Mumbai, March 26 (IANS) Pakistani-American terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headley on Saturday said he recced the Indian Army Headquarter in New Delhi in March 2009 after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
The stunning reply came in response to a specific question posed during his cross-examination by lawyer Abdul Wahab Khan, whether he (Headley) had recced the Vice-President of India’s house in New Delhi.
Denying that he surveyed the VIP residence, Headley revealed that he had recced and videographed the entire road between the Sena Bhawan – the Indian Army Hq – till the National Defence College (NDC), with the Vice-President’s House falling somewhere midway.
On February 12, during his examination-in-chief by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, Headley had admitted that he visited the NDC campus once in 2007 at the instance of his Lashkar-e-Taiba handler, Sajid Mir, since the terror group Al-Qaeda felt it was “a good, high-value target”.
On February 13, Headley revealed how, post-26/11, he had surveyed the NDC, Chabad Houses in Goa, Pushkar and Pune, besides the Indian Army’s Southern Command HQ in Pune (March 16-17, 2009) in an attempt by the Pakistan spy agency ISI to infiltrate the military establishment, recruit army officers and get ‘classified information’ from them.
On Saturday, Headley revealed and elaborated about the survey and videography conducted of the entire high security route between Sena Bhavan and NDC, with the Vice-President’s house in-between, in the national capital.
He also said how he believed that the US, Israel and India were enemies of Islam, but denied that he wanted to restore ‘Islamic rule’ in India.
Earlier in the day, Headley said though he was aware of the Thane college girl Ishrat Jahan episode through the newspapers, Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi had informed him about the ‘operation.’
He said he had informed India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) about “a female member who had died in an encounter in India Ishrat Jahan” and other related things, but was clueless why the NIA did not record his statement accurately.
However, he admitted before Special Judge G.A. Sanap that he had “no personal knowledge about Ishrat Jahan” operation, on the last day of his cross-examination by lawyer Khan, who represents Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, one of the prime accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes.
Elaborating on his earlier stance, Headley said he did not tell NIA about Lakhvi informing him that the Ishrat Jahan module was a “botched-up operation” and claimed he ‘thought’ it was a failure.
He said he had given details on various aspects to the NIA officials when they interrogated him in the US in July 2010, but his statements were not read out to him.
He did not seek a copy of his statement nor was it provided to him by the NIA, Headley said, raising serious doubts on the NIA statement.
Headley referred to certain statements he made to the NIA on LeT ex-commander Muzammil Bhatt and Ishrat Jahan who was killed in an encounter by Gujarat Police along with three other male aides near Ahmedabad in 2004.
He said that he had informed NIA that “Ishrat Jahan was an Indian and a LeT operative”, but had no explanation why this was not recorded by the NIA.
Headley had first brought up Ishrat’s name, a 19-year girl studying in a Mumbai college in February during his examination-in-chief by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. But on Friday, he said, the NIA had not prompted him in any manner to say her name.
He also claimed to have informed NIA that the LeT’s operations were spread all over India but concentrated in Maharashtra and Gujarat, which was not recorded by the NIA team.
The four-day cross-examination of Headley via video-conferencing from an undisclosed location in the US, by Khan ended here on Saturday afternoon.