On a freezing December afternoon on Friday 13th at about 12:30 pm the jury announced their verdict against Richard Ammar Chichakli. Chichakli was found guilty on all nine counts. One count of conspiring to violate international sanctions, one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and six counts of wire fraud. Richard Chichakli will be sentenced on March 14th, 2014.
Since I was unable to be in the courtroom during the reading of the verdict, I relied on information directly from Chichakli. Here is what he wrote me:
Good day George
Thank you for your message, and here’s the update
The decision was rendered about 12:30, and it is all as expected; guilty on all counts.
In a letter to judge Pauley dated to December 11th 2013, Chichakli filed a motion of mistrial to the judge based on emails of at least two jurors complaining about him and dragging the trial out as long as he could. Chichakli mentioned that the prosecutors presented over 600 slides in three separate presentations in addition to the slides I counted seventeen witness’ presented by the government during the trial. I understand the legal angle that the burden of the proof is on the prosecution. However, isn’t it is a reasonable assertion that if there are many witness’ then there could potentially be a lot of cross-examination? Apparently the jury didn’t see it that way and solely blamed Chichakli.
[Read the motion here: Richard Chichakli's Motion to Declare Mistrial]
Chichakli in another email to me elaborated and gave some insight into exactly what was said by some of the jurors. As well as pointing out that juror number 10 whom was also elected the jury foreman, stated that the trial must end by Friday because his income would be negatively impacted. That turned out to be the exact day that the guilty verdict was rendered against Chichakli. Here is what Chichakli wrote me:
Everything we have seen was leading to the conclusion that was received, that’s why it was no surprise at all.
It was difficult to operate with the court refusal of admitting evidence, the refusal to allow testimony from witnesses we needed, the unbalanced prejudicial latitude favoring the prosecution, and finally the acceptance of the juries prejudice against the defendant.
I think until receiving copy of that e-mail which was sent to the judge by jurors number 9 and number 10, I; for some reason, start feeling as if there was a chance for justice. Then, the jury email stating:
“There is serious discontent in the jury room concerning the longer than expected trial, saying the defendant trying to drag the case as long as he could while everyone else is suffering”
The reasons this email was signal of prejudice and cause for mistrial is due to:
1-The discontent in the jury room means that the jurors were discussing the case; this is a violation of the court instruction
2-The jury; collectively, are blaming the defendant alone while accepting the 792-slides presented by the gov over 5 days
3-The jury have obviously made a decision already evident by saying “The defendant is dragging the case”
4-The jury expressed that they are suffering; whatever that means, retaliation is an expected response to suffering
5- Discontent in the jury room; again, means more than one juror – the jury room holds 12
The strange thing that the second e-mail was received from juror-10 also complaining about the lengthy trial, and stating that he cannot serve past today-Friday; the guilty verdict day because that would hurt his income. That very juror was the foreperson who seemed very proud while reading the verdict.
Chichakli’s trial has generated very little press coverage outside of a few media outlets. Over the last twenty-four hours almost every world-wide media outlet has published a story on Chichakli’s conviction. Most reports are almost identically reading more like a scripted press release as opposed to any actual news coverage or reporting. Ironically I have seen many news publications with this quote or similar variation, “His [Chichakli's] case has raised tensions in already frigid ties between the United States and Russia.” I say ironic because the interest that I observed from Russia has been somewhere between little or none. In fact, Viktor Bout seems to be fading from the media headlines in Russia and is becoming a mostly forgotten topic. Chichakli is an American-Syrian citizen arrested and then extradited from Australia to the States. I don’t see any direct Russian connection nor any noted interest from the Russian government nor their media.
This case has been anything but usual. The jury has rendered their verdict and the sentencing will be on March 14th, 2014. However, somehow I don’t think the case is over. If I was gambling man, I’d bet big that Chichakli will be looking at the appellate court in the near future.
Emotions are running extremely high in this strange and curious case of USA vs. Richard Chichakli. It is not surprising, with the trial in its fourth week, that jurors complained about the length of the trial. Jurors number 9 and 10 said enough is enough in emails to the judge. One juror said that their job is going to train and hire a replacement due to their long absence. After hearing this Chichakli demanded a mistrial saying that now the jury is biased against him. The judge refused.
Here is what happened today in Chichakli’s own words:
Today was the end of the witnesses and taking of evidence.
The whole thing turned into mess from the set go in the morning which started with receiving copies of two emails sent by two different juror complaining about the defendant taking too much time. The Email stated in its first line:
“There is a discontent in the jury room with the way the defendant is dragging the case as long as he could”
The other email also complained about the longer than expected trial and blames the defendant “based on our discussions” and ours is the jury. I immediately moved to have the case declared a Mistrial, and the judge immediately denied the motion, and subsequently he went after me on personal level saying that I caused the extended trial and he never seen more boring trial, and etc. Amazing stuff, unrealistically amazing.
So we are sat for tomorrow closing arguments.
Chichakli’s frustration and emotions flared and Chichakli is apparently not happy that the government brought seventeen witness’ to the stand compared to his paltry four witness’. I say paltry because about a dozen witness’ that Chichakli wanted to testify were nullified by the judge. However, the judge has stated to the jury on more than one occasion that “the defendant is under absolutely no obligation to bring forth witness’, the burden of proof is up to the prosecutors.” The judge whom has been extremely patiently throughout this long trial also seemed frustrated. Judge Pauley stated today to Chichakli that Monday was the “most painful in my twenty-five year career. ” I was not in the courtroom yesterday. Therefore I am guessing that since Al Monica was the governments final witness and the judge denied Chichakli’s request for several other DEA and FBI agents to testify, that he was trying to questioning him as extensively as possible. But that is just speculation on my part.
Today Chichakli called Department of Justice employee John Cox III whom he wanted to testify to the fact that he gave Chichakli permission to leave the U.S. back in 2005. Cox said that he could not detain Chichakli nor deny him the right to leave the country since there was no arrest warrant, merely an investigation. Chichakli’s ex-wife Gloria Chichakli also testified. They had not seen each other since 2005 when Chichakli left the States.
Tomorrow on December 11th, 2013 at 9:45 am the government will begin its closing argument or summation. They indicated to the judge that it should last about one hour forty-five minutes. Chichakli indicated that he would need about two and a half hours. However, it is still not clear whom will deliver the defense’s summation. Chichakli late in the day said that he was finished defending himself. Whether or not this was simply emotion or after being incarcerated and defending himself in a four week trial pro-se against the U.S. government and their legal team has in fact left him emotionally and physically spent? So we will not know until tomorrow whether Chichakli whom has handled his case in its entirety will deliver his own summation to the jury or if it will be his back up counsel Mr. Kirton.
Just a reminder for the first part of the trial Chichakli was in solitary confinement without access to email, phone calls or any communications whatsoever outside of Mr. Kirton visiting him in jail. Upon hearing this the judge ordered the Bureau of Prisons [BOP] to move him into general population as well as ordering OFAC to unblock his funds sent to him by his sister so that he could make phone calls. As late as last week Chichakli stated on record that the only Kosher meals provided to him by the prison were frozen and the U.S. Marshals denied him access to a microwave. The judge asked him at the end of that day if he ate and Chichakli stated that he had a piece of bread. The judge sternly told the prosecution to make sure that the defendant is provided with a meal that he can eat.
After the defense finishes their summation then the prosecutors get a 2nd chance called a rebuttal summation. The reason for this is that it is solely up to the prosecution to prove Chichakli’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Once that is completed then in my opinion is the most important part of the trial. It is the judges instructions to the jury on how to interpret the law. This is extremely important because in this case Chichakli is being charged with breaking Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] sanctions and International Emergency Economic Powers Act [IEEPA] laws. According to all the witness’ that testified including Molly Miller whom works for OFAC the laws are open to interpretation. Chichakli, his back up counsel Mr. Kirton and OFAC expert attorney Hal Eren all disagreed with Molly Miller’s testimony and interpretation of the law. Chichakli wanted to have another OFAC employee testify but the judge ruled against it. The judge stated that he will interpret the law for the jury.
Monday December 9th, 2013 11:00 am
Until today I have attended everyday of the Richard Chichakli trial in its entirety. Just to be crystal clear, Chichakli at this very moment is continuing his cross examination of Al Monica whom is the governments seventeenth and final witness. Mr. Monica is employed as a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton and currently working for the DEA’s Special Operation Division more commonly referred to as SOD. According to Chicakli’s latest email he will call several more witness’, here is what he wrote me:
“On Monday I will also have my Ex-Wife Gloria testifying, My Ex-Partner William Riggs, and John Cox, the DOJ official who granted me the permission to leave in 2005.
The trial should be done by Wednesday and it is up to the Jury from that point.
That is all the summary for now, and I will keep you posted.”
Before I go into more detail about Mr. Monica’s testimony, I want to back up to last week. Specifically last Thursday December 5th, 2013 when Chichakli called his second witness Tami Loehrs, whom was deemed an expert witness. Ms. Loehrs is a computer forensic analyst at her firm, Loehrs & Associates located in Tucson, Arizona and has been in business for approximately 14 years since 1999.
Before the jury entered the courtroom, prosecutor Christian Everdell indicated to the judge that he was not happy that Ms. Loehrs was interrupting the prosecutions case. Everdell said that he didn’t think it was fair that the defense’s expert witness interrupt Ms. Seidsma whom was the governments expert computer forensic witness. Mrs. Loehrs couldn’t testify later in the week due to schedule conflicts for other trials and the judge previously agreed to let her interrupt the governments witness due to the defendant being incarcerated as well as having limited resources. Everdell suggested a compromise to the judge, that their expert witness, Ms. Seidsma be allowed to sit at the attorney’s table inside the courtroom during Ms. Loehrs testimony. Mr. Everdell had also previously raised concerns to the judge of not having enough time to prepare for the cross-examination of the defense’s expert witness Ms. Loehrs. Thus allowing Ms. Seidsma to hear Ms. Loehrs testimony would allow the prosecution to better prepare for the cross-examination. Judge Pauley stated that he thought that was a very sensible and fair compromise and Chichakli had no objections and thus it was allowed.
Thursday December 5th, 2013 at 10:05 am the jury entered and then Ms. Loehrs. After Ms. Loehrs briefly described her credentials and experience Chichakli began questioning her. Chichakli asked her about ‘hash values’ as compared to the ‘size of data’ comparison in forensic analysis. The reason Chichakli raised this question was that the Royal Thai police seized Viktor Bout’s laptop in March 2008 and it was stated by the prosecution that a forensic copy of the original laptop was made. However, it came out in testimony during the trial that the DEA’s forensic analyst compared the size of Bout’s laptop with a forensic copy via the ‘data size’ method. Much of the evidence presented in Bout’s trial that led to his conviction as well as a lot of evidence in Chichakli’s trial presented in the courtroom was allegedly taken from Bout’s laptop.
Ms. Loehrs when asked by Chichakli how can you authenticate the DEA’s forensic copy of Bout’s laptop with the original via the ‘data size’ method [as compared to the hash value method], she answered, “you can’t.” Loehrs continued, “there is no way to verify size or data, you absolutely can not verify data. It is “not an acceptable method [referring to the 'data size' method] because it is not accurate.”
Chichakli continued questioning the witness. Asking that if you replaced a photo of myself with my 100 year old grandmother and the data of each image was exactly the same, would it alter the size of the data on the computer. Loehrs answered that you can add and / or delete many files and as long as they are the same file sizes that total data size of the computer would not change.
At 10:45 am Christian Everdell for the government begins cross-examining the witness. He was fairly tame asking Ms. Loehrs if she had forensically evaluated the evidence in this particular case. Everdell also asked her if she had any evidence if the forensic evidence presented in this case was manipulated or altered, she stated “I have no idea. She stated she had no evidence that it was authentic or tampered with, she couldn’t say either way. Chichakli asked a few additional questions on re-direct examination to try to hammer home his previous points of the hash value being the only valid and accurate method in forensic analysis. At 11:23 am during Everdell’s re-cross of Ms. Loehrs, things got very nasty. Everdell attacked her character by asking her if she remembers posting a 2010 FaceBook post demeaning the FBI? Ms. Loehrs smiled and chuckled slightly and stated, “yes I remember that post.” Everdell then continued and got more vicious and started questioning several previous trials that Loehrs testified as a witness. Everdell pointed out at least a half-dozen examples and negative reactions to Ms. Loehrs previous court testimonies. She remained dignified and composed during this verbal assault and one of her last responses in reply to Everdell was, “that is what happens to you when you testify against and question the techniques and methods of forensic analysis used by law enforcement, they sometimes say bad things about you.”
Ms. Loehrs testimony ended almost exactly at 1:00 pm just in time for the lunch break. After lunch, at 2:00 pm Chichakli continued his cross-examination of the prosecutions 16th witness, Ms. Seidsma whose testimony was interrupted by Ms. Loehrs. About thirty minutes later Ms. Siedsma was excused and the governments 17th and final witness took the stand at 2:32 pm. During Al Monica’s initially testimony he stated that he is a contractor working for the DEA’s SOD. The judge stopped both the prosecutor Ian McGinley and Mr. Monica and said wait, who do you work for? Monica then stated that he was a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton hired by the DEA’s SOD. The judge later stated when the jury was on a break that the fact that Monica wasn’t directly working for the DEA almost slipped past him. He expressed his displeasure to the prosecution as to the way they presented their witness to the court.
Monica’s testimony was almost exclusively a slide presentation that also included a timeline. Chichakli objected to the entire slideshow and it was overruled by the judge. After the second slide Chichakli’s standby counsel Mr. Kirton said, “Your honor, I know the court has previously ruled on this but we object. We object to all of it.” The judge then called another sidebar [ an area in front of or next to the judge's bench away from the witness stand and the jury box, where lawyers are called to speak confidentially with the judge out of earshot of the jury].
The judge said that the slide show was closing argument material. He actually removed slide one from evidence and it seemed to me that the judge almost considered not allowing the entire slide show which the government argued to keep it in evidence. After another sidebar, when the prosecution resumed in a very brisk manner almost flying through the slide presentation. Based on the previous two slide shows presented by the prosecution which was presented at a snails pace, the witness Monica was reading so fast that the court reporter had to ask him to read slower.
In Viktor Bout’s trial there were very few sidebars, in fact on one occasional when Bout’s lawyer Albert Dayan asked to approach the bench, judge Scheindlin said, “Yes but don’t make a habit of it.” I have been told by reporters covering trials for years that every judge is different. In terms of sidebars judge Pauley is much more liberal, in fact he calls them many times, if I had to guess how many sidebars there have been during this trial, I would say close to thirty. However, this trial is unique and highly unusual I have no idea if judge Pauley would call this many sidebars if Chichakli was not defending himself. One thing is apparent, he has been extremely fair and patient with Chichakli inside the courtroom, and in my opinion going out of his way to help him with his legal limitations since he is representing himself with no prior legal experience.
However, I do know for a fact that Chichakli would argue that the court has been very unfair in what it has allowed to be used as evidence in testimony and especially in the case of the allowance of witness’ that he requested to testify. Chichakli has stated very clearly on numerous occasions that he feels that about a dozen of his witness’ being denied by the court to testify is completely unfair and denies him a fair trial. The next several excerpts are taken verbatim directly from Chichakli’s emails, some are to others where I was cc’d and the rest were sent to me directly.
Good day [name intentionally left blank]:
Thank you for your message.
The trial is going as usual, with the usual denial of witnesses and documents. Nothing new, just about the same but with different witnesses.
On top of the denial of witness I am as of last week, neither allowed to bring-up or reference my US intelligence service nor allowed to ask witnesses about the subject all together. I am also not allowed to ask witnesses regarding my earlier discussion with the government, it is a strange way of conducting fair trial …. the least to say.
This is an excerpt of a very recent letter to the judge by Chichakli asking him to reconsider his decision on whether or not to allow Department of Justice employee Adam Szubin to testfy. the ful letter can be read here: Richard Chichakli’s Letter to the Judge for Reconsideration of a Potential Witness
IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE, EQUITY, DUE PROCESS and FOR THE PURPOSE OF ATTAINING FAIR TRIAL AT EQUAL BASIS Defendant is humbly requesting that the court reconsider its previous ruling concerning the exclusion of documents from the 2006 Chichakli Civil Case against the government, and the denial of the defense request to call Adam Szubin to testify. Both the testimony of Mr. Szubin and the document used in Chichakli’s 2006 legal action against the government are directly related to the case on trial now, they are related, and they were both used by the government in preparing its case against the defendant.
Richard Chichakli, (Pro-Se)
In terms of bringing up Chichakli’s past work for U.S. intelligence agencies, Chichakli tried to ask Special Agent Larsen whom testified on Tuesday December 3rd if he was aware of his prior work with the NSA? The question was objected by prosecution and sustained by the judge. Chichakli tried to rephrase the question but it ended with the same results. Chichakli in frustration then turned to the judge and said to the judge, “Why can’t I ask about the NSA?” The judge answered, “I’m forbidding it. I issued an order under CIPA.” CIPA is the Classified Information Procedures Act. I did not attend every pre-trial hearing but the judge made it clear that it was discussed and some point and a ruling was made. Obviously it was at a pre-trial hearing that I didn’t attend. Shorty after I posted this article a friend and colleague sent me this pdf: GOVERNMENT’S MEMORANDUM OF LAW TO PRECLUDE THE DEFENDANT FROM OFFERING CERTAIN EVIDENCE which explains why Richard Chichakli’s testimony and evidence is extremely restricted.
The trial will probably end Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday depending on the judge Pauley’s ruling on Chichakli’s reconsideration of witness’. For more detailed information about Chichakli’s first witness, please read Richard Chichakli Calls His First Witness in USA vs. Viktor Bout Et Al. Please stay tuned, we are getting close to the closing arguments and the end of the trial. It is impossible to guess how long a jury will deliberate but deliberations could possibly start as early as Thursday or possibly Friday.
On Wednesday December 4th, 2013 at approximately 2pm the defendant Richard Chichakli, defending himself pro se called his first witness to the stand. Chichakli’s first witness was OFAC [Office of Foreign Asset Control] specialist attorney Hal Eren. This was one witness more than was called during the entire Viktor Bout trial. Chichakli will call several more witness’ including Tami Loehrs an expert computer forensic analyst, FBI special agent Dennis Brady who is currently a Legal Attache in Nairobi, Kenya and possibly DEA agent William Brown pending judge Pauley’s approval. Richard Chichakli submitted a proffer yesterday afternoon to the judge in regards to special agent Brown whom also testified in the Viktor Bout trial.
Mr. Eren was already introduced to us by name via previous exhibits entered into evidence by the prosecution. Despite several protests and objections to the the judge by the prosecutor’s, Eren’s testimony interrupted the prosecutions case as well as their 16th witness, Christine Siedsma. Ironically Siedsma works as a digital forensic examiner in the DEA labs in Lorton, VA. The prosecutor was not as upset over Eren’s testimony as compared to to the upcoming testimony this morning by the defense’s expert witness Tami Loehrs. The prosecution argued that it was not fair to interrupt their case with their expert witness testifying with an expert witness for the defense. They added that it may be interpreted as being prejudicial. Prosecutor Christian Everdell asked if Loehrs could testify on Monday which would also allow prosecutors more time to prepare their cross-examination. Judge Pauley reminded the prosecutor’s that Chichakli is not the U.S. government with unlimited resources as well as pointing out that Ms. Loehrs only anticipated being in New York for a day plus she had scheduling concerns with another trial.
Hal Eren previously worked for OFAC for approximately seven and a half years and has been in private practice for twenty years with his partner Mr. Pinter. Pinter worked at OFAC for seventeen and a half years, according to Eren making them the most experienced private law firm specializing in OFAC related issues. Eren testified that in his legal opinion that Chichakli did not violate OFAC sanctions because he was acting solely as a broker in an airplane deal that exceeded $1.7 million which funds were frozen by OFAC on April 26 2005 and remained frozen to this day. This airplane transaction is at the heart of the government’s case, alleging that Chichakli violated OFAC sanctions specifically IEEPA laws. Chichakli’s defense is that no other parties nor individuals involved in the airplane transaction were on the OFAC sanction list and since Chichakli alleges that he acted only as a broker between the two parties when he was outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. that he did not violate the law. Eren did testify that in addition to contacting OFAC in defense of Chichakli and the companies involved [Aventura Aviation and Samar Air] that the funds that were frozen in 2005 were not tied to Chichakli in anyway. Eren testified that Chichakli was to be paid a $50,000 brokers fee or finders fee directly by Samar Air and that those monies were separate and segregated from the monies involved in the frozen airplane transaction.
During cross-examination Eren seemed to be an entirely different witness and appeared to completely flip. At one point Ian McGinley one of the prosecutor’s asked Eren did we speak previously about this case and he answered yes, then the McGinley asked him did you in fact tell me that you thought Aventura Aviation was conned by Chichakli. Eren stumbled and bumbled and put it in a more diplomatic phrase saying that he felt that he “wasn’t provided with all the available information.”
During cross-examination Eren was asked do you feel that you were misled, and answered that since being provided with the indictment from the government he felt that he was misled. During Eren’s re-direct by Chichakli he was asked if he thought that the documents and evidence that the government provided was authentic? Eren answered that since it came from the government that he assumed it to be true. The judge took notably exception to this comment. In fact shortly after this temper and emotions were escalating on both sides and the judge called for the mid-afternoon break and dismissed the jury for a short recess. About twenty-five minutes later, a slighter longer break to allow all parties to collect their thoughts and to clam down, the jury re-entered. The judge told the court directing his comments to the jury in a very firm tone that what he heard was “an astonishing statement especially coming from an attorney” referring to Erens comment that he presumed the governments evidence to be true. Judge Pauley told the jury that an indictment is not evidence and is only a legal charge to bring the defendant to trial. Judge Pauley emphasized that “the only assumption is that the defendant Mr. Chichakli is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” The judge then made a comment as to Eren’s bias to the prosecutor’s despite the fact that the defense called the witness.
Please stay tuned for more updates!
Crowdsourcing Legal Advice
Richard Chichakli is fighting an uphill legal battle against the U.S. government. Chichakli has been accused of being Viktor Bout’s co-conspirator, sometimes accused of being Bout’s money-man and / or partner. Chichakli was extradited from Australia this past May to the U.S. where he is currently facing trial. Chichakli’s trial is unusually in many ways but most notable is that he is defending himself pro-se. With my limited court experience, I have been impressed with Chichakli’s handling of his case thus far. Chichakli does not have a law degree nor as far as I know any legal training whatsoever.
Chichakli has been frustrated as of late, especially as to the honorable judge Pauley’s recent decisions in denying Chichakli’s request to have several high-profile witness’ testify. I recently wrote an article about Douglas Farah, co-author of ‘The Merchant of Death’ asking the judge to grant his request not to testify. Farah said that what he knows “is based on hearsay and would not be admissible in court.” My article titled, Judge Rules Merchant of Death Author Does Not Have to Testify in Chichakli Trial goes into more detail. I just received an email from Chichakli earlier today asking me for legal advice. I am obviously not a lawyer but Chichakli then sent me a second email asking me to post a blog with his legal questions, in other words to crowdsource some legal advice for him. This is what he wrote in his second email:
Just sent you some updates for your pages, I wonder if the public can give me an answer through the internet?
Chichakli seemed very sincere in his quest to understand the law as well as getting any legitimate feedback and opinions to his legal questions. As per Chichakli’s request I am sending out his first email.
Judge William Pauley have ruled in favor of the government’s request to preclude witnesses including; among dozen others, Johan Peleman, Dennis Brady, and Douglas Farah
I am questioning whether such ruling is “legally sound” given for the facts that material that were used by the government in the prosecution of this case belongs to these witnesses.
In Peleman’s case, the invention of Chichakli-Bout relation was created by Johan Peleman in his UN report S/2000/1225 and later in his report S/2003/1035. Both reports are included in the indictment, both reports were used to obtain the indictment through the grand jury, and both reports were used by the government in replying to the motions by Chichakli. The judge’s decision in calling this material “irrelevant” and “Hearsay” and these witnesses “Unrelated” seems to be prejudice, or subject to “double standards” the least.
The same applies to Denied Brady of the FBI and who’s affidavit is among the evidence used by the government, so is the case of Douglas Farah who lied twice under oath in his testimony to the US Congress in 2005 and 2008, and who was used and still being used by the US government as “The expert” in the matter of Bout-Chichakli!
My questions are simply:
- How material and witnesses can be used by the government and then excluded and precluded for the defense purpose?
– How material and evidence can be called relevant to the government case and irrelevant to the defense cross-examination?
– How would the government be allowed to bring witnesses that are not on the list of witnesses?
– Is the preclusion of cross-examination constitutional under the 14th amendment?
– Is this trial held under a single set of standards or more than one set of standards?
I am not a lawyer, but these are rather common sense questions!
Judge Orders Chichakli Out of Solitary Confinement
I plan to post an update of the trial in sort of a timeline fashion within the next day or two. However, I thought this one particular occurrence was worth mentioning now.
Shortly before Chichakli’s trial began he was moved from MDC Federal prison located in Brooklyn where he was in general population to MCC prison in Manhattan to be closer to the Federal Court house located at 500 Pearl Street. This was no surprise in fact in was anticipated. What occurred next or actually how it happened is not clear. Richard Chichakli was accused of breaking the prison rules and was immediately put into maximum security aka the SHU [Security Housing Unit] upon his arrival to MCC prison in Mahattan. Chichakli told the judge that he did not do anything to warrant the punishment.
Last Monday November 25, 2012 judge Pauley told the prosecutors to have a representative form the Bureau of Prison’s [BOP] to come at 1pm. After the jury was dismissed for lunch, Mr. Johnson from BOP spoke to the judge about moving Chichakli. At which point judge Pauley ordered Chichakli to be moved from solitary confinement to general population as soon as a bed is available. The judge told the prosecutors that this is in their best interest. The judge said, “that if Mr. Chichakli is convicted, this will be the first line in the appellate court.” Since Chichakli is defending himself, while in solitary confinement he has no access to the telephone and no email access. Therefore he had no ability to contact potential witness’ to testify on his behalf nor access to any communications for any purpose. Chichakli earlier in the day mentioned that his sister sent him some funds that were received by the prison but he was blocked by OFAC [Office of Foreign Asset Control] from making any phone call. The judge additionally ordered that BOP and OFAC unblock his commissary account immediately so that Chichakli would have access to his funds.
There was a lot of pressure on the National Investigation Agency which was set up post 26/11. The Indian investigators had pegged their hopes entirely on the confession of Ajmal Kasab. However there was more to the case and the NIA was desperately looking for both a foreign and local hand in the case.
In the month of May 2008 a year after the attack, the NIA claimed that it had found an American national who was part of this dreaded attack. George Mapp was down in India on a holiday and a chance meeting with Faiza Outalha, the former wife of David Headley is what led him into the den of the NIA.
A long time has elapsed since that incident. Mapp who was questioned several times by the NIA recalls that incident and tells rediff.com in his own words the ordeal he faced.
Old Manali, India May 2008 – Old Manali is a small village in the Kullu Valley which is in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. It sits approximately 2,000 meters above sea level and is located in an auspicious location with an awe-inspiring and magnificent view of the Himalaya mountains.
Old Manali is dubbed ‘magic Manali’ for a variety of reasons, however, one of them being the majestic view of the Himalaya mountains which are snow-capped for nearly most of the year. It is here in May 2008 where I had first met Faiza Outalha.
Since Faiza and I have met our lives have both been drastically altered and has left us, our close friends and our families emotionally scarred for life. The reason and cause can be attributed to one, Daood Gilani, aka David Coleman Headley, a one time heroin addict, a snitch turned DEA agent before becoming a deep-covert operative for the CIA, ISI and LeT.
We met each other through a mutual friend and it was strictly by chance. She was divorced from David Headley but appeared to me to be heart-broken and scorned. She was a young, vibrant, beautiful and an energetic tourist trying to leave her past behind her. We became extremely close in a short manner of time.
About a year after the 26/11 attack, I was walking on the beach in Palolem, Goa with my then pregnant girlfriend, Natasha [now my wife], when policemen and officials from the National Intelligence Agency surrounded me and escorted me back to my flat for days of intense questioning that continued for several weeks. I initially underwent over 30 hours of intense questioning that some nights lasted into the early morning. About 4-5 hours into the process on the first day of questioning, I then learned about the connection between Outalha and Headley.
