Six years before David Coleman Headley linked Ishrat Jahan to LeT, he is said to have made the same claim. In July 2010, media reports had emerged of Headley having told the FBI and the NIA that he had learnt from 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and Muzammil Bhat that Ishrat Jahan was a member of LeT.
Following such reports, Gujarat High Court, on a request from the special investigation team probing the encounter, sought information from NIA, which reported back that the reports about “Headley making statement on Ishrat Jahan (are) purely in the nature of hearsay, it does not have any evidentiary value.”
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As the CBI began to question senior IB officials in connection with the encounter in 2013, it was alleged that the NIA had removed references to Ishrat from its final report. Soon, the original report filed by the NIA came into the public domain.
In the NIA’s original report, Headley was quoted as saying in paragraph 168, “On being asked about Ishrat Jahan, I state that in late 2005, Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi introduced Muzammil (Bhat) to me. Having introduced Muzammil, Zaki talked about the accomplishments of Muzammil as a Lashkar commander. Zaki also sarcastically mentioned that Muzammil was a top commander whose every big ‘project’ had ended in a failure. Zaki added that Ishrat Jahan module was also one of Muzammil’s ‘botched up’ operations.”
The next paragraph stated that “apart from this, he (Headley) had no other information/knowledge about Ishrat Jahan”.
In 2004, after Ishrat Jahan’s death, a news report published in Lahore-based Ghazwa Times (considered to be a mouthpiece of the LeT) claimed that Ishrat was its operative, and was with her “husband” at the time of her death. Ghazwa claimed on its website that “veil of Ishrat Jahan, a woman LeT operative, was removed by Gujarat police and her body kept with other mujahideen”.
However, in 2007, this report was retracted by the paper which claimed it was a mistake by its reporter. The paper also apologised to Ishrat Jahan’s family.