Ishrat Jahan was LeT operative, Headley tells Mumbai court
terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headley on Thursday said Thane
collegian Ishrat Jahan, shot dead in an alleged shootout with police in 2004,
was a Lashkar-e-Taiba member and hinted that she could be a potential suicide
"Jahan was a LeT
member," Headley said in his sensational disclosure while deposing before
Special TADA Court Judge A. Sanap via video-conferencing from a US jail.
Headley said the 2008 Mumbai
attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi told him about "a botched up
operation in India" of shooting at the police at a check-post in Gujarat.
A LeT woman operative was
involved, said Headley identifying her as Thane college student Ishrat Jahan,
out of the three names -- Noorjehan Begum, Ishrat Jahan and Mumtaz Begum --
given by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.
Muzammil Bhatt was the head of
their group before Sajid Mir took over, Headley said, replying to questions by
The revelation came when Nikam
asked whether there was a women's wing of the LeT to which Headley replied in
the positive and said its female head (whose name he did not know) was the
mother of an LeT operative Abu Aiman.
Reacting to the deposition,
former Gurjarat Deputy Inspector General of Police D.G. Vanzara told media
persons that Headley's testimony on Ishrat is "very important" and
proved his contention it was "a genuine encounter (shootout)".
"She was from the LeT and
the Gujarat Police knew it in 2004. She was a LeT suicide bomber; it has been
told in the open court," said the 62-year-old IPS officer who is facing
allegations of 'extra-judicial' killings in the case.
On June 15, 2004, Ishrat Jahan
and three persons accompanying her - Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Zeeshan
Johar and Amjad Ali Rana - were shot dead on a road near Kotarpur on
The police team was led by
Vanzara, who was later jailed for his alleged involvement in the Sohrabuddin
Sheikh encounter case.
The police then claimed that
Ishrat and her associates were LeT operatives plotting to assassinate the then
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Subsequently, investigations revealed in
2009 that the Ishrat shootout case was staged.