New Delhi: Terrorist David Coleman Headley today told a Mumbai court that he joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba and took a first "course" with the terror group in 2002 at Muzaffarabad in Pakistan.
- David Headley identifies Hafiz Saeed as 'head of Lashkar'
- Headley says he was trained by Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhavi
- Before 26/11, 2 failed attempts made to attack Mumbai by sea
Testifying via video link from an undisclosed location in the US, Headley said he was motivated to join the terror group after he heard a speech by the "head of Lashkar."
Asked who the head of Lashkar is, Headley said, "Hafiz Saeed Sahib," referring to the mastermind of the 2008 attacks in Mumbai in which 166 people were killed. Despite India's protests and a 10 million dollar bounty announced by the US, Saeed remains a free man in Pakistan, regularly making public speeches against India for huge audiences.
Headley, 55, also identified Hafiz Saeed in a photograph shown to him in court saying, "Yes, that is Mr Hafiz Saeed" and said Saeed lectured him and other recruits about jihad against India.
Headley has become the first person to testify for an Indian terror case from a foreign country. In 2009, he was arrested in the US and agreed to share crucial information in exchange for a promise that he would not be extradited to India or be given the death penality; he is serving a 35-year jail sentence.
In December last year, he was pardoned by the Mumbai court after he turned approver or a prosecution witness.
Headley, who was born in Pakistan and moved to the US at age 18, conspired in the planning and execution of the deadly Mumbai attacks, filming the landmarks in the city that would be attacked by 10 Pakistani terrorists operating in pairs. He said he visited India using a fake passport nine times; eight of those visits were made before 26/11.
The Lashkar, said David Headley in his deposition today, has carried out terror attacks all over India and said it "assists the people of Kashmir to fight the Indian Army."
Earlier in his deposition, he talked about "my colleagues in the Lashkar", particularly about a man called Sajid Mir, who Headley said was his main contact in the terror outfit. It was Mir, he said, who suggested that he change his name from Dawood Gilani to David Coleman Headley so that he could travel to India easily as an American.
Headley said Mir also told him that two similar attempts to attack the city by sea had failed in September and October 2008.