I was shocked and overwhelmed when the NIA first approached me on 23 November 2009. There was much more than a lookout notice against me. I was treated like a terrorist and had to basically prove myself innocent. There was not one shred of evidence whatsoever connecting me to terrorism.
I was the Number One terrorist suspect in India because David Headley and I knew the same woman; I was in Old Manali, so was Faiza; Headley had a 5-year visa, I had a 10-year visa, he was American, I was American, there was a lot of circumstantial evidence. But that’s it!
It would have been much more valuable to the NIA had they treated me as a witness rather than as a terrorist. My United States of America passport was confiscated, as well as my Apple Mac Book pro computer (which the NIA has refused to give back), armed police slept outside our door for over two weeks, and followed me and my nine month girlfriend everywhere we went. They even followed us to the beach swimming practically naked. Natasha delivered our daughter on 12 December 2009, less than three weeks after the never-ending investigation began. Sajid Shapoo from the NIA had alluded to me that if it were not for my white, 9 month pregnant girlfriend, I would have been arrested simply by being guilty by association as opposed to being questioned at home.
Even after Natasha and our newborn daughter Zoya left India to Thailand awaiting Natasha’s U.S. K-1 fiance visa, the NIA investigation also led to an FBI investigation. The nightmare continued.
It was as a direct result of Faiza’s then ex-husband, David Headley, who she later re-married (and is still currently married to him), that our lives became a combination of a surreal dark comedy and a living nightmare. Unfortunately, the inadequacies, unprofessionalism and lack of skill of India’s brand new intelligence agency created specifically to combat terrorism, the NIA, just added to our woe’s.
Indian intelligence has been for years trying to question Faiza. There was actual NIA operation dubbed ‘Operation Morocco’ that has only been aborted within the last year. In my opinion Faiza is a victim. Headley has been found guilty and sentenced to 35 years in a US Federal prison for being the mastermind of a well precisioned, well executed and highly successful fidayeen style terrorist attack. He was in and out of Pakistan and India several times undetected by Indian intelligence. Any person that can do this and not get caught has to be extremely intelligent and be able to keep secrets even from his wife.
I know for a fact that Faiza was lied to and used and abused by David Headley to complete his mission, by any means necessary. If you do any research into Headley’s past you can tell that he was extremely selfish and would turn on anybody including his childhood best friend Tahawwur Rana [currently serving a jail sentence in US on suspicious allegations] to save his own skin. This modus operandi by Headley is what lead him to his career in U.S. Intelligence. He became a DEA snitch in order to avoid jail time. He was very cunning, manipulative, charming and a great liar which enabled him to be such a successful deep-covert operative.
Faiza and I were reunited in Morocco face-face for the first time since the 26/11 fidayeen terrorist attacks that occurred in 2008, in December 2010 and January 2011. I spent approximately six weeks with her in Meknes. We saw each other everyday except for two days during my stay. We have remained close friends until this day. Due to our life experiences together and sharing such unlikely and unique circumstances in relation to the Mumbai terrorist attacks and to the man who orchestrated the attacks we have developed a close bond that I imagine will last a life time.
I hope to complete my book titled, The Accidental Terrorist, by the summer of 2014. It is a true account of my travels to India, Thailand, Morocco and Russia. My initial journey to India to meet for the first time my satguru Amma in Kerala, India. When I leave the safe confines of the Ashram my life takes amazing twists & turns. I go from being a tourist in foreign lands to an accidental terrorist. How I met fascinating and interesting people like the arms dealer Viktor Bout [whom I stay in touch with till this day], accused spies in Russia and last but not least David Headley’s third-wife, Faiza.
Faiza Outalha and I still discuss and flirt with the idea of writing a book together. Perhaps one day we will jointly jot down our stories and about how our lives accidentally collided and were turned upside down by a man named David Coleman Headley.
(Story published on rediff.com)
Douglas Farah’s Subpoena Nullified
Today about 5:20pm EST, the Honorable Judge William H. Pauley III ruled on Douglas Farah’s request to quash [To overthrow; to annul; to make void or declare invalid] his subpoena by Richard Chichakli. Dougals Farah is co-author of the book the Merchant of Death which is about Viktor Bout. Chichakli is alleged to be Viktor Bout’s co-co-conspirator and is currently under on trial. I have so far been in attendance the entire trial and I am guessing that Viktor Bout’s name has been mentioned at least 100 times so far during the course of the trial by both the prosecution and defense.
After the jury was dismissed shortly after 5:00pm the prosecution and defense argued back and forth to the judge in what can be described as very emotional and at times heated. As a reminder, Chichakli is representing himself or pro-se. Today’s debate to the judge was mostly over Chichakli’s witness’ that he would like to subpoena, several by video conference and a few in person, the judge at one point had to warn him not to raise his voice in the court room. It appeared that Chichakli’s frustration was directed more towards the prosecution more so than the judge for the prosecutions many objections to most of his requested witness’. Marlon Kirton, Chichakli’s standby counsel also plead his case to the judge several times on behalf of his potential client should he have to take over the case at a moments notice. Most of the emotional discussion directed towards the judge was from the prosecutor Christian R. Everdell and Mr. Chichakli.
Chichakli seemed disappointed that judge Pauley III granted Farah his request to avoid the subpoena but the judge stated by Farah’s own admission that what he would testify to in court “was based mostly on hearsay and would not be admissible in court.” From a legal perspective it makes sense, Farah has co-authored a book about Viktor Bout but has never met him nor has Farah ever interviewed Bout. Thus many close associates of Bout question the authenticity as well as Douglas Farah’s motives for the book that some say was a directed negative PR campaign and character assassination of Bout. However, from Chichakli’s perspective, from observing him during pre-trial hearings as well during his trial, I am assuming that he wanted to discredit Douglas Farah? More importantly, I’m guessing that Chichakli wanted Farah to testify as to why and for whom was he asked to write the defamatory book about Viktor Bout.
Douglas Farah’s Attorney Files a Memo to Court
The following excerpts are taking from a Rapsi article titled Merchant of Death author seeks to avoid alleged Bout co-conspirator’s trial which was published on November 26, 2013:
The well-known co-author of the book Merchant of Death, which is said to profile Viktor Bout, filed a motion to quash a subpoena to testify in the trial of his alleged co-conspirator Richard Ammar Chichakli, according to court documents obtained by RAPSI.
Farah authored the book Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible, which was published in 2008.
US prosecutors moved earlier this month to exclude the book, as well as the co-author’s media statements and Congressional testimony, amongst other items sought by Chichakli to be introduced as evidence.
A memo filed with the court by Farah’s attorneys Monday explains the court agreed, issuing an order on November 18 asserting that: “[i]f offered for the truth, the content of these documents are inadmissible hearsay… Absent a showing by Chichakli of a nonhearsay purpose, these documents are precluded.”
The memo goes on to state that Chichakli served Farah with a subpoena to testify at a hearing or trial in the case on November 22.
The document goes on to state, “The court should quash the subpoena to testify for the same reason it has already rejected defendant’s attempt to admit Mr. Farah’s writings, interviews and Congressional testimony into evidence: Mr. Farah’s testimony would be based on inadmissible hearsay.”
The memo further raises the special legal protections awarded to journalists under New York’s Shield Law and the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
According to the document, the New York Shield Law “affords absolute protection of a reporter’s confidential material and sources and qualified protection for non-confidential material and sources.”
The First Amendment of the US Constitution provides for the freedoms of speech and the press, stating in relevant part: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….”
Furthermore, the memo notes that Farah has a long-standing commitment to conduct a specialized training with the US National Security Agency (NSA) on December 3, and expects to be out of the country until December 14, 2013. Thus Farah requested the court to quash the subpoena, or to at least adjourn its return date to sometime after his return from NSA training.
Please stayed, I plan to update my blog very soon with a post of many highlights that have happened over the last severals of the Richard Chichakli trial.
Headley and the CIA
The 26/11 Mumbai massacre five year anniversary is nearly upon us. Still it seems that there are many more questions that are unanswered than those questions that are answered. I, along with many others, have written extensively about David Coleman Headley aka Daood Gilani. Recent headlines has seemed only to help ignite the debate about who was really behind the Mumbai fidayeen terrorist attacks as well as who David Coleman Headley was really working for?
For instance, a newly released book titled The Siege claims that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] warned Indian intelligence at least 26 times prior to the horrific attacks. That number is the highest that I have ever heard. Even India’s intelligence agency Research & Analysis Wing [RAW] balked at those figures according to an article titled, CIA hid more than it revealed on 26/11: RAW. The article states:
The sleuths in the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) have been startled by the claims made in a recently launched book that 26 intelligence inputs were forwarded by the American CIA to the Indian agencies prior to the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Officials privy to the files at RAW’s Pakistan Operations Desk confirmed that only two intercepts, on September 18 and September 24, 2008, were forwarded by the CIA desk in Islamabad to the RAW headquarters here.
This recent article I just mentioned only intensifies and corroborates what has been stated over and over again, year after year. The first piece that grabbed my attention was a NY Times piece titled, U.S. Had Warnings on Plotter of Mumbai Attack, which was published November 16, 2010. Here are a few excerpts from that article:
Less than a year before terrorists killed at least 163 people in Mumbai, India, a young Moroccan woman went to American authorities in Pakistan to warn them that she believed her husband, David C. Headley, was plotting an attack.
Despite those warnings by two of his three wives, Mr. Headley roamed far and wide on Lashkar’s behalf between 2002 and 2009, receiving training in small-caliber weapons and countersurveillance, scouting targets for attacks, and building a network of connections that extended from Chicago to Pakistan’s lawless northwestern frontier.
An examination of Mr. Headley’s movements in the years before the bombing, based on interviews in Washington, Pakistan, India and Morocco, shows that he had overlapping, even baffling, contacts among seemingly disparate groups — Pakistani intelligence, terrorists, and American drug investigators.
Despite the number of warnings from a variety of sources over a period of several years, Headley continued to roam free internationally. There is no doubt and there is also documented evidence that proves Headley was protected. A day after the previously mentioned article I wrote an article titled, David Headley goes Viral: Is the FBI really that stupid? which I published on November 16, 2010. [Spoiler Alert] In order to make a point I am saving you from reading the entire article. I do recommend going back and reading it at a later date. Here is an excerpt form my article:
Therefore, to answer my question, Is the FBI that stupid? Of course not. David Headley was a CIA agent and the matter was out of the FBI’s jurisdiction. It was basically out of their hands. If you look at the articles and follow the story closely it is as clear as crystal that the FBI was in this particular case not at fault and this matter was completely out of their hands.
Earlier in the same article I gave a few examples to back up my conclusions:
“Indian investigators, who have been denied access to Mr Headley, suspect he remained on the payroll of the US security services, but switched his allegiance to LeT. India is looking into whether Headley worked as a double agent, an Indian home ministry official said in December.”
Many Indian politicians and intelligence agencies later discovered that Headley was on the U.S. intelligence radar and despite this he was allowed to enter India and Pakistan freely without notifying Indian officials. Another quote from The Sunday Times, “The feeling in India is that the US has not been transparent,” said B. Raman, a former counterterrorism chief in the Indian foreign intelligence service. That Headley was an agent for the DEA is known. Whether he was being used by the CIA as well is a matter of speculation, but it is almost certain that the CIA was aware of him and his movements across the subcontinent.”
And lastly from my article I will mention that in October 2010, the then CIA director Leon Panetta visited Pakistan and then one day after visited India and met with two of India’s intelligence agencies, IB and RAW:
According to the Times of India, on Saturday, October 2, one day after he was in Pakistan, CIA director Leon Panetta dropped by India, “The American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief Leon Panetta also held a series of meetings with senior government officials here. Official sources said Panetta, who also met with Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Mathur and RAW chief A K Verma, discussed various areas of cooperation.” Later in the article it mentions, “This is the first high-profile visit by any American official after a team of the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) had questioned terrorist David Coleman Headley in May in Chicago.”
There seems to be many references to David Headley and the CIA. Take a look at a few more excerpts from the first article that I first mentioned in this post titled, CIA hid more than it revealed on 26/11: RAW:
Officials privy to the files at RAW’s Pakistan Operations Desk confirmed that only two intercepts, on September 18 and September 24, 2008, were forwarded by the CIA desk in Islamabad to the RAW headquarters here.
“The two inputs had indeed warned of a possible terror strike on Mumbai through sea routes but the claims about 26 intelligence warnings seem to be highly exaggerated.
In the same article, an anonymous source even claims that the CIA was backtracking and in damage control mode. Let’s take a look:
A source said that after the 26/11 attack,the CIA was caught on the wrong-foot for aiding its freelancer David Coleman Headley. Despite having information on Headley’s links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the American authorities chose to ignore his activities which eventually led to the Mumbai attacks, that killed 164 and left over 300 injured.
“After the attack, the CIA and American authorities went into damage control mode and distanced themselves from Headley. But they had also pressured the Indian government not to pursue Headley’s extradition as he would have revealed what the CIA was trying to hide from the Indian agencies,” he said.
As I stated above in my 2010 article, I also claimed that Headley was indeed working directly for the CIA. Before I continue, let me backtrack. For my new readers and those unfamiliar with this case, let me briefly state that I was directly involved in this investigation. I will simply say that shortly prior to the Mumbai attacks, I met a woman and became very close with her. She turned out to be [I later found out through a NIA and FBI investigation] David Headley’s ex-wife. She and Headley have since been re-married and remain so to this day. I will recommend two articles that go into much more detail about my involvement in the curious case of Headley, Kiss and Tell: Intimacies with David Headley’s Ex-Wife, Faiza Outalha as well as Faiza and I: George Mapp recounts his encounters with David Headley’s third wife Faiza Outalha.
However, after covering the Viktor Bout trial a few years back as well as currently attending Bout’s alleged partner, Richard Chichakli’s trial that just began last week, a new thought occurred to me. Just to give a very brief background to Viktor Bout’s case, he is a Russian citizen alleged to be the world’s most notorious arms dealer was caught and arrested in an elaborate DEA sting operation dubbed Operation Relentless. Subsequently after a hard fought and very controversial two year court battle in Thailand, Bout was finally extradited to the U.S. and tried and convicted on ‘conspiracy’ and ‘terrorism’ charges. My article Viktor Bout Stung By DEA Operation ‘Relentless’: Sentenced to 25 Years, gives a good synopsis.
