David Headley: ISI Paid Me for Recon of 26/11 Targets

A U.S. citizen convicted for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks told an Indian court on Thursday that the Pakistani intelligence service ISI paid him directly for reconnaissance of target for the 26/11 attacks (CNN-IBN). In his testimony given through video link from the United States, Headley claimed that he was given one hundred thousand Pakistani rupees to scout National Defence College, Chabad House, and other places in Mumbai. Last month, Headley also told the court that he had visited India seven times prior to the attack, on behalf of the banned Pakistani militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), to gather information scouting potential target locations in Mumbai ahead of the attacks. Headley, 52, was captured in 2013 in the United States and plead guilty to charges of working with LeT and his involvement in the attacks, to avoid the death penalty and extradition to India. The November 2008 attacks in Mumbai were a coordinated set of strikes on the railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural center, and claimed 166 lives along with nine attackers.

PDP and BJP alliance government to be set up in Jammu and Kashmir

The ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) announced on Friday that it will continue its support to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state legislature of Jammu and Kashmir, and nominated Nirmal Singh to be the deputy chief minister in the state (Hindu, IBT). The PDP-BJP coalition came to power in 2014, but earlier this year PDP Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed died at the age of 79. The state has been under governor rule since Jan. 8 and talks between PDP and BJP regarding the coalition have broken down a number of times over the past few weeks. But after a meeting last week between Sayeed’s daughter Mehbooba Mufti and Prime Minister Modi, the PDP on Thursday announced Mehbooba Mufti as the chief ministerial candidate.
— Shuja Malik

Pakistan

Pakistan arrests purported Indian intelligence officer

On Friday, Pakistani officials announced that they arrested an Indian intelligence officer in Balochistan (AP, ET, Dawn). Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry alleged that the man was involved in violence and lodged a complaint with India. A spokesperson for the ministry commented, “Kul Yadav Bhoshan, a commander-ranked officer in Indian Navy was working for RAW and was in contact with Baloch separatists and terrorists fueling sectarian violence in Pakistan and Balochistan.”

Pakistan debuts Chinese helicopter

On Wednesday, during a military parade for Pakistan Day, Pakistan debuted its acquisition of the Chinese made CAIC Z-10 helicopter gunship as well as its Shaheen III ballistic missile (DefenseNews). The Z-10 gunship had been under evaluation in Pakistan for the past year and reportedly received impressed reviews from the Pakistani military. On Wednesday, Pakistan also announced that the Z-10 was in service.

BY SHUJA MALIK
Find this story at 25 March 2016

Copyright http://foreignpolicy.com/

Headley denies part of his statement given to NIA about Ishrat Jahan

Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley on Saturday claimed that LeT commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi had told him about Ishrat Jahan ‘operation’ though he had also learnt about the case through the media.

Deposing via video conferencing from the U.S. before Judge G.A. Sanap in the 26/11 trial against Abu Jundal, one of the alleged plotters of the Mumbai attacks David Coleman Headley told the court that he didn’t have any first hand knowledge about Ishrat Jahan who was killed in a police encounter.

Headley denied part of his statement given to NIA about LeT operative Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in an alleged fake encounter. He clarified that LeT does not have women’s cell but has women’s wing for women’s social welfare and not for combat or fighting in India and Kashmir.

Headley said he told NIA that before Sajid Mir, Muzammil was the head of the group (LeT).

Talking further about the social cell, he added that the cell looks into women’s education and health and also looks after widows and provides religious education including Quranic classes.

Headley said that he believed that U.S., Israel and India were enemies of Islam. He also added that it is not true that he wanted Islamic rule for India.

Headley’s four days of cross examination concludes today.

MUMBAI, March 26, 2016
Updated: March 26, 2016 16:58 IST
Find this story at 26 March 2016

Copyright© 2016, The Hindu

Ishrat Jahan was a LeT member, Headley tells court

Nineteen-year-old college girl Ishrat Jahan was killed in 2004 in an encounter by the Gujarat police.

The Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley, deposing for the third day on Thursday, told the special court here that Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in an encounter in 2004 by Gujarat police, was working for LeT. The 19-year-old college girl and three others were killed in 2004 in an encounter by police in Gujarat.The four were accused of being involved in a plot to assassinate the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Headley, in the deposition, also said Lakhvi told him about the botched up operation in India by Lashkar operative Muzzabil Butt. He was told that a woman named Ishrat Jahan was killed in the shootout. He also stated that LeT has a women’s wing.

Headley, currently lodged in a U.S. prison, has been deposing as an approver through a video link in the November 2008 terror attacks case.

The police had claimed that Ishrat, a resident of Mumbra near Mumbai; Javed Sheikh, son of Gopinath Pillai of Kerala; and Pakistani citizens Amzad Ali Rana and Jishan Jauhar were connected with the LeT and were coming to Gujarat to assassinate Mr. Modi to avenge the 2002 communal riots.

However, a probe by Ahmedabad metropolitan magistrate, S.P. Tamang, has ruled that the June 2004 killing was case of “fake encounter,” by Gujarat policemen including ‘encounter specialist’ D.G. Vanzara.

Mr. Tamang’s report said the Crime Branch police “kidnapped” Ishrat and the others from Mumbai on June 12, 2004 and brought them to Ahmedabad. The four were killed on the night of June 14 in police custody, but the police claimed that an “encounter” took place the next morning on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. That rigor mortis set in between 11 p.m. and midnight the previous night clearly pointed to the fact that the police pumped bullets into Ishrat’s lifeless body to substantiate the encounter theory.

Mr. Tamang said there was no evidence to link Ishrat Jahan and another victim, Javed Sheikh, with the Pakistan-based terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. Neither was there anything to establish that they had “come” to Gujarat to kill Mr. Modi.

Read: First day of deposition

Read: Second day of deposition

Here are some important highlights from today’s deposition:

>> Headley tells court that Ishrat Jehan was a member of LeT.19-year-old college girl Ishrat Jahan and three others were killed in 2004 in an encounter by cops in Gujarat.

>>Headley said Lakhvi told him about the botched up operation in India by Muzzamil Butt. He was told that a woman named Ishrat Jahan was killed in the shootout. “I don’t know any suicide bomber and I can’t name any,” he said. “Ishrat was an indian national and not a Pakistani and an LeT operative.”

>>He also said that LeT has a women’s wing.

>> LeT handler Sajid Mir gave Headley Rs 40,000 Pakistani Rupees.

>> He said that he knew Muzzamil had planned the attack at Akshardam temple at Gujarat. Muzzamil told him that after Babri Masjid was demolished it was allowed for them to attack Indian temples.

>> LeT handler Abu Khaffa’s nephew was one of the 10 terrorists involved in the 26/11 attacks.

>> Hazi Ashraf is in charge of finance wing of LeT at Lahore and his nephew was killed in Akshardam temple attack.

>> Then Major Iqbal gave Rs 3500 and also gave Headley counterfeit Indian currency once or twice.

>> Major Pasha also gave him Rs 80,000.

>> The RBI rejected Headley’s application to open an office in A/C market.

>> Headley paid Rs 13,500 per month as rent in 2006.

>> Dr. Tahuvurr Rana (was dr in military) who came to receive Headley and helped opened the office knew of his involvement with LeT.

>> Headley advised Dr Rana to leave Mumbai and return back to USA before the attacks.

>> Major Iqbal told Headley to vacate the office in January 2009.

Ishrat Jahan case: timeline


June 15, 2004:
Ishrat Jahan and three others killed in an encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Police claim they were Lashkar members planning to kill Narendra Modi.


September 2009:
Ahmedabad judge S.P. Tamang terms encounter ‘fake’. Mr. Tamang’s report said the Crime Branch police “kidnapped” Ishrat and the others from Mumbai on June 12, 2004 and brought them to Ahmedabad. The four were killed on the night of June 14 in police custody, but the police claimed that an “encounter” took place the next morning on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. That rigor mortis set in between 11 p.m. and midnight the previous night clearly pointed to the fact that the police pumped bullets into Ishrat’s lifeless body to substantiate the encounter theory.Read more


September 2010:
The Gujarat High Court constituted a new three-member Special Investigation Team for a fresh probe into the alleged fake encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan in 2004. Read more


January 28, 2011:
SIT member Satish Varma files affidavit stating it was a ‘fake’ encounter. Read more



November 2011:
SIT tells court the encounter was staged


December 2011:
High Court orders CBI probe.Read more


July 2013:
The CBI’s first charge sheet in the encounter case stated that the unlawful killing was a joint operation of the Gujarat police and the Intelligence Bureau and named seven Gujarat police officials as the accused. Read more


July 2013:
CBI court grants P.P.Pandey (an accused in the case) anticipatory bail for 48 hours after a hearing that lasted for over four hours. Read more


August 2013:
SC denies senior bail to Pandey. Read more


October 2013:
CBI quizzes BJP leader Amit Shah in connection with ‘fake’ encounters. Jailed IPS officer D.G. Vanzara who was later held in the Ishrat Jahan case, had alleged in his resignation letter that the government closely monitored every police action involving ‘terrorists’ during his tenure. Read more


March 2014:
A special Central Bureau of Investigation court here issued notices to Amit Shah in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. Read more


May 2014:
A Gujarat CBI court dismissed a plea seeking arraignment of Amit Shah and ex-police commissioner of Ahmedabad K.R. Kaushik as accused in the case. The plea was filed by Gopinath Pillai, father of Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh who was among the four victims.Read more


May 2014:
CBI gives a clean chit to Amit Shah. “There is no sufficient evidence against him. Hence CBI has not chargesheeted him,” CBI PI Vishwas Kumar Meena said in an affidavit filed before the special CBI court in Ahmedabad.Read more

February 2015:
Gujarat revokes suspension of P.P.Pandey.

February 2015:
DG Vanzara walks out of the Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad eight years after he was jailed in connection with a series of encounter cases in Gujarat.Read more

David Headley arrest: Chronology of events

October 18, 2009: Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 48, a resident of Chicago and an accomplice of Headley, arrested by the FBI.
October 27, 2009: FBI files affidavit in a Chicago court alleging that Pakistan—based terror group Lashkar—e—Taiba was planning to use Headley to carry out a major terror attack in India and Danish newspaper ‘Jyllands—Posten’
November 30, 2009: Tahawwur Rana categorically denies any involvement in the Mumbai attacks. The detention hearing of Headley scheduled for December 4 at a Chicago court indefinitely deferred.
December 7, 2009: Headley charged in a Chicago court with criminal conspiracy in Mumbai terror attacks and having links with a retired Pakistani army Major who liaised between him and terror groups including LeT and HuJI.
December 8, 2009: US President Barack Obama says indictment of Headley, is an “important day” in his effort to protect the people from terrorists.
December 9, 2009: Headley pleads not guilty before a Chicago court where he was produced. Next hearing postponed till January 12.
December 14, 2009: Headley turns into FBI informant to avoid death penalty. FBI says the Somnath temple in Gujarat, Bollywood stars and Shiv Sena leaders in Mumbai were also the targets of LeT, which was planning to carry out strikes with the help of Headley and Rana.
December 29, 2009: FBI classifies arrest of Headley as its second biggest case for the year 2009.
January 11, 2010: The status hearing of Headley postponed till Feb 23.
January 15, 2010: Ilyas Kashmiri, the dreaded Pakistani terrorist, belonging to the Harakat—ul Jihad Islami, indicted in a U.S. court for the first time in connection with the plot to target the Danish newspaper.
January 26, 2010: Tahawwur Rana pleads not guilty to the charges of helping arrange the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and making plans for an attack on the Danish newspaper.
January 27, 2010: Headley pleads not guilty to all the charges of helping arrange the attack on targets in Mumbai and on the Danish paper.
February 23, 2010: A U.S. court adjourns till March 23 the status hearing of Headley.
March 10, 2010: Headley, who pleads guilty to 12-count of terror charges, including plotting the 26/11 Mumbai attacks at the behest of Pakistan-based LeT and conspiring to target a Danish newspaper, escapes death penalty.
January 24, 2013: U.S. federal court sentenced Headley to 35 years in prison for his role in the Mumbai attacks.
July, 2015: Mumbai police seeks to take a deposition of Headley by video-conference to provide evidence against Zabiuddin Ansari (Abu Jundal).
December 10, 2015: Mumbai court pardons David Headley, makes him an approver in 26/11 case.

Updated: February 12, 2016 13:06 IST

Find this story at 12 February 2016

Copyright© 2016, The Hindu

David Headley deposition: Diclosures and revelations

Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley deposed before a special court in Mumbai regarding his role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Headley, appearing from an undisclosed location via video conferencing, spilled the beans on LeT’s involvement with the 26/11 terror attacks.

Headley, who is serving 35-year prison sentence in the US for his role in the Mumbai attacks, spoke about the role of Saeed, another LeT commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi as well as his handler in the outfit Sajid Mir.

In his depositions till now, Headley has revealed important information about the planning behind the terror attacks and his role in the same.

Who is Headley? He was born Daood Gilani. His parents — the Philadelphia socialite Serill Headley and Pakistani poet and diplomat Syed Salim Gilani — divorced soon after they moved to Islamabad in 1960. Mrs. Headley returned to Philadelphia. Headley was admitted to a boarding school, where he first met Rana, but then moved to the United States in 1977. He rebelled against his mother’s heavy drinking and multiple sexual relationships by expressing a loathing for all non-Muslims.

