US was not sure about Headley’s 26/11 plans

Washington did not pass on information about Pakistani American David Headley to India before 26/11 because it was not "sufficiently established" that he was plotting a terrorist attack, says US intelligence chief James Clapper.

Last Updated: Nov 09, 2010, 22:21 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Washington: Washington did not pass on information about Pakistani American David Headley to India before the 2008 Mumbai attacks because it was not "sufficiently established" that he was plotting a terrorist attack in India, says US intelligence chief James Clapper.

Defending the US intelligence agencies, the director of National Intelligence on Monday acknowledged that the US government had some information about Headley, who has confessed to helping plan the Mumbai attacks.

But "it was not sufficiently established that he was engaged in plotting a terrorist attack in India", said a statement from Clapper`s office after a probe found US intelligence did not pass on warnings about the son of a former Pakistani diplomat and a white American woman.

"Therefore, the United States government did not pass information on Headley to the Indian government prior to the attacks," added the statement.

Headley, who changed his given name of Daood Gilani in 2006 to scout targets in Mumbai without arousing suspicion, is being held in a Chicago jail. He has pleaded guilty to avoid facing extradition to India or the death penalty.
Specifically, Headley admitted to scouting the hotels and other sites that were targeted in the eventual assault by 10 gunmen from Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan based terror outfit, which killed 166 people.

Clapper`s office suggested US government did all it could to warn India about terrorists` interest in attacking Mumbai, even though Headley had been on the intelligence community`s radar for years and at one point worked as a government informant.

But Clapper`s statement said: "The review finds that the United States government did not connect Headley to terrorism until 2009, after the attacks on Mumbai.

"Had the United States government sufficiently established he was engaged in plotting a terrorist attack in India, the information would have most assuredly been transferred promptly to the Indian government."
"The United States takes counter terrorism and broader national security cooperation with our Indian partners very seriously," the statement said.

"The review finds the United States government aggressively and promptly provided the Indian government with strategic warnings regarding Lashkar-e-Taeba`s threats to several targets in Mumbai between June and September 2008."

Clapper`s statement added that since the attempted Christmas Day bombing on a Detroit-bound plane the Obama administration "has focused on information sharing reforms".

It added that "new watchlisting policies and procedures have been enacted, as well as an increased focus on the pursuit of seemingly disparate and unrelated information regarding reports on individuals and their activities".

India may seek clarification on Headley`s changed name

India is likely to press for
clarification from the US on why there was no mention in Headley`s passport that he had changed his name in a detailed
questionnaire to be sent to that country after Washington
handed over a one-page report on the issue.

The Home Ministry is examining the one-page report sent
by the US yesterday on the findings of a "full review" on the
inputs it had received on the Pakistani-American
Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist before or after 26/11 terror
attacks.

Officials said that had there been any indication that
Headley changed his name from Dawood Gilani and that he was a
Pakistani-American, it would have definitely alerted Indian
immigration officials during his multiple visits here.

"But there was no indication of it in his passport.
Moreover, someone must have helped him change his name," an
official said.

In its one-page report, the US informed India that
intelligence inputs it had about the Mumbai terror plotter was
not enough to sufficiently establish his role in planning
the 26/11 terrorist attack.

-Agencies inputs