Chicago: A former U.S. drug informant who said he worked with Pakistan’s intelligence agency on planning the 2008 Pakistani militant attack on Mumbai testified on Tuesday that agency higher-ups were unaware of the plot.
“The higher officers (did not know),” David Headley told a federal court in Chicago when asked by a defense attorney for accused co-conspirator Tahawwur Rana if all of the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) knew of the planned attack that killed 160 people.
“I was only in contact with him (Major Iqbal of the ISI) but I suspect his colonel knew about it,” Headley said. He says Iqbal, who has been indicted in the attack along with five other Pakistanis, provided guidance during Headley’s surveillance work in Mumbai.
Headley, a 50-year-old U.S.-born American with a Pakistani father, has pleaded guilty to scouting targets for the Mumbai attackers, and with planning a separate assault, never carried out, against a Danish newspaper to revenge unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
He is the key witness in the prosecution of Rana, a Pakistani-born Canadian businessman charged with conspiring in the Mumbai attack and the Danish plot and with providing support to the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which is blamed for the Mumbai attack. Rana, 50, could face life in prison.
The trial in U.S. District Court in Chicago is being eyed closely in India for evidence of Pakistan’s government involvement in attacks on its long-time rival by LeT and other militant groups.
Headley, who has admitted doing reconnaissance work for the Mumbai attack and Danish plot, is testifying as part of deal to avoid the death penalty and extradition to India, Pakistan or Denmark.
During the past week he has told the court the ISI coordinated activities by LeT and other militant groups.
Defense attorney Patrick Blegen has sought to persuade the jury that Headley, who was arrested by the FBI in 2009 in the Mumbai and Denmark conspiracies, is a liar who implicated Rana to justify the deal with U.S. prosecutors.