Marital life Apart from Shazia Gilani, records show that he was married to Faiza Outhalla, a Lahore-based medical student. Headley divorced her to evade pressure from his family and then married her again after she filed a complaint with police in Lahore that led to his incarceration for several days.He also had another bigamous marriage with a New York-based make-up artist, Portia Gilani, ich ended in divorce in 2005.

His other life Headley married Shazia Gilani, daughter of a retired Pakistan soldier, in 1999. Ms. Gilani moved to the United States in 2008, along with their four children — Haider, Osama, Sumya and Hafsa.

Psychological problems Evidence also emerged that Headley was diagnosed in 1992 with multiple personality disorder — a condition which includes the possession of multiple mannerisms, attitudes and beliefs. His personal life could provide an explanation for why he sought psychological counselling..

26/11 Mumbai attacks Viewing the terror strikes unfold in Mumbai on television, David Headley’s first wife Shazia used code words like “I am watching cartoons” to convey to him that he had “graduated”, a term she used for success of the 26/11 strikes.“I’ve been watching these cartoons (attacks) all day and I am proud of you,” Ms. Shazia wrote in an email to 50-year-old Mumbai accused during the strikes.

Important revelations

“Ishrat was an Indian national and not a Pakistani and an LeT operative,” declares Headley

“The LeT made a mock of the Taj Hotel. However, the meeting of Indian Defence Scientists was cancelled ”

“Sajid Mir was a high-ranking officer in the Pakistani Army and apparently also was in the ISI”

Ishrat Jahan case: timeline


June 15, 2004:
Ishrat Jahan and three others killed in an encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Police claim they were Lashkar members planning to kill Narendra Modi.


September 2009:
Ahmedabad judge S.P. Tamang terms encounter ‘fake’. Mr. Tamang’s report said the Crime Branch police “kidnapped” Ishrat and the others from Mumbai on June 12, 2004 and brought them to Ahmedabad. The four were killed on the night of June 14 in police custody, but the police claimed that an “encounter” took place the next morning on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. That rigor mortis set in between 11 p.m. and midnight the previous night clearly pointed to the fact that the police pumped bullets into Ishrat’s lifeless body to substantiate the encounter theory.Read more


September 2010:
The Gujarat High Court constituted a new three-member Special Investigation Team for a fresh probe into the alleged fake encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan in 2004. Read more


January 28, 2011:
SIT member Satish Varma files affidavit stating it was a ‘fake’ encounter. Read more


November 2011:
SIT tells court the encounter was staged


December 2011:
High Court orders CBI probe.Read more


July 2013:
The CBI’s first charge sheet in the encounter case stated that the unlawful killing was a joint operation of the Gujarat police and the Intelligence Bureau and named seven Gujarat police officials as the accused. Read more


July 2013:
CBI court grants P.P.Pandey (an accused in the case) anticipatory bail for 48 hours after a hearing that lasted for over four hours. Read more


August 2013:
SC denies senior bail to Pandey. Read more


October 2013:
CBI quizzes BJP leader Amit Shah in connection with ‘fake’ encounters. Jailed IPS officer D.G. Vanzara who was later held in the Ishrat Jahan case, had alleged in his resignation letter that the government closely monitored every police action involving ‘terrorists’ during his tenure. Read more


March 2014:
A special Central Bureau of Investigation court here issued notices to Amit Shah in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. Read more


May 2014:
A Gujarat CBI court dismissed a plea seeking arraignment of Amit Shah and ex-police commissioner of Ahmedabad K.R. Kaushik as accused in the case. The plea was filed by Gopinath Pillai, father of Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh who was among the four victims.Read more


May 2014:
CBI gives a clean chit to Amit Shah. “There is no sufficient evidence against him. Hence CBI has not chargesheeted him,” CBI PI Vishwas Kumar Meena said in an affidavit filed before the special CBI court in Ahmedabad.Read more

February 2015:
Gujarat revokes suspension of P.P.Pandey.

February 2015:
DG Vanzara walks out of the Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad eight years after he was jailed in connection with a series of encounter cases in Gujarat.Read more

