Mumbai: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) made two unsuccessful attempts before wreaking havoc in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, in a terror attack that killed 166 persons, terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headly told a Special TADA court here on Monday.
In the first attempt to strike Mumbai in September 2008, the terrorist’s boat hit some rocks in the Arabian Sea, resulting in loss of weapons and ammunition, but those on board survived, Headley told TADA Court Judge G.A. Sanap via video-conferencing from a US jail.
The second attempt was made the following month, in October, with the same persons involved as in the first one, but that also failed for unknown reasons, before the third and successful attack was executed on November 26 that year, (in which 166 persons were killed and hundreds more were injured), he said.
Headley also identified in a picture his main contact in the LeT terror group Sajid Mir and LeT founder Hafez Sayeed and said he was inspired by Sayeed’s fiery speeches to join the group in 2002.
Represented by criminal lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani at the TADA court, Headley said he underwent his first training with LeT in 2002 at a camp in Muzaffarabad, which is in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
About the motive behind the crime, he said the terror attack was carried out to assist the Kashmiris fighting against the Indian Army in the border state.
Earlier, Headley, 56, said he was born on June 30, 1960, in the US and shifted to Pakistan later where his name was Daood Sayeed Gilani.
Flanked by three persons at an undisclosed location in the US — his attorney John, US attorney Sarah and a person identified merely as Bob — Headley was administered the oath at 7.30 a.m. and Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam started firing questions at him.
Headley provided details of his passport and spoke of his seven to eight trips to Mumbai and one to New Delhi between 2006-2008 before the 26/11 attacks. The trips included seven via Pakistan and one via the UAE. He also made yet another trip to Mumbai in July 2009, after the terror attack was executed.
To a pointed question by Nikam, who is leading the prosecution case, Headley named one person named Raymaond Sanders as a visa consultant who helped him procure the Indian visa.
Headley said most of the information on his visa application was false — except his birth date and place, mother’s name and nationality and the passport number — so that he would not blow his cover.
“This is the first time that a terrorist is deposing and tendering evidence live in a foreign country. He will divulge the larger aspects of the 26/11 terror conspiracy, the people behind it and related aspects,” Nikam said on the eve of Headley’s trial.
“The evidence coming out today could be very significant,” Jethmalani commented briefly on the proceedings before the special court.
Headley’s ongoing evidence on Monday could help the prosecution nail the alleged co-conspirators in the attacks Zakiur Rehman Lakhi, the terrorists’ handlers, the role and involvement of other state and non-state actors, and the role of arrested LeT activist Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, currently in a Mumbai jail.
At the previous hearing on December 10 last year, the special TADA court judge had pardoned Headley and made him an approver in the case, subject to certain conditions.
Headley had already confessed to his role in the offences in the US for which he is serving a 35-year sentence.
The five-hour court proceedings were held here amidst tight security.