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Headley-Rana link to 26/11 carnage becomes clearer

By Vicky Nanjappa
November 17, 2009 16:49 IST
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Vicky Nanjappa unravels the investigators's attempts to piece together the 26/11 puzzle.

The National Investigating Agency and the Intelligence Bureau -- probing the role played by terror suspects Canadian-Pakistani Tahawwur Rana and American-Pakistani David Headley in the November 26 attacks in Mumbai -- have drawn up some conclusive evidence.

Although a lot has been reported about the various locations Headley and Rana visited, investigating agencies now have definitive insights into their roles in the 26/11 attacks.

Sources in both agencies told that the duo had both video footage and photographs of the targets that were attacked on November 26.

The 20-member investigating team discovered that Headley had not just stayed at the Taj Mahal hotel's Heritage wing, but also at the Trident, which was one of the targets of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists. He stayed in these hotels and surveyed them apart from collecting video footage and photographs.

Another interesting piece of information that the investigators stumbled upon is that Rana, who was very much in Mumbai along with Headley, had surveyed the Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus and Nariman House, and passed on information to the Lashkar base in Pakistan.

While in Mumbai, the duo never met each other or stayed at the same place. Rana stayed at a guesthouse under the guise of being a job agent.

IB sources are trying to ascertain if the duo met Lashkar member Fahim Ansari and shared information. The Mumbai police chargesheet states that Ansari drew the maps at the behest of Sabahuddin Ahmed, another Lashkar terrorist, and then handed it over to him.

It is yet to be ascertained if Ansari had just identified the targets and drawn the maps while Headley and Rana had gone into the finer details of the targets. While Ansari left Mumbai immediately after his survey, the duo stayed on.

Also, it has been revealed that Headley and Rana were both in Mumbai at the time of the attacks and left immediately after it ended. Union Home Secretary G K Pillai has confirmed this fact.

The IB says that telephone call records of the duo and their e-mails are under scrutiny to find out if they had been in touch with the terrorists during the attacks. The investigating team feels that with the help of footage they had they could have guided the attackers during the attacks.

Once Headley and Rana left India for Pakistan after the attacks, they contacted Abu Jundal, another accused in the 26/11 attacks case. Jundal is said to have been in regular touch with the attackers.

The footage collected from Headley and Rana will now be shown to the three accused in the case -- Ahmed, Ansari and Ajmal Kasab, who are currently facing trial in a Mumbai court.

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru