The Persistent Enigma of Pakistani American David Coleman Headley | Indian of the world


NEW DELHI (IANS) – His prowess in recognizing sites for inadmissible and indiscriminate terrorist bloodbaths may have been surpassed only by his propensity to cooperate with authorities when caught.

Thirteen years after the Mumbai carnage, Daood Sayeed Gilani aka David Coleman Headley remains an enigma, with no clear answer to the thorny question of who he worked for, to what extent and in what he believes.

Caught by the United States as he was preparing a new contempt, he was made available to Indian investigators, but his extradition was firmly ruled out – even as that of his childhood friend progresses on the evidence base that it provides.

Sentenced to three and a half decades in prison, Headley’s current whereabouts are unknown.

And in India, he went from a key accused to a key prosecution witness, being pardoned by a Mumbai court on condition that he clearly admits the plot behind 11/26 – and he freely complied.

What do we think of David Headley’s eventful life and career?

Renowned journalist and author Adrian Levy was right when he called Headley, whose mismatched students are his hallmark, “an extraordinary maverick chameleon figure who has served only himself despite his multiple stripes.”

Levy’s “The Siege: Three Days of Terror Inside the Taj”, co-written with Cathy Scott-Clark, argues that Headley’s background – a Pakistani father and an American mother – explains why he betrayed everyone he’s with. came into contact: his friends when he became a drug dealer, the drug unions when he became an informant for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and later, the American intelligence services and its jihadist masters, with wider consequences.

On Headley, who was so wanted by the US Secret Service, Levy, attending an Indian literary festival soon after his book was published, argued it was because the man was convincing and hard to control, and all of these attributes made him “attractive to intelligence agencies.”

Levy added, “Besides, he was the only US passport holder who could lead US security agencies to Osama bin Laden.”

Although Indians are long remembered by Headley for his meticulous recognition of 11/26, the Danes for planning one of the most daring terrorist attacks in the country, though it was hushed up before it materialized. , and the United States for the way he misled and deceived them for over a decade, they will also keep in mind the ease with which he turned around and told, in great detail, everything what he had done once in police custody.

And not only his role, he even agreed to point the finger at his former associates, which allowed him not only to escape the death penalty in the United States, but also to be pardoned by an Indian court, as the ‘said a seasoned Danish journalist.

In “Mind of a Terrorist: The Curious Case of David Headley,” Kaare Sorensen cited a revealing story to show Headley’s swaying allegiances.

He says Headley was so impressed with Ilyas Kashmiri (one of the few high-ranking non-Arabs in the Al Qaeda hierarchy) of the infamous “313 Brigade,” who promised to help Headley attack. the Danish newspaper “Jyllands-Posten” (which had broadcast a series of cartoons deemed “blasphemous” by the Muslim world), which he became distraught when he could not contact him, upset when reports indicated that Kashmiris had been killed, and ecstatic when these turned out to be false.

On the other hand, it was Headley himself, once in police custody, who offered to meet Kashmir in his hiding place on the Pakistan-Afghan border and present him with a sword with an integrated seeker so that the Americans can track him down.

Headley’s role in 11/26, as well as the attack itself, was also discussed by ex-Indian policeman Shirish Thorat.

In ‘The Scout: The Definitive Account of David Headley and the Mumbai Attacks’, Thorat seeks to determine what kind of person can take a leisurely stroll through a bustling metropolis in an effort to recognize a series of prominent and animated targets for a relentless , unreasonable carnage and forging relationships with those who may well be among the victims?

Many details are now known about the Pakistani-American agent of Lashkar-e-Taiba who sowed the seeds of 11/26 by providing the terrorist outfit with detailed information and hours of footage of iconic and well-visited targets, including the Taj Mahal palace. Hotel, Leopold Cafe and even the hard to find Nariman House (aka Chabad House).

Thorat and his co-author seek to answer questions such as, when the attack was led by the LeT commanders, why was Headley not invited to the “command center” and his appeals were- they’ve been hijacked, as they provide a fascinating re-enactment of the preparations for the vile attack, their bloody unfolding and a tantalizing portion of the aftermath, though they clarify their tale “is a combination of verifiable facts and a professional’s estimate of what happened and how “.

Ultimately, the question is why India should continue to focus on Headley, and it is Sorenson, who has covered extensively Islamic terrorism and international affairs, who shows how the threat of terrorism is reduced but not ruled out.

Headley’s life may have been one long litany of deception and betrayal, but even “before a terrorist attack became a feature on a news ticker or on social media, before the first shot was shot. is fired, before the attackers even put their guns away, you find a guy like David Headley, ”Sorensen says.

“He could be the person sitting next to you in the hotel lobby or at a bar in any big city in the world. And he would fit in nicely.”


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