Headley, a double agent?

Last Updated: Sunday, October 17, 2010 - 23:40

Washington: David Headley, who confessed his involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks, may have been a double agent who worked for both al-Qaeda, through LeT, and
American intelligence agencies, as he was receiving training at terrorist camps in Pakistan.

By letting Headley maintain contacts with Lashkar-e- Toiba and other al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan as reflected in the court papers submitted by the FBI federal authorities
have said that they hoped to reach the top al-Qaeda leaders.

But Headley went rogue and slipped out of their hands. Those handling Headley`s account in the American intelligence agencies said that a decision to arrest him was
taken only after he shifted his attention from India to Europe and Headley`s Pak handlers started using him for a Mumbai-type attack in European cities.

The information coming from various federal (American) and Indian sources coming out in bits and pieces indicate that at some level intelligence agencies in the US had information about the possible Mumbai attack in 2008 and the key role that
he played in this massacre of innocent people by Pakistan-based LeT terrorists.

This is possible because federal officials hoped that once Headley`s handlers had full faith in him, they would be able to get access to the top al-Qaeda leaders inside Pakistan. However, another official said that Headley gradually was brainwashed and was leaking out only selective information to the US and started playing only on behalf of LeT and
al-Qaeda leaders who were his contact persons inside Pakistan.

However, federal officials yesterday insisted that they had no inkling of the Mumbai terrorist attack. "US authorities took seriously what Headley`s former wives said," a senior administration official said. "Their information was of a general nature and did not suggest any particular terrorist plot," the official told PTI.

In the past two days, The New York Times and ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest have carried
out investigative news report about Headley`s contacts with FBI and that the wives of Headley had informed FBI about his terrorists links several years before the Mumbai terrorist attack.

In three interviews with federal agents, Headley`s one of the wives said that he was an active militant in the terror group LeT, had trained extensively in its Pakistani camps, and
had shopped for night vision goggles and other equipment, according to officials and sources close to the case.

The New York Times earlier reported that another of Headley`s wives - he apparently was married to three women at the same time - also had warned US officials about his
terrorism involvement.

In December 2007, a young Moroccan woman met with officials at the US Embassy in Pakistan and told them about her husband Headley`s friendship with Lashkar members, his hatred of India and her trips with him to the Taj Mahal Hotel, a prime target of the Mumbai attacks, the Times reported.

A federal official was quoted as saying by The Washington Post that Headley`s work as an informant appears to have lasted until sometime between 2003 and 2005. Another
federal official said Headley was a DEA informant in "the early 2000s."

"I couldn`t say it continued into 2005, but he was definitely an informant post-9/11," the official said. However, an Indian official doubted that the contacts could have ended in 2005, and insisted that the connection could have continued even after the Mumbai terrorist plot.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, October 17, 2010 - 23:40

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