Headley revelation lays bare US double standards on terror

Authorities knew enough but kept it under wraps

“It is often one-sided, we provide (them) with inputs from our side, but miss  out on the vital information available with them,” said a senior official in the Home Ministry, when asked about the recent developments.   

Countering this view, a section in the Indian security establishment maintained that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) did indeed pass “three specific tip offs”  about the LeT plans to launch a sea-borne attack on sea-facing establishments in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal Hotel. The FBI has an Indian-arm operating from the US embassy in New Delhi.

That the Indian security establishment did not work on “the information” was quite clear from the sloppy action of the Maharashra police and its Anti-Terrorist Squad, they added.  It is widely guessed that Headley may have become a turncoat and joined the LeT while still working for US intelligence agencies.

During the interrogation, Headley had also confessed that he started his training in terror under the LeT in Pakistan at least three years before the Mumbai attack and the terror group sent him on reconnaissance missions around the world, including Mumbai.

The fact that Headley was let off after his brief detention following a quarrel with his wife in 2005 goes on to strengthen the suspicion that he was working as a US agent, said sources.  

Also, the reports that US security authorities did not pay heed to Headley’s estranged  wife’s disclosures much before 26/11 also give credence to the view that the US did not do “enough” to prevent the Mumbai attacks.

However, the Maharashtra intelligence and police admit that the US provided “general terror threat alert” to Indian authorities a few months before the 26/11 attack.  Given  Headley’s statement in his “plea agreement” and subsequent interrogation by the FBI, it is clear that the US authorities “knew enough” but “kept it under wraps”.

In the past,  the FBI was helpful in the forensic examination of the intercepts during the 26/11 attack. Contrary to the stated US policy, FBI officers had also testified before an Indian trial court through video-conferencing.

The sharing of information on terrorism between India and the US got a boost during the 90s and at the turn of the century with varying degree of ups and downs. “The current US establishment is willing to help but not to encourage  New Delhi build a case against Pakistan”, said another official  hinting at Washington’s “current priorities in Pakistan”.  

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