Having met with, talked with and listened to many DEA agents testify as well as my familiarity with Bout’s case, I have learned quite a bit about the DEA’s operations. Before I continue I want to share one last quote from the previously mentioned 2010 NY Times article:
D.E.A. officials have said they ended their association with him [Headley] at the end of 2001, at least two months before Mr. Headley reportedly attended his first terrorist training. But some Indian officials say they suspect that Mr. Headley’s contacts with the American drug agency lasted much longer.
The DEA’s Special Operations Division
I first learned about the DEA’s covert Special Operations Division or SOD from investigative journalist and author Jeremy Scahill in his article titled Blackwater’s Black Ops that first appeared on September 15, 2010 in The Nation. I believe that I first wrote about the DEA’s SOD in 2011 in an article titled, Viktor Bout is Fair Game: In the Midst of the Shadow Wars. It is an long piece but extremely comprehensive and goes into much more detail about the SOD. So what exactly is the DEA’s SOD and who are they? Here are a few excerpts from Scahill’s Blackwater article:
While the network was originally established for use in CIA operations, documents show that Prado [former CIA paramilitary officer Enrique "Ric" Prado] viewed it as potentially valuable to other government agencies. In an e-mail in October 2007 with the subject line “Possible Opportunity in DEA—Read and Delete,” Prado wrote to a Total Intelligence executive with a pitch for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The executive wrote back and suggested there “may be an interest” in those services. The executive suggested that “one of the best places to start may be the Special Operations Division, (SOD) which is located in Chantilly, VA,” telling Prado the name of the special agent in charge. The SOD is a secretive joint command within theJustice Department, run by the DEA. It serves as the command-and-control center for some of the most sensitive counternarcotics and law enforcement operations conducted by federal forces.
I will add a few excerpts from my Viktor Bout is Fair Game article wrich I wrote in 2011 to give a bit more color about the DEA’s SOD.
Time ran a very interesting and informative article titled, The DEA’s Terrorist Hunters in August of this year . The article backs up what Jeremy Scahill first wrote about last year as well as emphasis the astronomical sums being paid to DEA informants. Here are some excerpts from the Time article:
While few think of the DEA as a counterterrorism organization, since 2007 it has leveraged a little-known federal statute passed in 2006 to conduct sting operations across the globe, netting major figures including arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar and the “Lord of War” Viktor Bout by connecting the suspects to terrorism plots.
That statute effectively created the team within the DEA’s multiagency SOD to take on investigations in which drugs and terrorism crossed over, what policy types call a nexus.
Another very interesting and highly recommend article is titled WikiLeaks Cables Show DEA Has Become an International Spy Network. Here are a couple of excerpts:
The DEA now has 87 offices in 63 countries and close partnerships with governments that distrust the CIA, such as Nicaragua and Venezuela. Many nations are eager to take advantage of the agency’s drug detection and wiretapping technologies.
The organisation has an eavesdropping operation so expansive it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it against their political enemies, the New York Times reported on Sunday, quoting a cache of cables published by WikiLeaks . The body’s vast network of informants also had on its roll David Headley, an accused in the Mumbai attacks case, who worked as a double agent for the DEA.
Headley and the DEA’s SOD Connection
Here is where things get extremely interesting, at least in regards to David Coleman Headley. An article written this August titled, DEA’s Special Operations Division in Media Crosshairs, mentions that at the time the article was written, the head of the DEA’s SOD is Chief Derek Maltz. Why is that interesting? This is taken directly from the article that I just referenced:
The SOD is still headed up by Derek Maltz. Maltz, you may recall, was the DEA agent back in 1988 who first busted Daood Gilani, aka David Coleman Headley, for 2 kilos of heroin in Frankfurt. Headley, then a heroin addict, began working for the DEA two days after his arrest. Now serving a 30 year sentence for his role in the Mumbai bombings, it’s never been exactly clear how the DEA missed his turnabout from informant to terrorist.
Let’s examine the SOD closer as well as the possibly Headley connection. A Reuter’s article titled, Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans was published in August of 2013. Not to take away from Reuter’s well-written and comprehensive piece but Scahill, myself as well as the journalists at TalkLeft have written about the DEA’s SOD at least two years prior to their ‘exclusive’. Here are a few excerpts from the Reuter’s piece:
The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.
Today, much of the SOD’s work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia [Chantilly] not be revealed.
“Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function,” a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents to omit the SOD’s involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use “normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD.”
A spokesman with the Department of Justice, which oversees the DEA, declined to comment.
I communicate regularly with Viktor Bout electronically via the U.S. Bureau of Prison’s [BOP] CorrLinks prisoner email system. Bout has been dubbed the “Lord of War” and “The Merchant of Death” by some media outlets. Bout was the target of a SOD sting operation and is now serving a 25 year sentence. David Headley’s childhood friend, Tahawwur Rana, whom Headley dragged down with him is currently incarcerated in a U.S. Federal penitentiary. Tahawwur Rana, Viktor Bout and just for a name John Kiriakou. Kiriakou is a former CIA officer who is serving a thirty-month sentence in the federal correctional institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania. He was the first member of the CIA to publicly acknowledge that torture was official US policy under the George W. Bush administration. All of these like the majority of U.S. Federal inmates are in the BOP system.
David Headley is not in the system and is and has been in an ‘undisclosed’ location. I even contacted Headley’s lawyer John Thesis approximately a month ago via email asking if could help me locate or at least put me in touch with Headley for my book that I am writing. His lawyer mentioned that he would have to check with his client first and then get back to me. That didn’t happen and I’m sure that it never will ever happen. Faiza, Headley’s wife was in constant touch with her husbands lawyer when I spent 6 weeks visiting with her in Morocco about two years ago, thus Headley knew I was there as well.
Headley was given an immense amount of freedom and leeway by the U.S. authorities, had a longtime relationship with both the DEA as well as the SOD’s current chief Derek Maltz. Also the fact that the U.S. as politely and with as much political correctness as they could muster basically blew India off when it came to access of Headley and Rana. My article, India’s NIA to US: Give Us American Terrorist David Headley Or Else, goes into explicit detail about this particular point. The secrecy concerning his whereabouts even after convicted, all of the warnings to the FBI by his wives, ex-wives and relatives about him attending terrorist training camps, even Headley’s own mother reported his son the the FBI but all of these warnings resulted in no action taken by the U.S. authorities. The fact that Headley was allowed to interview Ajmal Kasab, the only Mumbai foot soldier caught alive who has since been convicted and hanged to death by the Indian government all point to Headley being protected by some very influential people within the U.S. government.
What makes the most sense to me is that David Coleman Headley was in fact a deep-cover agent working for the DEA’s SOD. Whether or not in his mission to infiltrate Pakistan’s intelligence agency the Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] and the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taeba [LeT] he flipped to their side is not as clear. Whether or not he went rogue is not as important as to to the damage, destruction, death and carnage that he was allowed to cause as being a major participant in Operation Bombay. Or not as important as to whether or not justice was properly served. I also noticed that the DEA’s SOD like to give their operation’s names. In Viktor Bout’s sting, it was dubbed Operation Relentless. Operation Bombay was a name used several times in the book The Siege. According to the book, the operation was named by the terrorists’. But if Headley pitched the idea of the Mumbai attacks to his handlers as the book suggests, then it makes a lot of sense that the name Operation Bombay came from Headley via the SOD?
Many people especially those from India feel that justice has not been served. The Indian intelligence agencies and government have tried repeatedly to get additional access to David Headley. Many point to the fact that Hafiz Saeed, alleged to be Headley’s Pakistani handler and organizer of the Mumbai attacks is roaming around Pakistan freely despite a $10 million bounty.
Earlier this month Bruce Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst, who has advised four US presidents on South Asian issues was quoted in an article titled, 26/11 was meant to start India-Pak war: ex-CIA analyst, here are a few excerpts from that article:
But “perhaps the most shocking element of the Mumbai attack was the role played by David Coleman Headley, an American citizen of Pakistani descent, in the intelligence collection that preceded the attack,” Riedel wrote.
Yet “the Pakistani mastermind of the Mumbai plot, LeT leader Hafiz Saeed, remains free in Pakistan, where he continues to be a darling of the ISI and regularly calls for more attacks on India and America,” Riedel wrote noting “Five years after Mumbai, justice has yet to be served.”
Hafiz Saeed has been referred to as a Pakistani Militant Chief whom many have accused as being Headley’s handler as well as msterminding the entire Mumbai massacre. Despite the fact that the U.S. has placed a $10 million bounty on his head he still roams freely about within Pakistan. According to the book The Siege, the authors mentioned in the Afterword that they met with Hafiz Saeed. This is what they wrote:
Saeed in front of an audience of several thousand religious students, ‘I am the West’s boogeyman,’ he said scoffing, ‘worth millions of dollars to someone. But I am not in hiding. I am here only, sitting with you.’ He combed through his beard, and then gestured with two open arms to his students, who cheered: ‘God Is Great.’ Then Saeed stood, pointing to the heavens. ‘They have not come for me, from up there,’ he said, referencing the drone strikes that have killed so many in Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, ‘or from there.’ He pointed to the dusty lanes outside, evoking the extraordinary renditions, that saw terror suspects detained and transported to CIA black sites. ‘And that is because America needs me to distract their people away from the collapse of their own country.’
LinkedIn: George Mapp Jr
Inside the Courtroom
So far his case definitely has not attracted the attention of the press as well as the media frenzy that was present during Viktor Bout’s trial. Bout’s trial was packed as well as having an overflow room available where press, Federal employees and the general public could watch the trial via a CCTV. Inside the courtroom there were myself, a Reuter’s representative and several Russian journalists. We could have easily fit on one row but for comfort decided to spread out.
Inside courtroom 20 B Chichakli wore a dark grey suit and hung off him slightly due to a smaller frame caused by weight loss over the last several months. Ironically Bout’s trial was held directly across the hall in courtroom 20 A. One of the lead DEA agents from the Viktor Bout sting operation dubbed Operation Relentless that lead to Bout’s capture in Thailand sat in the back of the courtroom watching the trial intensely. Several other DEA agents popped in briefly during the trail. Those same three agents were present during the majority of Bout’s three week long trial. After a short delay due to a late juror [the judge expressed his displeasure to those in the courtroom] the trial was underway. The presiding judge in this case is the Honorable William H. Pauley III. He is very tall and looks to be average build to thin and wears a closely cropped beard. Being in the courtroom during some of Chichakli’s hearings, it was evident that Judge Pauley III has a good sense of humor, is extremely patient. After sitting through the entire day in court yesterday, the judge came across as extremely fair is this odd case where Chichakli is representing himself also known as pro se.
The case is U.S.A. v. Bout et al., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 09-1002. The Syrian born naturalized U.S. citizen, Richard Ammar Chichakli falls under the “et al”. After spending nearly 11 combined months in prison from the time he was arrested in Australia until now, he finally has his day in court. Once arrested in January 2013 he was finally extradited to the U.S. in May of this year. According to Chichakli in correspondence between us, he was bounced around quite a bit between prisons and even within prisons. You can read more in my interview with Chichakli, World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli’s First Interview Since His Extradition From Australia To A U.S. Prison.
Due to time constraints I am going to take the following excerpts from a Reuters article titled, U.S. trial begins for Russian arms dealer’s accused conspirator written by Joseph Ax:
A U.S.-Syrian citizen conspired with convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to buy aircraft, using fake names to get around sanctions that had been imposed against him, a government prosecutor told a jury on Wednesday in New York federal court.
Richard Chichakli deceived a Florida aviation company in an effort to sidestep a presidential executive order prohibiting him from conducting any transactions with U.S. businesses, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Everdale said at the start of Chichakli’s criminal trial.
“The defendant deceived legitimate business people in the United States; he violated the sanctions against him,” Everdale said. “And he did it for money.”
Chichakli, representing himself, told the court the government had concocted a false story about him because of his ties to Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death” for his purported willingness to ship arms to anyone who could pay him.
“It’s your job to try to separate the facts from the fiction,” Chichakli told the jurors. “A whole lot of this story is fiction.”
Towards the end of Chichakli’s opening statement he mentioned to the jury that you will hear a man by the name of Viktor Bout. He then added that he was the only person in the world that asked the U.S. government why they were targeting Bout and how he remained friends with Viktor Bout since they first met in 1995.
Molly Miller from the Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] was a witness for the prosecutor as well as Michael Anthony Bachtel [not sure of the spelling of his last name] a DHS / ICE agent. The DHS agent interviewed Chichakli along with FBI agent Dennis Brady in April 2005. Chichakli having no legal experience or background and by his own admission being a Certified Public Accountant and aviation expert held his on in the court room. I would have to say that for a novice representing themselves and cross examining Molly Miller from OFAC and a DHS / ICE agent he was very impressive. There were little nuances and procedural mistakes made along the way but his questions and strategy were impressive. In fact, he did better than some lawyers that I have watched in other trials.
During his cross-examinations, Chichakli tried to hammer home the point that if someone is under OFAC sanctions like he was after 2005, that you can not even buy a hamburger from McDonald’s legally in this country. His point was that you have to apply for individual licenses to get access to your own blocked money. Chichakli then demonstrated that sometimes these licenses take many months as well as having OFAC representative Miller admit that the license approval process is discretionary.
In terms of the DHS / ICE agent, Chichakli got him to say in court that an investigation that begun in 2003 and did not formally end until 2012 ended in no charges being bought against him. Chichakli also mentioned all the accusations in the ‘affidavit’ that the government used to apply for a search warrant [which was granted] ended in no charges filed against him. If you look at the case name, U.S.A. v. Bout et al U.S.A. v. Bout et al as well as Chichakli’s opening statement as well as his strategy in his cross-examination of the witness’, he seems to be hammering home to the jury the ‘guilty by association’ scenario. Chichakli appears to be saying that since he was friends with and has remained friends with Viktor Bout, which he stated several times is a strictly political case, thus because of this association he claims he was targeted by the U.S. government and that they ‘dismantled my life’.
From where I am sitting, this trial like the curious case of Viktor Bout will not be dull. It will be full of interesting twists and turns. If I was a bookie, I wouldn’t want to lay odds on the outcome of this case, stay-tuned for more updates.
