Surviving Mumbai gunman: I met terror suspect

photo of Ajmal Kasab during Nov. 26, 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai.
December 18, 2009 8:04:20 AM PST
The only Pakistani terrorist captured alive during last year's Mumbai massacre now says he met with Chicago terror suspect David Coleman Headley after being arrested. A criminal lawyer has petitioned to bring Headley from Chicago to India for questioning.

Ajmal Kasab's stunning claim came Friday during a court outburst in Mumbai, the Indian city where 175 people ended up slaughtered in synchronized attacks November 26, 2008.

"I was beaten up by the police and was interrogated by foreigners, and one of them was Headley," he told Special Judge M L Tahiliyani, according to courtroom reporters and dispatches in the Hindustan Times.

The judge reportedly cut Kasab short, saying he should first answer the questions put to him by the court. Kasab later spoke at length about the terror case but did not mention Headley again.

Headley, a U.S. national of Pakistani origin, was arrested last October in Chicago by FBI agents. An alleged accomplice in the case, Canadian-Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana was also arrested. Both Rana and Headley are being held without bond at the Metro Correctional Center-Chicago on terror charges. Headley is charged with scouting targets that were later attacked during the Mumbai terror sweep.

A lawyer for another Indian suspect in the case said that Headley should be brought from Chicago to Mumbai for questioning, in view of Kasab's claim that he was in the company of FBI agents during Kasab's questioning. The lawyer has filed a court motion in India to summon Headley from the United States.

It is not the first time Headley has been connected to the role of government stooge. He provided information to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration following a 1998 prosecution for trafficking heroin from Pakistan.

On Thursday, a Central Intelligence Agency spokesperson denied numerous overseas news stories that Headley was working as a secret agent for the CIA at the time of the Mumbai massacre.

In court on Friday, the Indian government's lawyer was unimpressed with Kasab's claim that he met with Headley. Prosecutor Ujwal Nikham called Kasab a "dramatic actor" who has also retracted the confession of his participation in the last year's Mumbai terror attacks. Nikham, however, said that Kasab's retraction does not affect the prosecution case which rests on the evidence of 110 witnesses.

"I know he is a dramatic actor... But it is difficult for him to escape the clutches of law," he said. Kasab is seen in photographs during the siege wearing cargo pants with an automatic rifle slung across his shoulders and killing commuters in the main train station.

The accused Mumbai gunman says that he is being framed.

"On the night of November 25, I was roaming in Juhu. I had gone to see a movie when the local police arrested me," Kasab told the court Friday.

According to the Hindustan Times: "He said he was arranging for a house in Mumbai. 'I had a passport and I'm not the first one to come from Pakistan to Juhu area. I was arranging for a house here. The local police first arrested me and then handed me over to the Crime Branch' he said."


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