NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The probe into the Mumbai 26/11 attacks got a shot in the arm after a local court on Thursday granted pardon to David Coleman Headley alias Daood Gilani, one of the key plotters of the attack, and accepted him as a prosecution witness.
The Special Court in Mumbai admitted Headley’s petition to turn approver in return for a pardon while imposing conditions that he must disclose facts and the role of other participants in the attack, which left 166 dead. The move, officials of security agencies said, will nail the Pakistan State actor’s role in the entire conspiracy as investigation conducted by Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) conveniently left out role of ISI officers and mastermind Hafiz Saeed in the horrific attack.
It will also put pressure on Pakistan, which after the renewed engagement with India this week has promised to take action against terror and terrorists operating from its soil.
Headley, who is serving 35-year jail sentence in the US for the 26/11 conspiracy, was produced in a Mumbai court by video conferencing on Thursday. Charged in 11 offences relating to the Mumbai attack, Headley said he accepts the responsibility and agreed to be available as a witness. “I appeared here, I am ready to answer to questions regarding this event I receive a pardon from this court. I have reviewed the charging documents filed against me in this court. It charges me with the same conduct for which I was charged in the US. I have pleaded guilty in the past to the charges in the United States and I admitted I was a participant in the charges,” Headley told the court.
Officials said the Pakistan agency had investigated only the Karachi part of the conspiracy — training, preparation, acquisition of logistics. But the beginning of conspiracy, training and motivation which took place at Muzaffarabad, Muridke and Lahore was left out.
India had earlier told Pakistan that the period of conspiracy is actually between 2005-2008, whereas FIA has only probed 2007-08. The recce of the 26/11 targets is an important part of the conspiracy which was done by LeT terrorist Headley and handled by Sajid Majid, Abdur Rehman, Major Iqbal and Major Sameer of ISI but this aspect too was ignored by the Pakistan agency.
Another accused in the case, Zabiuddin Ansari, also appeared before the court through video conferencing from Arthur Road prison on Thursday. Earlier, during questioning by National Investigation Agency, Headley had said three senior Pakistan Army officers played a major role in planning and execution of the attacks. Ansari too had named the same officers.