David Headley arrest: Chronology of events

October 18, 2009: Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 48, a resident of Chicago and an accomplice of Headley, arrested by the FBI.
October 27, 2009: FBI files affidavit in a Chicago court alleging that Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba was planning to use Headley to carry out a major terror attack in India and Danish newspaper ‘Jyllands-Posten’
November 30, 2009: Tahawwur Rana categorically denies any involvement in the Mumbai attacks. The detention hearing of Headley scheduled for December 4 at a Chicago court indefinitely deferred.
December 7, 2009: Headley charged in a Chicago court with criminal conspiracy in Mumbai terror attacks and having links with a retired Pakistani army Major who liaised between him and terror groups including LeT and HuJI.
December 8, 2009: US President Barack Obama says indictment of Headley, is an “important day” in his effort to protect the people from terrorists.
December 9, 2009: Headley pleads not guilty before a Chicago court where he was produced. Next hearing postponed till January 12.
December 14, 2009: Headley turns into FBI informant to avoid death penalty. FBI says the Somnath temple in Gujarat, Bollywood stars and Shiv Sena leaders in Mumbai were also the targets of LeT, which was planning to carry out strikes with the help of Headley and Rana.
December 29, 2009: FBI classifies arrest of Headley as its second biggest case for the year 2009.
January 11, 2010: The status hearing of Headley postponed till Feb 23.
January 15, 2010: Ilyas Kashmiri, the dreaded Pakistani terrorist, belonging to the Harakat—ul Jihad Islami, indicted in a U.S. court for the first time in connection with the plot to target the Danish newspaper.
January 26, 2010: Tahawwur Rana pleads not guilty to the charges of helping arrange the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and making plans for an attack on the Danish newspaper.
January 27, 2010: Headley pleads not guilty to all the charges of helping arrange the attack on targets in Mumbai and on the Danish paper.
February 23, 2010: A U.S. court adjourns till March 23 the status hearing of Headley.
March 18, 2010: Headley, who pleads guilty to 12-count of terror charges, including plotting the 26/11 Mumbai attacks at the behest of Pakistan-based LeT and conspiring to target a Danish newspaper, escapes death penalty.
January 24, 2013: U.S. federal court sentenced Headley to 35 years in prison for his role in the Mumbai attacks.
July, 2015: Mumbai police seeks to take a deposition of Headley by video-conference to provide evidence against Zabiuddin Ansari (Abu Jundal).
December 10, 2015: Mumbai court pardons David Headley, makes him an approver in 26/11 case.

Sajid Mir
Lashkar-e-Taiba commander

“Sajid Mir was a high-ranking officer in the Pakistani Army and apparently also was in the ISI.”

Who is Sajid Mir?: Born in 1976, according to documents filed to obtain his Indian visa, Mir grew up in a middle-class ethnic Punjabi home.

Mir’s father, according to Indian intelligence officials, earned enough working in Saudi Arabia to build a comfortable family home near Lahore airport, set up a small textile business, and put his sons through college.

He married the daughter of a retired Pakistan army chaplain; the couple are thought to have two sons.

Role in LeT: Mir was made responsible for training the growing number of western jihadists knocking on the Lashkar’s doors.

Fluent in English, Urdu and Arabic, he was known to the foreign jihadists as “Uncle Bill” — a reference to Mir’s affable manner.

Mir and Headley: Intense pressure by the United States led the Lashkar to shut down its camps to foreigners. Headley had arrived at Mir’s camp just after the foreigners were evicted under ISI pressure — and was used to target India alone.

In an intercepted September 17, 2009 phone conversation with a former Pakistani military officer and military trainer called Abdur Rehman Hashim, Headley railed against Mir who, he asserted, had “rotten guts.” “I am just telling you,” he lectured Hashim “that the companies in your competition have started handling themselves in a far better way.”

Updated: February 15, 2016 09:06 IST

Find this story at 15 February 2016

Copyright© 2016, The Hindu

Why David Headley’s coming clean puts the Modi government in a serious dilemma

The disclosures force New Delhi to rethink its strategy in dealing with Pakistan.
Why David Headley’s coming clean puts the Modi government in a serious dilemma

The deposition by David Headley, the Lashkar-e-Taiba operative, has not been earth-shaking in its content. We already knew almost everything he said.

Nonetheless, it was important to hear things from the horse’s mouth.

Having said that, Headley also puts the Narendra Modi government in a serious dilemma.

What do we do now with what Headley has told us? That is the core issue. How exactly are we to follow up on his deposition?

The bureaucratic option is always there – share the contents of Headley’s deposition with the Pakistani authorities through diplomatic channels and seek follow-up action in good faith.

But it will be a cynical thing to do to rest oars thereafter, since we can be 100% certain that Pakistan will do nothing in the matter and will continue to parry.

Pakistan cannot and will not cooperate with India. It cannot cooperate with us because its culpability is crystal clear and those responsible for the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai included senior Pakistani military officers.

The Pakistani top brass’s involvement in terrorism implies that any action on the Indian demarche by their government will bring the roof crashing down on the Inter-Services Intelligence, better known as ISI, and irreparably damage the reputation of their army as an institution.

It is too much to expect any Pakistani government – or any country for that matter – to indulge in such brutal soul-searching. Those who advocate atonement by Pakistan are either ignorant of statecraft or are simply dissimulating.

