that there was a need to instill confidence in the cadres and they were getting demoralized and restless.
A lot of them wanted to do jihad and join the battle in Afghanistan. The Lashkar subscribes to the Salahi faith of Islam and they believe that they should install the rule of God.
The Lashkar has been inclined towards the battle in Kashmir and over a period of time there was a debate amongst the cadres regarding joining the battle in Afghanistan. The ISI was very clear that it wanted to keep Kashmir and Afghanistan separate and did not want the two issues being mixed up.
This debate within the Lashkar was leading to a split and the ISI thought that it needed to stage a 26/11 attack in order to keep the outfit together.
The Lashkar had not stopped speaking about Bal Thackerey and during my meeting with Saeed he had said that the chief of the Sena had damaged a Muslim nation. The Shiv Sena continues to be a big target for the Lashkar.
During my stint in Mumbai, my handler Sajid was particular that I conducted a proper survey of the Taj Mahal Hotel. I was also told to videograph the Shiv Sena Bhawan. I had visited that place and even chatted up some of the security guards over there. I tried to get close to the PRO of that organization, Rajaram.
Going beyond 26/11
I got close to Ilyas Kashmiri after the 26/11 attack. He belonged to the Al-Qaeda. Along with him I also got in touch with Abdur Hashim aka Pasha who was a retired major of the Pakistan army.
Pasha was first asked to fight the Taliban, but he refused to do so and began training Lashkar men. I had even introduced Pasha to some of my contacts who used to deal in drugs.
I had spoken about these contacts with Rahul Bhatt, but he did not know in what context I was talking about this. Pasha is an important man in the set up and he has asked me to survey various targets in India. He has a lot of anti India operations up his sleeve and he runs the army of Fidayeens for this purpose.
Pasha had insisted that I joined the Al-Qaeda and I readily agreed.
I conducted a survey of the National Defence College at his behest. In addition to this I have also made videos of targets at Delhi, Goa and Pune. All this material is with him and it could be used for future attacks.
In addition to this we had also planned on attacking the Taj Presidency, Naval Air Station, World Trade Centre, the Siddhi Vinayak Temple and also the Bombay Stock Exchange. However these targets were later traded for the Chhabad House.
Pasha was aware of this change and in fact he was thrilled when this plan changed. When I was conducting a survey of the Taj Mahal hotel, I came across a jewellery shop and planned on staging a robbery there.
I had thought that this money could be used for the attack. It was well received, but then that plan fizzled out. After conducting these surveys, on one my return trips to Pakistan, I got the news that Benazir Bhutto had been shot.
When I visited the Lashkar camp, I witnessed that a lot of the cadres of the Lashkar were praying hard that she does not survive. It was around this time a Major by the name Haroon and I planned on assassinating Pervez Musharaf for his Lal Masjid operation.
In addition to the job of conducting surveys, I was also told by my handlers to check if the SIM connections which were to be used by the attackers would work in India.
I did that at the Wagah border and told them that the connections were fine. It was around the same time that we held a discussion to drop the attack on the VT station. I suggested that there could be a number of Muslims and they could lose their lives.
My apprehensions were however dismissed and I was told that the attack would be conducted during the Iftari and no Muslims would be out at that time.
The Lashkar-e-Tayiba's naval wing
The Lashkar-e-Tayiba has been witnessing changes and post 26/11 they were impressed with the manner in which the attack was carried out and even set up a naval wing for future operations.
The naval wing was specifically created to carry out sea borne attacks against India and in future there will be more attacks from the sea. The naval wing which was created just after the attack of 26/11 is headed by a person by the name Yaqub.
They have roped in the services of another person by the name Abdur Rehman who is from the Pakistan navy. He is an expert at diving and will train the cadres in this department.
The Lashkar also has a frogman to take care of operations. In addition to this the Lashkar has also set up a women's wing. The main role of this wing at the moment is to write songs which act as inspiration to the cadres.
When I was carrying out my job for the 26/11 attack, I was shown photographs of the ten attackers. These pictures were shown to me by my handler Sajid. One of the persons who was involved in the attack was also part of the team which attacked the rally in which Dr Manmohan Singh addressed in Srinagar in the year 2004.
I was also shown the photographs of Ajmal Kasab and Abu Ismail who launched the attack which ended up killing the policemen on the streets that night. I was also introduced to a person by the name Muzzamil at the same time who I was told was the man who carried out both the Chhitisinghpura attack and also the attack at the Akshardham temple.
It was during my trip to India in the month of March 2008 that I carried out a survey of the Chabad House. At first it was decided to give this place a skip, but later my ISI handlers told me that I should carry out a survey of this place and it would be attacked. I did accordingly and even shot videos of the Chabad House.
I clicked pictures of the targets in the city with a camera which was gifted to me by my mother in law and the videos were shot from my mobile phone. It was during this visit that I also made a trip to Pune where I conducted a detailed survey of the German Bakery.
After this, I returned to Lahore after this attack and met with my handler Pasha. At that point of time, I even handed out sketches and videos of the targets that I had videographed. It was then that I said to Pasha at Lahore that it would be better for us to stage an attack on the National Defence College, which today is under their radar.
I had told Pasha that if we stage an attack on the National Defence College, then we could kill more Indian soldiers than Pakistan managed to kill in all its wars with India.