‘26/11 accused came as cricket fan in ‘05’
Sajid Mir travelled to India and secretly visited several places as a Pakistani cricket fan in 2005.
Washington: Sajid Mir, a suspected mastermind of the Mumbai terrorist attack, travelled to India and secretly visited several places as a Pakistani cricket fan in 2005, according to an investigative report published on Sunday.
"In 2005, Mir joined a Lashkar-e-Toiba unit dedicated to attacks in India and embarked on a secret mission. He crossed the border into India at its only land port of entry with Pakistan, blending with Pakistani cricket fans flocking
to see their national team play in India, according to US and Indian anti-terrorism officials," the jointly published report in The Washington Post and ProPublica.Com said.
Mir`s movements for 15 days in India are unknown, the report said, but Indian investigators think he was part of an operation - spying, terrorist scouting or both - involving a dozen Pakistani "cricket fans" who went missing after crossing the border.
Indian spy-hunters eventually caught one: a suspected ISI agent with a false identity whom they accused of espionage, it said.
Later that year, Mir turned to Pakistani-American David Headley, his top American agent, and used him for sending him to India to generate information about various possible terrorist targets.
Mir and other Lashkar-e-Toiba leaders told Headley that he had been chosen as lead scout for a big job.
He went to Philadelphia in November on Mir`s instructions and legally changed his name from Daood Gilani to David Coleman Headley to conceal his Pakistani origin, the news report said.
"Armed with his new identity, Headley returned to Pakistan. In July 2006 he received USD 25,000 for a new assignment. The money came from a man he knew only as Major Iqbal, according to officials and court documents," it said.
"US and Indian anti-terrorism officials suspect Major Iqbal was a serving ISI officer and a liaison to Lashkar. According to anti-terrorism officials and US court documents, Major Iqbal and Mir became Headley?s handlers," the report said.
"They instructed him to use the money to open a front company and begin reconnaissance in the city that was their next target: Mumbai," it said.
US counter-terrorism officials have said Pakistan is unwilling to arrest Mir, who is wanted in four continents, because the LeT terrorist is "well connected" and "too powerful".