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The LeT operatives who helped Headley plan 26/11 attacks

By Vicky Nanjappa
June 11, 2010 13:32 IST
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The National Investigation Agency team, which quizzed Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative David Headley in Chicago this week, tried to glean information about Abu al-Qama, who allegedly played a key role in planning the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai.

The NIA team asked Headley specific questions about Abu Qama's role in attacks, Intelligence Bureau officials told

According to Indian investigators, Abu Qama, a militant commander in Kashmir, was recruited by the LeT to cash in on his network of international operatives.

During interrogation, Headley revealed that he had stayed in touch with Qama while planning the 26/11 attacks and updated him about the reconnaissance of terror targets in Mumbai.

Intelligence agencies initially suspected that that Abu Qama might be an alias for LeT leader Zarar Shah. Investigators are also probing the antecedents of a terror operative named Abdul Wajid, who reportedly guided the terrorists during the night of November 26, 2008, as they went about their killing spree in the heart of Mumbai.

Intelligence agencies admit that it is difficult to zero in on these terrorists as they use too many aliases. Their identities can be confirmed only after the Pakistan government provides voice samples of the terrorists who are in custody there.

"Headley's statements are just not enough to ascertain who Qama, Shah and Wajid are. We believe that each one of them has played a very vital role in the attacks and bringing them to book will weaken the LeT. The Union home ministry has decided to seek the voice samples of these men to compare them with the samples we have (which were intercepted by the intelligence agencies during the attack)," said a source in the IB.

Though Headley has divulged information about the activities of Qama and the Inter Services Intelligence in planning the attacks, he did not have too much information about Wajid.

Headley stated that he received instruction from three ISI officials -- Major Sameer Ali, Major Haroon and Major Iqbal. He told the interrogators that he stayed in touch with Abu Qama, who used the alias Mazhar Iqbal, when he conducted a survey of likely targets in Mumbai. After the attack, Qama had warned Headley that he didn't want the ISI's involvement to be revealed at any point.

Indian investigators are trying to find more information about Zarar Shah, who is being tried in Pakistan for the 26/11 attacks, along with other terror operatives including Wajid and one Muzzamil Bhat who supervised the terror attack on Mumbai.

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Vicky Nanjappa