2 attempts failed before 26/11 Mumbai attack, Headley tells Indian court

MUMBAI: LeT ‘terrorists’ attempted to attack Mumbai twice before the 26/11 strikes that killed 166 people but failed both times, key accused and Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley told a local court on Monday.

The first attempt to strike India’s financial capital was made in September 2008 but the boat used by the extremists to reach Mumbai’s shores hit rocks in the ocean, Headley said during a deposition. All weapons and explosives on board were lost but the terrorists survived.

The same group of terrorists made a second attempt a month later in October but failed again, Hidustan Times reported.

In his deposition through video-conference from the US, Headley said that he was a “true follower of LeT” and came to India eight times–seven before the terror attack on November 26, 2008 and once after that.

Headley, who is currently serving 35 years prison sentence in the United States for his role in the terror attacks, also said he changed his name from Dawood Gilani to David Headley in 2006 so that he could enter India and set up some business.

“I applied for change in name on February 5, 2006 in Philadelphia. I changed my name to David Headley to get a new passport under that name. I wanted a new passport so that I could enter India with an American identity.

“After I got a new passport I disclosed it to my colleagues in LeT of which one of them was Sajid Mir, the person with whom I was dealing with. The objective for coming to India was to set up an office/business so that I can live in India. Before the first visit, Sajid Mir gave me instructions to make a general video of Mumbai,” Headley told the court.

Headley told the Mumbai court last December when he was first produced via video conferencing that he was ready to depose and turn approver in the 26/11 trials if he was pardoned. The court granted his wish and accepted him as a prosecution witness.

“The conspiracy was hatched outside India … No direct evidence is there so far for the offence of criminal conspiracy. In this case fortunately for the prosecution, David Coleman Headley has willingly decided to unfold the conspiracy which was hatched outside India,” the court said.

Headley reveals he changed name, visited India 8 times prior to 26/11.

Headley had also turned approver in the US in the trial against his former partner and friend Tahawwur Rana, an operative of the LeT. This helped him get a lenient sentence and a promise that he would not be sent to India or any other country to face trial. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison by the US court.

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