The plotters of the Mumbai terror attacks also wanted to make a Bollywood movie for launching aspiring actor Rahul Bhatt, son of film director Mahesh Bhatt, but dropped the plans because the Lashkar-e-Taiba opposed it.
David Coleman Headley, co-accused in the on-going trial of Tahawwur Hussein Rana, disclosed this in his testimony on the fourth day of his deposition before a court here during questioning by Rana's attorney Patrick W. Blegan.
Rana, a Pakistani Canadian, was not able to go ahead with his plans as it was against the ideals of the LeT, which opposed such a move.
Headley said Rahul wanted to break into movies but his father was not helping him. “So [I] befriended him, so that they can get to bigger picture,” he said.
He said he introduced himself to Rahul as a former army ranger and he had started liking him.
Headley said he had, in fact, told him not to go to South Mumbai on November 26, the day the LeT sent 10 terrorists for a major terrorist attack, which over the next three days killed 166 people.
Earlier, he said there was once a talk of bringing Rahul to the tribal areas of Pakistan for “sightseeing.”
However, he disagreed with the defence attorney that the plan was to kill or kidnap him.
“We invite guests and do not kidnap them,” Headley said.
However, Headley agreed that making friends with Rahul was against the basic surveillance and espionage teachings that he had received from the LeT and the ISI.
Visit to Indian n-plant
Headley said he visited a nuclear power plant in India on the direction of Major Iqbal, a Pakistan ISI official, in April 2008.
According to court documents, in September, 2008 Headley had a meeting with Sajid Mir, his ISI handler, and Abu Qahafa (while driving within Pakistan) during which Sajid informed Headley that the Lashkar had dropped earlier plans for the attackers to attempt escape and instead decided that they would fight to the death.
“Glory of martyrdom”
Sajid explained that once the attackers knew they were going to die in the attack, LeT commanders Hafiz Sayeed, Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi and other gave lectures to the boys about the glory of martyrdom.
“During these lectures, Saeed told the boys that being shot would feel like a pin prick, blood stains would be like rose petals, and that angels would come down to take their souls,” the documents said.
Headley said that after two failed attempts to strike Mumbai in September and October 2008, the Pakistani handlers of Headley began planning the attack on India's financial capital “more closely than ever” in early November that year.
He said the first planned attack was in September, then in October and it finally happened in November.
Sajid Mir told him that the attack would occur on the 27th night of Ramadan (considered as the night of glory in Islamic calendar), which in 2008 would fall on September 29, according to documents presented to the court earlier.
However, the plan had to be abandoned as the boat carrying the attackers struck a rock and was destroyed, the court documents said.
“Sajid told Headley that everyone on board survived, in part because they had life vests. Headley subsequently met with [Major Abdur Rehman] Pasha and told him about the failed attempt. Pasha said that the failed attempt was a sign that God was not happy with Lashkar,” the documents said.
Sajid told Headley that there would be a second attempt at the Mumbai attack in October 2008. Soon thereafter, Sajid told Headley that the second attempt also failed.
The attackers on board the boat had spotted an Indian fishing vessel and attempted to open fire on it, but the vessel escaped.
“Sajid said the ‘boys' were demoralised and sent back to a safe house in Karachi,” the court papers said.
During the deposition, Headley told the court that “on the 9th of November his Pakistani handlers were working on it [attack] more closer than ever.”
Headley also told the court that there was a plan to hit Mumbai in May 2008 but it was postponed due to inclement weather. “During the briefings that I had in Pakistan they did not consider that period safe to travel to the sea,” he said.
It was on November 26, 2008 Headley received a text message from Sajid with words to the effect of “turn on your TV.” Headley then learned that the attacks had begun, according to the court papers.
Not proud of attacks
When asked by Defence Attorney Patrick W. Blegan if he was still proud of the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, including six American nationals, Headley said: “No.”
Headley, who carried extensive surveillance of the strike site for months before the attacks by the LeT, said he was “proud” of what he did at the time of the attacks.