Bid made on Bal Thackeray’s life, attacker slipped: Headley

Mumbai, March 24 (IANS) In a shocking disclosure, Pakistani-American terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headley on Thursday claimed that an attempt was made on the life of late Shiv Sena founder-patriarch Bal Thackeray.

“I believe an attempt was made on the life of the Shiv Sena chief… The man who made the attempt had escaped from police custody,” Headley said in the Special Court of Additional Sessions Judge G.A. Sanap.

His replies came on the second day of his cross-examination conducted by lawyer Abdul Wahab Khan, the defence counsel for Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, who is facing trial in the 26/11 case.

During his examination-in-chief by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam on February 12, Headley had first confirmed the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s plot to target Thackeray, but had said nothing on an unsuccessful bid made to kill him and the attacker having slipped from the police hands.

“The LeT wanted to target the chief of Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray). LeT wanted to kill him whenever a chance arose. I have no first-hand knowledge, but I think an attempt was made to kill him,” Headley said.

Denying knowledge of how the attempt was made, he said the person sent to kill Thackeray was arrested but slipped from police custody.

When Khan asked him how many times he visited the party headquarters Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar and what was the motive, Headley said he recced the building twice and reiterated that the LeT’s target was the late Thackeray.

To the question, under whose instructions, Headley said he was instructed by his LeT supervisor in Pakistan, Sajid Mir.

On any other attempts on Thackeray’s life, Headley said he had learnt of one previous attempt on the late champion of Hindutva (Thackeray), and the man who made the bid had escaped police custody.

He said post 26/11, when he returned to India in March 2009 to plan out further attacks on behalf of the Al Qaeda terror group, its leader Iliyas Kashmiri funded him to the tune of around one lakh Pakistani rupees.

Headley said that though the LeT came under pressure after the 2008 Mumbai terror strikes, it did not become ‘soft’ towards India.

“I think the LeT became soft about Denmark, but not India. After the Denmark issue, I went to Al Qaeda as the LeT had become soft,” he claimed.

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