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What India will ask David Headley

By Vicky Nanjappa
Last updated on: March 26, 2010 18:00 IST
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India is yet to receive the final nod from US to interrogate David Headley, but Indian intelligence officials are already ready with their list of questions for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative.

Although the US administration has said that it would give India an access to Headley, it is yet to specify the details of the questioning session to Indian officials. The Indian contingent is confident that the legalities would be worked out soon.

Indian intelligence sources told that the US administration had specified to Indian officials that they cannot question Headley on his antecedents.

This would be a big loss to India, as the Indian agencies will not be able to confirm whether Headley had been a double agent for the US and the LeT.

Also, Pakistan has been constantly pressing US not to probe Headley's links to the top officials in Pakistan Army.

The Headley interrogation team will include officials from the Intelligence Bureau and the National Investigating Agency.

"We already have a lot of information regarding the recce he (Headley) conducted for the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, but we need to confirm the links he had with the Pakistan Army officials since that would make our case stronger," an intelligence official said.

What's in the questionnaire

On 26/11 attacks

The interrogation by Indian officials will focus on the Mumbai terror attacks. The National Investigating Agency has collected information from eyewitnesses and from those who had met Headley when he had visited Mumbai.

Indian officials would also want to confirm the local involvement in the 26/11 attacks, as Headley could not have carried out the entire operation by himself.

Headley will be questioned about the LeT local modules that helped him in India  and this will help us bust their network further, sources pointed out.

On Pakistani Army officials

The questioning will also revolve around Zarar Shah and Sajid Mir, the two men who had instructed Headley on conducting a recce of the targets in Mumbai.

Investigation has also revealed that the two men had put Headley in touch with some army officials in the Pakistani establishment.

"We look to get those names and the extent of involvement by Pakistan Army during the attack," an intelligence source said.

On local agents 

Headley was not an ordinary terror operative, but a very important person in the Lashkar ranks. He dealt with the top leadership of the Lashkar, unlike the foot soldiers who worked on a need to know basis.

Further the Indian team will also question Headley on his frequent trips to India. They would want to know the people who helped him in arranging his travel and accommodation in India.

"We believe that it was some local chap who helped him out in this operation and getting our hands on that name would be crucial," the source said.

On Headley's women associates

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has told Indian officials that two women had accompanied Headley to India. Intelligence officials will interrogate Headley to know more about them.

"We have confirmed that the women had accompanied him to Goa. We are looking forward to finding details regarding his Goa visit with the woman, and this will help us in finding out if he had any deep-rooted contacts or network in Goa," the source said.

On his visits to Delhi

Headley's alleged visits to Pushkar and Delhi, where is said to have conducted a survey of important targets, will be vital for India's security, especially with the Commonwealth Games round the corner.

Headley had been in touch with chief of Al Qaeda's 313 Brigade Ilyas Kashmiri, who has openly said that they would be targeting the games in India.

"While our investigations have revealed that he had planned on targeting the National Defence Academy, our interrogation of Headley could reveal more details regarding the games being a target," the intelligence official said.

On Rana's role

Apart from this, investigators are also eager to piece all evidence regarding LeT operative Tahawwur Rana, who had allegedly helped Headley with the India operation.

"We also want to question Rana and join the pieces together to make a stronger case for the Indian investigating agencies," said the official.

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru