India, US spar over info-sharing on Headley

Days before Obama`s India visit, the two countries find themselves on a collision course on sharing of info on David Headley.

Last Updated: Oct 27, 2010, 22:24 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Days before the US President Barack Obama’s much awaited India visit, the two countries continuously find themselves on a collision course vis-à-vis sharing of information on Pakistani-American terror convict David Coleman Headley.

On Wednesday, the US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer waded into the controversy by rejecting India’s position that specific information had not been shared.

“US provided regular and consistent information to
India even before 26/11 attacks…it continues to save lives even today,” Roemer claimed here before the media.

He said the US media had got it right that the US had shared information when they broke the Headley story.

He added that the access and sharing of information with India was "historic & unprecedented".

Roemer’s comments came even as the Union Home Secretary GK Pillai told a news channel that India was ‘disappointed’ that the US did not share David’s name and other specific information even after the attacks.

Headley and his partner Ayub Rana from Pakistan are in US custody for the dreaded Mumbai attacks that took place from November 26-28 in Mumbai last year and killed over 1650, including many foreigners.

According to US media reports, 50-year-old Headley`s American wife had given the FBI in New York a tip-off about his LeT links in 2005 while his young Moroccan wife had told authorities in the US embassy in Islamabad, less than a year before the 2008 Mumbai attacks, that he was plotting a terror strike.

US is probing how the information got leaked to the media. It ccreated a furore in the media with even the Union External Affairs Minister SM Krishna saying India had not received any specific information that could have been acted upon.

"We want to ask a simple question - did they share the name? If not, why not did they share the name," an official in the Home Ministry had said earlier this week, adding such a step could have resulted in his arrest.

Roemer however insisted that they he US had even given access to Headley earlier this year as India was a ‘friend’.

Talking about his experience as a 9/11 Commission
member, Roemer said even after being the American Commission,
the probing body was not given access to one of the accused
and masterminds of terror attacks on the US, Khalid Seikh
Mohammed.

"When India asked America for access to Headley, we
gave it. Because India is our strategic partner and our friend
and somebody with whom we share intelligence on regular and
consistent basis.

"So, India could sit down with Headley and ask him
what happened prior to Mumbai. We are not afraid what he will
say. In fact, we provided that opportunity to India to ask
anything they want," the US envoy said.

India has been maintaining that US lacked in providing
specific information and only gave "general information" prior
to 26/11.

"In the last few months, once Headley case surfaced,
we have had interactions and exchanges with the American
authorities into investigations. Before 26/11, we did not have
anything more than very general, non-specific information on
these warnings and threats," Foreign Secretary Nirupama
Rao had said.

-Agencies inputs