David Coleman Headley and Tahawwura Hussain Rana, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives arrested in the US for planning attacks in India and Denmark, were linked to a Bangladesh-based terror network that was involved in several attacks in South India, sources in the security establishment have told DNA.
It is also learnt that Headley — who operated an immigration service in Mumbai between 2006 and 2008 as reported by DNA on Sunday — had allegedly posed as a Jew during his time in the city and even had people buying into his claim.
The Bangladesh-Pakistan network is headed by Syed Abdul Rahman, the unidentified LeT leader in the criminal complaint filed by the FBI in Headley’s arrest, before a US court a few days ago.
Shahid Bilal, a Hyderabad-born terrorist who masterminded several terror strikes in India (including the twin-blasts in Hyderabad in 2007) and who was mysteriously killed
in Karachi in August 2007, was also part of the same network, American and Indian investigators believe.
This network — which includes members from the LeT as well as HuJI — could have played a role in the Mumbai attacks through Headley and others, some investigators are now beginning to believe.
Investigating officers have fanned out in Mumbai and elsewhere to piece together details of Headley’s activities. Details of Rana’s visits to India are also being probed. As was reported on Sunday, Rana left Mumbai just five days before the 26/11 attacks, while Headley was in Mumbai on several occasions between 2006 and 2008. There are indications that Rana may have travelled to Gujarat during his visit to India.
Several aspects of Headley’s operations in Mumbai during that period are also emerging as investigators interview people who were familiar with him during those days. Apart from the finding about him posing as Jew, it has also been learnt that Headley used rarely used mobile phones and computers.
Details of his mobile phone as well as that of a Tata Indicom landline number he used while operating his business — a firm named Immigrant Law Centre from AC Market, Tardeo in Mumbai - are now with the investigating team. Officially, his job was to facilitate visas for the US and Canada for semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
Headley preferred to pay salaries and make other payments in cash. He rarely used banking channels, sources also indicate. Headley spent hardly two hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening in the office while in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Union home secretary GK Pillai confirmed that Headley had made repeated visits to India. “We do know that Headley had visited India a number of times. That is being investigated,” Pillai told reporters.
On Sunday, DNA had reported that the two terror suspects arrested in the US few days ago, Headley and Rana, had travelled to India in the run-up to the Mumbai attacks and that investigations are on to establish their role in the 26/11 carnage.