US says 'threat info' shared with India before 26/11 attacks

US says 'threat info' shared with India before 26/11 attacks

"Had we known about the timing and other specifics related to the Mumbai attacks, we would have immediately shared those details with the government of India," Mike Hammer, spokesman of the National Security Council, White House, told PTI.

He made the remarks when asked about an investigative report on Mumbai attacks published by ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.

The New York Times also said that two of 50-year-old Headley's three wives had warned American law enforcement authorities -- in 2005 and less than a year before the 2008 Mumbai attacks -- of his links with the Pakistan-based LeT terror outfit and the plot to strike India's financial hub.

"Despite those warnings by two of his three wives, Mr Headley roamed far and wide on Lashkar's behalf between 2002 and 2009, receiving training in small-caliber weapons and counter surveillance, scouting targets for attacks, and building a network of connections that extended from Chicago to Pakistan's lawless northwestern frontier," the daily said.

Hammer said the US "regularly provided threat information" to Indian officials in 2008 before the attacks in Mumbai. "It is our government's solemn responsibility to notify other nations of possible terrorist activity on their soil," he said.

Another US official denied that the United States did not share any terrorist-attack related information with Indian authorities. "US authorities took seriously what Headley's former wives said. Their information was of a general nature and did not suggest any particular terrorist plot," a senior Administration official told PTI.

Separately, an Indian source, who was involved in the investigations of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, told PTI on the condition of anonymity, that India did receive the information, which was general and it was not specific in nature.

An examination of Pakistani-American Headley's movements in the years before the Mumbai attacks, based on interviews in Washington, Pakistan, India and Morocco, shows that he had overlapping, even baffling, contacts among seemingly disparate groups — Pakistani intelligence, terrorists and American drug investigators, the NYT said.

Headley, who has pleaded guilty to all 12 terror charges under a plea bargain, was known both to Pakistani and American security officials long before his arrest as a terrorist, the daily said.

"In several interviews in her home, Mr Headley's Moroccan wife, Faiza Outalha, described the warnings she gave to American officials less than a year before gunmen attacked several popular tourist attractions in Mumbai.

"She claims she even showed the (US) embassy officials (n Islamabad) a photo of Mr Headley and herself in the Taj Mahal Hotel, where they stayed twice in April and May 2007. Hotel records confirm their stay," the newspaper reported.

27-year-old Outalha said that in two meetings with American officials at the US embassy in Islamabad, she told the authorities that her husband had many friends who were known members of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

"She said she told them that he was passionately anti-Indian, but that he travelled to India all the time for business deals that never seemed to amount to much," the report said.

"And she said she told them Mr Headley assumed different identities: as a devout Muslim who went by the name Daood when he was in Pakistan, and as an American playboy named David, when he was in India," the newspaper said.

"I told them, he's either a terrorist, or he's working for you," she recalled saying to American officials at the US Embassy in Islamabad. "Indirectly, they told me to get lost," she was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

The texture of the meeting was that her husband was involved with "bad people" and they were planning 'jihad', a US administration official was quoted as saying.
"But she gave no details about who was involved, or what they planned to target," the official added. "Given that she had been jilted, Ms Outalha acknowledged she may not have been composed. I wanted him in Guantanamo," she said.

"More than that, however, Ms Outalha says, she went to the American authorities looking for answers to questions about Mr Headley's real identity. In public he criticised the United States for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan," the newspaper said.

Sipping tea in a cafe overlooking a plaza in Morocco, Outalha said that in hindsight, she is convinced that Headley is "both men" and "claims to be puzzled that American officials did not heed her warning," the NYT said. "I told them anything I could to get their attention," she said of the American authorities at the embassy in Islamabad. "It was as if I was shouting, 'This guy was a terrorist! You have to do something'," she was quoted as saying.

The NYT indicated that the reason why the Americans did not follow up on the warnings may have been to avoid a line of investigation that could lead to evidence of its key ally Pakistan's involvement in the attacks, which the ISI has vociferously denied.

"The United States says it has no evidence to counter this (ISI denial), though officials acknowledge that some current or retired ISI officers probably played some role," the newspaper said.

It further pointed out that the absence of a follow-up on the warnings could represent a "communication breakdown in the fight against terrorism," and also raised questions if the US officials avoided digging deeper since Headley was an informant for the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration).

According to the ProPublica report, Headley's American wife, in three interviews with federal agents in 2005, said he was an active militant in Lashkar-e-Taiba, had trained extensively in its Pakistani camps and had shopped for night vision goggles and other equipment.

"Three years before Pakistani terrorists struck Mumbai in 2008, federal agents in New York City investigated a tip that an American businessman was training in Pakistan with the group that later executed the attack," it said. "The previously undisclosed allegations against David Coleman Headley, who became a key figure in the plot that killed 166 people, came from his (American) wife after a domestic dispute that resulted in his arrest in 2005," it had said.

Headley's American wife, whom ProPublica did not identify to protect her safety, also told agents that Headley had bragged of working as a paid US informant while he trained with the terrorists in Pakistan. Headley is currently in a Chicago prison after he was arrested by the FBI agents last year.

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