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26/11 Mumbai Massacre 5 Year Anniversary: David Coleman Headley Reexamined

by George Mapp on November 23rd, 2013
David Coleman Headley.

David Coleman Headley.

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.

The Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, India in flames after the terrorist attacks on November 26 2008.

The Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, India in flames after the terrorist attacks on November 26 2008.

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.”

Tahawwur Rana and David Coleman Headley.

Tahawwur Rana and David Coleman Headley.

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.

Faiza Outalha wearing a full Burqa.

Faiza Outalha wearing a full Burqa.

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.

Viktor Bout arriving in the U.S. in DEA custody.

Viktor Bout arriving in the U.S. in DEA custody.

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 [2011]. 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.

Viktor Bout in Marion, IL Federal Penitentiary -- taken October 2012

Viktor Bout in Marion, IL Federal Penitentiary — taken October 2012

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.

India Today February 11, 2013 magazine cover.

India Today February 11, 2013 magazine cover.

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 RelentlessOperation 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.

Hafiz Saeed.

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.’

Contact Information:

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2 Comments
  1. Did Headley meet with Kasab in Jail? What could be the purpose if he was working for USA? Or working realy for Pakistan ISI?

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