David Headley: Lashkar told me to make Siddhivinayak temple video

On his return to Pakistan from his scouting trips in 2007, Headley gave photos, videos and a GPS machine with locations of targets and various locations in the Arabian Sea to the LeT.

Written by Srinath Rao | New Delhi/mumbai | Updated: February 10, 2016 7:56 am
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In 2007, the Lashkar-e-Taiba planned to attack a conference of Indian defence scientists, held at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, but cancelled the plan “due to numerous reasons”, 26/11 scout David Coleman Headley told a special court on Tuesday, the second day of his deposition.

Headley, deposing via video-link from an undisclosed location in the US, also said he had been instructed by the LeT to shoot videos of Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak Temple and to conduct a recce of all places that were eventually attacked on November 26, 2008.

READ: 26/11 attackers made two failed attempts, lost guns at sea: David Headley

“They had information of some meeting that was going to take place of defence scientists. So at the time, an attack would be conducted,” he said.

WATCH VIDEO: David Headley Timeline

Headley told the court that a meeting of the LeT — attended by Muzammil Butt, Abu Kafa and Sajid Mir — was held in 2006, where it was decided that he would go to Mumbai and set up an office there.

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At the meeting, Headley said in response to questions from special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, the LeT had debated whether to attack Mumbai, Delhi or Bengaluru.

On his return to Pakistan from his scouting trips in 2007, Headley gave photos, videos and a GPS machine with locations of targets and various locations in the Arabian Sea to the LeT. The next meeting, he said, was held in November 2007 in Muzaffarabad. At this meeting, he said, Mir and Kafa prepared a “mock up” of the Taj Hotel. They showed Headley pictures of the hotel and asked him questions about it, he said.

“Now they were looking at it with the the view of focusing on the conference rooms,” he said. “My job was done for then. Due to numerous reasons, they cancelled the plan.”

Asked why the plans were shelved, he told Nikam that the reasons were mostly logistical, apart from the fact that the LeT did not know the date of the defence scientists’ conference.

He also said it was due to difficulty in “getting personnel and ordinance to the target location”.

Headley had conducted surveillance of the hotel in April and May 2007, when he stayed there with his third wife, Morocco citizen Fazia.

Asked by Nikam if he was aware of the plan to attack the conference halls before the LeT’s second meeting, Headley said, “Negative. I did not know and took as much (video footage) as I could.”

Headley said that during his visit to Mumbai in 2007, he conducted surveillance of targets including a naval air station, the Taj Hotel, the state police headquarters and Oberoi Hotel. At the end of the day’s proceedings, when his testimony was being read to him for verification, he made an addition to the list: “And Bhabha Atomic Research Centre also, your honour.”

Headley also made a video of Bhagat Singh Marg in Colaba, where one of the 26/11 targets, Leopold Cafe, is located.

Headley said Mir, his main contact in the LeT, also instructed him to “specifically make a video of Siddhivinayak Temple”. According to the original plan, CST railway station, which recorded the highest death toll during 26/11, had been scouted not as a target, but “it was for people who came (the terrorists), for them to leave from there”, Headley said.

Nikam then questioned Headley on the relationship between the ISI and the LeT. Asked about his opinion, Headley said, “My assessment is that they coordinate with each other.” Maintaining that he had no direct knowledge of it and was deposing on the basis of hearsay, Headley told the court that the ISI provides “financial, military and moral support to the Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Hizbul Mujahideen and LeT”.

Nikam then quizzed Headley about his own links with the ISI. “You were also working with the ISI?” Nikam asked. “Yes,” he replied.

Headley told the court that one Major Iqbal, an ISI agent, had told him that he could be used by the ISI in India “to gather military intelligence, to gather some recruits from the Indian Army as spies and to spy on troop movements”.

Headley also told the court that Hafeez Saeed is the LeT’s overall spiritual head, while Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi is the outfit’s operational commander for Occupied Kashmir.

Headley said that in his early days with the LeT, he had suggested to Saeed and Lakhvi that the outfit should take the US government to court for declaring it a banned terrorist organisation. Saeed, Headley added, wasn’t very enthusiastic about the idea. Lakhvi, too, was unwilling and said that it would be a very long process and that “he would have to discuss it with the intelligence agency of the Pakistan government, the ISI,” Headley said.

