New Delhi: David C Headley, the arrested Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative, has informed NIA officials about a meeting between Pakistan ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha and militant outfit’s chief military commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.
According to a report published in a leading Indian daily, Headley’s revelation to the NIA officials is yet another proof of a nexus between Pakistani establishment, ISI and LeT.
Headley has told the NIA officials that only after getting the approval of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, the militant organisation performs its major actions.
Headley, a Pakistani-American, was interrogated for 34 hours by the NIA officials between June 3 and June 9 in Chicago.
Elaborating on the role played by the Pakistan government and the ISI in the 26/11 attacks, Headley told NIA that the spy agency paid Rs 25 lakh to LeT for purchase of the first boat which was destroyed in a botched attempt to set out for Mumbai in September 2008.
Based on Headley’s interrogation, the NIA said in its report that the Pakistan government had cleared LeT getting a boat loaded with weapons for its mission in India.
“After the Mumbai attack, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was arrested and kept in Adiala Jail. DG (ISI) Shuja Pasha had visited him to understand the Mumbai attack conspiracy. Sajid (top Lashkar commander Sajid Majid or Sajid Mir or Wasi present in the 26/11 mission control room) had claimed before Headley that he had met Zaki when the latter was in jail,” stated the NIA report, quoting Headley.
According to Headley, the Pakistani intelligence agency was fully involved in 26/11 attacks in Mumbai and provided full support to LeT.
The NIA report also said that Major Iqbal of the ISI gave Headley the money required for conducting a recce of major spots in Mumbai. ISI closely monitored every activity of the LeT and the spy agency’s top officers handled militant organisation’s supreme commanders. Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali of ISI handled Headley, while Abdur Rehman Saeed or Hashim was handled by Colonel Shah. Similarly, Muzaffarabad-based (PoK) Brigadier Riyaz handles Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the chief military commander of LeT.
Headley, who visited India for reconnaissance nine times from 2005 to 2009, told the NIA that until his sixth visit, the Taj Hotel was the only Lashkar target.
“Sajid had told him on a number of occasions to complete the Taj Hotel reconnaissance. Sajid would also discuss plans like attacking the Taj Hotel during a conference of software engineers by two/three attackers. They had plans to send the attackers through Nepal or Bangladesh. After March 2008, multiple attackers and sea routes were discussed by the LeT leadership,” the report stated.
During his interrogation by the NIA team, Headley maintained that Hafiz Saeed had full knowledge of Mumbai attacks and it was only launched after his approval. He also told his interrogators that though Saeed never publicly acknowledges, he remains abreast with each and every stage of LeT’s planning and execution (of terror operations).
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s name also figured during his conversation with Saeed, who saw the leader of Hindu radical group as the main threat to the Muslim Ummah.
These revelations made by Headley have substantiated New Delhi’s claim of a role played by the Pakistan establishment and the ISI in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and the close nexus between the three.