INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR--PAPER NO.574
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US had filed an affidavit in the district court of the Northern district of Illinois on October 11,2009, justifying its decision to arrest David Coleman Headley, originally known as Dawood Gilani till 2006. The evidence against him described in the affidavit is based on the interception of his telephone conversations and e-mail communications between October,2008, and October 3,2009, when he was arrested and the information gathered from him after his arrest.
2. The affidavit refers to three of his ring leaders in Pakistan----Ilyas Kashmiri, formerly of the Special Services Group (SSG) of the Pakistan Army who subsequently joined the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), a contact of Ilyas Kashmiri, who is referred to as Individual A and an operative of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), who is referred to as LET member A. While the affidavit identifies Ilyas by name and gives considerable details of his background, it refrains from identifying the other two. The reasons for this are not clear.
3. While the major portion of the affidavit is about the attempted use of Headley by Ilyas to carry out a terrorist strike in Denmark, there are also references to the LET's interest in using him for a terrorist strike in India. Some media reports had initially described Headley as a White convert to Islam, but the affidavit indicates that he was a Chicago resident (US citizen?) of Pakistani origin, who claimed to have studied in the military cadet school of the Punjab Government at Hasan Abdal.
4. He would appear to have come to the notice of the FBI in October, 2008, when he had posted an entry in a chat group of former students of the cadet school expressing his anger over the insult of the Prophet in a cartoon published by a Danish journal. Subsequent investigation brought out that Headley hade been associated with the LET at least since 2006, if not earlier, and had been trained by it. He had made visits to India, but the affidavit makes no reference to any role played by him in the Mumbai suburban train blasts of July 2006 and the terrorist attacks of 26/11. He was in Pakistan during the period between December 2008 and June 2009. During his stay,he visited the Waziristan area, met Ilyas for the first time and swore his loyalty to him.
5. The references to India in the affidavit have been extracted below:
Lashkar-e-Taiba Shifts its Focus From Denmark to Potential New Attack in India
In July and August 2009, HEADLEY exchanged a series of emails with an individual that HEADLEY later identified to FBI agents as Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A. Certain of these emails are summarized below.
On July 3, 2009, Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A sent HEADLEY an email in which Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A said, "i need to see you for some new investment plans."
On July 8, 2009, HEADLEY sent Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A an email which stated, in part: "What do you want me to do? Where are you interested in making investments?"
In another email on July 8, 2009, HEADLEY told Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A that "I think when we get a chance we should revisit our last location again and say hi to Rahul."Following his arrest, HEADLEY acknowledged that, in this email, "Rahul" refers to a prominent Indian actor with the first name "Rahul."
Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A replied to the above email on July 8, 2009 and told HEADLEY in an email that "to see Rahul is a good idea coz have some work for you over there too. Matters are good enough to move forward...."
On July 9 , 2009, HEADLEY responded:"When you say "move forward" do you mean in the North direction or towards Rahul? Also in the future if we need to meet to discuss anything, do I have to come all the way over there or can we meet somewhere in the middle like Africa or Middle East?"
The same day, Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A responded that "I mean towards Rahul."
On July 10, 2009, HEADLEY sent an email to Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A in which he stated:"I would like to know a few things if you can tell me:1) What is the status with the Northern project, i's it still postponed indefinitely?2) The visit to Rahul's place, is it for checking out real estate property like before,or something different and if so tell me what you can please. Also is it exactly in Rahul's city or different one?3) How long do you think I will need to stay at Rahul's place to complete this task?4) Will I have to stay there continuously for a while, or back and forth like before?"
Based on my (FBI agent's) review of this and other communications, I believe that HEADLEY had inquired of Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A whether the Denmark project was on hold, and whether the visit to India that Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A had asked him to undertake was for the purpose of surveilling targets for a new terrorist attack.
Later on July 10,2009, Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A responded to HEADLEY's email, stating, in part, that:"There are some investment plans with me, not exactly at Rahul's city but near that. Rest we can decide when meet according to your ease".
In an email to Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A on July 16, 2009, HEADLEY stated, in part:"One very important thing I need to know please is that how long do you need me for,meaning how long should it take me to finish my work, in your opinion. And is it really urgent? Before it seemed that the Northern Project was really urgent."
After Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A responded on July 18, 2009, that "it may take somewhere between 2 to 4 weeks," HEADLEY replied on July 19, 2009, that "I think I can manage it," and that he would be available in October. He closed his email by asking"Is the Northern Investment definitely postponed for now?"
Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A and HEADLEY continued to exchange emails through late August 2009, when HEADLEY told Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A that he "will be there end of next month."
I (FBI agent) understand these emails to reflect that beginning in July 2009, Lashkar-e-Taiba Member A was placing a higher priority on using HEADLEY to assist in planning a new attack in India than on completing the planned attack in Denmark.
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd) , Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )