‘Headley has credibility problems’
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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.


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

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