Pakistani-American LeT terrorist David Headley, serving 35 years for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, has written a memoir in prison detailing how Lashkar’s “dedication” to the cause of the “liberation of Kashmir” inspired him to join the terror group.
American public affairs TV programme Frontline was given access to a draft of the memoir Headley, 54, wrote in jail.
Excerpts from the draft offer a “unique window” into Headley’s turn toward extremism, his training with Lashkar-e-Taiba and his preparations for the Denmark attack against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
In one of the passages in the memoir, Headley writes about his first encounter with LeT militants in October 2000.
“On one of my trips, October 2000, I made my first contact with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), quite by accident. I attended their annual convection in November. I was very impressed with their dedication to the cause of the liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation,” Headley writes.
He writes that for the terror attack on Mumbai, the plan was to capture an Indian fishing vessel that would not raise alarm with the Indian Coast Guard as it transported the LeT terrorists to Mumbai’s shores.
“The plan was to capture an Indian fishing vessel, which constantly strayed into Pakistani waters, and commandeer it all the way to Mumbai. The hope was that the Indian Coast Guard would not notice an Indian vessel. The boys would carry a GPS device which would guide them directly to the landing site, I had selected earlier,” he writes.
Headley also writes in detail about his decision to join Lashkar “full time” following the 9/11 attacks, and says that by 2002 the group asked him to take “the Daura Aamma, the basic military training course offered by LeT.”
In 2005, Lashkar asked him to change his name from Dawood Gilani to a “Christian sounding name” so that he could travel easily between the US, India and Pakistan and make it difficult for intelligence agencies to track his activities.
“Finally, in June, my immediate superior, Sajid Mir, instructed me to return to the US, change my Muslim name to a Christian sounding name and get a new US passport under that name. He now informed me I would be going to India, since I looked nothing like a Pakistani in appearance and spoke fluent Hindi and Urdu it would give me a distinct advantage in India,” he said.
Describing the training he got at Lashkar camps, Headley writes “we hid most of the day in caves and under trees, while we were given instructions on various lessons.”
He says most of the “practical aspects” of the lessons were carried out at night and during the course, he was trained in “infiltration, survival, camouflage, raid/ambush tactics, hide out, hiding and retrieving weapons caches, more than a dozen night marches, target practice with AK-47 and 9 mm pistol, RPG, grenades, among other training.