In a new twist, Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley today testified before an anti-terror court that the then Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had visited his house few weeks after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008 to condole the death of his father.
Deposing before the court for the cross-examination on the third day, Headley also said he had nurtured a "hatred feeling" towards India since childhood after his school was bombed in 1971 during the Indo-Pak war.
The 55-year-old Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative-turned approver in the case was being cross-examined by Abdul Wahab Khan, the lawyer of Abu Jundal, an alleged key plotter of the 2008 Mumbai siege, via a video-link from the US.
"It is not correct to say that the then Prime Minister of Pakistan--Yousuf Raza Gilani-- had attended the funeral of my father who passed away a month after the Mumbai terror attacks on 26th December, 2008. In fact, he (Gilani) visited our house (in Pakistan) a few weeks thereafter," Headley told special Judge G A Sanap.
To another question, Headley said his father, who was a Director General with Pakistan Radio, knew about his links with LeT but was not happy about it.
Asked whether it is true that his half-brother Daniel knew about his LeT connection, Headley just said that he (Daniel) was not living in the same city (in Pakistan).
Headley, who has been convicted in the US, for his role in the November 2008 attacks, also denied using Daniel's mobile phone during his visit to Pakistan before the dastardly strikes in Mumbai.He is serving a 35 year jail term in the US.
Stating that he had nurtured a feeling of hatred towards India after his school was bombed during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, he said, "People were killed in the attack and that was one of the reasons why I had joined the LeT."
In reply to a question by the defence lawyer, the LeT terrorist said that he had told his friend Tahawwur Hussain Rana that all the nine 26/11 terrorists should be awarded Nishan-e-Haider, Pakistan's highest gallantry awards.
Rana was tried and acquitted by a US Court in the 26/11 case.
Headley also told the court that he had no knowledge of any women cell and suicide bomber cell in LeT.
He denied that NIA suggested to him to name Ishrat Jehan (in the case). He also refuted meeting special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and Joint Commissioner of Police Atul Kulkarni in the US before his current deposition.
Headley said it had come to his knowledge from LeT handler Sajid Mir that there had been two failed attacks in 2008 just before the 26/11 terror attacks.
When asked if he was treated for any mental illness, Headley replied in the negative and chuckled, "Yeh kya kya cheeze mere khaate mein daal rahe hain Wahab Sahab. Nahin, aisa koi wakya nahin hua (Wahab Sahab, what all things are you ascribing to me...Nothing of this sort happened)."
Earlier in the day, Headley told the court that he had "arranged" a fund-raising programme for the Shiv Sena in the US and had planned to invite the then party supremo Bal Thackeray.
Headley said that Sena man Rajaram Rege had told him that "Thackeray was elderly and sick and so may be his son and other officials may attend the programme".
To a query whether LeT was in the know, Headley said he had discussed about the fund-raising programme with the terror outfit.
To a question, Headley denied that he was not being provided luxurious food or any such facility as per his wish.
At this stage, the judge warned the defence lawyer to refrain from asking these questions.
Headley refuted allegations that US agencies were financing him. "It is baseless to say that my movement to Pakistan prior to 26/11 terror attacks was known to US agencies."
He also said it would be incorrect to say that FBI had not insisted on fines to be imposed on him in the US court on account of his role in the 26/11 attacks.
"This is not true. It is not FBI's job to insist on fines in the court," he said.
He also denied that in collusion with FBI, he had saved USD 30 lakh fine amount and that because of this, the agency had not insisted on death penalty or life term.
To another question about who had put forth the proposal before FBI that Headley shall not be given death or lifer (in the plea bargain), the LeT terrorist said, "I thought I was here to testify for Government..I did not know it will go back and forth about what this Attorney or that Attorney said."
"Main bahoot kharab insaan hoon. Maine maan liya hai (I have accepted that I am a very bad person) I have pleaded guilty,." Headley said.
Headley said his brother Hamza knew little about his association with LeT but added that he had disclosed to him (Hamza) about his involvement in the 26/11 terror attack.
Headley said LeT handler Sajid Mir had informed him that one of the Pakistani terrorists (Ajamal Kasab) had been arrested in the Mumbai terror attacks and they were asking others (terrorists) in Chabad house to negotiate his release in exchange of Israeli hostages.
The Lashkar terrorist said he had never personally talked to Israeli Embassy to negotiate this because he was in Lahore at that time.
To another question suggesting his presence in the control room in Pakistan (from where the attackers were being guided by handlers), Headley denied it and said, "the records are available and I am ready to give my voice sample."
Headley said, "a month after the attack, a relative in Philadelphia was interviewed by law enforcement agency FBI in which they had inquired about his whereabouts. He admitted he had informed about this to former Pakistani army office Abdur Rehman Pasha."
Asked if he was apprehending his arrest for 26/11 terror attacks, Headley said he was just curious to know why were they (FBI) asking about him.
Headley admitted that he had conducted a reconnaissance of an army cantonment in Colaba and nearby Maharashtra Police Headquarters. He also said that he had carried out surveillance of a nuclear power plant in order to recruit people working there (for LeT).
The LeT terrorist said that even after FBI inquired about him from his relatives, he did not contact the agency and continued with his Denmark Mickey Mouse Project and his visit to Mumbai.
To a question that during Tahawwur Rana's trial in US he had not disclosed about women suicide bomber of LeT, Headley said he had not said this because he had no knowledge about it.
Asked if he had ever disclosed the name of Ishrat Jehan during Rana's trial, Headley said, "I did not disclose the name of Ishrat as I was not asked about it."
Though Headley admitted that NIA had questioned him about Ishrat Jehan, he denied that NIA had instructed him to take her name.