Original Post: Is technology a complicated asset for the future?
Posted on November 15, 2013 via The Daily Journalist
Please read my contribution in the Daily Journalist. I suggest visiting the original link to see more great answers and contributions from other journalists.
Is technology a complicated asset for the future?
“According to The Chopra Center, Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life [Ayur= life,Veda= science or knowledge]. Ayurveda reminds us that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit. What if we take the premise of Ayurveda and apply it to the macro-economic model of the American economy or even the world’s economy. Would the American or the world’s economy be in a balanced integration between ourselves and our environment? What about the U.S. standard of living, is it in balance or is it unhealthy?
Not only would I say that the U.S. economy and the standard of living are both unhealthy but are both falling off a cliff. I believe that the exponential technological advances in the last several decades are soon going to hurt the U.S. economy and standard of living. As an American and as a human being, I am extremely concerned that the advances in technology, if not managed effectively and efficiently, will cause damage and harm that will drastically outweigh the benefits.
Out of curiosity, I checked the national unemployment rate from last month which is according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, stands at 7.3%. Just for a number I went back approximately 25 years. According to the same source, in 1990 the national unemployment rate was 5.4% in January 1990. I also checked the poverty levels in the U.S. According to the Wikipedia, “In November 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau said more than 16% of the population lived in poverty in the United States, including almost 20% of American children.” According to the U.S. Census, “the number of persons below the official government poverty level was 36.6 million in 1990, representing 13.5% of the Nation’s population.” If you target specific areas, demographics and / or states the current rates of poverty and unemployment are much higher than the national average.
Jaime Ortega in his introduction to his question mentioned Walmart. How they are using intelligent scanning machines as opposed to humans thus putting people out of work. What makes this an extremely scary scenario is that Walmart happens to be the world’s largest public employer. Many of the worlds leading corporations and retailers follow and mimic what they do in order to compete effectively in the market place and sometimes just try to stay in business. Walmart has been criticized numerous times for its low wages and hard-ball pricing polices to its suppliers. They are so huge and powerful that they have the ability to dictate their terms to their suppliers, in other words they tell them what they are going to get paid. I have also observed over the years that many of our youth and young-adults can not do basic math but instead rely on what they input into the register or more times than not what they scan, then the computerized register will calculate the change for them. That is in the fraction of cash transactions, mostly items are scanned and a credit card swiped and a few buttons pressed.
Also, spelling has become a non-issue with auto-correct and spell check now prevalent in almost any electronic communication we use in this country. Another disturbing trend that I have noticed is that many teens use text-talk. A jargon of abbreviations and short cuts to words, basically another language that many older adults wouldn’t be able to understand. Not only have I noticed a decline in language skills but communication skills appear to be suffering as well. I have some younger friends that almost exclusively text instead of talking. In fact, I have a few friends that I have never spoken to on the phone. Despite the huge and magnificent technological advances in healthcare and science, we as a nation are poorer, sicker, more obese, more dependent on pharmaceutical drugs and underemployed than say about 25 years ago.
Technology is eliminating jobs from almost every facet of the U.S. workforce. From Wall Street to Main Street. I saw the impact on electronic trading first hand, I was an international equity trader on Wall Street for over 12 years. Electronic trading dried up the volumes in the Over-The-Counter market [people placed trades electronically as opposed to dealing directly with market-makers like myself] as well as the spreads narrowing drastically. The spread is the difference in price between what a market-maker will pay [bid] for a stock as opposed to what he is willing to sell [offer] it for. Just think to yourself how difficult it is to get a real person on the phone when you call customer service at your phone company, your bank etc. Often times you will hear a foreign voice.
That is another disturbing trend of U.S. corporations outsourcing jobs overseas for cheaper labor that takes away even more jobs. That compiled with the increasing number of jobs being eliminated by machines it is quite scary. From a CEO or shareholders perspective they all probably agree that machines do not call out sick, do not go on vacation, nor take lunch breaks and don’t need pensions or healthcare insurance? But eventually and unfortunately it appears that it might be sooner rather than later, the economic model will become unbalanced and things will fall apart. Basic economics of supply and demand teaches us that if supplies increase much faster than demand then the prices must come down to compensate. Eventually if we as a nation continued to outsource jobs, eliminate jobs to computers and machines the majority of Americans will be unemployed and buying solely food, water and other necessities and less ‘widgets’. If that scenario plays out then eventually many corporations will also fail thus exponentially increasing the unemployment rate and result in an economy in free-fall.
I am of the school that if a loved-one, a son or daughter, spouse or parent has cancer I want to cure the cancer and make them healthy so that they will live. I feel the same about the country in which I was born in, I want to fix it, make it healthy. Both traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda have been around for over 5,000 years and both treat and cure illness‘ not simply medicate the symptoms. In our society, nearly the entire medical profession is predicated upon taking pills to relieve a symptom of a disease almost never to treat or cure a disease. Technology can be also be used to teach us how to eat and live healthier, how to become less dependent on fossil fuels, how to develop more solar and wind technologies, to conserve water, to protect the ozone as opposed to mass produce more and more widgets that mostly get thrown away and become an additional burden on our environment.
Ironically I saw a Huffington Post article today titled, What India Can Teach The Rest Of The World About Living Well, here is one excerpt from the article: “India is the fastest-growing destination for wellness tourism, with an average of 22 percent annual growth, according to recent data from Stanford Research Center funded by Spafinder Wellness.” I have been lucky enough to have traveled to over 35 countries. One country that I lived in was India. That is why I started with a brief intro of Ayurveda. But mostly because the entire philosophy of Ayurveda is built around balance.
I feel the same way about technology. We can use it more effectively and more efficiently to make our economy and standard of living better and not worse. I am convinced that currently we are not using technology for enough positive and productive benefits. Unfortunately I think that if we continue in the same direction we will as a nation continue to suffer and cut off our nose to spite our face. However, maybe to my own detriment I am an optimist and continue to hope that enough people who agree with me will eventuallydevelop more technologies that create more jobs as opposed to eliminating them, technologies that cure disease, that conserve energy and help the environment more than we are hurting it. Hopefully we as a nation will make better uses and smarter decisions.
That same Huff Post article mentions 10 reasons why we should look to India to live well. I’ll mention just a few, They have strong family values, They’re making low-cost health innovations. They have a culture that prizes compassion. They value inner wisdom. They cook with turmeric. Turmeric is a popular spice in Indian cooking, and it’s a superfood that can boost longevity and ward off illness. The decline of family values in this country in my opinion is the most serious and is at the core of many of the major problems that is ailing our nation. And look at what they put in their food, a ‘superfood’ we put preservatives and chemicals that are slowly killing us.
Even India is using technology to make low-cost health innovations. According to a Washington Post article titled, The royal birth cost $15,000. The average American birth is billed at $30,000, it states that: “The average total price charged for pregnancy and newborn care was about $30,000 for a vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a C-section,” My daughter was born in 2009 in India in a private hospital for less than $500.
Clearly we as Americans can do much better than we have been in utilizing technology. I have no doubt that we can became a productive nation, a healthy nation, an intelligent nation if we make the right choices on how we choose to use the quantum leaps in technology that is available to us. Hopefully not just for me or for you but for my children and your children as well as your grandchildren and for all the children that share the only planet that we have.”
LinkedIn: George Mapp Jr
In a New York Times article titled, U.S. Had Warnings on Plotter of Mumbai Attack, which was co-written by journalist Ginger Thompson was published October 16, 2010. In fact it was Thompson whom met with and interviewed David Coleman Headley’s Moroccan wife Faiza Outalha. I know this to be true because Faiza told me herself in detail about Thompson’s visit to Morocco as well as the extent of the interview. Also, the above referenced article also mentions it: “The Moroccan wife described her separate warnings in an interview with The New York Times.” There is a very good reason why I point this out. Therefore, what was told to Thompson of the New York Times was communicated by Faiza verbally, doing a face-face interview. It was not a remote interview via computer in a written question and answer format.
I recently began reading The Siege: 68 Hours Inside The Taj written by authors Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy and published by Penguin Books. What jumped out at me off the pages was a shocking revelation. What jumped out at me were the words, “she wrote in her dairy” on page 49 referring to Faiza Outalha. I know Faiza extremely well, if anything we have grown even closer than when we first met in Old Manali, India in the Spring of 2008. Faiza abruptly broke off all communications with me shortly before the 26/11 Mumbai Massacre in 2008. After I was investigated by India’s newly formed intelligence and counter-terrorism agency, the NIA, we stayed incommunicado.
Actually, the NIA mentioned that they may want me to try to contact her on their behalf. However, that never happened. Shortly after they cleared me in an investigation that lasted several months, and returned my U.S. passport my family and I quickly and secretly moved to a new location within Goa and a few months later we left the country. Natasha and I waited a couple of months for our daughter Zoya who was born on December 12, 2009 to be slightly older before we flew internationally.
A day before my family and I were scheduled to fly to Thailand, we made a surprise visit to the NIA headquarters in New Delhi to try a last attempt to get my Apple Mac Book Pro back. Anybody who has travelled to India, lived there or is from there would understand the humor in what I am about to tell you. I have a written and signed document from the NIA that states: “The laptop would be returned after forensic analysis.” The NIA agent assured me that on November 24, 2009 that I would have my Mac Book Pro back within five days.
Once inside the NIA headquarters we received a very warm and friendly welcome. Several agents took pictures of Zoya. The last time the lead agent saw Natasha she was 9 1/2 months pregnant back in Palolem, Goa. I was then told that in early March of 2010 that the Mac Book Pro wasn’t back from Hyderabad for forensic analysis yet Incredible India! This was over 3 months later and much longer than the 5 days as promised. However, I was much more concerned about what was on the computer as opposed to the actual computer itself. It had 9 months of pregnancy photos that Natasha specifically asked me to take during her pregnancy to show our daughter Zoya when she got older [right about her current age of 4 would be perfect.] I even begged for a mere copy of the hard drive with the hundreds of priceless and irreplaceable photos but they declined.
Getting back to Faiza and I. We have been in constant contact since we were reunited back in 2010. I even spent 6 weeks with her in Morocco at and the end of 2010 and early 2011. Thus we celebrated New Year’s together in 2011 in Morocco. Keep in mind that David Headley has not had any direct verbal, written nor electronic communication with Faiza since his arrest on October 3rd, 2009. As far as I know the two only communicated briefly via Headley’s lawyer for about a year after his arrest and after that there has been no communication between David and Faiza whatsoever. Therefore, I can say with confidence that I know her extremely well. So when I saw the words, “she wrote in her dairy”, I immediately thought that either she had a physical diary stolen from her, her computer was hacked or it was a fabrication. I called her up and we talked for over an hour. As I suspected she said that there was no diary. I asked her did you discuss any of these topics via email with any journalists and / or publishers? She assured me that she hadn’t.
In the book The Siege: 68 Hours Inside The Taj, authors Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark made reference to an Indian citizen was allegedly a mole for the Inter Services Intelligence [ISI], Pakistan’s external intelligence agency, codenamed, ‘Honey Bee’. Sheela Bhatt a journalist for Rediff recently wrote an article titled, Exclusive! Who is ISI’s Honey Bee in New Delhi? Here are a few excerpts from the article:
Levy, in an exclusive interview to Rediff.com, said he tried hard to detect the identity of this Indian mole, but he is yet to succeed.
Levy and Scott-Clark travelled to ten countries on four continents and met hundreds of people to write the book. [Note: They did NOT meet or talk to Faiza Outalha] Levy says they are very sure of their information even though they have not been able to establish the identity of the ISI mole in India.
The claim about the existence of the Indian mole Honey Bee, if true, is obviously serious. However, the authors have not offered much evidence about the alleged Indian mole.
This was an attack of a major magnitude and had there been a mole by the name Honey Bee in the Intelligence agencies, it would have been known long back.
Intelligence Agencies across the world do try and set up their moles in the other agencies, but when it comes to such a major operation, they do not take such a huge risk.
This book speaking about the Honey Bee is essentially a book written by the CIA.
With regard to the Honey Bee, I do not believe that an officer of a high level would have been involved.
C D Sahay, former chief of RaW [Research and Analysis Wing (RAW or R&AW) is the primary external intelligence agency of the Republic of India.] asks about the authenticity of the Honey Bee. Anyone can write anything, but I think it would have sounded more authentic had the Honey Bee been named. I do agree that intelligence agencies from across the world do try and plant their moles in other agencies. However in this case, I am sure that it would not have been possible at all.
Fact or Fiction
I wanted to interject the Honey Bee scenario because it raised my eyebrows as well as many others’. However, the “she wrote in her dairy” reference had me practically jump out of my chair. Getting back to the New York Times article mentioned in my opening paragraph, here is an excerpt verbatim from that article:
“I told them, he’s either a terrorist, or he’s working for you,” she recalled saying to American officials at the United States Embassy in Islamabad. “Indirectly, they told me to get lost.”
Here is a direct quote from page 54 of The Siege:
Faiza wrote in her diary: ‘I told them, he’s either a terrorist, or he’s working for you. They pretty much told me to get lost.’
Another excerpt from the 2010 New York Times article:
She [Faiza] said she told them that he was passionately anti-Indian, but that he traveled to India all the time for business deals that never seemed to amount to much.
Here is a direct quote from page 51 of The Siege: ‘He told me he worked in an immigration office but there was no real evidence of any real business,’ she wrote in her diary.
The latter example is not verbatim but suspiciously close especially given the fact that Faiza Outalha denies having kept a diary. I did read the A Note on Sources as well as the Acknowledgements sections of the book. Not surprising to me, there was no mention of Faiza and her fabricated diary.
What is very troubling is that if Honey Bee is a fabrication [this conveniently may never be known] and certainly according to Faiza Outalha her diary is in fact a fabrication, then what about the rest of the book? Okay, it is obvious that some of it is true, the police recording dates and times in the log books, the phone calls traced by ATS, text messages from victims etc. But if you read the book it is filled with an abundance of flowery and colorful dialogue that I now find extremely suspicious. Much of it can not be proven nor disproven, in fact the authors go to great lengths to try and compensate for any discrepancies as per their A Note on Sources section:
There were many challenges in getting to grips with the siege of the Taj hotel. Crisis breed confusion. People under fire or captive in a burning building can have wildly differing memories of the same events, making it difficult for us to build a reliable timeline with which to reconstruct events as they happened. Now I do not argue with the above statement but if you read between the lines, it is almost an excuse to use creative license as well as an obvious legal disclaimer.
