ISI officers, NCOs trained me: Headley

David Headley has highlighted the deep involvement of ISI in the Mumbai attacks conspiracy.

Last Updated: Jun 13, 2011, 17:49 PM IST

Washington: Notwithstanding Pakistan`s
denial, LeT operative David Headley has highlighted the deep
involvement of ISI in the Mumbai attacks conspiracy by
revealing how he received meticulous training in espionage
from its officers and agents during "thousands" of sessions.

The training, imparted in a two-storey ISI safe house in
Lahore, was not like the James Bond style but focussed on ways
to camouflage his identity and earn the confidence of Indians
he was going to use.

Headley, a Pakistani-American, was initially imparted
training by terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) for conducting
reconnaissance for Mumbai attacks but his handler Major Iqbal
of ISI was dissatisfied with it, following which advanced
training was given to him by Iqbal and several
Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) of the spy agency.

"I had been consulting with or meeting with Major Iqbal,
and he was discussing what Lashkar intended to use me for,
which was surveillance.

"He said that he wanted me to do something which he
thought was more important, which was do intelligence work for
the ISI at that time," Headley informed a Chicago court which
was conducting the trial of co-accused Tahawwur Rana.

"He (Major Iqbal) looked at my notes that I had made from
my LeT course, and he expressed a dissatisfaction... it
wasn`t very good," Headley said in his testimony.

The instructions in spying were then given by Major Iqbal
and NCOs from the ISI. Headley knew that these officials were
NCOs from ISI as Major Iqbal would refer to them as sergeant
or corporal or naik or lance naik.

During the training, ISI agents taught Headley aspects
like "cover authentications," "create a fake story for cover
authenticator," "how to back stop it," "conduct recon and
intelligence in an urban area.

He was also taught "how to go videotape or observe
something without being suspicious," "how to manipulate
people" and other ways of spying along with terrorist
planning.

"How long would you spend there each day?" Headley was
asked. "Different -- different times. I went there hundreds --
scores of times," he replied.

"What Major Iqbal taught you was, it`s not James Bond,
right?" he was asked. "Yes" Headley responded.

"You are not going to come flying in on a rappelling rope
and take a picture. What you were going to do is convince
somebody to betray their country, correct?" the federal
prosecutor asked. "Yes", Headley replied.

Giving details about his interactions with Iqbal,
Headley said "I told him that I was being sent to India and
that I had applied for a name-change, and I would be getting
that in the near future..."

The ISI Major was "very pleased" when Headley told him
that he has applied to change his name, was being trained by
LeT and was planning to go to India for terrorism planning
purpose.

At their meeting held at a Lahore safe house, Headley
said he agreed to the ISI`s Major proposal to work with him,
following which he was released from "arrest." He, however,
did not elaborate as to where he was under arrest.

"I understood that these groups operated under the
umbrella of the ISI, like the Jaish and Lashkar," Headley said
when government prosecutors asked what was his understanding
of the relationship between ISI and Lashkar and Jaish.

"They coordinated with each other, and ISI provided
assistance to Lashkar," Headley said.

"Financially, military, moral support," he said when
asked to explain the kind of assistance being provided by ISI.

Headley also told the court about his relationship with
Major Ali from ISI at the Khyber Rifles Regimental Centre.

During one of the court`s proceedings, Headley talked
about ISI`s `jihad`, thus reflecting how Pakistan`s spy agency
is indoctrinated with Islamic religious fundamentalism and has
its own version of `jihad.`

The Pakistani-American also told the court that Ilyas
Kashmiri, the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, had worked
with ISI and was influential in al Qaeda.

He said that during his telephonic conversations with his
associates, he referred to ISI in code languages. In one
instance, ISI is referred to as "Mister Bala`s Company."

Headley, who has pleaded guilty to involvement in the
Mumbai attacks, said he received training from the ISI in a
safe house in a residential neighbourhood near Lahore airport.

He told the court that Major Iqbal and other ISI
officials trained him how to protect communications, different
manners of encoding things and how to use dead drops,
different techniques to hide his identity.

PTI