Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Headley on Tuesday testified before a United States court that al-Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri had a plan to kill the CEO of Lockheed Martin in frustration over drone attacks along the Af-Pak border and had sent men for surveillance.
Testifying in the resumed hearing in the Mumbai attack trial, Headley said that following his arrest he had offered to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation by giving a sword implanted with a chip to Kashmiri so that he could be targeted by drone attacks.
“There was a plan to kill him [the CEO] because he was making drones,” Headley testified during the trial of Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Mumbai terror attack co-accused.
Headley, a Pakistani-American, was being cross-examined by the defence lawyer of Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who is standing trial after he was slapped with a dozen charges in connection with the Mumbai attacks in which 166 persons were killed.
Headley replied in the negative when asked if he had been working on a plot to kill the Lockheed Martin boss.
Headley, who has pleaded guilty in the case, testified that Kashmiri had arranged for men to carry out surveillance in the U.S. in connection with the plot to kill the Lockheed CEO.
He testified that he was secretly researching on the internet at Rana’s home. “My research is more in-depth than Googling someone a couple of times.”
He said he tried to get a visa to stay longer in Pakistan through his school friend Aman Rashid who worked at Pakistan consulate in Chicago.
The trial has so far focused on the testimony of Headley, who has exposed the nexus between the ISI and the LeT in carrying out the Mumbai terror attacks.
Headley pleaded guilty to 12 terrorism charges related to the 26/11 attacks and other plots in the wake of his 2009 arrest here.
During his deposition, Headley said only a handful of ISI agents were involved in the attacks. Asked whether he meant that the head of ISI was not involved, he said: “Yes.”
He is testifying against Rana in exchange for avoiding the death penalty and extradition to India, Pakistan or Denmark.
On being asked by Rana’s lawyer whether he had struck a deal with the U.S. under which there will be no death sentence and no extradition to India, Pakistan and Denmark, Headley replied in the affirmative.
As the trial unfolded, more links between the ISI and the LeT are emerging, with Headley narrating his side of the story that he started straying from the so-called “ISI Jihad” with Major Iqbal and Sajid Mir toward a more “holy jihad” with Pasha or Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, a retired major from the Pakistani Army, who connected Headley with Kashmiri.
Headley said he felt remorseful for those killed in the Mumbai attacks.
To another question, Headley said Rana had agreed to invest $11,000 in land deals in Pakistan and he too was allowed by the U.S. to strike property deals with his partners in that country.
The cross-questioning of Headley is expected to be over by Wednesday.
After that, FBI agents will be presented by the government at the trial that is being held here on the 19th floor of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.
While Headley has pleaded guilty, Rana has maintained that he is not guilty in the charge of “support to terrorism.”
The trial is expected to last till June 15. If convicted, Rana faces a possible life sentence.
Rana is accused of providing his longtime friend Headley with cover as he conducted surveillance for the attacks. Headley has pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork in the carnage.
Though Rana is on trial, it is Headley’s testimony that has been highly anticipated, especially in the wake of the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces inside Pakistan. Hindu