To answer my question in the title of my article, Fact or Fiction, I would have to say both. What percentage break down, I don’t know. The book is intriguing and craftily constructed and makes for a great read. However, it appears that it is possible that a great deal of creative license has been taken and the authors are trying to pass it off as authentic and factual. I have the sense that much of the dialogue can not be proven nor disproven. However, claiming to quote from a diary that Faiza says does not exist as well as the of taking quotes from a NY Times article and passing it off as a taken from her diary is quite obvious and blatant. After all, Faiza unlike the unfortunate victims was not being attacked by gunfire, being held nor was she in a burning building, according to the authors of The Siege she was with Headley. From page 129:
“An hour later, David Headley received an SMS. With M1 (Shazia) ensconced in Chicago, he was back with M2 (Faiza) in a rented apartment in Lahore.”
However, the book did not say from her diary to the previous quote. But I did find a similar description from my blog, in a post titled, U.S. Knew About 26/11 Attacks: Headley’s Wife Faiza Outalha:
26/11 Mumbai attacks were watched by Headley and wife on television at home in Lahore
Ironically the original article by Star News was posted on September 23, 2011 and was originally titled, Warned US about impending terrorist attack: Headley’s wife, has since been taken down? However, the entire article can be viewed in the paragraph above on my blog.
Vicky Nanjappa is a very colorful, exotic and outspoken person whom also happens to be one of India’s most prominent journalists’. Vicky has been described as very dedicated as well as a workaholic and spends most of his time researching and / or writing articles. He spends his free time on some of his hobbies which include working out vigorously, gaming as well as collecting tech gadgets particularly mobile phones.
Vicky Nanjappa has become known as one of India’s top journalists’ if not the number one, in covering intelligence, espionage, national security, counter-terrorism and terrorism related journalism. Vicky Nanjappa currently works with rediff.com as a special correspondent.
In lieu of the upcoming five year anniversary of the Mumbai Massacre that occurred on November 26, 2008, I have asked Vicky Nanjappa for an interview. He has covered this case from several different vantage points and angles. I felt confident that Vicky would answer my questions directly and honestly. Also, I am very interested in his perspective since he is from India, where the atrocious crime was committed.
For those of my readers that have not heard of the Mumbai Massacre, here is a very brief description of the events that occurred on November 26, 2008. The following excerpt was taken from Wikipedia:
The 2008 Mumbai attacks were twelve coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India’s largest city by members of Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT]. Ajmal Kasab, the only attacker who was captured alive, later confessed upon interrogation that the attacks were conducted with the support of Pakistan’s ISI. The attacks, which drew widespread global condemnation, began on Wednesday, 26 November and lasted until Saturday, 29 November 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.
Ajmal Kasab [was captured and hanged on November 2012] disclosed that the attackers were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, considered a terrorist organisation by India, Pakistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations, among others. The Indian government said that the attackers came from Pakistan, and their controllers were in Pakistan.
David Coleman Headley (born Daood Sayed Gilani; 30 June 1960) is a Pakistani American terrorist and spy who conspired with the Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamist organization and Pakistani intelligence officers in plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks. On January 24, 2013 Headley was sentenced by the United States federal court in Chicago, Illinois for his part in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Based on the recommendation of the prosecutors in the case, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
It is worth noting that David Coleman Headley is not in the Bureau of Prison’s [BOP] inmate system and is in an undisclosed location.
David Headley and his alleged co-conspirator Tahawwur Rana have been sentenced in the U.S. and Ajmal Kasab has been hanged to death for his role in the fidayeen terrorist attacks on Mumbai. Do you feel satisfied that justice has been served and that the case is over?
To begin with I would like to point out that the entire David Headley episode looks like a sham to me. What I realized and noticed over the years regarding Headley is that he spoke exactly what the FBI wanted him to speak. The NIA team from India which had questioned him too had complained that he did not say anything new to them other than what he had already told the FBI during his confession while chalking out his plea bargain agreement. Although he has been sentenced, I still would not say that the ends of justice have been met since the US should have not rushed into a plea bargain agreement with Headley and instead should have let the Indian investigators extradite him to India where the crime was committed. He ought to have been sentenced by an Indian court and tried here too.
Tawwur Rana’s case is strange in many ways. He too has been sentenced, but despite the absence of any plea bargain arrangement it is surprising why he has not been questioned as yet by the Indian agencies. His sentencing is a merely symbolic and in reality nothing really regarding the attack of 26/11 has come out.
In the case of Ajmal Kasab, the sentencing was expected. I would say that in this case the ends of justice have been met since he was hanged in India for a crime that he committed on Indian soil.
From your sources in the intelligence field, what is the consensus about David Headley being a CIA and / or ISI agent?
What my sources tell me is that he was an agent of the CIA who turned rogue. He got associated with the drug mafia in Afghanistan which is directly connected to the terror networks which are controlled by the ISI. The Indian Intelligence officials say that despite Headley turning rogue, the CIA did nothing to stop him despite having every possible information on him. They let him get away with what he was doing in Af-Pak. In fact the CIA even knew when he began cozying up to the ISI and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and did nothing really to stop him. Over the years, he became a Lashkar operative which in turn would mean that he had the blessings of the ISI. Being an American national did help him a lot since even the ISI was aware that his entry and exit into India would be easier taking into account his nationality. India, until 26/11 did have an America fixation and never really did check on the antecedents of a person holding an American passport.
Do you feel that at some level, Indian intelligence was involved in the facilitation and or cover up of the Mumbai attacks?
I would not agree with this entirely. Although I do believe that they could have issued the alerts to the Bombay police with more seriousness. There was a specific alert that was given to the police in the month of September two months prior to the attack. The alert clearly stated that Bombay would be attacked from the seas. They had even gathered intelligence based on the statements of an operative known as Sabahuddin Ahmed. However the Bombay police chose to ignore the alert. What the Intelligence Bureau could have done is convince the Bombay police about the seriousness of this alert.
Do you honestly think that the India government and / or intelligence agencies will ever get to question Rana and to get another chance to question David Headley?
I highly doubt that. With regard to Rana there is a very small chance. However where Headley is concerned it is a closed chapter.
Assuming that it ever happens, do you feel that Indian intelligence agencies would gain any useful info from questioning Headley or do you think he would stonewall or evade the questions?
First of all another round of questioning would not take place. In case they do manage to get a second shot, there would be nothing new that would come out. He will stick to what ever he has told the FBI or the NIA in the past. It would be a wasted exercise.
First of all what are your thoughts to those that say that Ajmal Kasab was an innocent scapegoat that merely looked like one of the fidayeen terrorist soldiers?
There is always a conspiracy theory attached to such incidents. He was very much a part of the operation and was caught. He in fact was a saving grace for the investigators who would have gone nowhere in their probe had he not been caught.
Is Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI protecting Hafiz Saeed?
There is a joke in the Intelligence circles in India. ISI may hand over the President of Pakistan to India, but not Hafiz Saeed. Jokes apart, Saeed is a strategic partner of the ISI. He in fact is the torch bearer of Pakistan’s agenda against India. Looking at Hafiz Saeed over the years, he has not once gone against the ISI. The Taliban, Al-Qaeda and its leaders have all gone against the ISI at some point in time. This was largely because they felt that the ISI was helping the CIA in fighting the battle in Afghanistan. Hafiz Saeed has always been a good soldier for the ISI. Even at the time of the Bombay attack, the ISI had hijacked the plan from Ilyas Kashmiri and handed it over to the Lashkar. There was growing discontent in the Lashkar and its fidayeens wanted to fight alongside the Taliban against the Americans. The ISI sensed this and had this happened there would have been chaos. Hence the plan which was originally conceived by Kashmiri was handed over to the Lashkar so that the fidayeens remained quiet.
Do you find it odd that America’s special forces can perform such intricate missions like Operation Geronimo to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, as well as special operations to capture and extract alleged al-Qaeda leader Abu Anas al Libi and bring him to U.S. Soil but can not catch the alleged orchestrator [Hafiz Saeed] of Mumbai’s Massacre?
It indeed is surprising. In fact it is easier to nab a Saeed compared to an Osama since the former is found out in the open. However thanks to the blessings of the ISI, Hafiz Saeed will never ever come under the radar of the US. He is of high utility value to the ISI and they would never ever give him up. Moreover he has not been a direct threat to the US and hence they are not interested. There was a time when members of the Lashkar had sought to go on an all out war against the US in Afghanistan. However after a talk between the ISI and Saeed the fidayeens were told not to go ahead with this. The ISI will ensure that Saeed does not spin out of control especially against the US. As long this is taken care of even the US will not touch Saeed.
[Here is an article titled, Hafiz Saeed Bounty: U.S. Offers $10 Million For Pakistani Militant Chief, for those interested in a little background info. Just to point out the obvious, $10 million is an astronomical amount of Pakistani rupees.]
Vicky as you know, I was at one-time India’s number one terror suspect due my relationship with David Headley’s third wife, Fazia Outalha. Headley and I were both American, I had a 10 year Indian visa, he had a five year visa as well as a common bond to the same woman. We also traveled to many of the exact same cities. Thus an investigation by India’s NIA.
Yes I am aware of this unfortunate coincidence. The NIA was desperate and were attempting to lay their hands on any small lead. The agency was new and the case was a massive one. What the NIA realised was that the probe where the international angle was concerned was very much Headley oriented. They wanted to do something on their own and hence grabbed any opportunity that was remotely associated with Headley.
Vicky, the NIA has faced many criticisms and has been accused of having many intelligence failures. How would you score the agency in general in their over-all performance?
I would not rate the agency very high, but would also like to point out some teething problems that this agency faces. At the outset it ought to have been an independent body, but then it is directly under the control of the Government of India. This has often led to some of the probes undertaken by it being politically motivated. Secondly, the complete lack of coordination between the police officers of the state and the NIA has led to cases taking a very long time to complete. When an incident occurs in a particular state, it is the local police who first probe the case. It is then that it is handed over to the NIA. In most cases the NIA has complained of an ego clash where the state police do not share the first information with them which in turn ensures that the case goes haywire. I guess the NIA needs a strong officer at the top who can coordinate well with the state police and also stand up to the government and call a spade a spade.
However, from what I have read and from all of my research, it is apparent that the FBI kept their cards very close to their vests. In other words, they gave the NIA bits and pieces of intelligence and withheld much more than they gave. I also wrote in 2010 that the FBI was told to stand down by the CIA, as Headley was working for them. [David Headley goes Viral: Is the FBI really that stupid?]
I agree with what you are saying. The FBI only fed the NIA with bits and pieces which suited them. The FBI at any cost did not want the NIA to pick up information about Headley being a CIA mole and hence the entire investigation and interrogation was stage managed. I have pointed this out earlier too in this interview about the problems the NIA faced where Headley was concerned.
Vicky, with that in mind, how do you feel the NIA has performed in solving and handling the 26/11 case?
I would not say it has done any great job. It had a lot of limitations and continues to have them. It is probing the international angle to the case. On the Headley front it has no option but to rely on what has already been told to the FBI. On the other hand it deals with those masterminds in Pakistan. Now questioning a Hafiz Saeed or a Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is impossible for the NIA since Pakistan would never give them up. Hence the NIA finds its hands tied up and the progress of their investigation is nothing to boast about.
Just under a year ago you wrote an article titled, Why was Operation Morocco aborted?, which you described as “a high level operation being planned by the Indian agencies to establish contact with Faiza Outalha, the estranged wife of David Headley. Towards the close of 2012, the mission known as Operation Morocco was aborted.”
Yes I recall this article. There was a lot that was being done by the Indians to establish contact with her and get an independent account on Headley from her. However the Americans did manage to prevail over her allegedly through Headley’s lawyer.
As you know I was at one time directly involved in the Mumbai case and was questioned and investigated both by India’s National Investigation Agency [NIA] and the FBI solely for my relationship with Faiza Outalha in Old Manali, India.
Yes I am aware of this.
My personal feelings on the matter is that if the US didn’t question or bother Faiza – they had good reason not too. Perhaps Headley said to his superiors that she is innocent and leave her out of it?
There appears to be more to this. Faiza was the one who knew most about Headley during the 26/11 operation. More than Headly I guess it was the FBI which did not want anyone to question Faiza.
Vicky, what is your consensus as to what the Indian people feel about the Mumbai Massacre? Was justice served and is the case resolved or do the people feel like the Indian government and intelligence agencies failed them?
Justice has been served partially. Kasab at the end of it was a remote controlled toy in the hands of the Lashkar. Real justice would be served once Hafiz Saeed, Lakhvi, Sajid Mir, Major Iqbal and Major Sameer are brought to justice.
Finally Vicky, you have written about the Mumbai massacre in great length and detail over the past 5 years. What are your personal thoughts about the who, what, why, where and when in regards to the attacks that occurred on that unforgettable day?
Most of what I feel has already been written about. However what has surprised me the most is that none of the Indian agencies have really tried getting into the local help that was present at the time of the attack. It is just not possible for a set of 10 fidayeens to enter into a city for the first time and carry out an attack with such precision. What is also surprising is that despite Headley making so many visits, no one had raised a stink about this.
It is clear to me that this was an attack which was first planned by Ilyas Kashmiri. The ISI hijacked this and handed it over to the Lashkar which in turn carried out the attack with the help of the Pakistan establishment. The Lashkar was showing signs of breaking up since many in the network wanted to fight against the Americans and the ISI did not want this at any cost. Had the ISI let the Lashkar fight the Americans it would mean earning the wrath of the super power. Hence what was needed to keep the Lashkar quiet was a spectacular attack. Hence this attack was carried out.
Vicky, thank you very much for your time and cooperation in conducting this interview!
Richard Chichakli now 54 years-old was being held in solitary confinement in an Australian prison since his arrest on January 9th 2013 until his eventually extradition to the U.S. on May 24th, 2013. Chichakli is facing charges in a joint indictment in the U.S. over his alleged involvement with Viktor Bout who’s been jailed in the U.S. for 25 years convicted on conspiracy charges. Despite Viktor Bout’s harsh sentence he has strongly maintained his innocence and Chichakli denies working for Bout but proudly boasts of their friendship.
