Chicago: Four more Pakistani conspirators have been charged by US prosecutors with carrying out the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks on behalf of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
In a second superseding indictment filed by the federal prosecutors before a court here yesterday, the four were identified as Sajid Mir, Mazhar Iqbal, Abu Qahafa and one by the name of ‘Major Iqbal’. Besides, the indictment mentioned an unnamed individual “Lashkar Member D.” All are residents of Pakistan.
The four men identified were previously mentioned but not named in the indictments that charged Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley and Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana in connection with the Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people, including six Americans.
Sajid Mir was associated with LeT and supervised others linked with the outfit. He served as a “handler” for Headley, who has confessed to his involvement in Mumbai attacks, and others who were directed to carry out actions relating to planning, preparing for and carrying out the terrorist strikes on behalf of LeT.
While Abu Qahafa was an associate with LeT who trained others in combat techniques for use in terrorist attacks; Mazhar Iqbal and ‘Lashkar Member D’ were LeT commanders.
An individual known as ‘Major Iqbal’ participated in planning and funding attacks carried out by LeT in Mumbai, federal prosecutors said.
According to the indictment, Sajid Mir, Abu Qahafa and Mazhar Iqbal conspired with each other, Headley, ‘Lashkar Member D’ and others known and unknown to the grand jury, to deliver, place, discharge and detonate explosives and other lethal devices in, into and against places of public use, state and government facilities, public transportation systems and infrastructure facilities in India.
They acted with the intent to cause death and serious bodily injury, and with the intent to cause extensive destruction of such places and facilities and where such destruction would likely result in major economic loss.
The indictment noted that the David Headley was a national of the United States, from where he was arrested.
The court documents showed that in February 2009, one Abdur Rehman Hashmim Syed took Headley to meet LeT terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri in Waziristan region of Pakistan.
During the meeting, Kashmiri indicated that he had reviewed Copenhagen videotapes made by Headley and suggested that they consider using a truck bomb to attack a Danish newspaper for publishing cartoons of Prophet Mohammad.
Kashmiri also indicated that he could provide manpower for the operation and that the participation of Lashkar was not necessary.
Headley, the federal prosecutors, said was associated with LeT and attended its training camps in Pakistan which began in or around February 2002, August 2002, April 2003, August 2003 and December 2003. he assisted senior LeT men in planning and preparing for terrorist attacks.
Currently languishing in a Chicago jail, Headley had bargained with the US authorities that in exchange for his guilty plea he would not be extradited to India or face death penalty.
As part of the conspiracy in or about late 2005, defendants Sajid Mir and Abu Qahafa and LeT Member D advised Headley that he would be travelling to India to perform surveillance of potential targets for attacks by LeT, and recommended that he take steps to conceal his association with Pakistan and his Muslim religion during travels in India.
Federal prosecutors said that in February 2006, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Headley changed his given name of ‘Daood Gilani’ to David Coleman Headley in order to facilitate his activities on behalf of Lashkar by enabling him to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani.
In the spring of 2006, Sajid Mir and Lashkar Member D discussed with Headley the idea that the Pakistani-American could open an immigration office in Mumbai, as a cover for his surveillance activities in India, federal prosecutors said.
Further in June 2006, Headley travelled to Chicago, Illinois, advised Rana of his assignment to perform surveillance for potential targets in India and obtained the Pakistani-Canadian’s approval for opening a First World office in Mumbai, as cover for these activities.
Rana directed an individual associated with First World to prepare documents to support Headley’s cover story with respect to the opening of a First World office in Mumbai, and advised Headley regarding how to obtain a visa for travel to India.
In applying for his visa for travel to India, Headley misrepresented his birth name, father’s true name and the purpose for his travel, federal prosecutors alleged.
In July 2006, Major Iqbal provided to Headley approximately USD 25,000 to, among other purposes, establish and operate the Mumbai office of First World and pay for living expenses while Headley carried out his assignments for Lashkar.
