Was Headley an FBI informer?
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Last Updated: Tuesday, December 15, 2009, 21:42
  
Washington: Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, a LeT operative charged with criminal conspiracy in the 26/11 terror attacks, was arrested twice before on drug charges but was released early as he was a "good informant" in unearthing of some of the major drug cartels.

Headley was arrested on October 3 by the FBI and has been charged for being involved in the Mumbai terror attacks, in which 166 people were killed.

The 49-year-old Chicago resident, who worked as an informant to federal prosecutors at least twice as a result of which his sentence was reduced, has again turned out an informant for FBI this time.

The FBI charge-sheet filed against Headley gives an indication of it, in which the federal prosecutors say that he is cooperating in the investigation.

Court records indicate that Headley, earlier known as Dawood Gilani, was arrested twice on drug charges and on both the occasions, his sentence was reduced and was able to leave the jail early as he turned out to be a good informant to the drug enforcement agencies and helped them in unearthing of some of the major drug cartels.

Given the strong case against him in Mumbai attacks, Headley is unlikely to come out of the jail and faces death penalty. "But by talking this time, Headley might escape the death penalty," Philadelphia Inquirer said.

Headley has been charged in a 12-count criminal information with six counts of conspiracy to bomb places in India and Denmark and for providing material support to terrorist plots.

"He wasn't tough to crack: Before the day was out, Daood "David" Gilani decided to save his own skin, agreeing to betray his drug-dealing partners by helping US drug agents set up a sting," the paper said, referring to his arrest in 1988 on charges of possessing two kilos of heroine.

"It was the beginning of a complicated, off-and-on relationship as a confidential informant with the Drug Enforcement Administration -- one that lasted more than a decade," the paper said.

"In fact Gilani was so helpful as a DEA informant in the late 1990s on heroin imported from Pakistan, according to records, that prosecutors made a rare move: They ended his probation years early, allowing him to travel freely. Within weeks, investigators say, he began training with terrorists in Pakistan," the paper said.

Headley was again arrested in New York in 1997, smuggling drugs into the country. This time he again got off with a lighter sentence by testifying against his partners.

"Once again (after his recent arrest), Headley immediately switched sides. Prosecutors say he admitted taking trips to the jihadist camps and performing surveillance and photo reconnaissance for terrorist plots in Denmark and India, including preparations for the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks," the newspaper said.

'Headley could be 'double agent'

Indications that US terror suspect David Headley could have been a "double agent" for American agencies and Pakistan-based outfits have become clearer for Indian investigators with mounting evidence coming there way.

Top official sources said that there is a strong suspicion that US agency CIA knew about Headley's link with Lashkar-e-Taiba one year before Mumbai attack but did not convey it when he was freely travelling across India.

The investigators believe that the US agencies kept away the information from India and never allowed the Pakistani- origin Headley to get "exposed".

The 39-year old terror suspect, arrested by FBI for his role in Mumbai attacks, had visited India in March 2009 -- four months after Mumbai attack carried out by LeT -- but FBI still did not inform India that Headley is a LeT operative, apparently fearing he could be arrested in India.

The sources said that they apprehended that if Headley got less punishment in court then India would have a reasonable ground to believe that Headley was a US agent and also working for LeT.

It could also add credence to the belief that there was a plea bargain between Headley and US agencies. Sources said if Headley gets a jail term of just two to four years then India will press for his extradition after he serves his sentence.

During his multiple visits to India, Headley had spent a lot of money running into lakhs of rupees through credit cards issued by American banks and in fake Indian currency, believed to have been brought from Pakistan.

Indian investigators were now trying to find out who had paid his credit card bills in the American banks.

The sources said the US agencies gave Indian authorities two inputs about possible terror attack before 26/ 11 -- in September and October 2008. On both the occasions, the LeT aborted their missions at the last minute.

During their discussions, FBI officials told Indian investigators that Headley does not want to be questioned by Indian investigators, raising suspicion that the US agency does want him to be questioned by India.

Sources said now the Indian investigators will be able to question Headley only after filing a chargesheet against him in connection with Mumbai attack case.

About Headley's accomplice, Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana, sources said during his visit to Mumbai he did lots of shopping -- sarees, pants, shirts -- but left behind everything.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, December 15, 2009, 21:42


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