Lashkar Was Targeting National Defence College In India: FBI

David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, arrested last month by the FBI, were part of a LeT plan of a major terror attack on the facilities of a Danish newspaper and the National Defence
lashkar was targeting national defence college in...
PTI November 05, 2009 15:50 IST

David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, arrested last month by the FBI, were part of a LeT plan of a major terror attack on the facilities of a Danish newspaper and the National Defence College in India, federal prosecutors have said.  

Opposing the bail application of Rana before a Chicago court yesterday, attorneys from the US Department of Justice said Rana is a danger to the community and might leave the country, if released.  

Rana faces a maximum sentence of 30 years, if proved guilty.  Pakistani-born Canadian citizen and a resident of Chicago, Rana was arrested by the FBI on terror charges along with his school friend Headley, a US citizen, who was also arrested on the charges of plotting attacks in Denmark and India.  Headley's bail plea is scheduled for December.  

The reference to the National Defence College, New Delhi, as a target was made by the duo during their conversations on September 7, which was recorded by the FBI.  

"In the same conversation, Headley and Rana discussed Denmark and other targets, including the National Defence College in India -  Rana, in fact, used the English word "target" in this discussion," the FBI informed the court.  

In its amended complaint filed before the Chicago Court last month, the FBI said Rana and Headley had discussed and named multiple targets of their planning in their conversation on September 7. 

"More specifically, Headley listed four targets, one of which was 'Denmark', then commented '[a]fter that if I will pray for any other action call me a thief. God may help me complete this task'. 

"Later in this same conversation, Rana asked Headley to 'pass along a message' to Individual B (unidentified LeT leader)," the FBI said in its previous affidavit. 

The two Chicago-residents then discussed a fifth target. More specifically, Headley referred to the earlier discussion, and stated words to the effect of "oh my friend, not four, five, five". 

While Rana laughed, Headley stated "Defence College" twice, and Rana commented "right, this is it. I knew already". 

After other discussion, Rana continued "That one, uh, I thought that was the target". Headley responded, "I don't know but once he comes then it will be known, but I am going to ask him to do that one first. 

Rana responded, "in this matter -  defence [UI]," the FBI said. 

The conversation indicates that the LeT was giving priority to its attack on the National Defence College in New Delhi over the other targets, including the facilities of the Danish newspaper, which had published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad. 

The Department of Justice also contested Rana's plea in his bail application that he was "duped" by Headley and that he is innocent. PTI

In Delhi, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said on Wednesday that "adequate precaution" was being taken to safeguard the military institution.

"I think there is a constant review of threat perceptions and targets, ... and we work on the safeguards adequately. You can be rest assured that adequate precaution is taken wherever there is a threat perception," Pallam Raju said when asked if the Government knew about the terrorists' plans and steps taken to secure the institution.

Raju was talking to reporters on the sidelines of a CII organised event.

The National Defence College trains selected senior Defence and Civil Services officers in national and international security-related fields and promotes research and understanding of various linked issues.

Officers at the brigadier-level and above from the three Services and their civilian counterparts are trained at the NDC. Representatives from friendly countries are also included in the different courses run there. NDC trains about 130 officers at a time.

Replying to a query on the Taliban threat to Pakistani nuclear arsenal, Raju said, "I think the internal security situation in Pakistan seems to be deteriorating everyday and we really don't know how long and how far the establishment would adequately be able to safeguard their strategic assets such as the nuclear assets."

"And I hope they are taking adequate measures and we hope that such an incident will not happen," he said.

On steps taken by the Government to prevent recurrence of 26/11 type incidents in the future, Raju said, "We are taking all kinds of measures in terms of coordinating intelligence sharing and information gathering in order to prevent such an event from happening."

"That is the reason we have strengthened Multi Access Centres, which will function both at the state and national levels," he said.

The Minister said the Government was also working to ensure that the response time of the security forces is faster if any such attack takes place.

"If an instant attack should happen again, the response time (of security forces) will be faster....the more important thing is to put forward an effective response in the shortest time possible," he added. PTI

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