Agencies Missed Signals About Headley's Involvement in 26/11

Following the Mumbai attack, Headley’s \"unguarded emails\" reflected euphoria about LeT\'s success.

Published: 22nd December 2014 04:23 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd December 2014 04:23 PM   |  A+A-


NEW YORK: There were a series of "missed signals" about Pakistani-American David Headley's involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks even though he had exchanged "highly suspicious" emails with his LeT and ISI handlers before and after the assault, an investigative report said.

A detailed report by the New York Times, ProPublica and the PBS series 'Frontline' titled 'In 2008 Mumbai Killings, Piles of Spy Data, but an Uncompleted Puzzle' said Headley's name "did not appear" in the "stacks of intelligence reports" from India, the US and UK that began piling up following the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008 that left 166 people dead.

"None of the intelligence streams from the US Britain or India had yet identified him as a conspirator," it said.

The report quoted court records and American counterterrorism officials as saying that Headley had "also exchanged highly suspicious emails with his LeT and ISI handlers before and after the Mumbai attacks."

The US' National Security Agency collected some of his emails, but did not realise his involvement until he became the target of an FBI probe in July 2009 relating to a terror attack he was plotting with the LeT against a Danish newspaper that had published cartoons of the Prophet.

"Almost immediately" after the Mumbai attacks, Headley began pursuing the new plot against the Danish newspaper. Following a trip to Denmark in January 2009, Headley sent messages to his fellow conspirators and emailed himself a reconnaissance checklist of sorts, with terms like "Counter- Surveillance" and "King’s Square" — the site of the newspaper.

"Those emails capped a series of missed signals involving Headley," the report said, adding that the FBI had conducted at least four inquiries into allegations about his extremist activity between 2001 and 2008.

One of Headley's three wives, Faiza Outalha, a Moroccan, had visited the US Embassy in Islamabad three times between December 2007 and April 2008, claiming that he was a terrorist carrying out missions in India, the report said.

Following the Mumbai attack, Headley’s "unguarded emails" reflected euphoria about LeT's success.

An exchange with his Pakistani wife in Chicago continued a long string of incriminating electronic communications by Headley written in a transparent code, according to investigators and case files. "I watched the movie the whole day," she wrote, congratulating him on his "graduation."

About a week later, Headley hinted at his inside information in an email to fellow alumni of a Pakistani military school Tahawwur Rana.

Writing about the terrorists who carried out the mayhem in Mumbai, he said: "Yes they were only 10 kids, guaranteed. I hear 2 were married with a daughter each under 3 years old."

His subsequent emails contained several dozen news media photos of the Mumbai siege.

The report said after disclosures of widespread NSA surveillance, American officials claimed that bulk collection of electronic communications led to Headley’s eventual arrest.

Headley pleaded guilty for his role in the Mumbai attacks and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.


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