David Headley, who confessed his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, may have been a double-agent who worked for both Al Qaeda, through the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and U.S. intelligence agencies, as he was receiving training at terrorist camps in Pakistan.
By letting Headley maintain contacts with the LeT and other Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan — as reflected in the court papers submitted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) — U.S. 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 U.S. intelligence agencies said that the decision to arrest him was taken only after he shifted his attention from India to Europe and his Pakistani handlers started training him for a Mumbai-type attack in European cities.
Bits and pieces of information from various U.S. and Indian sources indicate that at some level U.S. intelligence agencies had information about the possibility of the Mumbai attack and of the key role Headley played in it.
U.S. officials had 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, was gradually brainwashed, and began leaking out only selective information to the U.S., and started playing only on behalf of LeT and Al Qaeda leaders, his contact persons inside Pakistan.
U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer said in a statement in New Delhi that Washington had shared with India terror-related inputs it deemed were “potentially credible” to its national security.
“I can say that it is our policy and practice to share terrorism-related information promptly with our foreign partners, when we deem that information potentially credible and relevant to their national security,” Mr. Roemer said.
“We do exactly that with partners around the world every day, including India,” he said.
“We are looking into published reports about possible information related to David Headley that goes back before the Mumbai attacks and how such information may have been handled,” Mr. Roemer said.