When he was an LeT member, Headley also came in contact with Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar, who was freed by the Indian government in 1999 in exchange for passengers on the hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814. In October 2003, Azhar was a guest speaker at a gathering of the LeT in Renala Khurd, where he “made a speech about his incarceration in India and his subsequent release”, Headley said.

Throughout the five-hour deposition, Nikam and Headley were cautiously polite while addressing each other, but the latter lost his cool twice in the final half hour.

The first time was when Nikam asked Headley about his travels with Fazia to Mumbai in 2007. The couple had twice checked into the Taj Hotel and once into the Oberoi Hotel in April and May, but Fazia delayed her return to Karachi on May 3, and checked into the Outram Hotel alone, while Headley stayed as a paying guest in Breach Candy.

“May I ask why you did not comply with your promise to give your wife a 10-day trip?” Nikam asked. Headley shot back, “I don’t remember ever making such a promise. That’s between me and her. We had some arguments. She’s my wife, it is a personal matter.”

Trying to pacify Headley, Nikam said, “I don’t want to annoy you. If it makes you angry, we will move on to something else.”

Nikam’s questioning of Headley’s source of income also riled him up. Telling the court that he had travelled to UAE on May 17, 2007, returned to Mumbai on May 20 and left Mumbai again on June 7, Nikam asked Headley the reason for his visit to the UAE.

Headley replied that he had gone to invest money in property in Dubai. “It appears you were getting a handsome amount,” Nikam said. “Yes, I had a business in America and was getting a handsome amount,” Headley replied.

“So, Mr Headley, were the ISI and LeT making payment to you?” No longer calm, Headley replied, “That’s complete nonsense.”

Caught off-guard, Nikam, said, “This is not expected of you. But if you want to remain rigid on this issue, I cannot say anything.” Headley replied, “Yes, I will remain rigid on this issue.”

Judge G A Sanap cautioned Headley not to spoil the decorum of the court, and said that if he found any question offensive, he could simply say he doesn’t know. Headley replied, “Sorry, your honour.”

The deposition will continue on Wednesday.