In September 2006, February 2007, September 2007, April 2008 and July 2008, Headley travelled to Mumbai for extended periods for the purpose of conducting surveillance of possible targets of attacks by LeT, using his association with First World as cover for his travels.
Prior to Headley’s departure for each of these trips, defendants Mir and Major Iqbal along with others instructed Headley regarding locations where he was to conduct video surveillance in and around Mumbai, as well as other locations in India.
After each trip, Headley travelled to Pakistan, where he met Sajid Mir, Major Iqbal and persons associated with Lashkar to report on the results of his surveillance, and provided them with photographs and videos from the surveillance, the federal prosecutors said.
Prior to Headley’s surveillance activities in India starting in or about September 2006, Mir and Major Iqbal instructed him to get settled in India, including by opening the business and obtaining an apartment, and to take photographs and make videos of various locations of public significance in India, including but not limited to, the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai.
As such in November 2006, Headley opened the Mumbai office of First World for the purpose of providing cover for his travel and activities in India on behalf of Lashkar.
Also it was in September 2006 that Headley conducted surveillance on behalf of Lashkar, including taking pictures and making videotapes, of various targets in India, including the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai.
Prior to Headley’s surveillance activities in India which started in February 2007, Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal separately instructed him to conduct surveillance of the second floor of the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, specifically including the conference rooms and ballrooms; which he did.
And after he took detailed pictures as directed by his handlers, Headley traveled to Pakistan, where he met defendants Sajid Mir, Abu Qahafa, Lashkar Member D and Major Iqbal, and provided them with accounts of his surveillance. Headley provided them with photographs and videos taken during the surveillance.
In March 2008, Headley met Sajid Mir and Abu Qahafa and other persons associated with Lashkar and discussed potential landing sites for a team of attackers who would arrive in Mumbai by sea.
Sajid Mir and other persons associated with Lashkar instructed Headley to take boat trips in and around the Mumbai harbour and to take surveillance video of various locations, federal prosecutors alleged. Mir also provided Headley with approximately USD 1000 worth of Indian currency to use for his expenses in Mumbai.
According to court papers, in March/April 2008, Sajid Mir and Abu Qahafa provided Headley with a global positioning system (GPS) device and gave him training in handling this device. The same month, Headley was in Mumbai conducting surveillance of the Mumbai harbour and surrounding areas, using the GPS device and making videotapes.
He also conducted surveillance of, among other locations, the Chhatarapati Shivaji Terminus train station, using the GPS device and making videotapes.
As was the practice, Headley again went back to Pakistan to meet his handlers, including Sajid Mir.
In July, Sajid Mir instructed Headley for surveillance of additional areas of the Taj Mahal hotel, landing points for the attackers, including videotaping the route from a police station to the Taj Mahal hotel; besides that of a Jewish community centre located in Mumbai.
In July, Major Iqbal provided Headley another USD 1,500 to keep open the First World office in Mumbai, but approved closing that office in the future and opening a new business in Delhi, to be used as cover for future activities by him.
Federal prosecutors alleged that in July and August 2008, Abu Qahafa and others were training a number of young men in Pakistan in various skills and tactics to be used in carrying out terrorist attacks in Mumbai, including combat tactics, room entry, hostage rescue, nautical training and swimming.
It was these 10 attackers who were responsible for killing 166 people, including six Americans.
During the course of attacks in Mumbai, the attackers were in telephonic contact with defendants Sajid Mir, Abu Qahafa and Mazhar Iqbal, all of whom were then located in Pakistan, federal prosecutors said.
“More specifically, during the course of the attacks, the attackers were advised to, among other actions, kill hostages, set fires and throw grenades. Sajid Mir also sought to arrange the release of a hostage in exchange for the release of a captured attacker,” the indictment alleged.
And soon after the Mumbai attacks, Major Iqbal advised Headley to avoid contact with him until further notice and to remove any incriminating materials from his home in Pakistan.
And in less than six months, beginning March 2009, Headley conducted surveillance of various targets in India, including that of the National Defence College in Delhi and Chabad Houses in several cities in India, the federal prosecutors alleged.