Chicago: The mysterious Major Iqbal, who India suspects is a Pakistani army officer in ISI, has now been identified as ‘Chaudhery Khan´ by Mumbai terror accused David Headley who said he is the mastermind of the 26/11 attacks plot.
50-year-old Headley also told a Chicago court during the trial of 26/11 co-accused Tahawwur Rana that an attempt to take the attackers to Mumbai in September 2008 failed as a boat in which they were to sail was lost.
He said before the jury that according to Major Iqbal, in September they lost the Pakistani boat which was supposed to take the attackers to sea for some distance after which they were to be shifted to an Indian fishing boat.
Iqbal also told Headley that they had lost 12 life jackets meant for the attackers. Headley, a Pakistan-American, said that Major Iqbal, whose name keeps cropping up in the testimony, used the ID of ‘Chaudhery Khan´, made key decisions and was indeed the mastermind of the 26/11 plot.
The federal prosecutors presented to the court additional evidences linking strong connection between Headley and the ISI officials.
Through records of several emails exhibited in the court federal prosecutors established beyond doubt that Headley was in constant contact with ISI officials, in particular Major Iqbal, and his handlers in Pakistan.
In an email dated 23 April 2008, Headley sends Chaudhery Khan information on commercially available spy cameras and pen spy cameras.
Headley also conceded that he met Major Iqbal several time before the Mumbai attacks during which he issued specific instructions on every step right from establishing an office in Mumbai, to recruiting retired military personnel, making surveillance, giving list of targets and closing the Mumbai office.
“Major Iqbal told me the Chabad House would be added on whatever list (of targets) there was because it was a front office for the Mossad” - Israel’s intelligence agency, Headley said, adding that Major Iqbal “seemed upset the (Mumbai) airport was not included” as a target.
Headley also testified that New Delhi-based National Defence College is on the hit-list of terrorists as another 26/11 plotter Illiyas Kashmiri believes in this way he can kill more Indian brigadiers than what the Pakistan Army could not do in four wars with India.
Within a few months of the Mumbai strikes, Kashmiri, who also has emerged as a mastermind of 26/11, met Headley and asked him to go to India again to do surveillance of the National Defence College in New Delhi and a number of Chhabad Houses in various cities of India.
When Headley, accompanied by Major Abdur Rehman Pasha - one of his handlers, went to see Kashmiri in Waziristan in February 2009, he among the Lashkar-e-Taiba circles had emerged as a “surveillance expert” thus a key element of the planning of the terrorist attack.
Pasha told him that if “we were able to conduct” attack on NDC then “we will be able to kill more Brigadiers than Pakistan has done in the four wars” with India.
Apprehending his arrest after the Mumbai attacks during his India visit, Headley wrote a will and emailed it to Rana, as to what should be done to his wives and children in the event of his death or arrest.
During his stay in Mumbai, Headley wanted to make friendship with Rajaram Rege, whom he described as Shiv Sena PRO, so as to gain access to the party.
Rege was apparently also looking to gain intimacy with the Mumbai terror accused to bag some multi-billion Indian contracts for US companies.
“If anybody from USA or any country wants a venture or invest in India I am the ideal person for them. Projects worth Rs 10,000 crores sanctioned by government are with me. Are you getting my point????” Rege wrote in an email to Headley on 19 May, 2008, according to a copy of the email produced in the court by federal prosecutors.
Rege went ahead to lure Headley to get him big contacts in India because of his strong political connections.
“As you know that I am politically and socially very well connected here in Bombay (Mumbai), Gujarat and Delhi. Delhi is the place here central govt of India (Prime Minister India) rules. I have very strong personal relations with people ruling Mumbai (Maharashtra), Gujarat and Delhi,” he wrote.
Headley told federal prosecutors that he sought guidance from his handlers in Pakistan as to how to respond to Rege’s email.
Rege, he noted, was considered by them an entry point into Shiv Sena, whom they considered as a terrorist outfit and had hatched plans to assassinate its leaders.
On 23 May 2008, Headley responded to Rege’s email asking the latter how projects would be financially beneficial to him.