`Headley testimony on ISI dented US-Pak ties`

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 00:53

New York: LeT terrorist David Coleman
Headley`s explosive evidence about the "close alliance"
between the terror group and Pakistan`s intelligence unit ISI
had a "really damaging" effect on the US-Pakistani
relationship, an investigative journalist has said.

Headley`s role in the Mumbai attacks is the subject of a
new Frontline documentary `A Perfect Terrorist` by ProPublica
reporter Sebastian Rotella said.

It chronicles Headley`s journey from the US to Mumbai and
reveals what American and Pakistani intelligence officials
knew about him before and after his mission.

Rotella says Headley gave specific evidence at
co-conspirator Tahawwur Rana`s trial in Chicago about the
close alliance between the ISI and the Lashkar terrorist
group.

"[He described] how the training works, how the funding
works, how the coordinated decision-making works, and how they
set out to do this attack together," says Rotella.

"He talks about names, places, communications. He`s a
gold mine for showing how this double game in Pakistan.
is really played."

"It`s had a really damaging [effect] on the US-Pakistani
relationship, and I think really helped change the way a lot
of people in the US government see their relationship with US
security forces," he says, "partially because three years have
gone by, and except for a couple of token arrests, the
masterminds [behind Mumbai] are free."

During the trial, Headley described his meetings with
both ISI and Lashkar officials before the Mumbai operation.

He also described meeting a Pakistani military official
at Lashkar headquarters who gave Lashkar advice on how to
carry out a maritime attack.

"Because of his evidence, the US attorney`s office in
Chicago indicted Major Iqbal, [a Pakistani intelligence
official], which is the first time you have a serving
Pakistani intelligence officer charged in the murder of
Americans," says Rotella.

Rotella said in the course of his reporting he spoke to
several people about how Headley was able to train with
Islamic militants and meet with al-Qaida operatives without
ever drawing notice from American authorities.

"Very serious US forces tell me that the reality is, in
the real world, it`s not as easy as you think beforehand to
detect a terrorist," he says.

"But the fact is, the guy gets away with it, and he puts
together this incredible blueprint that`s carried out in
Mumbai.

And most people think that if it hadn`t been for the
scouting he did, the Mumbai attacks could not have been pulled
off the way they were because they were absolutely reliant on
the surveillance and the reconnaissance and the planning he
helped do."

During this time, Headley made several trips to Mumbai to
plan which sites the terrorists should attack.

"He`s able to spend time in these luxury hotels and
these places Westerners go and do reconnaissance that just
wouldn`t be possible for 95 percent of the otherwise very
capable operatives that Lashkar has," says Rotella.

"He`s unique in this sense. [In the Taj] the gunmen know
the place inside and out, even though they`ve never been
anywhere near Mumbai, let alone a luxury hotel.

That was all thanks to this preliminary work that
Headley had done."

Headley was arrested in Chicago in 2009 and charged with
planning terrorist attacks in India and in Denmark, where he
was involved in a plot to attack a Danish newspaper that had
published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

A year later, Headley pleaded guilty in a deal that let
him avoid the death penalty and extradition to India, Pakistan
and Denmark.

In the plea bargain, he was obligated to testify against
his friend from a Pakistan military school Rana, who was also
charged with helping to plot the attacks in Mumbai.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 00:53

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