Pakistani authorities had told U.S. officials that the statements given by David Headley, the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks suspect, to American investigative agencies would not carry any value in Pakistan’s courts and would be treated as “hearsay with little evidentiary” value.
The secret U.S. cable, leaked by WikiLeaks, dated February 22, 2010 and issued by the US Embassy in Islamabad says that Pakistan is “slow” in taking action against all those involved in the Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed more than 160 people, including six American nationals.
The classified cable confirms India’s long assertion that Islamabad is not serious in taking action against those involved in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
“The FIA (Federal Investigative Agency) and Ministry of Interior (of Pakistan) informed the FBI that it would be difficult to introduce Headley-related evidence in the government’s prosecution of the Mumbai defendants, including because Headley’s statements to US authorities would be treated as hearsay with little evidentiary value in court,” says the cable signed off by the US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson.
“In December, an FBI-DOJ team briefed Pakistani officials from the ISI, Ministry of Interior, FIA, IB, and MFA on the David Coleman Headley investigation, providing them with tear—line information on Headley’s statements to U.S. authorities,” it said.
“ISI officials said they had very little information to identify the Pakistanis mentioned in the statements. They discussed their investigation into First World Immigration Service, a business front used by Headley and his co-conspirators.
“The ISI said while they would not grant direct FBI access to co-conspirator Major (retd) Abdurrehman Syed, who was in its custody, the FBI could submit questions for Syed through the ISI,” it said.
“Pakistan’s prosecution of the seven suspects it arrested in the Mumbai case -- i.e., XXXXXXXXXXXX and terrorism financiers XXXXXXXXXXXX -- is proceeding, though at a slow pace. The defence lawyers have aggressively filed motions challenging varying aspects of the case,” the cable said.
On November 25 (2009), an anti-terrorism court finally framed the charges against the seven defendants, allowing the court proceedings, which are being held in camera, to move to the trial phase, it said, adding that four FBI expert witnesses are expected to be called to testify for the prosecution.
“The (Pakistan) government has continually reassured us that the prosecutors will win convictions against all the defendants after a trial lasting several months, though it has a stronger case against the five LeT operatives than against the two terrorism financiers,” the cable said.
“There are concerns that some of the convictions could be overturned at the appellate level, where the courts set an extremely high evidentiary bar.”
On October 12, a Pakistani court quashed all remaining cases against Hafiz Saeed, the head of LeT alias Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). Those cases were not related to the Mumbai attacks, the cable noted.
“The government has repeatedly told us that it would need much more evidence of Saeed’s direct involvement in the Mumbai attacks to move forward with Mumbai-related charges against him,” it said.
The cable also says that during a February 12 meeting in Islamabad, Assistant US Treasury Secretary David Cohen provided the Pakistanis with a compilation of tearline information on the financial activities of terrorist organisations in Pakistan -- including their use of the formal financial sector -- and affiliated charities, businesses, and individuals.
“Cohen encouraged the Pakistanis to exploit these leads in the pursuit of additional information to identify key terrorism donors, fundraisers, and financial facilitators.
Cohen also passed declassified terrorism finance information to four Pakistani banks,” it said.
It is not known yet if Pakistan did take any action based on this information, the cable added.