The US Agent and the Mumbai Massacre
Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana was acquitted in a Chicago court this week on charges of aiding the 2008 Mumbai massacre,
but was convicted on the lesser charge of providing support to a thwarted terrorist plot to attack the offices of a Danish newspaper that printed controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. He was also found guilty of aiding the designated terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, or LeT.
The case against Rana, however, was outshone by the testimony of Rana’s friend, David Headley, who has already pled guilty to his role in helping to plan the 2008 Mumbai attack, in which 164 people were killed and 308 wounded in a coordinated 3 day shooting and bombing campaign. Headley pled guilty to his role in the attacks last March in a Chicago court in a plea deal that spared him the death penalty on condition that he cooperate with US intelligence officials and prosecutors.
Although receiving virtually no coverage domestically, the case has been watched closely by the Indian press, which has made much of Headley’s testimony that the Pakistani ISI worked with the LeT in coordinating the Mumbai attack.
Overlooked by virtually all of the press reports on this case, however, is Headley’s documented past as an informant for the US government.
Convicted of a heroin smuggling plot in 1997, his co-conspirator was put in prison for 10 years, but Headley served only 15 months. In November of 2001, court transcripts show that an emergency hearing was convened to get Headley’s parole cut short in exchange for his cooperation with the US government. Headley’s probation was suspended and the next month he was sent to Pakistan to continue his cooperation with US authorities. That same month, Lashkar-e-Taiba was designated a terrorist organization by the United States. Two months later, Headley began training with them.
Reporting on the nature of Headley’s involvement with the US in 2010, the New York Times wrote:
“An examination of Mr. Headley’s story shows that his government ties ran far deeper and longer than previously known. One senior American official knowledgeable about the case said he believed that Mr. Headley was a D.E.A. informant until at least 2003, meaning that he was talking to American agencies even as he was learning to deal with explosives and small arms in terrorist training camps.”
Later in the same article, it was reported:
“One person involved in the case said American agencies had ‘zero in terms of reliable intelligence. And it was clear from the conversations about him that the government was considering assignments that went beyond drugs.’”
That Headley went on to plot a spectacular terrorist attack and reach a plea deal with prosecutors after a documented career as a US government agent is in fact not a unique occurrence.
in 1984, Ali Mohammed was recruited by the CIA to infiltrate mosques associated with Hezbollah in Germany. He later went on to enlist in the US Army. His commanding officer, Lt. Col. Robert Anderson, believed he was in fact still working for the CIA during his time in the army, saying:
“I think you or I would have a better chance of winning Powerball, than an Egyptian major in the unit that assassinated Sadat would have getting a visa, getting to California … getting into the Army and getting assigned to a Special Forces unit. That just doesn’t happen.”
In 1998, Mohammed was arrested in connection with the African embassy bombings of that year. As late as 2006, Mohammed’s American wife, Linda Sanchez, had reported: “He’s still not sentenced yet, and without him being sentenced I really can’t say much. He can’t talk to anybody. Nobody can get to him. They have Ali pretty secretive…it’s like he just kinda vanished into thin air.”
In 2004, Mohammed Junaid Babar was imprisoned in New York after pleading guilty to five counts of terrorism. He had helped to set up the Pakistani bomb-making training camp where alleged London 7/7 suicide bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan had trained.
Earlier this year, it was quietly revealed that Babar, whose sentence had never been publicly revealed, had in fact only served four and a half years in prison out of a possible 70 year sentence because of what a New York judge described as “exceptional cooperation” with the government which began even before his arrest. The revelation outraged 7/7 victims’ family members, who were unaware of the sentence until this year and are now left with the possibility that Babar was working with the US government even as he was training the alleged 7/7 ringleader.
That the US press would not be interested in exploring Headley’s documented connections to the US government is perhaps unsurprising. The fact that his ties to the ISI are being trumpeted should also come as little surprise, as tensions between Pakistan and the US have risen in recent years and the allegation of ISI involvement in the Mumbai attack gives the US significant leverage in dealing with the Pakistani government and the billions of dollars in aid the US is now giving Pakistan to assist in the so-called war on terrorism.
Late last week, I discussed the case with terrorism expert, documentary filmmaker and Global Research contributor Tom Secker. In our conversation, Secker discussed the geopolitical significance of Headley’s testimony and what may come about as a consequence of the ISI-Mumbai Massacre lin