Will the recent video conference-based deposition of Pakistani-American intelligence agent-turned Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist David Coleman Hedley before our special court’s hearing in the 26/11 terror case benefit New Delhi in any way ? Hardly, it seems .
Hedley, currently lodged in a U.S. prison, has been an established multiple spy . We have pardoned him for all his alleged past crimes against India to make him an approver . This is not a confession of a changed soul . It rather amounts to following the devil on his terms and conditions.
No religion, constitution or philosophy teaches us to turn to such a notorious criminal for a testimony. Hinduism, which accommodates all faiths and beliefs , indigenous and foreign , and is antithetical to any fanatical stress on any particular religious tradition , cautions us against the testimony of a materialistically motivated criminal. It prescribes evidence and judicial proceedings should be free from any “friendship, lust, wrath and ignorance.” The Holy Bible tells us not to believe who cannot be believed . The Quran says , “Allah Almighty despises the liars and commands the Muslims to invoke His curse (hell-fire ) upon them.”
Besides, there is hardly anything new in the revelations Hedley has made to our court . According to recent media reports, Hedley told our court he attended five or six courses of the LeT . Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief and Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed and 26/11 chief operational commander ( LeT) Zakir-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi were the lead instructors of these courses . He met his handlers Muzammil, Sajid Mir ( LeT) and Abu Khaffa to plan the 26/11 attacks. The major work assigned to him was reconnaissance of Taj Hotel. A meeting of Indian defence scientists there had been planned but cancelled . He gave all the videotapes and photographs to Major Iqbal (ISI) and Mir.
Hedley said he met Major Abdul Rehman Pasha of 6 Baloch Regiment. After his retirement Pasha joined the LeT and then the al-Qaeda. Brigadier Riyaz (ISI) was another handler of Lakhvi . The LeT and the ISI worked closely with each other and gave military, financial and moral support to the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. He(Hedley) met Maulana Mazoor Azhar, head of the JeM, at a gathering organized by the LeT in October 2003. Before the Mumbai terror attack , he exchanged an e-mail with the PR head of Shiv Sena and forwarded it to Major Iqbal, fellow convict Tahawwur Rana, LeT commander Mir and al-Qaeda operative Pasha.
The Pakistani-American terrorist said that LeT handler Muzzamil Butt had planned the Akshardham temple attack in Gujarat in 2002 . It was Lakhvi who told him (Hedley ) that Butt was part of a botched up operation in India and a woman was killed in a shootout. When our Special Public Prosecutor gave Hedley three names to identify the woman— Noorjahan Begum, Ishrat Jahan and Mumtaz--- he replied, “I think Ishrat Jahan was an LeT operative.” Needless to mention, nineteen-year-old Jahan of Mumbai was killed by the Gujarat police in an alleged fake encounter near Ahmedabad in June 2004. Javed Ghulam Sheikh, Zeeshan Johar and Ajmad Ali Akbar Ali Rana were also shot dead along with her. Zeeshan and Amjad were Pakistani nationals.
Hedley told the court that after the 26/11 attacks he came to India again in March 2009 on the direction of senior al-Qaeda operative Ilyas Kashmiri (313 Brigade of al-Qaeda). Kashmiri paid for his trip and asked him to conduct reconnaissance, especially at Pushkar, Goa, and the Chabad House in Pune. Kashmiri told him to first visit the National Defence College (NDC) in Delhi. The Lashkar-e-Taiba was also planning to attack this Defence College . In 2007, LeT commander Sajid Mir also had told him to have a look at the college.
The world is already aware of these revelations . Hedley has shared most of them with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. He reportedly revealed to the American agency some five years ago that he got a Sony Ericsson handset from Mir . Major Iqbal had given this handset to Mir. Hedley used this system to film the CST railway station, areas around the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre , Taj Hotel, the Naval Air Station, Mumbai Police Headquarters, State Assembly, Siddhl Vinayak Temple, Chabad House and Mumbai Stock Exchange, Leopold restaurant and Trident Hotel. Headley would get calls from Major Iqbal on this handset only .
I wonder why New Delhi should be wasting its time on a devil’s testimony. Should not it act tough to curb the evil without any further delay ? We have already suffered immensely on account of terrorism . We have long been in the know of the dangerous nexus between certain elements in the Pakistan establishment and jihadi terror outfits. Even Pakistan’s former President General Pervez Musharraf has admitted in a recent media interview the Inter-Services Intelligence trains Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists. He has said while JeM chief Masood Azhar is “a terrorist certainly,” LeT and Hafiz Saeed are not involved in terror activities in Pakistan.”