What to expect from the David Headley deposition?

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Mumbai, Feb 8: It was a victory of sorts when India managed to get David Headley to testify through video conferencing before a Mumbai court. All eyes will be on the Mumbai court where Headley who has turned approver will testify today. There are certain things that one must know in this case as it stands now.

Firstly Headley has already been pardoned by the court which means there will be no sentencing. Moreover he enjoys a plea bargain deal in the United States which ensures he can neither be sentenced to death nor extradited to any country.

What to expect from Headley deposition?

While expert say that he is more or less likely to stick to his version stated before the FBI which had arrested him, there are certain aspects that India would like to know about which goes beyond his original confession.

- Who is Sajid Mir, the mystery man who handled the Mumbai 26/11 attacks?

- Who are Major Iqbal and Sameer? They are part of the Pakistan army who aided Headley while he conducted the reconnaissance in Mumbai.

- Who are the three locals who helped Headley while he was in Mumbai?

What Headley will tell India?

The National Investigation Agency has once probed Headley in the US. The NIA team got a similar version that he had already given to the FBI.

It is a well known fact that Headley was an agent for the CIA who had turned rogue and there are allegations that the US desperately wants to cover that aspect and ensure it did not crop up during the probe. (The David Headley Confession: Kasab's release failed - Part 1)

Here is what one can expect Headley to say before the court today

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 Mahid (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.

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. I was then introduced to their senior Lt Colonel Hamza.

The 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. (The David Headley Confession: The future of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba - Part 2)
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.

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.

Headley needs to tell us more

There is a mystery man in this entire episode and that is Sajid Mir or Sajid Majid. He has been considered to be an international operative and handles the foreign attacks for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. He has been taken completely off the radar since the 26/11 attack. Pakistan has even denied the existence of such a man. Will Headley tell us more about him?

The roles of the army officials in this attack is also crucial. We know for a fact that the names Major Sameer and Iqbal are not real. Who are these two persons and what part do they play in the Pakistan establishment is what we would want Headley to tell us.

Lastly the local link to the attack which the Mumbai police never probed into. Headley was in touch with at least 3 locals who helped him around. He could tell us more about them during his testimony. However one cannot expect Headley to talk about this on his own. Will the prosecution ensure that he speaks about it?

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