INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR—PAPER NO 592
Please refer to my article of December 15,2009, titled “ Headley’s Case Figures in Senate Committee” available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers36/paper3549.html .
2. A reader in the US has drawn my attention to some other references to the Headley case in the transcript of the Committee hearing. I had missed these references in my earlier article. These are annexed.
3. While forwarding these references, the reader has also made the following observations. I am not in a position to comment on his observations:
a) There have been multiple classified hearings prior to recent public revelations wherein Headley was discussed. I base this on the highlighted comment made by Senator Lieberman and by looking at the committee's calendar. It would be reasonable to infer that at least some key government elements in the US were aware of Headley's actions for a while now
(b) Also based on the same discussion, it appears that the relevant US agencies were possibly downplaying Headley's actions as only a threat outside of the US as opposed to threats to the US directly.
(c) If a well informed person like Senator Lieberman can publicly raise questions on how long Headley was being allowed to operate from the US, then so should Indian authorities.
4.In my article of November 10,2009, titled “ FBI Affidavit Against Headley: References to India” available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers35/paper3496.html I had extracted references to India from the affidavits filed by the FBI in the Chicago court. The significant extracts are again re-produced 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, is 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.
5. By studying these extracts submitted by the FBI along with other FBI documents submitted by the FBI to the court and US media reports about Headley’s links with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),one can make the following assessment:
(a). Headley was not a double agent, but a quadruple agent. He initially started working for the DEA around 1998. Even if one presumes that initially the FBI and the CIA were not aware of this, they should have become aware of this by 2004 when the National Counter-Terrorism Centre with a common charter and a common data-base was set up by the Bush Administration under the newly-created post of Director National Intelligence (DNI).
(b).He started working for the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) sometime in 2005. It is not clear whether he joined the LET at his own instance or at the instance of the FBI or the CIA or both in order to penetrate it. He was already visiting Pakistan at the instance of the DEA since 1998. Since 2006, he started visiting India too. The DEA and the FBI would have been aware of his visits since every time a conscious agent of an agency travels abroad his passport is scrutinized by the controlling agency on his return. This is a security precaution followed by all intelligence agencies.
( c). He started working for the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri towards the end of 2008 and agreed to visit Copenhagen to collect operational information for a possible terrorist attack. This was probably not at the instance of the FBI, which came to know accidentally of Headley volunteering himself to undertake a task in Copenhagen while monitoring the chat room of the old students of the Army Cadet School at Hasan Abdal. Both Headley and Rana studied in the school. The FBI put Headley under electronic surveillance after obtaining orders of a relevant court.
(d). While doing the electronic surveillance to monitor his involvement in the Northern or Copenhagen or Micky Mouse project for the 313 Brigade, the FBI came across a series of E-mail intercepts in July and August,2009, which showed that Headley had helped the LET in preparing itself for the 26/11 terrorist strikes and had agreed to help the LET in carrying out another terrorist strike in India for which he was to visit India. The FBI started monitoring the meetings and conversations of Headley and Rana and recorded their conversation of September 7,2009, in a car which clearly indicated their involvement in the 26/11 terrorist strike.
(e). The communications between Headley and his LET handler intercepted by the FBI in July and August also indicated that he was planning to visit India in October to prepare the ground for another terrorist strike. The FBI had two options---either allow him to go to India, alert the Indian intelligence and keep him under surveillance or arrest him before he left for Pakistan and India. If he had been allowed to go to India, watched there and arrested by the Indian intelligence, his past contacts with the US agencies and his role in 26/11 would have come to the notice of the Indian authorities. There is no evidence so far to show that till July 2009 the FBI was aware of his active role in 26/11. They were probably only aware of his frequent visits to Pakistan and India on behalf of the DEA operations. The FBI arrested him when he was about to leave for Pakistan and India on October 3.
(f). He was also in touch with serving and retired officers of the Pakistan Army.
