Self-confessed Mumbai plotter David Coleman Headley testified Tuesday that he was part of an al-Qaida inspired plot to assassinate the chief of U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
Headley is the key prosecution witness in the ongoing terrorism trial of a Chicago businessman, Tahawuur Hussain Rana. He used Rana's immigration office in Mumbai as a cover to scout for targets for the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist strike. Ten gunmen from the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) are suspected of being behind the plot that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
Headley has pleaded guilty to his role in the attacks and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in exchange for evading the death penalty.
Headley told the jury he used Rana's computer to research details about Lockheed Martin and its CEO for Kashmiri, who was outraged at American drone strikes in Pakistan and wanted to attack the U.S. defense contractor in retaliation.
"There was a plan to kill him because he was making drones," Headley said.
During a visit to Pakistan last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded Pakistani authorities take action against five key al-Qaida leaders, including Kashmiri.
He has been responsible for jihadi attacks against U.S. and Western interests in the region. He is also suspected to be behind a suicide bomb attack against a top CIA base in the Eastern Afghan province of Khost in December 2009 that killed at least eight Americans.
Evidence presented thus far in the trial confirms earlier reports of a critical role played by Pakistan's powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in the Mumbai attacks. A Pakistani intelligence officer, a former Army major, and a Navy frogman have been crucial to the carrying out of the attacks, Headley testified last week.
In recent months, the ISI has been charged with the abduction and torture of Pakistani journalists in retaliation to adverse news reports implicating the spy agency in terrorism-related activity. Last week, journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad went missing after he alleged secret negotiations between the Pakistani Navy and al-Qaida in a news report. His tortured body was found in Jhelum, in the Punjab district of Pakistan.
In light of growing evidence of ISI support for the Mumbai attacks, Indian authorities have demanded the Pakistani government take action against the rogue agency. India has, in fact, threatened to become a party to a lawsuit filed by the Israeli victims of the Mumbai attacks, Rabbi Gavriel Noah Holtzberg and his wife Rifka, to declare the ISI a terrorist group. A Mumbai Jewish facility that housed Holtzberg and his wife was one of the targets in the attacks.