Thursday, January 31, 2013

The curious case of Daood Gilani

Daood Gilani, aka, David Headley was a tourist to India. When the history is written, he will have been among the first terror tourist to India - and perhaps he will open a new vista of tourism like medical tourism in India.

Pardon the satire, but this tourist made 5 visits to India between 2006 and 2008 (though the NIA chargesheet details many more). From the wiki link, is this,

"Headley said Iqbal gave him $25,000 to set up a front company in Mumbai as a cover while conducting reconnaissance for the attacks. Headley spent months scouting the Taj Mahal Hotel and other targets for Mir and Iqbal. The latter also sent him on separate missions to gather intelligence on an atomic research center and military sites around India. Iqbal contributed advice about tactical issues to the Mumbai plot: escape routes for the gunmen, setting up a safe house, hijacking an Indian vessel at sea." [wikipedia][specifically read the section, Participation in the Mumbai 2008 Attacks]

This man was charged with about 35 years in prison a few days back.

Now in all of these visits, the man had a few friends in India - some who we know and many we dont. B Raman, thinks that the latter is a part of the puzzle, Indian authorities have been reluctant to piece together.

He calls Headley and Rana as the tip of the iceberg even as he writes,

7.The hidden iceberg itself consisted of the contacts of Headley and Rana in the Indian Muslim community who facilitated their frequent clandestine travels to India for helping the LET leaders in Pakistan and the ISI in planning and executing the 26/11 strikes. Surprisingly, neither in the narrative of the FBI nor in that of the NIA is there much reference to the Indian cells of Headley and Rana. No attempt has been made to identify them and question them.[Raman  Strategic Analysis]

In another blog post, he writes:

7. From the moment Rana was arrested, I have been pointing out that while extradition may be difficult in the case of Headley, it may not be difficult in the case of Rana and that we should press for it in order to collect details of the Headley-Rana network in India. Again intriguingly, this option has till now not been vigorously pursued by the NIA, which works under the MHA. At least now, we should try for his extradition.[Raman Strategic Analysis]

I cringe having to link to this Praveen Swami article, after his latest apology of an article, but well, this one is good.

If  you see the level of detail that has gone into the video recordings made for Mumbai - many hours worth of video - that is no mean thing.

Early last December, interrogators from the Mumbai Police and Intelligence Bureau listened patiently as Mohammad Ajmal Amir “Kasab” described just how he knew his way around a building he had never seen, in a city he had never visited.
Like the other nine members of the assault team that killed 163 people in Mumbai last November, Amir explained, he was shown hours of videotape of his target — the Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus station.  
Headley, the documents filed by the FBI state, “was instructed to take boat trips in and around the Mumbai harbour and take surveillance video.”  [The Hindu]

This piece states how he stayed with his wife at the Taj and the Trident (both of which were targets for the November 2008 massacre.

The chargesheet alleges that Headley was instructed by his handlers based in Pakistan to carry out reconnaissance of the 2nd floor of the Taj Mahal hotel, particularly the ball room and conferences halls. On the instruction from his handler, Headley and Faiza first stayed at Taj Mahal hotel for three days and then checked into Oberoi Trident on April 30. The two stayed at Trident till May 2, 2007 and again checked into Taj Mahal hotel on May 3, 2007 where the couple stayed for a few more days, according to the chargesheet.

The NIA has also brought on record the travel details of Faiza from Pakistan and Headley who was on his sixth visit to India when he carried out surveillance of the two hotels.

The NIA chargesheet claims that Headley made eight visits to India before the 10 terrorists carried out the attacks. The first visit by Headley was made in June 2006. [Financial Express

Now, there has been a lot of debate about whether there was any local support or not for the entire operation. To me, it seems intriguing that for the Mumbai attacks, just a few people have been arrested so far. And that this chap David Headley was tried in the US. One terrorist captured alive -was executed a few weeks back. Those being tried in Pakistan have as much chance of being proven 'guilty' by their legal process as much as Javed Miandad had of being declared lbw in Pakistan.

Incredibly no one, absolutely no one in Pakistan has been punished for this crime (as far as I know and despite all those dossier bombings by India).

Dont know about you, but I need a guide for sightseeing tourist spots - atleast in my first visit. And if you talk of extensive recces at any place spread over months, all that requires a fair amount of local knowledge - that is not even available in your lonely planet guides - you dont get it unless you spend time locally and with people. If so, the terrorists would have just walked in with a lonely planet guide book no? But anyway, nobody in India has helped these terrorists in any way - atleast going by the arrests so far...not even the lonely planet guide book.

Related Links: Propublica has been covering this topic extensively. 

And this great one hour video as well, which I had written about...

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