Monday, May 31, 2010

Indian team to probe Headley on 'local links'

The questionnaire on Headley, prepared by the National Investigating Agency and the Intelligence Bureau, that carries the stamp of approval of the home ministry, will largely revolve round the Mumbai 26/11 attack and more importantly the crucial local link to the entire case.

A three-member NIA team, along with a prosecutor, has already left for United States of America to question David Headley.

While the primary focus of the interrogation of the Pakistan-born American terror suspect will be around the planning and execution of the Mumbai attack, investigators will be keen on finding out about his local contacts, sources told

The team is expected to get access this week. During the questioning, the prosecutor will record the statements which would then be compiled in a chargesheet and later placed before the court which heard the Mumbai 26/11 case in which Ajmal Kasab was handed out capital punishment.

The entire questionnaire for Headley has been prepared on the basis of the investigation conducted by the Indian agencies. The NIA has managed to dish out information regarding the places that Headley visited during his stay in India and also the recee conducted by him which helped the ten gunmen wreck havoc in Mumbai.

During the investigation a couple of local names too had cropped up. Headley would be questioned regarding their links too. They would further question him about the role of Abdul Al-Hooti, the Omani national. Al-Hooti, now in the custody of the the Oman police, had left Mumbai two days after the attack and it is suspected that he may have aided Headley during his mission in the month of March 2009.

Headley, who will be interrogated in the presence of his lawyer and also an official of the FBI, will also be questioned about the manner in which he travelled in India. The help provided to him by Tawahhur Rana will also be part of the investigation. The NIA has already booked a case against Rana and his questioning would be next on the agenda. Headley would also be asked about the visits that he made to New Delhi and also to Pushkar.

Sources say this information will be pieced together and it will help them crack the manner in which the Lashkar carries out its operations to such precision in India. The role of Hafiz Saed and a couple of other army officials who are alleged to have played a part in the Mumbai attack also form part of the questionnaire.

Indian investigators are, however, most keen on his local contacts. The details regarding his recee in the Indian cities is pretty clear in his confession before an American court.

Though the chargesheet in the Mumbai case had claimed that there was no local link to the attack, during further investigations conducted by the NIA it has become clear that Headley could not have carried out such a major operation without the help of the locals.

Though both Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin were acquitted by the special court, the team would still try and find out if the duo had any role to play. Investigators believe that in this regard the role of players such as Al-Hooti would gain precedence, since this man could have arranged for contacts in Mumbai to assist Headley.

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