Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley today told a special court trying the 26/11 attack case that Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Zaki-ur- Rehman Lakhvi had told him about the Ishrat Jehan ‘operation’ and wondered why NIA chose not to mention it in its statement.
During cross-examination by defence lawyer Wahab Khan on behalf of key accused Abu Jundal, Headley claimed he had told NIA that “a female member of LeT who had died in an encounter in India was Ishrat Jahan” but could not say why that was ignored by NIA.
Headley said LeT chief and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed had told him prior to the Mumbai terror attacks that Shiv Sena Chief late Balasaheb Thackeray “needed to be taught a lesson”.
The Lashkar terrorist had told Saeed that this would be done and might take six months to accomplish.
The cross-examination via video link of 55-year-old Headley, serving a 35 year prison term in the US, concluded today after four days of intense grilling.
Asked whether he had videographed the residence of India’s Vice President during the surveillance done by him, he said only the outer walls of the building were videographed and it was en route from Sena Bhavan (Indian Army HQs) to National Defence College, New Delhi.
In another development, the judge G A Sanap rejected the plea of defence lawyer to defer the cross-examination as he had to meet the accused Abu Jundal in Mumbai Central Jail to seek instructions for further cross-examination of Headley. The court said Headley’s deposition cannot be deferred on this ground.
The judge then directed the jail authorities to allow the lawyer to meet the accused for two hours in prison or communcate with him through video link in the court but as the lawyer did not accept this, the court rejected the plea.
Headley was discharged from cross-examination and soon thereafter, prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam moved an application for re-examination which was allowed by the court.
During re-examination by Nikam, Headley said he had referred to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai while deposing earlier about his visit to a nuclear power plant to conduct surveillance for potential targets.
“I visited BARC on the recommendation of Major Iqbal (of Pakistan)”, said Headley to Nikam.
Earlier, Headley told the defence lawyer that it was not correct to say that LeT wanted to assassinate former Pakistan President Pervez Musharaff.