‘US failed to act on Headley warnings’

Apart from his wives, other multiple sources too had forewarned about Headley`s anti-India plans.

Washington: It was not only his two wives, but also several other multiple sources - at least five in all - who had forewarned or provided tip off to US intelligence
authorities about David Headley`s anti-India plans, a news
report said Saturday.

A review being conducted for the director of national
intelligence has found that since 2001 a number of leads
emerged about the Pakistan-American LeT operative, that if
taken cohesively, could have busted his plot.

The US intelligence failed to respond to all these
instances of warnings since 2001 about Headley who went on to
play a major role in the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai.

It was not only his two wives, but several other
multiple sources as well, who had all warned or provided tip
off to American intelligence authorities about Headley`s
negative side, ProPublica said in a report, a version of which
was also published in The Washington Post.

In the seven years in which leads accumulated, the
double agent was not questioned or placed on a terror watch
list, it said.

In fact, just seven months before the Mumbai attacks,
one of Headley`s ex-wives had told US officials overseas that
she suspected he was linked to a 2007 bombing in India that
was blamed on Lashkar-e-Toiba.

The report said quoting an unnamed senior anti-terror
official that the woman had warned that her ex-husband was on
a "special mission".

The report came as President Barack Obama arrived in
Mumbai and paid homage to the victims of the 26/11 carnage at
the Taj Mahal hotel that was one of the targets of the attack.

It was a typical case of flawed information-sharing
that failed to convert an "overwhelming" flow of raw
intelligence to identify the threat.

The report said a lack of focus on Lashkar-e-Toiba
also kept investigators from identifying the threat.

It is notable that the just ahead of Obama`s ongoing
visit to India, the US has imposed sanctions on the group.

"It`s a black eye... The problem is the information
system. New York didn`t know about Philadelphia. Islamabad
didn`t know about Philadelphia or New York," an official was
quoted as saying.

The review was launched after media reports said last
month that two of Headley`s three wives had tipped off
agencies in 2005 and 2007 about his anti-India plans.

The review has now found that warnings also came up in
2001, 2002, April 2008 and December 2008 -- the last one a
month after the Mumbai attack had already happened.

Headley, 50, who has pleaded guilty to charges of
plotting the attack, was arrested only in October 2009.

Headley spied on Pakistani drug traffickers for the
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) starting in the late
1990s, though officials say the DEA cut ties with him "well
before" Mumbai, the report said.

And the review is also likely to probe whether his
work as a US agent affected investigations.

The final tip against Headley surfaced on December 1,
2008, in Philadelphia when a friend of his dead mother told
the FBI that Headley "had been fighting alongside individuals
in Pakistan to liberate Kashmir for the past five to six
years," it said.

The FBI agents who also looked into the previous
leads, however closed the case as they believed Headley was
overseas.

He was finally picked up after he traveled from
Chicago to Denmark to do reconnaissance for a new attack.

"The tipsters in the newly disclosed cases all warned
that Headley was an extremist, and three tied him to training
or other terrorist activity in Pakistan," the report said.

The tipsters included, besides his wives and his
mother`s friend, one of his former girlfriends in New York
City and the owner of a business frequented by his mother near
Philadelphia.

"The review also turned up a second, more specific tip
from Headley`s Moroccan wife when she contacted US officials
in Pakistan again, just seven months before the Mumbai
attacks, officials say," ProPublica said.

A spokeswoman for DNI said that reviews of this nature
are not uncommon and pointed out that since these events
occurred, advancements in information sharing systems have
been made by applying the lessons learned.

"We take our counterterrorism cooperation with our
Indian partners very seriously. Our respective intelligence
and law enforcement professionals work very closely together
on terrorism issues of mutual concern," Jamie Smith, the
spokeswoman, was quoted as saying.

Headley, the son of a former Pakistani diplomat and a
white American woman, is being held in the United States.

He has confessed to plotting the Mumbai attacks and in
exchange for pleading guilty, US prosecutors agreed he would
not face extradition to India or the death penalty.

PTI

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