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Headley scouted attack sites in Mumbai; prior attacks were attempted

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(DIYA TV) — David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American man who helped to mastermind the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, India’s financial hub, told a court Monday he traveled to the country seven times, using the trips as reconnaissance missions to scout potential targets for a Pakistan-based militant group.

The deposition has been a long time coming for Indian officials, whom have held high-hopes of establishing a direct link between the militant group and the assaults on Mumbai, which left more than 163 dead.

From a television screen at an undisclosed location in the United States—where he is serving a 35-year prison sentence for his role in the attacks—Headley repeated previous statements that Pakistan’s main spy agency was heavily involved in the planning and execution of the attacks. Ujjwal Nikam, an Indian public prosecutor, led the questioning, which will continue more over the coming days.

Nikam, and the Indian government, hope enough evidence will be gathered through the questioning to pressure the Pakistani government to take action against the attack’s conspirators.

Men like Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi—regarded as a commander of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group which is believed to have overseen the 2008 attacks. Lakhvi has been free on bail in Pakistan since 2014.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the militant group’s founder, still lives and roams freely in Lahore, located in northern Pakistan. This despite the $10 million reward the United States has offered for his capture and arrest.

Headley has linked several terrorist plots to the group—he previously told US prosecutors that Lashkar “operated under the umbrella of ISI,” and that one agency official in 2006 offered to pay him for his recon missions to India before the attacks. He mirrored the same sentiments to Indian investigators when they visited him in the United States.

Through Headley’s testimony on Monday, Indian officials learned that fateful day in 2008 could have been the second, or even third attack—he opined that the 10 terrorists who attacked Mumbai on Nov. 26, 2008 balked two prior attempts on the city, one in September and one in October. One of the attempts was botched so poorly, the attackers had to swim back to shore after their boat hit a rock, which sunk their arms and ammunitions.

Adding insult to injury, Headley said he changed his name to sound more American as he was told by his Lashkar contact that it would result in easier entrance into India. Currently age 55, Headley is the son of a Pakistani poet and diplomat Syed Saleem Gilani, and Philadelphia socialite A. Serrill Headley. After being convicted of distributing heroin in the United States, Headley struck a deal to travel to Pakistan in 2002 to provide the Drug Enforcement Administration with information of heroin trafficking.

Pakistani officials wouldn’t be fooled, capturing Headley quickly, alongside the company of another drug smuggler—at that point, the Pakistani government, too, decided to turn Headley into an informant.

While working as an DEA informant, Headley began his training with Lashkar, since then, a girlfriend and two former wives of Headley’s have approached U.S. officials saying they suspected him of sympathizing with terrorist groups. No action was ever taken.

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to leave office

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to leave office | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — The first Indian American to lead the Federal Communications Commission is stepping down. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says he’s leaving on January 20th, once President-Elect Joe Biden comes into office. He started as a FCC commissioner in 2012 and was appointed to the top spot by President Trump in 2017. The FCC oversees at least one-sixth to one-third of America’s gross domestic product.

President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris sent their best wishes to members of the Sikh community observing the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism. It’s the first time an incoming Presidential Administration acknowledged the birth of the Guru.

Four Indian Americans are part of the latest batch of Rhodes scholars. Swathi Srinivasan, Vijaysundaram Ramasamy, Garima Desai and Savarni Sanka are headed to the University of Oxford in England, where they plan to study and focus on a broad range of topics including climate change and COVID-19.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Neera Tanden chosen to lead OMB

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Neera Tanden chosen to lead OMB | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — The CEO of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden, was selected by President-Elect Joe Biden to join his cabinet and direct the Office of Management and Budget. She would become the first-ever Indian American and South Asian to serve in the President’s cabinet. But Republicans and even some progressives are on the record saying Tanden is not the choice for this position, given some of the tough talk she has engaged with on Twitter against political rivals. Biden also announced Janet Yellen is his pick for Treasury Secretary, and selected an all-female White House communications team, with Jen Psaki serving as Press Secretary.

China is once again blaming COVID-19 on other nations. This time their scientists are pointing the finger at India, claiming the virus likely jumped from animals to humans in 2019 through contaminated water and then spread to Wuhan.

Chinese authorities also blamed Italy and the U.S. in recent months without much evidence. This latest accusation by China towards India comes as tensions continue over their shared border.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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India bans 43 more Chinese mobile apps

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India bans 43 more Chinese mobile apps | Diya TV News

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — The Indian government continues its ban on Chinese apps, adding 43 new mobile apps to a growing list blocked in the world’s second largest Internet market. This time, popular shopping app AliExpress by Alibaba and Tencent backed Snack Video joined the blacklist. With the new additions, the Indian government has now banned more than 200 Chinese made apps over national security concerns.

Kash Patel, who became Chief of Staff to acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller just two weeks ago, is now in charge of the Defense Department’s transition to the Biden administration. Patel, who is in the Middle East now serving Thanksgiving meals to troops, is considered a Trump loyalist after playing a key role in helping Republicans discredit the Russia probe while working for Congressman Devin Nunes.

The India Community Center in the Bay Area celebrated its 17th Annual Banquet virtually, highlighted by a conversation with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent. Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Gupta received the ICC Inspire Award and spoke of his experience on retaining his Indian heritage, while growing up, living, and working in the US.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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