Richard Chichakli is currently being detained at The Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, more commonly known as MDC, Brooklyn. The interview was conducted between Richard and I via the Bureau of Prison’s CorrLinks email communication system.
Richard, Australia to the United States is quite a long journey for anyone. Please describe what your extradition process was like, also if you know, how long did it take and by what mode of transportation did you travel to the United States?
The extradition process on the Australian side was fast. I did not protest the extradition and waived my right for any legal process in Australia. I was ready for extradition in about 15 days; however, the US government waited all the 6 month allowed prior to pick me up. I was arrested Jan/09/2013 and picked up almost 6 month later on May 25th, 2013.
The trip to the United States was horrible, I was not allowed to bring any thing with me not even a jacket, a pants, T-shirt, and my keppah. Throughout the trip I was shackled and handcuffed, no food, no drinks, no bathroom through the 19 hours flight; the worst inhumane treatment you could expect.
Once you arrived in the U.S., how were you treated as a Federal inmate and how were your facilities at the prison or prisons where you have been detained?
On arrival I was delivered to the MCC prison, small prior of seclusion prior to placement at 7-north at MCC, three days later moved to MDC- West building, few days more and again moved to the old East building, and before long moved yet again to the west building. Movement creates undue pressure and that is what the government is trying to achieve by keep moving me around.
Richard, for those readers that may be new to this story, can you please briefly describe the nature of your relationship with Viktor Bout? As well as when and where you first met Viktor Bout?
My relation to Victor is described in detail on my web site; he is a brother and a friend that is all.
The following excerpts are taking directly from my article titled, Exclusive: Richard Chichakli Speaks About the Viktor Bout Trial.
The Richard Chichakli Viktor Bout Connection
Before I share Richards’ comments with you I wanted to first discuss briefly the connection between the two men. What better way than to let Richard do that in his own words? Therefore, all of the following excerpts are taking verbatim form Richard Chichakli’s website from the page titled What connects Richard Chichakli to Viktor Bout. I did, however, take the liberty of merely rearranging some of the paragraphs but not the words.
Richard Chichakli first introduction to Victor Bout took place about 14 years ago, in August of 1995, in the state of Sharjah, one of the seven states in the United Arab Emirates. At that point of time Richard was an employee of the government of Sharjah, serving as the commercial manager of Sharjah Airport International Free Zone and Victor Bout was one of the hundreds of investors who were interested in setting up a business in that free zone.
Richard has always called Victor a “brother and friend” and he is that to Richard, nothing more and nothing less. What was unique in the friendship of these two men is that after the UN [the infamous Johan Peleman] published its report about Victor Bout in 2001 and which led to the financial collapse of Victor Bout, almost all of Victor’s friends abandoned him except for Richard Chichakli. For those who know Richard that would not be surprising because Richard is a descendant of a large Arabian family with history of values and traditions. Richard will not abandon a friend on the basis of “hearsay”, nor will he accept to “hush up” in order to be politically correct. Therefore, he publicly demanded of those using Victor Bout for personal gains to show evidence and corroborate facts, and that was fatal because he was the only one standing in the face of a current.
Richard is not and was not an employee/associate of Victor Bout or any of his companies for any length of time. Richard is not, nor was he ever the chief financial manager of Mr. Bout’s, nor the spokesperson for him or any of his organizations, nor was he ever an officer and/or director of any company belongs to Victor Bout and to which account any amount of money was sent or received for any purpose. It is imperative to understand that Mr. Bout was not sanctioned by the US government until July of 2004, and prior to that date there was not any prohibition to conduct business with him.
——————- Interview continued …
Have you ever worked for, with or were contracted by any U.S. or Russian intelligence agencies? What about Viktor Bout?
Sorry, cannot answer that yet. Those in my military records there are a couple of recommendations from the 311 Military Intelligence and the 902 Counter Intelligence. I also use to be a full-time employee of the US Dept. of Justice; well, and finally I seem to have filed W2s issued by the US Dept. of Agriculture with my tax returns; thus, I never worked for the Dept. of Agriculture. Concerning Victor, it seems that few letters released by the UN and IPIS; and which are available on the internet can help answering your question. More details could also come to light during my court appearance on Sep/27th. That is all I can say about the intelligence.
Richard, it was one of the world’s worst kept secrets that you spent many years living in Moscow. Why did you risk you freedom to go to Australia?
I did not spend that much time in Moscow in reality, perhaps just a year in Total! As to Australia it was about 2.5 years. The rest elsewhere. As to risking freedom; I would not characterize it that way. Australia was in my view a safe bit, far away and I would not be expected to be there.
Did you feel that you were no longer safe in Moscow and if so why?
I never was safe in Moscow, and that is the reason I did not live in Russia. The reason… perhaps later.Have you ever met or transacted any business transactions with former Liberian President, notorious War Lord and former CIA asset, Charles Taylor?
Never knew where is Liberia until I heard about it from OFAC, nor ever heard of its president. Never done business with, about, around, or with any one related to Liberia or its government, past or present, not Taylor nor anyone else.
The elaborate sting operation carried out by the DEA’s Special Operations Division to catch Viktor Bout which was dubbed Operation ‘Relentless’ that spanned over three continents, is estimated to have cost U.S. taxpayer’s several hundred million dollars. In your opinion, what was the real impetus behind this operation?
The matter of Victor Bout is a matter of politics, too many politicians and too much of resources went into the story. The matter also involves Russia as far as I know. Now it is clear that Clinton and Holder had their signature on an invalid document evident and in testimony to the political nature of the matter. The Re-arrest of Victor in Thailand after the refusal of his extradition was a complete fraud by the US government. Evidence will be shown in the federal court on the 27th after a couple of weeks.
Is there anything about you or your case that you would like to tell or share with the world?
Sure, the United States politics should stay outside the court room and should not interfere with justice.
Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions. I realize that you are extremely busy especially since you are representing yourself.
I have just recently been in touch directly with Richard Chichakli whom is alleged by the U.S. Department of Justice to been an associate and accomplice of Viktor Bout. We have connected via the Bureau of Prisons inmate prison system dubbed CorrLinks. Prior to this I was receiving correspondence from Richard via a third party. The following is an excerpt of my first CorrLinks message that I received directly from Richard Chichakli on September 8th, 2013:
Good day George:
Thank you for your message, it is wonderful to hear from you.
Concerning visit, I will send you the form you need to mail back to M. Mundo; I’ll have it in the mail today. Thus, tomorrow; Monday I will be in the court in Manhattan, Judge William Pauley’s court room on the 20th floor on Pearl st. I will be revealing secrets related to the false documents used by the government to keep Victor in Jail in Thailand when the extradition was refused. The indictment and warrant used in the Samar Air case were both invalid forgery as there was no indictment with his name in 2010, and certainly there was no related warrant. Unfortunately you are not here to see the show, but perhaps you can let your connections in the media know and be there. It is a twist like no other and it should earn Victor a new trial if not release based on “Government outrageous conduct”.
As Richard stated I would be unable to attend his court hearing since I am currently in Moscow. Yesterday I searched various websites to see the outcome of Chichakli’s court appearance but found no mention whatsoever. However, a new CorrLinks message from Chichakli dated September 10th 2013 cleared up the confusion. According to Richard Chichakli whom made it crystal clear that he is willing to reveal any and all secrets relating to him, Viktor Bout and any connections to U.S. and Russian intelligence agencies. Due to time constraints I will share Richard Chichakli’s latest message with you.
9/10/2013 10:23:13 AM
Thanks for all the news, it is getting stranger by the minute and the intelligence files are seems to be getting on the table. I am not sure how the court will handle that but the matter is hairy, … a lot more than what it seems on the surface.
On Monday the court was cancelled as you heard and I had a meeting with the government. They offered 41 to 51 month plea, which I reject on the face. They violated every law there is and I am not pleading guilty to an alleged crime that never existed and to a charge I did not do nor been a part off just to go to jail. I have been illegally jailed for almost a year and I had enough of laying low.
If they do not let me go I’d rather go to court and open the entire book on all they did; including the arrest of Victor Bout in 2010 on an indictment which was cancelled in 2009. I wonder how would they explain issuing an arrest warrant on invalid indictment, I wonder what would that do to the reputation of the judge who signed it, to the federal court which issued it, and to the integrity of the entire justice system in the United States as a whole.
The case that was filed by the US government in February 2010 in order to prevent Victor Bout from walking after the Thai court refused the extradition is the same case I am fighting in New York now. The indictment I am fighting now does not have anyone but me, one name and one person only. The date of this indictment is November 10, 2009. Victor was Re-arrested in Thailand in Feb/2010 but there was no indictment against him in the United State on Case no 09-1002 WHP; the Samar Air Charges. The arrest is invalid, because no indictment against him existed then, the arrest warrant that was handed to the Thai authority is false and fraud, the extradition request which must be endorsed by the US Attorney General and the US Secretary of State was fraud or forgery committed by the Office of the US Attorney in conspiracy with the DEA and others. The whole thing is a circus; a scandal on an international level that was created and devised in order to conceal the crimes committed by OFAC and the politics behind the matter. Another case similar to what transpired in the Gulf since 1990 on a smaller scale. The UN they keep saying, while in fact it is just ONE PERSON; Johan Peleman who happened to use the UN as cover to pass the political policy dictated by the United States.
I had plenty of records and evidence showing his corruption payment from Alexi Yanshuk of the Phoenix aviation in Dubai; they deleted the evidence and they withheld more than 61% of the evidence handed over to the US prosecutors by the Australian Federal Police. The AFP handed them 41 storage devices with 4.2 Terra Byte of data, I received images for 18 devices with 1.5 Terra Byte only. Plus non of the evidence they collected from my homes and offices in 2005 were turned over to me; almost 10 terra-byte, more than 500,000,000 of pages disappeared from the evidence. They are hiding everything that incriminate the US government or damaging o their case, an obstruction of justice on an unseen scale.
JUSTICE… sure; let the world know the truth
I will keep my readers updated with any further developments in this intriguing and curious case of Viktor Bout and Richard Chichakli.
Original article: ‘No Justice, No Peace!’: Angry Protests Sweep US Over Zimmerman Verdict By RT Published on Jul 14, 2013
A backpacker and blogger recounts his encounters with David Headley’s third wife Faiza Outalha. In December, the Indian government asked the Morocco government for access to Outalha.
He says he quit the pressures of a career on Wall Street after 9/11 and turned to India seeking spiritual relief and a calmer life. According to his own account, the decision proved fateful, with his life taking a dramatically opposite direction instead.
George Alexander Mapp, Jr, a 47-year-old African American, briefly became a much sought after person by Indian intelligence agencies in relation to the Mumbai attacks of November 26, 2008, thanks to his acquaintance with Faiza Outalha, the woman he says is still married to David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani American recently sentenced to 35 years in prison by a US court for playing a critical role in the attack.
Now a blogger and investigative journalist based in New York, Mapp says he is in regular and frequent touch with Outalha, and is working on a book that will cover the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks on his life besides other equally dramatic events, persons and interactions. His initial working title for the project, Drug Smugglers, Gun Runners, Russian Intelligence Officers and Terrorists’ Wives, is a clear pointer to its contents.
“I was the Number One terrorist suspect in India because David Headley and I knew the same woman; I was in Old Manali, so was Faiza; Headley had a 5-year visa, I had a 10-year visa, he was American, I was American, there was a lot of circumstantial evidence,” said Mapp in an interview from New York.
Mapp has since renamed his book The Accidental Terrorist, which he says sums up his involvement with the 26/11 investigation and acquaintance with Outalha. It was a connection that spanned an unlikely combination of India, Morocco and cyberspace.
They first met in May 2008 in Old Manali in Himachal Pradesh through a mutual friend, according to Mapp. She told him she was divorced. “She made some references to her ex like he was – the way she talked about him was like he was a Mafia kind of guy, ‘Oh, he’s wanted in Delhi’, something like that,” recalls Mapp. But they talked about Headley “very, very little” he says, even as he and Outalha “got very close”.
Mapp says he ended up in Old Manali by accident. He had been in an internet cafe in Delhi’s Paharganj, trying to book a trip to Rishikesh because he wanted to see the Himalayas. But he learnt that Rishikesh was in the foothills and a lot of people he met advised him to go to Manali instead. So he took an 18-hour bus ride there from Delhi.
That journey actually began a few years ago in the US, when he quit a career as an international equities trader with firms like UBS and Deutsche Bank a couple of years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. “It became more stressful after 9/11. Volumes dried up, margins dried up, electronic trading really affected our spreads. I got burned out,” says Mapp, explaining why he left a lucrative career to go to a massage school in New Jersey. While working as a masseur in Pennsylvania, Mapp says he was introduced to kirtans and developed a devotion to the Indian godwoman Mata Amritanandamayi, widely known as “Amma”. He first visited India in 2006 to meet “Amma” at her ashram in Kerala, was fascinated by the country and was back in 2008 on a trip that eventually led to his meeting with Outalha.
“She was a very sweet, kind and caring person,” he says about Outalha, with long pauses before each adjective. Indian investigators might describe her very differently given her relationship with Headley and alleged acquaintance with Pakistan-based terrorist Hafeez Sayeed. “I just knew that she was Muslim, I knew she was originally from Morocco, I knew that she lived in Pakistan and thatâs pretty much all I knew, and that she was divorced,” says Mapp. She had told him she went to Pakistan from Morocco to enroll in some kind of medical studies programme, and had met her husband at a cafe there. He believed Outalha was in Old Manali on a vacation.
When she was returning to Pakistan, Mapp says, he saw her off. “I was the last person to see her – I walked her to the taxi, she actually took a taxi from Old Manali to the Wagah border. I walked her there, gave her a hug and said goodbye and we stayed in touch quite a bit.” He had saved her number on his cellphone under the name “Chello Pakistan”.
Indian officials questioned him later about how Outalha, a Moroccan national, had crossed into Pakistan at Wagah, and about the apparent ease with which she had got her Indian visa extended at Kullu. “I told them that Faiza is very persuasive,” says Mapp, drawing out the last word, “unbelievably persuasive”. He added, “She was very driven, determined is the right word, if she had her mind set on something it’s almost impossible to stop her, she’s not scared of confrontation. If she felt somebody cheated her or tried to take advantage on prices, like taxis or whatever, she would fight them. I’ve seen her do it in India and I saw her do it in Morocco when I went to visit her.”
