Headley, meanwhile, wrapped up his mission. The targets were chosen by Major Iqbal, an officer in a military that has received billions of dollars from the United States. Iqbal wanted to ensure that Americans and Jews would die.
Responding to dissent in Lashkar and defections to al Qaeda and other groups, the ISI and Lashkar designed the attack to fortify the group’s global image, according to Headley and other sources. There are also suspicions that hard-line ISI officers and militants wanted to torpedo attempts at rapprochement between India and Pakistan.
The dimensions and duration of the plot, which could have caused a war, make it hard to believe high-ranking ISI officials were not aware of it, U.S. counterterror experts say.
“The way the ISI is structured and the way things function in that part of the world, this is not a couple of guys,” said Charles Faddis, a former CIA counterterror chief who worked in South Asia. “This is not a couple of junior or mid-level individuals who have the capacity to put together this level of an operation and escape detection. That’s just not credible. So whether that translates to a decision by ISI formally as an institution from the top down or not, I can’t say. … But it’s going to have to be sanctioned at a pretty senior level.”
The final targets were the Taj hotel, the Leopold Café, the Chabad House Jewish community center, the CST train station and the Oberoi-Trident Hotel. The Oberoi had not been on Headley’s reconnaissance list, but he scouted it anyway.
“I was in the area, and I was going to watch a movie in a nearby theater, and I had about an hour left,” he testified. “So I went there, and I just made the video.”
Thirty-three people died at the Oberoi because of his whim. They included Naomi Scherr, a 13-year-old from Virginia who was shot in the head as she ate dinner with her father, who also died.
Chapter 7: “Congrats On Your Graduation”
On the night of Nov. 26, 2008, Headley was at home in Lahore when Mir sent him a text message. It said: “Turn on your television.”
The siege of Mumbai lasted three excruciating days. The 10-man attack team arrived by sea, landing at a fishermen’s slum chosen by Headley for its strategic location. The young gunmen had never been to India. They were guided by Headley’s videos and written reports, his provision of GPS coordinates and his work with a Pakistani Navy frogman on the maritime approach.
Mir and other Lashkar bosses directed the slaughter by phone from a command post in Karachi. Their calls were intercepted by Indian intelligence and have been subsequently broadcast in international television reports.