LeT never contemplated killing Thackeray: Headley

Washington: Pakistan-based LeT wanted to invite Bal Thackeray for a fund raiser in the US, hoping he would make inflammatory comments to the benefit of the ISI, but they never planned to kill the Shiv Sena supremo, David Headley, the Pakistani-American terrorist has said.

Describing Shiv Sena as very influential in India, Headley said killing Thackeray would have been operationally a stupid thing to do and tantamount to killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

However, during his discussions with other Lashkar operatives, the 26/11 terror accused did joke about killing the Shiv Sena supremo.

"Does LeT joke about killing people?" Headley was asked by the defense attorney during the Chicago trial of Tahawwur Hussain Rana.

"Yes. They do," Headley said in response to the question, which was being asked in context of the Lashkar leader asking him to get in touch with Raja rpt Raja Rege, his friend in Shiv Sena, to get its leader Bal Thackeray come to the United States where he could be killed.

"They do (kill people) it also, and joke about it (killing people) as well," Headley said noting that the discussion about killing Bal Thackeray was a joke.

Headley responded `yes` when the defense attorney said that ISI might get great benefit from a Shiv Sena fund raiser in the US where Bal Thackeray would have said something inflammatory.

The video of that could have been used by the ISI for saying that the US is hosting a terrorist.

"So if you are really bringing all this time and effort to bring the guy over…

– you wouldn`t kill him?" the defense attorney asked.

"No, even though I would have wanted to because that would operationally be a stupid thing to do. To invest all this money to fly somebody here and then kill him, I would kill the golden goose, as they say, that lays the golden egg," Headley said.

"You thought you were going to get information out of him?" Headley was asked.

"And get deeper inside of that organisation. They were very influential in India," Headley said.

"Now, I could see that if it was ISI," he was asked.

"Yes," Headley said.

"That`s what they do. Right?" said the defense attorney.

The fund raiser for Shiv Sena, however, could never be held as LeT and Headley`s handlers in Pakistan got involved in other projects which they were focusing on at that time.

Headley told the court that the goal was not to kill Thackeray but to hurt the organisation.

"Wasn`t the goal simply to kill the head?" the defense attorney asked.

"No. It was also to hurt the organisation. If something could be done not to say that this would not develop into it later, but at this point, this was not being contemplated," he said.

"Because it`s not being contemplated by you?" the defense attorney asked.

"Yes, or by Sajid (Mir) at that time," he said.

"Now, you continued to try and arrange for him to come over, correct?" the attorney asked. "Yes," he said.

"And you wanted to set up a fund-raiser?" the attorney asked. "Yes," Headley said.