ISI involved in Mumbai terror attack, says Headley
The stunning revelations were made by Headley at the Metropolitan Correction Centre in Chicago when he met officials of India's National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Guardian reported Tuesday, basing its exhaustive story on classified Indian documents.
ISI's support came out in a 109-page report prepared following the interrogation of Headley, who was arrested last year for identifying targets in Mumbai to be attacked by the pro-Pakistan Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Headley has spoken about dozens of meetings between ISI officers and senior militants from LeT who carried out the savagery in Mumbai. Pakistan initially denied all links to the Mumbai massacre but later admitted that the only terrorist caught in Mumbai was indeed a Pakistani.
ISI involved in Mumbai terror attack, says Headley
Over 160 Indians and foreigners were killed by 10 terrorists who sneaked into Mumbai from the sea. They targeted luxury hotels, a Jewish centre, a cafe, a hospital and the main railway station in Mumbai.
A key motivation for the ISI in aiding the attacks was to bolster militant organisations with strong links to the Pakistani state and security establishment who were being marginalised by more extreme radical groups, the media report quoted Headley as saying.
During questioning, the American claimed that at least two of his missions were partly paid for by the ISI and that he regularly reported to the spy agency.
ISI involved in Mumbai terror attack, says Headley
The documents indicate that militants' supervision by the ISI was often chaotic and that its seniormost officers may have been unaware at least of the scale and ambition of the operation before it was launched.
Headley was interviewed for over 34 hours by Indian investigators in the US prison in June this year. He has described how "a debate had begun among the terrorist outfits" and "a clash of ideology" had led to splits.
"The aggression and commitment to jihad shown by several splinter groups in Afghanistan influenced many committed fighters to leave (LeT)," Headley was quoted as saying. "I understand this compelled the LeT to consider a spectacular terrorist strike in India."
Headley said the ISI hoped the Mumbai attack would slow or stop growing "integration" between groups active in Kashmir, with whom the agency had maintained a long relationship, and "Taliban-based outfits" in Pakistan and Afghanistan which were a threat to the Pakistani state, the Guardian report said.
"The ISI... had no ambiguity in understanding the necessity to strike India." The aim of the agency was "controlling further split in the Kashmir-based outfits, providing them a sense of achievement and shifting... the theatre of violence from the domestic soil of Pakistan to India".
He also described a meeting with a "Colonel Kamran" from the military intelligence and a string of meetings with a "Major Iqbal" and a "Major Sameer Ali". He claimed that he was given $25,000 by his ISI handler to finance one of eight surveillance missions in India.
ISI involved in Mumbai terror attack, says Headley
ISI director general, Lt General Shuja Pasha, visited a key senior LeT militant in prison after the attacks "to understand" the operation. The Guardian said this implies what many Western security agencies suspect -- that the top ranks of the agency were unaware of at least the scale of the planned strike.
Islamabad has denied its involvement in the Mumbai strike that seriously strained its relations with New Delhi. An ISI spokesperson told the Guardian that the accusations of the agency's involvement in the Mumbai attack were "baseless".
ISI involved in Mumbai terror attack, says Headley
It was Delhi after Mumbai, Headley tells investigators
Pakistani American terror suspect David Headley has told Indian investigators that he had scouted Delhi for another strike at potential targets, including the prime minister's residence and key defence complexes.
Headley, who has confessed his role in plotting the 2008 Mumbai attack with Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders and was arrested last year in the US, told a team of Indian interrogators in a US prison that he was in the Indian capital in March 2009, said sources who refused to be identified.
During his Delhi trip -- four months after 10 terrorists sneaked into Mumbai from the sea and killed 166 people over three days -- Headley videographed 7 Race Course Road, the prime minister's official residence, Raksha Bhavan and the National Defence College (NDC) in the heart of the capital, the sources disclosed.
A four-member team of Indian investigators interrogated Headley in June this year after he entered into a plea bargain with the US government offering to be available to foreign investigators for any questioning related to terror plots he was scheming with the LeT and Al Qaeda.
The 49-year-old Pakistani-born revealed that he found "minimal security" at the NDC that appeared a "vulnerable target".
The security cover at the prime minister's residence appeared too tough to break through and his Pakistani handlers were not interested in striking at the Raksha Bhavan, an office-cum-residential complex for defence personnel, Headley is believed to have told the investigators.
He later spoke to his co-conspirator, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, another Pakistani terrorist who is also in a US prison. He said his Pakistani handlers were more interested in attacking the NDC and had even started working on the idea with a help from an unknown person in Nepal, sources said.
Source: IANS