Key Mumbai Planner David Headley Tells Jury he Was 'Pleased' With 2008 Attacks
David Headley, who helped plan Mumbai attacks, is government's star witness.
May 24, 2011 — -- Chicago resident David Headley testified today that he was pleased with the results of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 164 people, including six Americans.
Headley is the government's star witness at the trial of Tahawwur Rana who is charged with providing material support to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the terrorist group behind the attacks. Rana allegedly supported Headley's operational planning for the attacks by letting him use his immigration business as a front for Headley's time in Mumbai.
Headley, who himself faces a lifetime prison term, pleaded guilty last year to conducting reconnaissance for the Mumbai attacks and planning attacks in Denmark.
Today in court, he described his last several months in Mumbai, and the final orders he received from his handler from Pakistan's intelligence agency, a man known only as Major Iqbal -- which he said provided help to the terrorists.
Headley said that in the final months before the attacks he was asked to conduct surveillance and mark on his GPS the location of the Chabad house, an Orthodox Jewish outreach center in Mumbai. Headley said that Major Iqbal was interested in attacking the Chabad House since Iqbal believed it was allegedly a front for the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service.
During the attacks, Americans Gabriel Noah Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivka were killed by the Lashkar terrorists.
In his second day of testimony, Headley described how he received instructions to shoot surveillance films for the attackers to help them plan their routes. Headley also testified that he purchased traditional colorful bracelets worn by young boys and men in Mumbai so that the attackers would blend in.
Headley said that the Chabad house was difficult to locate since it was at the end of a narrow alley where his GPS could not receive a signal.
Major Iqbal was apparently upset that the Mumbai airport was not being considered as a possible target by the attackers, according to Headley's testimony. Headley also said that Iqbal wanted Headley to scout the Indian Naval Air Station in Mumbai as well.
"He was really keen on that" Headley testified.
In September 2008, Headley said that the planners for the attacks decided they would use what Headley called a "stronghold option" to barricade themselves in the hotels and fight to the death instead of trying to escape from Mumbai.
Headley testified about Abu Qahafa, one of the planners of the attack: "Abu Qahafa said if they knew they would leave, they would not fight as well."
It was during this time that it was decided the terrorist gunmen would use Indian cell phones to communicate with each other and their handlers.
Headley said he went to Pakistan to wait for word of the attacks. It was during this time that he said Lashkar members began to tell him about an attack on the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, retribution for a cartoon the paper printed, mocking the prophet Muhammad.
Headley said that at a November 9, 2008 meeting with Lashkar members he learned a first attempt to attack Mumbai failed when the boat carrying the terrorists ran aground and sank.
Asked by prosecutor Daniel Collins how he learned about the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai, Headley said he received a text message telling him to turn on the TV.
Asked what he thought about the news coverage, Headley said in his monotone voice, "I was pleased."