Did Pakistani-American terror suspect David Headley try to eliminate his woman 'friend' -- a former woman hotel executive -- who could provide vital evidence to investigators?
Piecing together material and circumstantial evidence collected during the probe, security agencies have raised this question after finding that attackers of Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba behind 26/11 had planted an improvised explosive device below the bakery at Hotel Oberoi which was one of the scenes of the carnage.
The woman's family ran the bakery in the luxury hotel. Official sources said on Wednesday the IED, which was found planted under the bakery, might have been kept there at the instruction of Headley as he possibly wanted no crucial evidence about his presence in Mumbai.
The sources said the woman had told the probe team about the places frequented by Headley and his association with various people including Rahul Bhatt and other socialites who have been questioned by the National Investigation Agency in detail.
The woman's identity was not revealed. The mother of the 30-year-old woman sought to downplay her alleged friendship with Headley while the sources said the executive had accompanied him to various dinners and late night parties.
The statement of the woman had since been recorded by the NIA, which has registered cases against Headley and his Pakistani-Candian accomplice Tahawwur Rana for allegedly conspiring to wage a war against the country and under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Seeking to downplay the association of her daughter with Headley, the former hotel executive's mother, who does not want to disclose her identity due to security reasons, said, "Why has my daughter been linked to Headley? If a customer comes to our bakery, we serve them. That doesn't mean we know them.
"A casual conversation does not mean striking a friendship with someone. Headley might have come to our bakery. If my daughter served him, does that mean she made friendship with him or dined with him? All these reports are baseless," she said.
Headley has been indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his role in plotting the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and is in custody in Chicago. The suspected Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative had reportedly visited the bakery on several occasions during his stay in Mumbai and became friendly with the former kitchen executive of the five star hotel.