Headley’s Real Connections

By Sajjad Shaukat

During her latest visit to Pakistan on July 19 this year, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the interrogation of David Headley, a Pakistani-American terror suspect linked to the Mumbai attacks, has thrown up a “revealing set of facts” that have been shared with Pakistani authorities. She further elaborated, “I don’t know the specifics (of the revelations made by Headley) but I know…Headley was “fully cooperative and he was willing to explain in great detail a lot of what he had done over the years.”

Ms. Clinton also revealed that Headley told Indian and American investigators that the Mumbai attacks were carried out by the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba. Clinton maintained that Headley and Faisal Shahzad…responsible for the botched car bomb attack in New York, were radicalised in the US but were “facilitated, directed and operationalised” from Pakistan.

However, in wake of her visit to Islamabad, the main aim to revive the case of David Headley by Hillary Clinton was to please India and to tarnish the image of Pakistan. Notably, we cannot see the Headley drama in isolation, it is part of conspiracy and blame game against Pakistan. In this respect, sometimes American and Indian high officials accuse Pakistan and its intelligence agencies with colse ties with the Afghan Taliban, sometimes they blame them for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan and now they have linked Headley with them after his admission which itself is part of a plot against Pakistan.

David Coleman Headley 49, a US citizen, American-born Pakistani was accused by US federal authorities in Chicago, in complaints unsealed on October 27, 2009, of plotting against the employees of a newspaper in Copenhagen. Headley was accused of traveling to Denmark to scout the building of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, and a nearby Synagogue for an attack by terrorists.

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On December 8, 2009, the FBI additionally accused Headley of conspiring to bomb targets in Mumbai, providing material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Pakistani group—besides aiding and abetting the murder of six US citizens in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

Headley pleaded guilty to all charges on March 18, 2010.  He faces life in prison and a three million dollar fine when he was sentenced.

Headley was also accused in the FBI complaints of reporting to Ilyas Kashmiri, militant commander associated with both Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Kashmiri was alleged to be a former Pakistani military commando, but he denied this in an interview in October 2009. Headley made contact with al-Qaeda member when he made two trips to North Waziristan in FATA.

An Associated Press story allegdely reported on November 24, 2009 that five Pakistan army officers including a retired brigadier and two active lieutenant colonels had been detained for questioning in Pakistan. They had all been in telephone contact with Headley. But the next day, Pakistan military spokesman Athar Abbas rejected such a fabricated report.

Although American and Indian investigators have used David Headley in order to link him with Pakistan, yet his real connections are concerned with Indian secret agency RAW and American CIA.

As regards CIA, on 27 November 2009, under the caption: Is Headley an American agent who turned rogue?, The Times of India, while connecting David Headley with CIA pointed out, “It is a plot that could be straight out of the bluff-and-double-bluff worlds created by John le Carre and Frederick Forsyth. Only, it seems to have played out in real life to the tragic misfortune of hundreds of innocent people. The tantalising possibility that David Coleman Headley may have been a US undercover agent who turned rogue is vexing many here as American authorities keep the US-based Lashkar jihadi out of the reach of Indian investigators. The paper wrote that Headley was used to infiltrate the Lashkar…he may have continued to give information to his American handlers”. The Time also indicated, US agencies were perhaps aware that Headley was in India…during his interactions in India, Headley frequently introduced himself as a CIA agent.”


It is mentionable that The Newyork Times disclosed in a profile in 1998 that Headley was convicted of conspiring to smuggle heroin into US from Pakistan. It reported, “Court records show that after his arrest, he provided so much information about his own involvement with drug trafficking which stretched back more than a decade and about his Pakistani suppliers that he was sentenced to less than two years in jail and later went to Pakistan to conduct undercover surveillance operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).”
Without any doubt, this proves that Headley had a deal with the American authorities which allowed him to get away with mild punishment in exchange for a promise of cooperation. It also means that he was a known entity to the counter-terror and drug enforcement authorities in the US.

It is of particular attention that in the beginning, Washington had refused to give Indian investigators access to David Headley as American CIA wanted to conceal some facts about him. But afterwards, access was allowed because the CIA had given temptation to Headley with the promise to release him.

Meanwhile, to a query on the perception in New Delhi that Washington was not cooperating with India on the Mumbai terror investigations, a US official refused to agree with the view and pointed out to the Headley case, saying: “the cooperation is exceptional” between the two countries on the Mumbai attacks and it would continue to make progress. He further explained, “your home minister P Chidambaram had a very successful visit to the US and as a result of that visit we are proceeding in a number of directions to expand our consultations on specific cooperation.”

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The fact of the matter is that Mumbai terror attacks were collaboration between RAW, CIA and Hindu terrorists. While In this respect, David Headley was doing his assigned job in connection with that catastrophe. He had to infiltrate the RAW-trained fundamentalists and CIA-insturcted groups so as to promote attacks that could then be blamed on Pakistan. Besides, another major aim of those attack was to arrest the suspected Muslims in some western country and to distort the image of Pakistan in the western countries through a deliberate propaganda campaign.

Nontheless, David Headley who has now been used to implicate Pakistan by Hillary Clinton and other officials had, in fact, his real connections with Indian RAW and American CIA.

Sajjad Shaukat is a regular contributor to www.opinion-maker He writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.

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