Sources said that besides serving Majors Samir Ali and Iqbal of Pakistan army, Headley has told his FBI handlers about the role of one Colonel Shah and at least two other officers of the Pakistan army in the Karachi Project.
On February 26, TOI was the first to report about the role of serving officers of the Pakistan army – Majors Samir Ali and Iqbal – in the Karachi Project. These two have been mentioned in the dossier that was submitted to visiting Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir on February 25.
This disclosure demolishes Pakistan’s claim that terrorism against India being directed from its soil was limited to non-state actors. This came on a day when sources in the home ministry disclosed that an NIA team preparing to leave for the US to question Headley will be accompanied by a magistrate.
The magistrate will be sent when the US grants permission for direct access to Headley to record his statement under CrPC 164, which is admissible in an Indian court of law, sources said. The statement would be crucial when a chargesheet is filed against Headley and his collaborators.
A statement made before a magistrate under section 164 of CrPc is admissible in a court of law and can help India’s efforts to get Headley’s record as judicial evidence.
FBI’s chargesheet against Headley also mentions Lashkar members A, B, C and D – identified as Sajid Mir, Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, Muzammil and Abu Hamza or Abu Al Qama – as those who, along with Headley, plotted the attack on Mumbai. The role of top Lashkar jihadis was mentioned also by Ajmal Kasab, the lone Mumbai gunman to have been captured. But what will make Headley’s statement seconding the same before a magistrate significant is that Pakistan cannot trash it as having been extracted under "force by Indian cops".
This falls in line with the statement made by home minister P Chidambaram on March 20 after his telephone conversation with US attorney general Eric Holden. “It is my understanding that India would be able to obtain access to David Coleman Headley to question him in a properly constituted judicial proceeding. Such judicial proceeding could be either pre-trial or during an inquiry or trial,” the minister said.
He added that the NIA and other agencies had been asked to “quickly prepare the documents necessary to start a judicial proceeding in which Indian authorities could require David Coleman Headley to answer questions and/or to testify.”
As Headley’s extradition appeared difficult, India was immediately focussing on getting direct access to him to know details about the terror plot.
Under the plea bargain, India can have access to the terrorist by deposition, video conferencing or through Letters Rogatory. Sources said India will like to explore all three.
Headley had last week pleaded guilty to all the 12 terror charges of conspiracy involving bombing public places in India, murdering and maiming persons and providing material support to foreign terrorist plots and Pakistan-based LeT besides aiding and abetting the murder of six US citizens in the 26/11 attacks that killed 166 people.