Day 3: Ishrat Jahan was an LeT operative, claims David Headley

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On the third day of his deposition, David Coleman Headley on 11 February claimed that Ishrat Jehan was a member of Lashkar-e-Toiba. Jahan, along with Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai and two Pak nationals Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Jowher, was gunned down at Kotarpur in Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

Since the encounter took place in 2004, Ishrat’s family had alleged that it was a botched up operation by the Gujarat Police.

Headley has also claimed that ISI and LeT funded terror operations in India and financed him regularly. He alleges that before coming to India in September 2006, he received $25,000 from ISI’s Major Iqbal and Pakistani Rs 40,000 from LeT terrorist Sajid Mir between April and June 2008. “Major Iqbal gave me counterfeit Indian currency once or twice in 2008,” he told the court, adding that Major Iqbal used to regularly send him money in installments.

“Tahawur Rana (Headley’s associate and a Pakistani native who operated a Chicago-based morning immigration business) used to send me funds from the US in September 2006 when I came to India to do intelligence work on instructions of LeT,” he said.

The police had alleged that Jahan and her associates were LeT operatives involved in a plot to assassinate the chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. Later, an investigation was launched into the allegations that Ishrat was killed in a fake encounter. After a long investigation, in 2009, an Ahmedabad Metropolitan court ruled that the encounter was staged.

The decision was challenged by the Gujarat government, and taken to the high court. On 3 July 2013, the CBI has filed its first chargesheet in an Ahmedabad court saying that the shooting was a staged encounter carried out in cold blood.

Resuming his deposition, Headley had told special judge GA Sanap earlier this week that ISI was helping different terror outfits in Pakistan and was providing financial, military and moral support.

On being asked specifically by special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, Headley confirmed there was a naval wing in LeT, “ I know Mohd Yakub who was in charge of LeT’s sea operations. I was introduced to him in 2003. I don’t know about his role in 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.  I discussed about the site for docking boat carrying attackers, with some of members of LeT’s naval wing prior to 26/11 attacks.

He said he also scouted the famous Siddhivinayak Temple and Naval air station on the direction of LeT commanders. He also  said he knew ISI official Brigadier Riyaz as the handler of LeT’s top commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who was the mastermind of the 26/11 attacks.

Headley, who had visited Mumbai seven times to scout for targets, revealed that plans to target Mumbai had started over a year before the 26/11 attacks.

Headley could not testify on 10 February because of a technical snag in video conferencing.