Court asks NIA to produce Headley and others
- The Hindu
A special court here on Saturday told the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to initiate the process to produce U.S. citizen David Coleman Headley, his Canadian accomplice Tahawwur Hussain Rana, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Muhammed Saeed and LeT head of operations Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi before it on March 13, taking cognisance of the charge sheet filed by the agency against them and five other Pakistani nationals for plotting to carry out “spectacular terror attacks on places of iconic importance” in India, including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
While Headley and Rana are presently in U.S. custody, Saeed and Lakhvi are believed to be in Pakistan.
On December 24, 2011, the NIA filed a charge sheet under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against the nine accused.
Others charge-sheeted are: LeT operatives Sajid Majid and Abdur Rehman Hashim, two serving Pakistani Army officers Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali, and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) chief Ilyas Kashmiri. The court which issued non-bailable warrants on July 21, 2010 against them, re-issued them for March 13.
Special Judge H.S. Sharma said: “The taking of cognisance means the point in time when the court takes judicial notice of an offence with a view to initiating proceedings in respect of such offence which appears to have been committed. Only a prima facie view is to be taken…Process to procure the presence of A-1 to A- 4 (Headley, Rana, Saeed, and Lakhvi) on March 13 [should] be initiated. NBWs against A-5 to A-9 (five other accused) have already been issued for that day.”
Headley was arrested by the FBI on October 3, 2009. Mr. Sharma in his order noted that Headley had entered into a plea bargain agreement with U.S. federal prosecutors, and admitted his guilt and the charges against him. The judge also allowed NIA's application seeking issuance of a letter rogatory to Morocco to investigate the whereabouts of Headley's wife, Faiza Outalha, who the agency claims made two visits to India — first in April 2007, and later in the months of June, July and August 2008 — in the run-up to the 26/11 attacks.
LeT, HuJI conspiracy
An NIA statement issued on December 24 when the charge sheet was filed, alleged that the conspiracy was “hatched in or around 2005 by the leaders of the LeT and the HuJI” with the active support and encouragement from serving officers of the Pakistani Army working for the ISI like Major Sameer Ali and Major Iqbal.
“Headley and Rana were placed in a position where they could work for providing tactical, material and financial support in planning and carrying out terrorist attacks in India and other places,” the NIA statement said.
“David Headley made multiple trips to India between September 14, 2006, and March 15, 2009. During his trips he conducted tactical surveillance of potential targets of terrorist attacks. He collected tactical details including video footage of all the places which were attacked during 26/11/2008 in Mumbai. He also collected critical information and videos of places including different Chabad Houses in India, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the Mantralaya and the Air India building in Mumbai, and the National Defence College, Delhi,” the NIA alleged.
On Rana, the agency said he was in constant touch with Headley, provided him with financial resources and other support for running an immigration consultancy office in Mumbai which did not process even one case of immigration during its entire period of existence. Rana visited India on November 13, 2008, and left Mumbai “in haste” on November 21, 2008, six days before the Mumbai attack.