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Did Headley guide 26/11 attackers?

Last updated on: November 13, 2009 14:45 IST
David Headley's arrest and subsequent interrogation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his connections with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba has given the Mumbai police reason to investigate if Headley and his friend Tawahuur Rana helped the 26/11 attackers.

Sources in the Union home ministry and Mumbai police told that they have specific information about Headley's visits to India. Sources say he stayed the longest in Mumbai, but also visited New Delhi and Kochi.

Sources say the timing of his visits to India, especially Mumbai, are intriguing. Headley was in the city just before the 26/11 attacks and also visited Mumbai after the attacks.

Some investigators believe Headley may have surveyed 26/11 targets and guided the terrorists's minders in Pakistan during the actual attacks.

The choice of Chabad House in Colaba, south Mumbai, as a target has long intrigued observers as even residents who lived close to the Jewish centre were unaware of its presence. Headley, a Pakistani-American, had the profile to identify such a target.

The Lashkar may have selected Headley for the job since the FBI affidavit suggests he had an eye for detail. The Mumbai police are corroborating the information they have obtained from the FBI and Intelligence Bureau. Investigators will cross-check the information with 26/11 accused Ajmal Kasab, Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed.

In Delhi, investigators have discovered Headley stayed in budget hotels in Paharganj usually frequented by tourists traveling on a tight budget.

IB sources, who are in possession of a copy of his passport (no 097536400), say Headley, who changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006, traveled to New Delhi via Abu Dhabi in March. He stayed in Delhi for three days during which he is said to have contacted several people and surveyed potential targets.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru