The United States has provided the National Investigation Agency (NIA) with the details and specifications of a mobile phone handset belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley, which was used by him to videograph key targets a few months before the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
The same phone was used to film key targets when Headley again visited India in March 2009, barely three months after the attacks. The details would help the NIA build its case against Headley and others in the Mumbai attacks case.
Even after a Mumbai court accepted Headley’s plea to become an approver in the case being investigated by the Mumbai Police, he remains an accused in the NIA’s case.
Handset was given by ISI handler
The Sony Ericsson handset (model SEK 7701), with which David Coleman Headley videographed key targets a few months before the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, was given to the Lashkar-e-Taiba operative by his handler Major Iqbal, an official of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
According to NIA officials, this phone was used by Headley when he visited India during April-June 2008. It was Major Iqbal who taught Headley how to operate the instrument. The three phone numbers used by Headley in India were 9819829221, 9820910814 and 39920280935.
According to the charge sheet filed by the NIA, “Before a crucial meeting in Rawalpindi (December 2007), Major Iqbal had given Headley a Sony Ericsson mobile phone with camera for carrying out clandestine photography/videography in India for future attacks.”
The handset was in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It was seized when Headley was arrested at the Chicago airport in November 2009.
The U.S authorities have shared with the NIA the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI), the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) and the network code of the phone, said a senior government official.
The reply from the U.S. comes after the NIA first made a request five years ago. “It is a crucial piece of evidence and will help bolster our case. We will try to extract details about the movement of Headley with the help of his phone details,” said the official.
With this phone, Headley had filmed the residential areas around the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Taj Hotel, the Naval Air Station, the Police Headquarters, the State Assembly, Siddhl Vinayak Temple, Chabad House and Mumbai Stock Exchange, Leopold restaurant and Trident Hotel. Headley has also said he used to get calls from Major Iqbal on this number, and the calls were masked to have generated from New York.
According to the NIA, during his previous visits to India, Headley carried a camera which he had taken from his mother-in-law in Pakistan.
U.S. offers help to India
The U.S. is ready to assist India in pursuing every possible lead to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack to justice, a top official said after LeT operative David Headley told a court that Pakistani terrorists conducted the strikes after two failed attempts.
“The U.S. is commit-ted to doing all we can to assist India in pursuing every possible lead to bring to justice those responsible for that attack to the fullest extent permitted by U.S. law,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
“Certainly, it is indicative of our commitment to making sure the perpetrators of that attack are brought to justice and I think it is indicative of a close relationship with India, again, in a law enforcement realm but across all others as well,” Mr. Kirby said.
He was responding to questions on the deposition by Headley, who on Monday told a Mumbai court via a video link from the U.S. how his outfit had planned the 26/11 attacks and executed it after two failed attempts and gave details of the role played by the ISI.