With inputs from ANI

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  1. V
    Vikram
    Feb 10, 2016 at 2:31 am
    Attacking Hindu temple in India would have been excused by pseudoseculars.
    Reply
    1. S
      Sirius
      Feb 10, 2016 at 10:18 am
      Hindus are second rate citizens for them ...
      Reply
      1. S
        Sirius
        Feb 9, 2016 at 2:44 pm
        Good developments ! India should provide the transcripts to stan, and ask them to trace and arrest the persons named and close the camps named. We know that stan will not do that, so all further talks end on the first agenda point of action against plotters of Pathankot and Mumbai , and does not even broach Kashmir. Its not India's fault that talks are deadlocked. Following this, stan is sure to try a mis-adventure which we should capitalize on to cause its *people* the maximum harm ...
        Reply
        1. M
          MyTake
          Feb 9, 2016 at 8:05 am
          Everybody's past time now is to talk about the gift of the religion of peace!
          Reply
          1. M
            MyTake
            Feb 9, 2016 at 7:17 pm
            Waiting to see what "stories" stan comes up with next. stan has "unparalleled" skill in this area probably becasue it has a "religiously" approved template for this called "Al Taqiya" without having to feel any guilt (God of many versions indeed)!
            Reply
            1. M
              MyTake
              Feb 10, 2016 at 1:18 am
              ISI. Seems to be have been ahead of Indn intelligence agencies thanks to the all "powerful" Indian Congress! God knows how long it will take to catch up with them! Indian higiri of the day grew some fruit!
              Reply
              1. M
                MyTake
                Feb 10, 2016 at 1:36 am
                MMS Govt. wanted to make a head count of Muslims in Indian Army against all existing rules and norms (very common of MMS Govt. to show interests in unusual places in a unusual ways while neglecting the obviously important ones). Is their a possible relationship here and to what depth? This line also should be investigated at some stage - there could have an instruction to that from somewhere in order to put logistics in place.
                Reply
                1. A
                  Arrest.Modi.and.Italian.BCH
                  Feb 9, 2016 at 11:36 am
                  ARREST MODI FIR VISITING STAN. HE CONNIVED WITH A TERRORIST STATE! ARREST MODI IMMEDIATELY. ARREST THE ITALUAN BCH TOO.
                  Reply
                  1. D
                    Dam
                    Feb 10, 2016 at 1:05 am
                    Headly pardoned because he said to the court: Lashkar told me to make Siddhivinayak temple video. Instead he could make the video of fully built Ram temple in Ayody. The judge pardoned him immediately. IE is releasing that in the VIRAL Video section!!!
                    Reply
                    1. A
                      as
                      Feb 10, 2016 at 1:02 am
                      David Headley: Lashkar told me to make Siddhivinayak temple. How dare David Headly will build Siddhivinayak temple? We brahmins are struggling to build lourd Rum temple for a long long long time and unable to.
                      Reply
                      1. G
                        Gin
                        Feb 10, 2016 at 12:59 am
                        Not happy with the stories asked to be written by Keralite SEKS MOVIE `FAILED SCRIPT WRITERS' who were hired by IB for m manufacturing stories to cool the red hot triangle of Sonia and now the shft of Modi, IB has asked David Headley to script too.
                        Reply
                        1. R
                          Rajesh
                          Feb 9, 2016 at 10:15 am
                          It must be investigated how the UPA and CONgi anti-nationals permitted a to enter India 8 times within the space of such short time frame.
                          Reply
                          1. K
                            Kaliyug
                            Feb 10, 2016 at 12:09 am
                            Headley is creating a circus in the court with Nikam being the ring master. All this questioning has no proof as who were involved, getting names and deposition from Headley is useless at best. It is India's war against terrorism, if Indian leaders let Azhar go from Indian jails for all the wrong reasons, then everything Azhar does against India is blame on politicians and their short thinking. There was ample chance to end the hijacking in Chandigarh, the BJP government of that time blew it. India needs to hang the terrorists as they arrive in Kashmir or Mumbai or anywhere else. Indian Muslims are giving these terrorists a place to destroy India and that should be exposed.
                            Reply
                            1. K
                              Kaliyug
                              Feb 9, 2016 at 2:51 pm
                              Now that everything to know is known what can and what will India do? Do not waste your time with UN, they are gutless and will direct you to one of the weapons selling country's opinion. Hang every terrorist immediately at the border or wherever they are caught, India does not need to respect these pigs rights to trial. International opinions do not count when citisens safety is involved.
                              Reply
                              1. I
                                INDIENKENENR
                                Feb 9, 2016 at 4:26 pm
                                If this expose is not handle for Indians to change their stan policy by 180 degree turn, then Indians are indeed 'impoverished minds'. Then they are not even practical, forget soaring into flights of seminal Chanakya policy. The right inference: stan is guilty of acts of war. The right conclusion: make policy that ultimately will lead to 'killing' of this monster state. Others will not do it for India. India must do it for its own sake. All else is waste of time and effort and energy, besides playing light games with grave destiny of Indian people.
                                Reply
                                1. D
                                  dssarma
                                  Feb 9, 2016 at 10:46 am
                                  Now it is clear beyond doubt that ISI is directly involved in 26/11. stan will not act against LET or Jaish as now it is established that ex ISI and ARMY officers are serving in LET , Jaish and AL Quida. Now India has to live with this type of rogue neighbor. Ajit Doval told if another Mumbai happens then he will take out Baluchistan. Now Pathan kot happened and ISI role in Mumbai attacks is established. Will he take out Baluchistan now?
                                  Reply
                                  1. G
                                    Gruham Bendakaluru
                                    Feb 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm
                                    Headley has only repeated what the entire world now knows about stani support to terrorists. This is stale news indeed.
                                    Reply
                                    1. J
                                      Jesus
                                      Feb 9, 2016 at 3:19 pm
                                      This will justify India's cause to carry covert operation in stan to eliminate these culprits. Indian leaders, what are you waiting for? Be proactive in dealing with these people from now on.
                                      Reply
                                      1. J
                                        JKG
                                        Feb 9, 2016 at 6:18 am
                                        US should take note of Headley's testimony
                                        Reply
                                        1. K
                                          kamath Ramesh
                                          Feb 9, 2016 at 9:42 am
                                          Whatever proof India gather if Pak is in denial mode nothing can be achieved. Secondly nobody will believe the statements of such a crook.
                                          Reply
                                          1. K
                                            kulaputra kulaputra
                                            Feb 10, 2016 at 1:06 am
                                            Boycott Karachi Lit Fest if you have any self respect
                                            Reply
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