VIEW: Headley, the US, Mumbai and LeT — III —Naeem Tahir - Saturday, November 27, 2010

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It is evident that the carnage at Mumbai in November 2008 suited many, and those who had advance knowledge let it happen. It served them well although the price was paid by the blood of hundreds of innocent souls from all over the world

Anita Uddaiya, 47, was one of the people who saw the terrorists land on the shores of Mumbai on November 26, 2008. She mysteriously disappeared later on. Her daughter, Seema Joshi, launched a missing complaint with the police (Pune Mirror-Times of India, January 14, 2009). She also reported that for 15 days Anita had been going through a battery of medical tests. One day she said, “I am ready to go to the US, pack my bags.” Then on Sunday morning she got up at 6:30 am and went to the toilet or pretended to do so. Neighbours saw a large jeep parked outside the toilet. Officials came and whisked her away. The Mumbai newspapers reported several details of her visit and recording of a statement in the US along with the details of the plane that carried her. The plane had white, blue markings and a star on the tail and there were 15 people in it, perhaps including Headley. Her travel was not recorded because of the influence of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). She was also asked to identify the bodies of the terrorists. She identified the six she had seen. She refused to oblige the IB and did not identify any other. Consequently, she was dropped from the list of important witnesses and she was also prosecuted. Obviously the number of terrorists remained limited to eight and not more. It remains a mystery where the additional two came from.

In the book, Who killed Karkare? the author Mr S M Mushrif, former Inspector General (IG) Police Maharashtra clearly indicates that by that time, November 2008, Mr Hemant Karkare had filed the case of investigations of the acts of terror. Hindutva operators were identified as the main group of terrorists, which included Colonel Purohit and Pragya Singh among others. Karkare could have presented the proof in the Nasik court and the network would have been exposed and convicted. Karkare and his team had to be eliminated. This was critical for the IB and other organisations like the Abhinav Bharat, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal. So the Mumbai carnage cover-up was useful for the IB and Hindutva.

It is also well established that the FBI and IB had definite advance knowledge of the impending terror attack. One of Headley’s wives, Morrocan Faiza Outallha, met with an assistant regional security officer and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer at the embassy. So did another of his wives. They provided information at the US Embassy in Islamabad in 2007 that Headley was involved in a terrorist group that was actively plotting against targets in India. According to the New York Times, one of the two American officials confirmed that Headley’s wives shared concerns with US officials prior to the attack and that those concerns warranted attention. How is it possible that the information was not conveyed to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)/Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)? It is also a known fact that the Indian agencies had advance information, but the navy was not alerted nor was the Mumbai Police.

It is evident that the carnage at Mumbai in November 2008 suited many, and those who had advance knowledge let it happen. It served them well although the price was paid by the blood of hundreds of innocent souls from all over the world.

Who were the gainers?

The secret agencies in the US established the fact that they are better equipped to track terror and alert India, thus gaining additional credibility. The hawks in the agencies and their political connections needed to keep India under influence for other manoeuvrings and use India as a potential alternate to Chinese influence. It served Indian hawks to discredit Pakistan and isolate it while it was on the up economically and investments in Pakistan were soaring. With several foreign nationals losing their lives the exploitation by the powerful Indian propaganda machine was readily believed. They successfully put in the mind of the world that Pakistan is a source of terror and, even worse, that terror activity has official support. Needless to say, this helped India to push back the Kashmir issue, which has the support of Pakistan. But perhaps the Hindutva/IB nexus made most immediate gains. They succeeded in getting Hemant Karkare, Kamte, Salasker and others to rush to Rang Bhavan Lane where a trusted officer of the IB/Hindutva in the Anti-Terror Squad had already planted two mysterious terrorists, Ajmal Kasab and his companion. Karkare and others were killed, Kasab’s companion was killed, but Kasab was saved to get the desired statements. Incidentally, there is considerable information available stating that Kasab had been captured in Nepal much earlier and possibly acted as an agent of agencies as did Headley.

The details of the planning and execution could not even be covered in several volumes. But hopefully the readers now see an overall picture.

In the end, it is always the common people and the weak that pay the price. So it is in this case. Headley would continue to be protected; Kasab may get away or may be dispensed with. But those who lost their lives in Mumbai had done nothing to deserve such an end. Pakistan suffered immensely and it is still suffering due to the propaganda. The Indian authorities have interrogated Headley; it is very important that Pakistani authorities also interrogate him and obtain firsthand knowledge to avoid recurrence.

On the positive side, India has recognised the Hindutva terror networks and officially accepted that Samjhota Express and Malegaon, etc, had nothing to do with Pakistan as initially propagated. Instead these were the handiwork of Hindutva terrorists. India’s willingness to receive Pakistan’s dossier on Mumbai and to respond to it gives hope. A joint investigation would have been much better.

Terror outfits exist in many countries. It is wrong to use them for politically expedient covert actions. Terrorists are nobody’s friends. Terror backfires in the long run. If governments realise their responsibilities towards humanity it may become a better world to live in.


The writer is a culture and media management specialist, a researcher, author, director and actor

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