Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and al-Qaida were convinced that 26/11 attack masterminds Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhavi would face only “superficial” action from the Pakistani authorities and within months plans were afoot for another terror strike in India, Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley said on Saturday.
Headley, who is serving a 35-year jail term in the US in connection with the 26/11 case, said this before a special court in Mumbai via video link from the US during his deposition which concluded on Saturday.
The 55-year-old Lashkar-e-Taiba operative told Special Judge G A Sanap that after the attacks in Mumbai he was concerned about the safety of Saeed and Lakhvi and hence was in constant touch with LeT operative Sajid Mir, who was his handler, and Al-Qaeda member Abdul Rehman Pasha (former LeT cadre).
“FIA (Federal Investigating Agency of Pakistan) was conducting investigations, interrogating people and pursuing people from LeT. Hence I asked Mir about ‘old uncle’ (Saeed) and ‘young uncle’ (Lakhvi). Mir, in his reply, said that young uncle is fine and flying high. I think by this Mir meant that Lakhvi’s morale was high even though he was in prison at that time,” Headley said.
Mir also said that “old uncle is fit and healthy like anything. Don’t put ears to rumours, he is moving back and forth like a tornado for his business and he (Mir) gave solace,” Headley said.
Responding to one of his mails, Pasha had written, “don’t worry everything here is normal. By this Pasha meant that I need not worry (about Saeed and Lakhvi) as the action against them and other LeT members are superficial,” said Headley while informing the court that all the emails had coded language.
Giving further details about anti-India activities, Headley said eight months after the Mumbai strike, Mir had sent an e-mail to him saying that another location needs to be scouted in India for future attacks.
“Mir in his mail has said an ‘investment plan’ needs to be made (meaning another location for attack). I told Mir that this time the attack should not be in ‘Rahul (Bhatt’s) City’. I referred to Mumbai as Rahul City,” he said. Rahul Bhatt, a fitness trainer and son of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, was among the people who were befriended by Headley during his visits to Mumbai prior to the attacks.Headley, who had scouted the November 2008 targets in Mumbai, said he had visited Pushkar, Goa and Pune in March 2009 and recced the cities as sought by Ilyas Kashmiri of al-Qaida.
He also visited the Indian Army’s Southern Command headquarters at Pune in 2009 on the instructions of ISI’s Major Iqbal, who wanted him to recruit some military personnel to get “classified” information, Headley revealed.