Headley involved in ISI-LeT plot to kill Bal Thackeray

Says Maj Iqbal, Sajid, Pasha, Rana and himself shared their hatred towards Shiv Sena

May 25, 2011 02:54 am | Updated November 17, 2021 02:10 am IST - Chicago:

Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. File photo

Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. File photo

Mumbai attacks co-accused David Headley, who scouted the Shiv Sena headquarters, testified on Tuesday that there was a plot involving his handlers in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the terror outfit LeT to assassinate Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.

Giving his testimony on the second day of the trial of 26/11 co-accused Tawahhur Rana, a Canadian of Pakistani origin, Headley, a Pakistani-American, talked about the hatred against the Shiv Sena among his Pakistani handlers. In all, 166 people were killed in the November 2008 attack in Mumbai.

Headley, who has pleaded guilty, also told the jury how he gave details about the potential landing sites in Mumbai to his Pakistani handlers.

According to Headley, his Pakistani handlers — Maj Iqbal of ISI, Sajid Mir of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Pasha, Rana — and himself shared their hatred for the Shiv Sena, and they thought it was a terrorist outfit.

During the first hour of the testimony on the second day, Federal prosecutors are trying to prove that Headley had direct communication with Rana and his handlers in Pakistan Major Iqbal, Sajid and Pasha.

Questioning his links with the Sena, the prosecutors are bringing in communication between Headley and Rajaram Reggie (the PRO of Uddhav Thackeray, son of Mr. Bal Thackeray), which Headley describes as an effort to penetrate into the Shiv Sena. Headley testified he shared his communication with Reggie with Rana, Major Iqbal, Sajid and Pasha.

Several emails to Rana

Headley was asked about several emails he sent to Rana, Major Iqbal and Sajid — all basically to confirm that Rana and he were in direct communication with all of them.

The email sent to Sajid indicated that Bala (Bal Thackeray) would be travelling with Reggie's boss (Uddhav) to the U.S. and that he could be assassinated “over here” (in U.S.).

Headley said he and Sajid discussed that they wanted to kill the Shiv Sena people. “We have discussed. This man [Reggie] was very important and would have given us access to this organisation [Shiv Sena],” he said.

Headley said he had discussion with Sajid who wanted him to go back by end of June and was given a list of targets for surveillance in Mumbai — Taj, Chabad House, the Maharashtra State police headquarters and the Naval head station.

The Pakistani-American said he and Major Iqbal had discussions on the Chabad House and that this meeting was in Lahore before meeting Sajid. Iqbal told him that Chabad House would be added because this was the front office of Mosad in Mumbai.

Prior to going to Mumbai, Headley said he had a meeting with Iqbal and had received the list of targets before the meeting. Iqbal just told him to have a detailed surveillance and seems to be upset that the Mumbai airport was not included. Iq`bal approved the entire list.

Headley said he also met Zaki-ur-Rehman (LeT operations commander). “He just wished me luck. For all the actions that would be taken against the Muslims, this would be a revenge for that. This is what he meant,” Headley said,

Headley said he returned to Mumbai in June-end and in the beginning of July started working on the task that was given to him: conducting surveillance of these targets.

Stronghold option

Headley testified that Sajid was training the fighters outside Muzzaffarbad. There were 12 people being trained in explosives, fighting a built up area — all those were with firearms.

Sajid initially did not use the term stronghold option. He started using the stronghold option after it was decided to drop the option of abandoning the mission if there was a challenge.

“If the fighter thought that they would leave then they will not be able to fight properly. So they decided to opt for the stronghold option — fighting till the end,” Headley said recalling his conversation with Sajid in September. Acording to Headley, Sajid said train stations would be a target.

“In September, Sajid asked me to perform additional task. Wanted me to go to the Wagah Border — turned in the phone that they gave and it had signals. I returned the phone to him and told him that this was working. He took the phone from me. He said each of the attackers would be given a phone, All were Indian phone, and he would be able to maintain contacts with them during the attack,” Headley said.

Regarding his conversation with Iqbal how the attackers would go to Mumbai, Headley testified that Iqbal said they would go on an Indian fishing boat since a Pakistani boat would not go that far without being detected.

In October 2008, Headley said he had another meeting with Iqbal and Sajid in Lahore. Sajid discussed how they lost the boat and were planning to get another. Iqbal was listening to that. “This conversation took place in my house in Lahore,” he said.

Headley said he had conversation with Sajid in September and was told that the Pakistanis were training the attackers in the sea and that all these guys would be wearing jackets.

Headley also said Sajid had told him about the plans to conduct a car bomb attack in the National Defence College in New Delhi.

Other than the list of targets discussed with Iqbal in his first meeting, Headley said he also told him to open an office in Mumbai. “He told me to put an ad in the newspaper…”

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