What else can India do? Indeed, a blistering international campaign can be launched with India’s able diplomats firing on all six cylinders to expose the grotesque face of Pakistan to the world community.

The Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar promised recently to put Pakistan to “shame”.

Fine. But, where does that take us? For one thing, Pakistan’s reputation is already in the mud but it has been chugging along, nonetheless. Some more mud isn’t going to make any difference.

Besides, it is sheer naivety to believe we can put Pakistan to “shame”. The international community is not willing to join hands with us on such a track.

Second, to every fistful of mud we throw at Pakistan, one can be certain that Islamabad will return with an equal fist. And if past experience is anything to go by, Pakistan has a way of getting the better of us in a slugfest.

Two options

The real dilemma lies on two other counts. One, how do we handle the relations with Pakistan in the aftermath of Headley’s disclosures?

True, he didn’t add much to what we already knew. But he did bring the 26/11 attack back into focus.

The memory was getting jaded in our collective consciousness, which is overcrowded since 2008 with scams, beef-eating, air pollution, gang rapes, et cetera. But the jaded memory got burnished in the past 48 hours. The pain has returned.

For the government, which also happens to be rooted in nationalist sentiments, it becomes difficult to be seen constructively engaging Pakistan when that country’s enemy image is such a widely-shared public perception.

Simply put, it is even difficult to defend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s overtures to Pakistan as “statesmanlike”.

Equally, the Foreign Secretary’s expected trip to Islamabad for talks will not make sense to the Indian public – in a near future, at least. The government might as well roll down the shutter and close shop as if Pakistan never existed. This is one option.

The other option will be to punish Pakistan in the same coin. The present government unabashedly admires Israel. Ask Israel how best we can punish Pakistan.

Political assassination is a favourite weapon in the Israeli armoury. Commando raid is another. Outright invasion is yet another.

Choose the method best suited to our needs and circumstances. And hit Pakistan hard; hit so hard they cry for mercy. This is a second option.

Both these options are widely recommended by our pundits as mutually reinforcing options, too. But then, there is a catch in all this gung-ho attitude.

Ignoring Pakistan is actually a non-option, if only because we simply cannot choose our neighbour. And in this case, there isn’t any certainty that Pakistan is in any mood to “ignore” us. It will probably keep reminding us every now and then that it does remember us.

Again, even assuming we share the Israeli DNA, Pakistan is not Palestine. While Israel can use Gaza and West Bank as punch bags, if we punch Pakistan, make no mistake, it will punch back.

There is a moral in the story, after all, why Israel ceased to attack Lebanon once it transpired that Hezbollah has a stockpile of 40000 rockets to retaliate. That is the story of all “asymmetric” wars.

Besides, do we really want to get entangled in a futile war of attrition with Pakistan and make it our way of life?

India has so much going for it by way of manifest destiny as an emerging power if only it could sustain a high momentum of growth – for which, of course, a peaceful immediate external environment is a crucial pre-requisite. War and conflicts will be a drain on the resources.

Diplomatic embarrassment

All in all, therefore, Headley’s disposition poses a diplomatic embarrassment. He is an American citizen. What he divulged would already have been known to the US authorities.

On the other hand, the US has lately intensified its collaboration with Pakistan by forming an exclusive Quadrilateral Consultative Group to try to negotiate a settlement with the Taliban.

What emerges is that the US has specific interests to pursue in the region, which demands that Pakistan be cultivated as a key non-NATO regional ally.

The Obama administration continues to do business with the Pakistani military and the ISI despite their dalliance with Osama bin Laden who was responsible for the death of 2996 people in America.

Suffice it to say, the only option open to India too will be to remain engaged with Pakistan, to lower the tensions in the relationship and work toward eliminating the root causes behind this “asymmetric” war.

by MK Bhadrakumar
Published Feb 10, 2016 · 11:30 am. Updated Feb 11, 2016 · 04:35 pm.

Find this story at 10 February 2016

Copyright http://scroll.in/

2008 Mumbai Attacks Plotter Says Pakistan’s Spy Agency Played a Role

The Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai was ravaged by fire, gunshots and grenade explosions during the 2008 terrorist attacks. Credit Arko Datta/Reuters
NEW DELHI — A Pakistani-American man who helped plot the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai told an Indian court on Monday that he had met throughout the process with two handlers from Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, an Indian prosecutor said.

India has long sought to depose the man, David C. Headley, in hopes of establishing a direct link between the Pakistani government and the assaults in Mumbai, which left more than 163 people dead.

Mr. Headley gave the deposition via teleconference from an undisclosed location in the United States, where he is serving a 35-year sentence for his role in the attacks. The questioning, by Ujjwal Nikam, the Indian public prosecutor, will continue in the coming days.

