Mumbai, March 24: Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley today told a court here that LeT wanted to eliminate Bal Thackeray but the person who was assigned the job to kill the late Shiv Sena chief was “arrested” but he managed to give police a slip. Also Read - India in touch with US for extradition of persons wanted in 26/11 case
The 55-year-old, who has turned approver in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case, stated this during a cross-examination on the second day by Abdul Wahab Khan, the lawyer of Abu Jundal, an alleged key plotter of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, via a video link from the US. Headley also told the court that he had visited the Sena Bhavan twice. He, however, did not specify the year for the same. Also Read - Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case: Governor Has to Accept Recommendation Made by TN Cabinet, Says Minister
“We (LeT) wanted to target the chief of Shiv Sena…His name was Bal Thackeray. LeT wanted to kill him wherever a chance arose. I knew that Bal Thackeray was the head of Shiv Sena. I have no first hand knowledge but I think an attempt was made by LeT to kill Bal Thackeray,” he said. Also Read - Narendra Modi Assassination Plot: Shiv Sena Lambasts Maharashtra Police, Says PM Has Best Security in World That a Bird Can't Overfly Him
“I don’t know how this attempt was made. I think the person (who was sent to kill Thackeray) was arrested but he managed to escape from police custody. I don’t have first hand knowledge about this though,” he said.(ALSO READ: David Headley to Mumbai court: Two attempts were made to attack Mumbai prior to 26/11).
Headley, convicted in the US for his role in 26/11 Mumbai attacks, also told special judge G A Sanap, who is hearing the 26/11 terror case against Jundal in a sessions court here, that he does not know who else was a target of LeT apart from Thackeray.
When asked by Khan as to how much money he had spent on his visit and reconnaissance in India prior to 26/11 attacks, Headley said, “I am not sure… Many lakhs were spent by me not as high as Rs 30-40 lakhs but much much less. It is correct that ISI spent this money but it is not correct that I demanded the money from them.”
Headley said that after the 26/11 attacks, when he had come to India again (in March 2009) at the behest of Al-Qaeda to carry out further attacks, its leader Illiyas Kashmiri gave him about Pakistani rupees one lakh. He claimed while LeT came under the scanner of international community after the November 26, 2008 attacks, it was not correct to say that LeT became “soft” towards India.
“I think they (LeT) became soft about Denmark (Mickie mouse project) but not India. After the Denmark issue (LeT backing out from attacking Denmark) I went to Al-Qaeda, as LeT had become soft,” Headley told the court.
Headley told the court that while he had not personally met any of the 10 attackers in the 26/11 case but he had seen the photo of one of the attackers on internet and identified him as Ajmal Kasab ‘Rehmatullah Aliah’.(ALSO READ:David Headley deposes before Mumbai court, says I was true LeT follower; visited Mumbai 7 times).
When asked by Khan as to why did he put the words ‘Rehmatullah Aliah’ after Kasab’s name, Headley replied, “When a person is dead he should be prayed for whether he is good or bad. One should pray for the person…To be forgiven. I don’t know if Kasab was good or bad as I didn’t know him.”
When prodded by Khan if what Kasab had done (by participating in 26/11 attacks) was good or bad and if the act of 26/11 was good deed or a bad deed, Headley said, “Of course the act of murder is not going to be a good act. Any kind of murder of innocent person is a bad act.”
Khan then asked him if he was ‘happy and satisfied’ with the damages in the 26/11, to which Headley said “this is an argumentative question. Kush the yeh bhi galat jawab hai, Kush nahi the yeh bhi galat jawab hai, (I was happy is also a wrong answer and I was not happy is too a wrong answer). What can I say ?”
Headley also told the court that in the 26/11 case (in which he has been awarded a 35 years sentence by the US court), supervised release is also part of his sentence.
“As per the US law, I have to compulsorily undergo 85 per cent of my sentence and I don’t know if my sentence can be terminated before completion of 85 per cent sentence.”
He also told the court that within half an hour of his arrest by FBI he had started cooperating with them and gave them all information. Headley also said that he was also interrogated by a team of NIA officials from India and he had cooperated with them too.
“It is not correct that NIA questioned me about my wife Shazia’s involvement in 26/11. I did not give any information about Shazia as she had no role..She was not part of the conspiracy,” he told the court.
Headley also got into a verbal spat with Khan when the lawyer persistently questioned him about Shazia, his former wife Faiza and their knowledge of the 26/11 terror attack.(ALSO READ: Tahawwur Rana was not in touch with LeT: David Headley).
“The communication between me and my wife Shazia and Faiza are privileged and private and it is none of Mr Wahab’s interest,” Headley told the court.The LeT operative however clarified that Shazia was not working for the terror outfit but said that he (Headley) does not know if her father was working for Pakistan’s ISI. At one point of time, an irked Headley even asked Khan if he would say where his father works.