According to Mapp, some time after she returned to Pakistan, they stopped communicating in September 2008. He says he figured out why later after he learned during his questioning that she had remarried Headley. “She used to be flirtatious and joke a lot, and then she started saying ‘Oh, that’s offensive to me’. But a few weeks ago, a month ago, it wasn’t offensive. And then she said I have to delete all my pictures and stuff and I have to close my account, goodbye, blah blah blah. I think shortly after that she got remarried to him and she started acting more like a devout Muslim, you know – her attitude changed so I guess that’s when Headley came back into her life.”
Strangely, however, for someone who says he is in regular touch with Outalha, Mapp claims he never asked why she and Headley got back together, especially as he believed she was “emotionally scarred” and “hurt by whatever happened between the two of them the first time”. “By the time we saw each other again in Morocco and got reunited she had already remarried him so to me it was useless to ask why you did it and I know she wasn’t feeling good because he never had any contact with her so I didn’t want to rub it in,” says Mapp.
About a year after the Mumbai attack, Mapp says he was walking on the beach in Palolem, Goa with his then pregnant girlfriend when policemen and officials from the National Intelligence Agency surrounded him and escorted him back to his flat for days of questioning. He underwent over 30 hours of questioning, and 4-5 hours into the process, he says he learned about the connection between Outalha and Headley. The girlfriend, who is now his wife, gave birth to their daughter a few days later in India, and the family now lives in New York.
And about a year after his run-in with Indian investigators, Mapp started blogging about the experience and the 26/11 case, and wrote a blog titled Kiss and Tell: Intimacies with David Headley’s Ex-Wife, Faiza Outalha, dated October 10, 2010. He says he and Outalha reconnected shortly afterward. Initially, a lot of their communication was about Headley. “NIA was trying to get her quite a bit…she was still healing from the whole thing and getting over it.” Mapp visited her in Morocco in December 2010, staying for about six weeks. They planned to write a book jointly but it didn’t work out.
“When I saw her she was praying often, she had her hajib (sic) on and more than anything she’s just really frustrated because she hadn’t heard from Headley,” says Mapp. According to him, Outalha wants to get divorced from Headley and get on with her life, but can’t afford to go to the US and hire a lawyer for the divorce. “They’re still married, she tells me, that she has proof.”
If Mapp’s involvement with Outalha and the 26/11 investigation sounds fantastical at times, it seems par for the course going by his other stories. He has blogged about Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms smuggler currently serving a 25-year prison term in an American prison. Mapp wrote about meeting Bout in a Thailand court in October 2010 and interviewed him in a US prison last July. He mentioned that Bout “was able to read my Sanskrit tattoos with no problem”, and urged readers to send the prisoner books in “Portuguese, Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Russian, and yes, even in English”.
Mapp accuses the US government of adopting double standards for Bout and Headley. While it successfully fought for the extradition of Russian citizen Bout to the US and tried him in an American court, it refused to consider extraditing US citizen Headley even though he was accused of committing terrorist acts directly on Indian soil, he writes.
However, former CIA official Bruce Riedel, who is now Director of the Brookings Intelligence Project at the Washington, DC think tank, says Headley’s sentence, while it may cause dissatisfaction in India, was part of a process that gave intelligence agencies critical information. “From the standpoint of a professional intelligence officer trying to fight terrorism, securing (Headley’s) cooperation to give information about who was involved, how it was done was invaluable. It gives us the best insights we have into the working of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its patron, the ISI,” says Riedel.
In his interview, Mapp even insinuated Headley might not serve his full prison sentence. “David Headley is a ghost, nobody knows where he is. He’s in an undisclosed location, isn’t that strange? There’s no proof he’s in prison,” Mapp said, referring to a system through which he insists he has tracked other prisoners in the US. Riedel dismissed such theories out of hand: “It strikes me as extremely unlikely. Headley’s going to serve his time in an American prison.”
For now, with Headley in prison, investigators may believe Outalha could have some more information towards fully unlocking the 26/11 conspiracy. But the man who admits he once had a close relationship with her and claims he still keeps in touch regularly, says he has no answers. “I know everybody in India wants to know this question, how much did she know – and I honestly don’t know,” says Mapp. He may be saving it for his book.
Chichakli Extradition Pending
Richard Chichakli now 53 years-old has been held in solitary confinement in an Australian prison since last month and he is currently awaiting possible extradition to the United States. Chichakli is facing charges in a joint indictment in the U.S. over his alleged involvement with Viktor Bout who’s been jailed in the U.S. for 25 years convicted on conspiracy charges. Despite Viktor Bout’s harsh sentence he has strongly maintained his innocence and Chichakli denies working for Bout but proudly boasts of their friendship.
According to an article titeled, Police say man wanted in US had 16 aliases:
The Melbourne Magistrates Court heard the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have identified 16 aliases for the Syrian-born Chichakli. But lawyers for Chichakli have argued some of the aliases was similar and merely represented cases where his name has been misspelt. Victor Lewis from the AFP told court Chichakli has primarily used the name of Jehad Almustafa for bank accounts, his drivers licence and for travel in and out of Australia.
His lawyers say that his only offence in Australia has been operating under that false identity. Chichakli’s lawyers also argued that his case is complex and need more time than the contraints they are currently working with. My understanding of the Australian law in regards to Chichakli’s extradition to the U.S. is that the Aussie government has 60 days from his arrest. Chichakli was arrested on 10 January 2013 thus the clock is ticking therefore the US authorities have until March 11 to apply for his extradition.
Mrs. Chichakli’s Prison Visit
Slighty over a week ago I wrote an article titled, World Exclusive: Richard Chichakli: “Australian Prison Is Trying To Poison Me” in which Chichakli’s wife described her husbands abuse and mistreatment in the Aussie prison. Since I wrote that piece she has been able to have her first visit with her husband Richard, however, it was a non-contact visit. This is what Mrs. Chichakli wrote me:
I got a call on Wednesday morning from Ops Manager of MRC Mrs. Smith, she confirmed that I was placed on the list of visitors for non-contact visits only. I can visit Richard once a week and talk to him for 30 mins through a glass wall. I asked to see him the same day.
I heard the clicking sound of shackles being removed before Richard entered the visitors’ room. His face was very pale and skinny. It was very difficult to look at him and keep myself calm–he has lost so much weight since the last time I had seen him, he didn’t look healthy.
Chichakli’s Defense Attorney Silenced
Initially I thought it was strange that Chichakli’s legal defense team had no reply to my queries as to their clients health, treatment and prison conditions. Then Mrs. Chichakli told me they went not allowed to have any contact with the media. Mrs. Chichakli wrote:
I am in communication with Richard’s lawyer and he’s attends all of my enquiries with urgency. Mr. Sim is aware of my concerns about Richard’s health. With respect to bringing Richard’s matter to public domain, they are not allowed, as I was told, to communicate with media.
Later that day I received an official notification from Richard Chichakli’s legal defense team basically telling me the same thing. They said by law they are not permitted to speak to the press or any media while the case is ongoing.
The judge just hours ago denied Richard Chichakli bail. The reason was that since he allegedly used many alliases as well as traveled frequently in and out of the country — thus maikng him a flight risk.
Inside The Court Room
Before Richard Chichakli’s bail was denied, Mrs. Chichakli gave me a very detailed look inside the court room during the actual hearing. Unfortunately due to unavoidable travel, I was not able to post her comments sooner. In retrospect, now knowing the outcome, it makes Mrs. Chichakli’s observations, insights and intuitions that much more revealing. Here is her description in her own words inside the court room:
Dear Mr. Mapp:
I’d like to send you my observations from the bail hearing that took place on Tuesday, February 5, 2013.
The court was supposed to start at 9:30, but due to Australia Federal Police officer’s Viktor Lewis submitting a sworn affidavit right before the court, the proceedings were delayed until 10:30.
Richard’s attorneys Mr. Marsh and Mr. Sim were well prepared for the hearing with strong arguments in Richard’s favor and confidently refuted every concern of the prosecutor Ms. Folie in connections with establishing that special circumstances exist in Richard’s case and that he does not pose a flight risk.
At first, AFP’s Mr. Lewis who was involved in Richard’s arrest and has been examining seized property for almost a month now, was called to give a testimony under oath.
Barrister Marsh enquired on what basis did AFP compile such a long list of aliases (about 16 names) allegedly used by Richard to be included in the search warrant. Mr. Lewis’s response was that the United States has supplied AFP with the list of names.
Mr. Lewis has confirmed that the identity used by Richard in Australia was Jehad Almustafa.
When Mr. Lewis was asked whether the police has found any evidence of Richard using other identity, in particular the names of “Robert Cunning, Raman Cedorov, Abdullah Al Subait, and Andrey Romanov” Mr. Lewis said that there’s no evidence supporting such statement.
Mr. Marsh then referred to the remaining names of the list, which were different variations of Richard Ammar Chichakli, about 10 of them. He asked Mr. Lewis if it was possible that some were just misspelled variations, such as Chichalki (misspelled) vs. Chichakli (correct), and whether ‘Chichakli Richard A.’ and ‘Chichakli Richard Ammar’ are essentially the same. He received a confirmation from Mr. Lewis that that could be possible.
He also enquired with Mr. Lewis whether his own first name has ever been misspelled with a ‘c’ instead of ‘k’ in Viktor. The officer said that a few times he received correspondence addressed to him with such a mistake. Mr. Marsh then enquired that maybe ‘sh’ and ‘ch’ could also be interchangeable as they represent the same sound in Arabic. Thus “Chichakli” and “Shishakli” are also the same names, only misspelled.
“Do you know,”- Mr. Marsh enquired,-”that Richard’s birth name was Ammar M. Chichakli and that he legally changed it to Richard A. Chichakli when he moved to the United States?” “Would that be an explanation for another variation on the list?
Mr. Lewis stated that upon Richard’s arrest an equivalent of about $2500 in multiple currencies, including euros, and this significant amount of cash was indicative of Richard’s preparedness to flee the country. Mr. Marsh enquired that maybe instead this money was left over from Richard’s recent trip to Europe, and posed a question of how much it would possibly cost to obtain a false id? Mr. Lewis’ answer was ‘tens of thousands of dollars’. With Richard’s combined cash assets (cash in the wallet and at the bank) amounting to AU$5000, an old Renault-made car and Holden Viva in his name, with bank cards seized by police and no access to frozen funds, it was not likely that a false id can be obtained. Mr. Lewis tried to allege otherwise, his arguments however were not well supported.
Mr. Marsh also pointed out that Richard is on Interpol red alert list, and asked Mr. Lewis to clarify what that means– other countries would be alerted when the person being sought crosses the border.
Richard has significant presence on the Internet with various photos published and it would be very difficult to hide.
With respect to Richard’s character, Mr. Marsh said that the only offense in Australia was Richard’s entering and continuing to live under different name. Richard has actively sought employment, went to school, committed no crime except for perpetuity of his false identity, and just lived a normal life.
Then Mr. Brendan Money was called for testimony. He is an Assistant Commissioner for Sentencing, who is responsible for security classification. Mr. Money returned from his leave on January 30 and met with Richard on that day (after 20 days have passed since Richard’s incarceration in maximum security regime). Mr. Money stated that it was his responsibility to assess the security risk of prisoners, and currently Richard was being treated as ‘high risk’ with all the consequences. Mr. Money assured the judge that he wants to conduct a proper assessment and that it will as much time as required to review all the relevant information within specified time-frame, and up till then Richard will remain in existing condition. Richard is presently held at Exford area for Metropolitan Remand Centre, which as confirmed by Mr. Money, could be called “a prison within prison”. Richard stays all day in solitary, which is 3 by 4 metres in length (*10 by 13 feet), he is shackled to the waist when transported within the prison with only two 1-hr non-contact visits per week allowed since January 30 (none before that). Richard is kept in such conditions for his own safety and security of other prisoners. Mr. Marsh enquired whether anybody has ever escaped from MRC—Mr. Money’s answer was ‘no’, but since Richard is known to access false id’s and guns (*what made him think that?!), Richard has been classified as ‘high risk’. “But MRC is not a point of international departure?”—Mr. Marsh commented.
“If the proceedings are to take 12 months, would Richard still be kept in such conditions?”—Mr. Marsh enquired noting the loss of weight and worsening health of Richard. Mr. Money answered that usually it takes up to 30 days to make a risk assessment and if more time is required, he would need to approve it (* he who decides also approves extension of time to make the decision!?). But at present Richard would continue to stay in maximum security area of the prison. I was also astonished by the statement of the prosecutor citing some legal precedent case where deteriorating health and severe depression of defendant were not considered by the judge as extraordinary circumstances to grant bail. (*Innocent until proven guilty takes form of ‘sick and weak (or dead) before proven guilty’—Richard has lost more than 10 kilos in 3 weeks he’s been in this prison–he’s severely underweight, he looks frail, he’s not allowed to see people, doesn’t have access to standard prison resources, he’s treated like an animal—do you know that they shackle him and transport him in a metal box, guarded by security, when other prisoners are taken by a standard bus!?) Mr. Money said he didn’t notice any change in Richard’s appearance since he first saw him.
I easily get emotional when I see injustice, but I’ll try to keep going.
After the lunch break, the prosecutor made a statement that Mr. Lewis can provide additional evidence that is supplied by the United States, that would back the prosecution. The judge has allowed it, but then when notified by Ms. Folie that it only can be shown to the Judge and not the legal team of Richard, because it’s secret, the judge has declined the request because it would put defense of Richard in unfavorable position.
Mr. Marsh and Mr. Sim indicated that Richard would challenge the legality of extradition under double-criminality, better explained as whether the charges he’s facing would consist crime in Australia. Since this process is complicated and is expected to take time, they appealed to the judge that His Honor should not allow harm to defendant before guilt is established.
Mr. Marsh also pointed out that Richard’s being on the United Nations list does not give rise to an offense. He was free to leave the United States in April 2005 with no charges then or prior, and it had been long after—4.5 years after he left the US—that the charges were filed against Richard in November 2009. Mr. Marsh has indicated that the Executive Order that placed Richard’s name on the list is closely connected to domestic and foreign policy of the United States, as such giving rise to political reasons behind Richard’s case.
The decision about granting the bail will be announced on Thursday, February 7, 2013.