India hopes to present evidence of official involvement in the attacks, in part to generate pressure on the Pakistani government to take action against the conspirators. Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a commander with the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba who is believed to have overseen the Mumbai attacks, has been free on bail in Pakistan since 2014.

The group’s founder, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, lives openly in Lahore, in northern Pakistan, and moves freely throughout the country, impervious to the $10 million reward offered by the United States for information leading to his arrest.

Mr. Headley, who identified his contacts at the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate of Pakistan, or ISI, as “Major Ali” and “Major Iqbal,” has linked the terrorist plots to that agency before. He previously told American prosecutors that Lashkar “operated under the umbrella of the ISI” and that an agency official had offered in 2006 to pay him to carry out reconnaissance trips to India before the attacks. He has made similar statements to Indian investigators who have interviewed him in the United States.

A few revelations emerged from Mr. Headley’s questioning on Monday, part of a case against a Lashkar operative, Zabiuddin Ansari. One is that the 10 gunmen who paralyzed Mumbai starting on Nov. 26, 2008, had botched two previous attempts on the city, one in September and one in October, in one case swimming back to shore after their boat hit a rock and their arms and ammunition sank.

Mr. Headley also said that on the advice of his contact in Lashkar, he had changed his birth name, Daood Gilani, to a more American-sounding one so that he could more easily enter India. He visited India seven times before the attacks, recording hours of video of the city for his handlers in Pakistan.

Mr. Headley, 55, the son of a Pakistani poet and diplomat, Syed Saleem Gilani, and a Philadelphia socialite, A. Serrill Headley, carved out a byzantine double game for himself during the years after the Sept. 11 , 2001, attacks in the United States. Convicted of distributing heroin in the United States, he made a deal with officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration to travel to Pakistan in 2002 to gather information on heroin trafficking.

He was swiftly picked up by the Pakistani authorities and decided to work with him.

In 2002, while he was still working as a D.E.A. informant, he began training with Lashkar. Three women — a girlfriend and two former wives of his — approached American officials over the course of several years, saying they suspected him of sympathizing with terrorist groups, but no action was taken.

Mr. Headley was arrested in 2009, when he was caught carrying plans for a terrorist attack on a Danish newspaper. On the basis of his cooperation with investigators, United States officials shielded him from the death penalty at his trial in 2011 and reduced his life sentence to 35 years. Counterterrorism officials have described him as “dangerously engaging,” and they warned about the need to guard against “being sucked into his mind games.”

The United States’ failure to act on warnings about Mr. Headley has been, at times, a source of tension between Washington and New Delhi. Mr. Headley’s appearance as a witness “gives the United States an opportunity to play the observer role in what is a South Asian conversation about terrorism and security,” said Shamila N. Chaudhary, a South Asia fellow at the New America Foundation.

Correction: February 8, 2016
An earlier version of this article misspelled the middle name of David C. Headley’s mother. She was A. Serrill Headley, not Serill.

By ELLEN BARRY and HARI KUMARFEB. 8, 2016

Find this story at 8 Februari 2016

© 2016 The New York Times Company

26/11 attackers made two failed attempts, lost guns at sea: David Headley

Headley told the court that he had changed his name from the original Dawood Gilani after instructions from the LeT commanders, including Lakhvi, and ISI officials.

AMERICAN national and 26/11 scout David Coleman Headley, who deposed before an Indian court on Monday, said that the 10 terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008 had attempted to carry out the strike earlier on two occasions, but failed to execute it.
He said the first attempt was made in September 2008 but it failed as the boat hit some rocks and the terrorists lost all the arms and ammunition at sea.
“The boat disintegrated. The men had life jackets on and came to shore. The weapons and explosives were lost in the ocean,” Headley told the court. He said he does not remember what happened during the second attempt, but it was made “a month or so later”.
“I don’t know exactly where the boat started from, but probably outside Karachi,” he told the court.

Headley told the court that Lashkar-e-Taiba member Sajid Mir had told him to change his name in 2005, and to set up an office in Mumbai and make a “general video” of the city. Headley also said one Major Iqbal, an agent of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), had told him that he could be “useful” for “intelligence work” in India.

