Explosive testimony by US-born Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Coleman Headley has exposed the role played by some Pakistan military and intelligence officials in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which had left 166 people dead in the country's business capital.
The 56-year-old Headley, who deposed before a National Investigation Agency judge through video-conferencing from a US jail, said that though his sole contact in the LeT was one Sajid Mir, he was also in touch with an agent of Pakistan's, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), whom he identified only as Major Ali.
Headley, who turned approver and is now serving a 35-year sentence, told judge G A Sanap that he came in contact with the ISI officer after he was arrested at Landi Kotal in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Area.
Headley said he had been to the border area along with a retired Pakistani military officer, Major Abdul Rehman Pasha, to meet a drug dealer, Zaib Shah, with the aim of smuggling weapons and explosives into India. He was arrested for being a foreign national in the area where no outsider is allowed.
Headley said he was later released following the intervention of Major Ali, after he showed Pakistani identity cards.
Headley said Major Ali later introduced him to one Major Iqbal as the former thought that the US national could be used to gather intelligence in India. Headley, according to his deposition before the court, changed his name from Syed Daood Salim Gilani to David Coleman Headley in Philadelphia and also obtained a new passport in the new name, as instructed by Siraj Mir.
He said he gave false information while applying for visa at the Consulate General of India at Chicago and later took the help of his friend Dr Tahawwur Husain Rana and his partner Raymond Sanders for obtaining a five-year business visa with multiple entry.
Headley had met Dr Rana, a doctor in the Pakistani Army, at a military school in Punjab province. Dr Rana was his schoolmate for five years.
Replying to a question by special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, Headley said he reported the change of his name and obtaining of a US passport in the new name to both Siraj Mir and Major Iqbal, and both of them approved of it.
He also informed them about the story that he had cooked, that he was visiting India in the guise of an immigration consultant working on behalf of the firm of Dr Rana and Sanders – Immigration Law Center, established in Chicago in 2006.
Responding to another question from Nikam, Headley said he was not aware where Major Ali was serving at the time, but was aware that his headquarters was Khyber Rifle Regiment, a unit of the Pakistani army.