Four-member NIA team to leave for US on Sunday to question Headley

      A four member National Investigation Agency (NIA) team will leave for the United States on Sunday to question Lashkar operative David Coleman Headley in connection with his role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. The team will consist of three investigators and a law officer. Earlier, India had sought access to Headly between June 1to15. Headley is presently lodged in a jail in Chicago . After questioning, the National Investigating Agency (NIA) will file a chargesheet against Headley in an Indian court. Headley, a Pakistani-American, was arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in October 2009 for plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper. During his interrogation, he also confessed to his role in the Mumbai attacks in which Pakistan based terrorists killed 166 people. A few days later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani-Canadian said to be a close associate of Headley, on similar charges. Rana has denied his involvement in the conspiracy. Headley, 49, told US interrogators that he had conducted a reconnaissance of the Mumbai sites before the attacks, having visited the country several times. He also revealed that a serving Pakistani army major trained him in Pakistan . Headley has pleaded guilty on all 12 criminal counts against him, including his role in the Mumbai attacks conspiracy. In exchange, US prosecutors agreed that he would not be extradited to a third country, including India , or face the death penalty. Headley also agreed to be questioned by any foreign agency through deposition or video conferencing. The access to Headley came after Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh interceded with President Barack Obama during his visit to the US . The national security advisers of both countries also held talks on the same issue. Following this, a two-member team led by solicitor General Gopal Subramanium visited the US to discuss the modalities of gaining access to Headley with counterpart attorney-general Eric Holder. After his return Subramanium had said: “All the bottlenecks are removed and we have a way forward. So it’s up to us to operationalize the plan forward.” India is expected to use the interrogation to tie up loose ends and unravel the plot behind the Mumbai attacks. The investigators will also question Headley about the involvement of Indians in the attacks as well his Pakistani handlers.

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