6. Headley’s case reflects poorly not only on the US agencies, but also on the Indian agencies. The ease with which he and Rana allegedly obtained multiple-entry business visas from Indian consular authorities despite their Pakistani origin and with which they repeatedly visited India without any alarm bell ringing in our airport immigration control shows shockingly lax immigration controls. Rana was a Canadian citizen living and working in Chicago. Was the clearance of the Indian High Commission in Ottawa obtained before issuing him a visa? Did Headley obtain the clearance of the Governments of Maharashtra and India before opening an immigration consultancy office in Mumbai? Did he inform the Income-Tax authorities? Did he obtain an income-tax clearance certificate before leaving India after each stay? (16-12-09)
( 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 )
( From the transcript of the hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security )
LIEBERMAN: Let me ask you two questions that come off of the Headley case for me.One is it has been reported that Headley changed his name. He was a child of -- one parent was a Pakistani, one parent was American. He changed his name. His original name was Daood Gilani. And he changed it to David Headley, allegedly to reduce scrutiny by immigration and customs officials while traveling.And I wonder, just as this is a test case, what -- what can be done to try to avoid, to block this kind of name change being used as a way to avoid being on a watch list or being picked up by some other terrorist blockage system?I'm not sure who best to call on.
You get my point: To what extent can an individual like this make it harder for him to be picked up, by changing his name, in this case, to an American or English sounding name?
HEALY: Chairman, it's difficult, because, first of all, I'm in a difficult position about commenting on a particular case.
LIEBERMAN: Yes, understood,.
HEALY: But it's -- I find my -- I find challenges in my particular position, because it's truly a balancing act. It's a balancing act between safeguarding civil liberties and protecting the American people.And the best we can do is just keep driving the intelligence and keep working the intelligence as much as we possibly can to try to get the information. I don't know how else you could do it.
LIEBERMAN: Anyone else have a response on that?
HEYMAN (?): I agree with -- with Tim Healy that this is a challenge. You know, those who are seeking to do harm are constantly hearing what we are doing, watching what we are doing and adapting to that.So changing names may be one thing. Changing secure documents or attempting to change documents, changing even biometrics, people do that.And so, we have to constantly be working to try to counter that through technology, through procedures, but also through additional layers, so that we're not just resting on one thing, one security solution.
LIEBERMAN: Yes. I think without making too much of a point of it, even though the Headley case presents challenges to the system or questions about it, the fact is that through quite remarkable work across law enforcement and intelligence (inaudible), he was identified, and was stopped.
And of course, we -- we do have -- though he traveled legally in and out of the country, we do have records, of course, of every time he traveled in and out, which are part of the case that's now been built against him.But with the indulgence of my colleagues, I want to ask you another question. This is a fact case. And I remember it was presented to us as a worry by one of your predecessors in the last administration at the Department of Homeland Security.
Which is the case, and this is something I know people worry about, where -- this is the dual passport issue -- someone with a Pakistani and U.K., United Kingdom, passport travels to Pakistan with his Pakistani documents and then comes to the U.S. with his British passport, and we don't have any record that he traveled to Pakistan.I don't know if that's a question without an answer, but I just give it to you because I remember that as a practical fear based on all the presence of all training camps and centers of world terrorism in the Pakistan/Afghanistan area, not particularly...
HEYMAN (?): Sir, that continues to be a concern. I was last in London in November. I had a two-hour dialogue with a variety of British officials on this particular issue. It is one in which we are looking to work out procedures.I can't tell you we've worked them out yet, but we're absolutely aware of this and -- and -- and looking at whether or not there are ways within our systems to be able to catch that.Because you're absolutely right. If the person left the U.K. under one passport...
HEYMAN (?): ... and came back under another passport, being a dual citizen, that would be caught by the U.K. But to travel under a Pakistani passport isn't necessarily, under the current system, going to -- going to raise an alert. But they are looking at that system, and I think we all have to be cognizant of that.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I'm encouraged that you're raising the question. It's not easy to solve, but I appreciate that you're on it. Thank you