Mumbai: The second day of David Coleman Headley's deposition in court saw the 26/11 accused reveal the name of a key aide who helped him around during his first visit to Mumbai from September 14 to December 14 in 2006.
Bashir, said Headley, was his contact in Mumbai when he first arrived here and was instrumental in helping him obtain information for the 2008 attacks. According to Headley, Bashir was a contact provided to him by Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for providing material support to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and for his involvement in a plot to attack a Danish newspaper.
Bashir was Rana's contact in India, helped Headley with paperwork and escorted him around. According to Headley's statements in court today, he had never heard of Bashir before and never knew him prior to his Mumbai visit.
It was Rana who had told him before his departure that someone will be there at the Mumbai airport to receive him. Headley said Rana had described to him his appearance and the colour of the clothes he would be wearing so that he could identify Bashir upon his arrival.
Headley also divulged further details of the sequence of events that followed his first touchdown to India. According to Headley, Bashir took him in a taxi from the airport but got out at a spot outside the airport where his bike was parked. He then took his bike to travel to Hotel Outram, where Bashir had arranged for Headley's stay.
Bashir, who had booked a room in the hotel for Headley, then introduced him to Abdullah, an employee at the hotel. Besides arranging for his stay and transport, Bashir also helped Headley in getting his currency exchanged, procuring a mobile phone, a local SIM card and a memory stick through Abdullah. According to Headley, he had instructions not to call Pakistan.
Abdullah later showed him a Hathway cyber cafe and an eatery in the area near the hotel.
According to Headley, this was the last that he heard from Bashir. He just disappeared from the scene, Headley told court today.
As mysterious as the role and identity of Bashir may sound, this is not the first time that his name has cropped up during investigations into the incident. According to sources, Headley had told US investigators about Bashir and his role as early as in 2014.
According to Headley's statements to US investigators, Bashir had even helped him conduct a recee of the German Bakery and the Osho Ashram in Pune. This was in 2008 and 2009 when he conducted surveys of possible attack sites in Delhi and Pune.
Headley's statements to the Indian court limit Bashir's role to his first visit, after which he claimed to have never heard from him again. However, his claims to US investigators suggest otherwise. According to Headley, whatever material Headley collected, he dropped it off at Bashir's home in Mumbai.
According to Headley's statements to the FBI, he visited Bashir's home to collect the material and some of his luggage on his return to Mumbai from Pune in 2009.
“From Pune I went to Mumbai,” Headley was quoted as having told Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in a report by Rediff.com.
“I also went to a cyber cafe and accessed my mail. I went to see a movie in the same theatre which I had visited in 2008. After the movie, I went to Bashir's house and took some stuff from the luggage. Bashir told me his immigration to Canada was almost through,” he reportedly told the FBI.
Over seven years since the ghastly Mumbai attacks, Indian investigators have failed to put a face to Bashir. This, knowing well that Bashir was a crucial link to investigations in this case and could reveal beiger details of the nexus.
Last heard from sources, Bashir could well have fled to Canada.