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Updated: December 15, 2009 12:06 IST

‘Rana, Headley discussed National Defence College as target’

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VULNERABLE TO TERROR ATTACK? A view of the Somnath Temple on the sea coast of Junagadh in Gujarat
The Hindu Photo Archives
VULNERABLE TO TERROR ATTACK? A view of the Somnath Temple on the sea coast of Junagadh in Gujarat

Lashkar-e-Taiba had planned to attack the Somnath temple in Gujarat, certain Bollywood stars and Shiv Sena leaders in Mumbai, in addition to National Defence College, Delhi.

An attack on India’s National Defence College was discussed by suspected LeT operatives David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who offered praise for the terror outfit LeT and said he “appreciates them from heart”, U.S. prosecutors have alleged.

During a conversation on September 7, 2009 between Rana and Headley, the two “discussed the National Defence College in India as a ‘target’”, according to papers filed by prosecutors in a court here on Monday.

Prosecutors allege that Headley added the Defence College as a target to his list of previously discussed targets, saying “sorry not four, five“.

To this Rana responded, “right, this is it, I knew already” further adding he “thought it is the target.”

Prosecutors stated that Rana used the English word, “target”.

According to the conversation, Headley explained that he “would ask LeT member ‘A’ to “do that first” (attack the Defence College)” to which Rana responded affirmatively, “in this matter, do the defence”.

Other targets: Somnath, Bollywood and Shiv Sena

Besides the National Defence College in New Delhi, Somnath temple in Gujarat, certain Bollywood stars and Shiv Sena leaders in Mumbai were also the targets of banned LeT, which was planning to carry out strikes with the help of two Chicago-based residents of Pakistani origin, the FBI has said.

The three possible LeT targets were revealed for the first time by the FBI in a foot note to the fresh evidence and charge sheet submitted by it against Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana, the terror-suspect whose bail plea hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in a Chicago court.

“In the September 7, 2009 conversation, Headley discussed four targets with Rana — Somnath (a temple in India) and Denmark, Bollywood (a reference to the Indian film industry) and Shiv Sena (a political party in India with roots in Hindu nationalism),” the FBI said in a foot note on page nine of the 10-page fresh affidavit.

“In his post-arrest statement, Rana falsely claimed that these were references to potential business ventures. It is difficult to imagine why a person who praises the work of a designated terrorist group that attacks India would look at an Indian temple or a Hindu nationalist party as a business venture,” the FBI noted.

“And it bears note that, as set out in the complaint, ‘business’ and ‘investments’ were code words used by Rana, David Coleman Headley (American—born terror suspect also charged for plotting Mumbai terror attacks), “Pasha” (a retired Pakistani Army Brigadier) and others to describe terrorist plots,” the FBI said.


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