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Headley probe: NIA quizzes Mumbai socialites

January 10, 2010 17:23 IST

Investigators have found out about US terror suspect David Headley's frequent visits to a golf course in Mumbai, which is often visited by western diplomats and socialites, with whom he had struck a rapport.

According to sources privy to the investigations, the 49-year-old American national, arrested from Chicago airport and currently in FBI custody, spent considerable time at the Golf course and the National Investigation Agency is now recording the statement of witnesses.

Some of the witnesses told investigators that Headley had long chats in the club with western diplomats and the 'friendship' started with learning basics of golf. He had purchased a golf kit ostensibly to pick up the elite sport but authorities now believe this was perhaps a cover to get to know diplomats and business personalities who frequented the club, the sources said.

A well known socialite in Mumbai was also undergoing questioning for several hours by the NIA to find out more about how Headley, known as Daood Gilani till he changed name in 2006 to avoid any suspicion, was successful in getting friendly with some diplomats, the sources said.

The probe agency is working on filing the chargesheet against Headley and his close associate Tawahhur Rana by the month end.

Pictures of him with some western diplomats surprised the investigators as they feared that these envoys may have compromised with some security issues inadvertently to Headley, who has been linked by the FBI with Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashker-e-Tayiba, the sources said.

They said that some of these contacts established in the club had helped Headley in doing a recce of some of the locations in Mumbai ahead of the 26/11 terror strikes in 2008.

Details of Headley's movement in this metropolis prior to the 26/11 attack came on the back of evidence that the US national had stayed at Taj and Oberoi in Mumbai -- the two targeted luxury hotels -- and also entered Nariman House, the Jewish Centre, which was attacked by Lashkar militants on 26/11.

NIA's is likely to charge Headley and Rana with allegedly waging war against the country, the sources said.

The agency registered a case against the two, arrested by FBI in October on the charge of allegedly plotting terror attacks in India, under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and for conspiring to wage war against the country.

Once the chargesheet is filed against them, Indian security agencies are likely to press the US for access to Headley and Rana for interrogation and subsequent extradition, they said.

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