Washington, Jun 13: Notwithstanding Pakistan's denial, LeT operative David Headley has highlighted the deep involvement of ISI in the Mumbai attacks conspiracy by revealing how he received meticulous training in espionage from its officers and agents during “thousands” of sessions.
The training, imparted in a two-storey ISI safe house in Lahore, was not like the James Bond style but focussed on ways to camouflage his identity and earn the confidence of Indians he was going to use.
Headley, a Pakistani-American, was initially imparted training by terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) for conducting reconnaissance for Mumbai attacks but his handler Major Iqbal of ISI was dissatisfied with it, following which advanced training was given to him by Iqbal and several Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) of the spy agency.
“I had been consulting with or meeting with Major Iqbal, and he was discussing what Lashkar intended to use me for, which was surveillance.
“He said that he wanted me to do something which he thought was more important, which was do intelligence work for the ISI at that time,” Headley informed a Chicago court which was conducting the trial of co-accused Tahawwur Rana.
“He (Major Iqbal) looked at my notes that I had made from my LeT course, and he expressed a dissatisfaction... it was wasn't very good,” Headley said in his testimony, transcript of which is available with PTI.
The instructions in spying were then given by Major Iqbal and NCOs from the ISI. Headley knew that these officials were NCOs from ISI as Major Iqbal would refer to them as sergeant or corporal or naik or lance naik.
During the training, ISI agents taught Headley aspects like “cover authentications,” “create a fake story for cover authenticator,” “how to back stop it,” “conduct recon and intelligence in an urban area.
He was also taught “how to go videotape or observe something without being suspicious,” “how to manipulate people” and other arts of spying along with terrorist planning.
“How long would you spend there each day?” Headley was asked. “Different—different times. I went there hundreds— scores of times,” he replied.
“What Major Iqbal taught you was, it's not James Bond, right?” he was asked. “Yes” Headley responded.
“You are not going to come flying in on a rappelling rope and take a picture. What you were going to do is convince somebody to betray their country, correct?” the federal prosecutor asked. “Yes”, Headley replied.
Giving details about his interactions with Iqbal, Headley said “I told him that I was being sent to India and that I had applied for a name-change, and I would be getting that in the near future...”
The ISI Major was “very pleased” when Headley told him that he has applied to change his name, was being trained by LeT and was planning to go to India for terrorism planning purpose.
At their meeting held at a Lahore safe house, Headley said he agreed to the ISI's Major proposal to work with him, following which he was released from “arrest.” He, however, did not elaborate as to where he was under arrest. PTI