Since ProPublica released it’s article titled, FBI Was Warned Years in Advance of Mumbai Attacker’s Terror Ties, by Sebastian Rotella, written about Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley an accused terrorist, just two days ago, there has been a world-wide media frenzy. Obviously many of the Indian publications are pointing out the FBI and / or U.S. intelligence failure. I say obviously because firstly the attacks happened in their country and secondly it is an extremely sensitive issue amongst Indian officials and a political Pandora’s box between India, Pakistan and the U.S.
Many Indians feel like they were given a bum rap from the start in regards to the Headley case. Headley was arrested by FBI agents in Chicago on October 3rd 2009. He was accused of master-minding the horrific terrorists attack on Mumbai, India on November 26, 2008, now dubbed 26/11 by Indian officials. It makes perfect sense that India would send a team of investigators to gather intel and question David Headley after the charges and allegations reported in the media. However, that team was sent back to India empty handed and was told that even though Headley is accused he still has rights.
The next step obvious step would be for India to request an extradition of Headley from the U.S. to India, which they did. However, the U.S. quickly announced that also was not going to happen. The following was a headline in the Deccan Herald on March 19, 2010, “India cannot seek Headley extradition”. The following was the sub-headline in the same article: “A day after David Coleman Headley confessed to plotting the Mumbai attacks, it became clear on Friday that the Indian investigators will be able to interrogate the Pakistani-American terrorist in the United States, but he will not be extradited to India.”
According to the Deccan Herald, Headley agreed to being tried in America and to cooperate with U.S. authorities, “The US, which has so far denied India the right to question Headley who was arrested by the FBI in October last year, said he has agreed to “fully and truthfully” participate in this process which has to be undertaken only on American soil.”
And yes, India’s extradition request for Headley has been officially denied. However, approximately seven months after David Headley was arrested, the U.S. finally granted permission for Indian investigators to question him.
There was an article by the Huffington Post published last March, titled ‘David Coleman Headley: ‘U.S. to Let India Interrogate American Terror Convict.’ Considering Headley’s links to Lashkar-e-Taiba, I ask myself did Huffington Post really want to write, U.S. to LeT India Interrogate American Terror Convict.’? Whether or not a pun was intended, I am guessing that the Indian officials were not amused.
Of the four member team to investigate and question Headley, three were from India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) Loknath Behera, Swayam Prakash Pani and last but not least my buddy Sajid Farid Shapoo.
There were rumors saying that David Headley gave the NIA the run around and was very evasive in his replies to their questions. One article reported, “The National Investigating Agency (NIA) is not confirming rumors that David Coleman Headley, the 26/11 accused, is being uncooperative but the team is in Chicago for another week at least and are expected to meet with Headley again if not a few more times.”
Indian officials have openly asked for additional access to David Headley and for further questioning. Why would the NIA need to grill Headley again? If he was cooperative or if the questioning was sufficient there would be no need for further interrogation. I am guessing that unlike with the U.S. authorities, Headley was not very cooperative with the NIA. Until now the NIA wish for further access has not be granted and probably never will.
Recently, in a United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York at the end of September, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake briefed reporters on the meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and India’s External Affairs Minister S M Krishna concerning David Coleman Headley. According to a published article by Rediff, Blake told reporters,“The issue of direct and complete access to Pakistani American and Lashkar operative David Coleman had not come up at all at these talks. As far as the US was concerned, it was a closed chapter, he said.
Blake continues, “So, I think, as far as we are concerned, this matter is closed, and again, we continue to be very pleased with the very strong counterterrorism cooperation we have with India.”
Blake asserted, “Again, the Indian team got access and I think they left satisfied with the access that they received. So, we consider that particular chapter closed.“
On a Need to Know Basis
It is a known fact that Headley was a convicted heroin smuggler that was turned by the DEA into an uncover agent and on their payroll. However, the lack of intelligence sharing to Indian authorities by the U.S. is still a sore point with Indian officials. It did not sit well with many Indian politicians and intelligence agencies that the U.S. knew about Headley’s frequent travels between India and Pakistan and did not share this information.
According to an article that appeared on February 15, 2010 from the U.K. The Sunday Times,
“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.”
The CIA Director Leon Panetta Visits India
On a recent visit, Leon Panetta, director of the CIA met with Indian officials. In the press the spin was that the meetings were to discuss security ahead of President Obama’s scheduled Indian visit in November. It seems likely enough, however, I am guessing the CIA chief used this meeting to discuss several important issues including that of David Headley.
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.”
The U.S. Warns India of an Imminent Attack
It is well documented that David Headley was a DEA agent, that he was being tracked by the U.S. intelligence agencies, most likely the CIA and it is now widely documented that the FBI was warned about him three years before the attacks on Mumbai took place. Therefore, it is well documented that after FBI was warned about Headley, and years after the warning he was being tracked by U.S. intelligence agencies and then the U.S. intelligence agencies warned India very specifically shortly before the attacks occurred.
According to the Guardian UK, December 3, 2008, “The US warned India last month of a pending raid by a Pakistan-based militant group it emerged yesterday, a revelation that will add to public anger over apparent security lapses and missed chances to stop the attack on Mumbai.”
Later in the same article it states, “ABC News also quoted a US intelligence officer saying the warning had been specific, of a potential attack “from the sea against hotels and business centres in Mumbai”. The terrorists used boats to land on Mumbai’s waterfront before attacking multiple targets which killed 183 people and led India to endure a four-day national nightmare.”
FBI Fail or Rogue Agent
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. It is unfortunate for the FBI, that they can not publicly reveal that Headley is actually a CIA agent or at least that he was at the time they received the warnings about him. They will have to bear the brunt of negative publicity for the time being. As we say in the States, ‘take one for the team’. Whether Headley was cooperating fully with the CIA or went rogue during the Mumbai attacks is an entirely different question. Perhaps he was a double agent working for the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or a rogue CIA agent. Please stay tuned to my blog, there are many more interesting and thought provoking stories and more news with intelligence to soon follow.
Kiss and Tell: Intimacies with David Headley’s Ex-Wife, Faiza Outalha
A never told before story of my brief, fascinating and interesting encounter with David Headley’s Moroccan Ex-Wife, Faiza Outalha, which lead to an NIA and FBI investigation of me. Also never shown to the public before, a copy of her last Facebook message to me just six weeks prior to 26/11.