Ongoing probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has shown that Pakistani origin American David Coleman Headley, during his travels in India, splurged in shopping in malls in Mumbai and elsewhere, used American credit cards and at times also made payments using fake Indian currency. Interestingly, he left all his goodies behind in India.
“All this is under the purview of the probe. We are also looking into all circumstances like who made his credit card payments and who supplied him with fake Indian currency,” top officials of the Union Home Ministry said on Tuesday.
Some of the Bollywood personalities, including Rahul Bhatt, whom Headley had befriended, reportedly told the investigators that Headley spoke fluently about military operations, commando training and other such aspects and they got the impression that he could have been a “CIA agent” on some kind of mission but certainly was not a businessman as he made himself out to be.
Highly placed government sources said Headley’s life-style gave enough indications to the investigators that he “double crossed” everyone, including those handling him in Pakistan as well as the U.S. agencies. He has a traditional Pakistani wife who lives with their children in Chicago and he also has an American girlfriend, a make-up artist in New York. Investigators here believe that he may have entered into a relationship, during his multiple visits to India on business visa, with a woman.
Though the U.S. agencies had alerted India about the possibility of a terror strike in Mumbai through sea route in September 2008 and even named the Taj Hotel as one of the prime targets, they knew about the terror plot about a year before that. “There were two earlier botched up attempts to launch terror attacks in Mumbai, but terrorists succeeded in their third attempt on November 26 last,” the sources said.
Headley’s understanding of the Pakistani drug network came to light, when in 1998 he, under his name of Dawood Gilani, was convicted of conspiring to smuggle heroin into the U.S. from Pakistan. After his arrest, courts records quoted by the American media, show that he provided so much information about his Pakistani drug contacts, his own involvement with drug trafficking, which dated back to a decade, and about his Pakistan suppliers, that he got less than two years in jail. He later went to Pakistan to conduct undercover surveillance operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
In 2003, he attended Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) training camps in Pakistan. In 2006, he changed his name to David Headley, so as to make border crossings between the U.S. and other countries easier. He then moved his family to Chicago and claimed to work for an immigration agency, owned by Tahawwur Hussain Rana, now his co-conspirator and also under arrest.
Rana was born in Pakistan, took Canadian citizenship and ran a business in Chicago. Headley has been charged earlier this month in a U.S. court with hatching criminal conspiracy to launch the Mumbai terror attacks.
As investigators try and piece together a number of aspects of conspiracy behind 26/11 without getting bogged down by “pre-conceived notions,” the sources said yet another look was being given at the working of the counter-intelligence wings of the Indian agencies who never imagined the possibility of a Pakistani-origin U.S. citizen being involved in the LeT network and conspiring to launch terror attacks in Mumbai.