Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why Neither India nor Pak can Trust the US: The Headley Instance

Q. Why was the India Gov so wretchedly uninformed?
Q. Why has India, the world's largest democracy not positioned itself to take cognizance of US-Pak intelligence-gathering and collusion in cross-border terrorism?
See my additional comments [ ] within the text of this NYTimes article, still working on it.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

NYTimes copyright
U.S. Had Warnings on Plotter of Mumbai Attack
David Guttenfelder/Associated Press

Indian soldiers fought terrorists at the Taj Mahal Hotel in 2008.
Published: October 16, 2010

This article is by Jane Perlez, Eric Schmitt and Ginger Thompson.
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Verna Sadock/Associated Press

David Headley in federal court in Chicago in 2009. In March, he pleaded guilty to helping plan the 2008 attacks on Mumbai.

Less than a year before terrorists killed at least 163 people in Mumbai, India, a young Moroccan woman went to American authorities in Pakistan to warn them that she believed her husband, David Headley, was plotting just such an attack.[What did the US do?]

It was not the first time American law enforcement authorities were warned about Mr. Headley, a longtime informer in Pakistan for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration whose roots in Pakistan and the United States allowed him to move easily in both worlds.

Two years earlier, in 2005, an American woman who was also married to the 50-year-old Mr. Headley told federal investigators in New York that she believed that he was a member of the militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, created and sponsored by Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency.[What did the US do?]

Despite those warnings by two of his three wives Mr. Headley roamed far and wide on Lashkar’s behalf between 2002 and 2009, receiving small arms and counter surveillance training, scouting targets for attack, and building a network of connections that extended from Chicago to Pakistan’s lawless frontier.

Then in 2008, it was his handiwork as chief reconnaissance scout that set the stage for Lashkar’s strike against Mumbai, an assault intended to provoke a conflict between nuclear-armed adversaries, Pakistan and India.

It is unclear what United States officials did with the warnings they had gotten about Mr. Headley — who has pleaded guilty to the crimes and is cooperating with authorities — or whether they saw them as complaints from wives whose motives might be colored by their strained relations with their husband.

A senior administration official said Saturday, “We took the information, passed it around to the relevant agencies, and what came back was that the F.B.I. had a file on Headley, but it didn’t link him to terrorism.”[Example of continuing turf war between FBI and CIA. Who benefits? ISI]

Mr. Headley’s ability to hide for years in plain sight has rekindled concerns that the Mumbai bombings are another instance of a communications breakdown among the agencies involved in combating terrorism, much like the enormous intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It also raises the question of whether United States officials were reluctant to dig deeper into Mr. Headley’s movements because he had been an informant for the D.E.A.[ ] More significantly, it may provide another instance of American reluctance to pursue evidence that some officials in Pakistan, its major ally in the war against Al Qaeda, were involved in planning an attack that killed six Americans.[the US neo-imperial project wqwhether in Iraq or Palestine or South Asia, is impervious to ethical geopolitical considerations]

The Pakistani government has insisted that its spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, a close partner of the C.I.A., did not know of the attack. The United States says it has no evidence to counter this, though officials acknowledge that some current or retired ISI officers probably played some role.[ ]

State Department officials and the F.B.I. said that they investigated the warnings they received about Mr. Headley, but that they could not confirm any connections between him and Lashkar-e-Taiba. And D.E.A. officials said they ended their association with him at the end of 2001, at least two months before Mr. Headley reportedly attended his first terrorist training.

The investigative news organization ProPublica reported the 2005 warning from Mr. Headley’s American ex-wife on its Web site and in the Saturday issue of The Washington Post. By ProPublica’s account, she told authorities that Mr. Headley boasted about working as an American informant while he trained with Lashkar. According to that report, she gave authorities audio cassettes and ideological material, and described e-mails she believed he exchanged with extremists.

But she was not the only one to come forward. An examination of Mr. Headley’s movements shows that United States authorities also heard from his Moroccan wife that he was involved in a terrorist group that was actively plotting against targets in India. Beyond these warnings, interviews illustrate his longstanding connections to American law enforcement and the ISI.

Among the findings:

¶ An officer of the Pakistani spy agency handed Mr. Headley $25,000 in early 2006 to open an office and set up a house in Mumbai to be used as a front during his scouting trips, according to Mr. Headley’s testimony to Indian investigators in Chicago in June.[ ]

¶ The ISI officer who gave Mr. Headley the cash, known as Maj. Iqbal, served as the supervisor of Lashkar’s planning, helping to arrange a communications system for the attack, and overseeing a model of the Taj Mahal Hotel, so that gunmen could find their way around, according to Mr. Headley’s testimony to the Indians.

¶ While working for Lashkar, which has close ties to the ISI, Mr. Headley was also enlisted by the Pakistani spy agency to recruit Indian agents to monitor Indian troop levels and movements, an American official said.[ ]

Mr. Headley was well known both to Pakistani and American security officials long before his arrest as a terrorist. He went to an elite military high school in Pakistan, whose graduates went on to become high-ranking military officers and intelligence operatives. After arrests in 1988 and 1997 on drug-trafficking charges, Mr. Headley became such a valued D.E.A. informant that the drug agency sent him back and forth between Pakistan and the United States.[Yet another example of the US agencies' turf war, the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing]

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