Ishrat Jahan was Lashkar suicide bomber: Headley

Ishrat Jahan was Lashkar suicide bomber: Headley

In perhaps the most sensational and controversial claim so far, Pakistani-American terrorist and ISI agent David Coleman Headley on Thursday confirmed that Ishrat Jahan was a member of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and that she could be a suicide bomber.

The 56-year-old terrorist’s statements, made during his deposition before Additional Session Judge G A Sanap, who presides over anti-terrorism cases, resulted in a political blame-game between the BJP and Congress while the Thane-based family of Ishrat Jahan dismissed his claims by saying that the allegation was nothing new.

Ishrat Jahan (19) from Mumbra suburbs of Mumbai, her friend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh along with two suspected Pakistanis — Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar — were gunned down by Gujarat police on June 15, 2004, near Ahmedabad. The group was to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat.

During the video-conferencing, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who is conducting examination-in-chief of Headley, gave out three names and asked to identify the female LeT operative among them.

“I am giving three names– Noorjehan Begum, Ishrat Jahan and Mumtaz Begum,” Nikam said, to which Headley immediately replied: “I think, the second one.”

The disclosure started when Nikam asked whether there was a female wing of LeT, to which the approver replied in positive. Asked about the name of the head, he said “I do not know, but she is mother of Abu Aiman”. Asked what is the relationship between Aiman and Muzammil Butt — his handler before Sajid Mir — he said both fought together in Kashmir. Do you know any woman suicide member of LeT, he said “No” and immediately, to a supplementary on whether he can name any woman suicide member, he said, “No. I can’t.” When asked whether LeT operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi told him about a “botched-up operation” of Muzammil, he said: “Yes”.

Asked to elaborate, he said: “I don't remember, it was a shoot-out with police at a naka, picket.”
Prodded further whether Lakhvi blamed Muzammil, he said “no” but added that he told the woman’s name. “One female was killed in the shoot-out with the police,” he added. It is at this stage that Headley was confronted with the three names and he picked the “second one”.

Asked which all states other than Kashmir in which the LeT carries out its activities, he said, “Many states”. About Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka, he said: “My case is specific to Maharashtra, I don’t know where Karnataka is in the map....Yes, this botched up operation was in Gujarat.” When asked whether he had heard of Akshardham and Somnath temples, he replied in positive. “Yes...I have heard about it.”  About Akashardham, Headley said: “Some people talked out....Muzammil had planned (the attack).”  Asked what he did when he came to know about it, Headley said: “I asked him... he told me that after the Babri incident, we are allowed to attack Akashardham temple...that’s why he planned the attack.”

There was one female who was killed in the shootout. I think she was Indian national and not a Pakistani, but was a LeT operative... I think it is Ishrat Jahan.   David Coleman Headley

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