‘Headley has credibility problems’

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 21:40

Chicago: David Coleman Headley, the star
witness in the Chicago trial of the Mumbai terror suspect
Tahawwur Hussein Rana has credibility problem because of his
dubious past in which he apparently worked as a double agent,
according to experts.

The Chicago trial of Rana has entered the second week
today with the intense grilling of Headley, by defense
prosecutors.

"By his own admission, Headley has credibility
problems," investigative journalist Sebastian Rotella said in
his latest report as part of a ProPublica and PBS Frontline
investigation.

He is a former heroin addict and drug smuggler.

He has juggled allegiances to the DEA, the
Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group, al-Qaida and Pakistani
intelligence.

He has maneuvered among overlapping relationship with
three wives, including the mother of his four children, it
said.

"To save himself from the death penalty, he has
pleaded guilty to doing reconnaissance for the Mumbai attacks
and a plot in Denmark and is now the star witness against
Tahawwur Rana, his boyhood friend and accused accomplice," the
report said.

According to the news report, Headley remains the
sole source of some information produced in the courtroom,
including his account of the spy training he received at a
safe house in Lahore, where he says his instructors were
sergeants, corporals and other non-commissioned officers
working for Major Iqbal.

Experts say Headley`s tradecraft as a reconnaissance
operative suggests that he did, in fact, have professional
training. The meticulous advance work and tactical
sophistication of the Mumbai plot far exceeded the majority of
operations by al Qaeda and other groups working without state
support, it said.

"When Rana`s defence attorneys continue their
cross-examination of Headley this week, it`s possible that
they will severely damage Headley, or that he will
self-destruct on the stand.

But so far the defence`s approach has tended to
reinforce his credibility," ProPublica and PBS Frontline said.

"In fact, Rana`s lawyers appear to accept Headley`s
claim that he worked for the ISI and even see it as a factor
that mitigates Rana`s guilt.

They assert that Rana, who communicated with Major
Iqbal but not with the Lashkar masterminds, thought he was
helping Headley conduct espionage operations for the ISI when
he let him use his Chicago immigration consulting firm as a
cover.

The defence depicts Headley as skilled manipulator
who kept his childhood friend in the dark about his terrorist
activity while using him as an unwitting accomplice," it said.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 21:40

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