Headley’s diary names Pak Army officers,26/11 attack handlers
In New Delhi, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said, “The difference between the state and non-state actors will come to an end after this statement. It is known who all were involved. Headley’s statement will lead to a logical conclusion. It will help us.”
Government sources said India will give Pakistan details of Headley’s testimony regarding Hafiz Saeed’s role as the LeT’s ideologue, and the involvement of ISI officers in training and directing the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
“While Pakistan has claimed that Saeed is associated with Jamaat ud Dawa, Headley’s testimony is evidence on record of Saeed’s role as an ideologue and indoctrinator for LeT,” said a government official.
Headley said Mir was his “main contact” in the LeT. Headley, originally named Dawood Geelani by his parents, had applied to have his name changed in Chicago in 2005. In 2006, his name was officially changed and he obtained a new passport so he could enter India under an American identity, he said.
Headley deposed via video-link from an undisclosed location in the US in the presence of lawyers Robert Seeder and John Theis and Assistant US Attorney Sarah Streicker.
Asked by special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam about the purpose of the office Mir wanted him to open, Headley said, “He did not specify at that time. He specified later what his intention was. Before my first visit, he gave me general instructions to make a general video of Mumbai.”
Headley’s questioning began at the Bombay City Civil and Sessions Court at 7.30 am, three-and-a-half hours before it officially opens, to accommodate the Americans. This comes nearly two months after the court framed charges against him in the ongoing trial of Zabiuddin Ansari, an accused in the 26/11 attack.
Headley, who was handed a 35-year jail term by a court in the US in 2013 for his role in the 26/11 attacks, had signed a plea agreement with the government there, under which he is bound to testify in a foreign court or face the death penalty.
Also Read | David Headley wanted to fight against Indian Army in Kashmir
Dressed in a grey sweater, Headley leaned back in his chair, looking into the court from a large television screen, facing another TV screen on which Ansari was visible, seated in Mumbai Central Prison.
Nikam addressed the 26/11 scout as Mr Headley throughout. When he referred to the LeT as a “military organisation”, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Atulchandra Kulkarni corrected him, “Nikam saheb, military nahi militant, militant.”
Headley, born in Washington DC, deposed that he had come into contact with an ISI agent named Major Ali after he was arrested in Landi Kotal in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Region (FATA), near the border with Afghanistan, on suspicion of being a foreigner.
While entry of foreigners is prohibited there, Headley was discharged after he produced a Pakistani identity card. “I was carrying in my possession literature about India which I was studying,” he said.
Accompanied by a former Pakistan Army Major named Abdur Rehman Pasha, Headley said he had ventured to FATA to meet a drug smuggler named Zaid Shah. “It had been suggested that Shah could smuggle weapons into India,” Headley said.
Headley said he was interrogated there by Ali, who works for the ISI in Landi Kotal. Headley said that when he disclosed to him that he planned to visit India, Ali introduced him to another ISI agent named Major Iqbal because “he thought I could be useful to him in some intelligence work there”.
Prior to the 26/11 attacks, Headley travelled to India on eight occasions — seven times to Mumbai and once to Delhi. “Most of those visits had been made from Pakistan. Only once or twice I arrived from the UAE or Dubai,” he said. He told the court that he visited India only once after the attacks, on March 7, 2009.
The applications he had submitted to the Consul General of India in Chicago to twice obtain visas contained personal information that was falsified “for the purpose of protecting my cover”, he said.
Dr Tahawwur Rana, a childhood friend of Headley, who was sentenced to 14-year imprisonment by a US court in 2013, had helped him obtain a five-year business visa to India in 2007. They had studied together for five years at a college in Pakistan’s Punjab Province.
In Mumbai, Headley set up a safe house “to live in an enemy country” and posed as an immigration consultant to “maintain my cover”.
In the two years that Headley trained with the LeT, he undertook five to six courses in paramilitary training, handling weapons, ammunition and explosives, and intelligence, at Muridke near Lahore and Muzaffarabad in “Azaad Kashmir”, he said. Training also included a leadership course in which Saeed and senior commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi delivered “religious speeches”, he said.
Towards the end of the day’s questioning, Headley told Nikam that he wanted to fight the Indian Army in Kashmir but was denied by Lakhvi, who said he was “too old” for it.
Soon afterwards, he was informed by Ali that a suitable task would be found for him, he said.
Nikam, who had started the day with the announcement that his examination of Headley would take at least two days, ended by asking him to identify seven LeT trainers. Headley admitted to knowing Abu Furkhan, Sanaullah, Abu Hanjala Pathan, Abu Usman, Abu Saeed and Abu Fahadullah.
He rejected Nikam’s suggestion that all trainers had served in the Pakistan Army in the past. “No, not at all, some of them could barely read and write,” Headley said to laughter in the courtroom.
Nikam went on, asking Headley if the men could handle sophisticated weapons. He replied: “If you can call an AK-47 a sophisticated weapon, then yes.”

Written by Srinath Rao | Mumbai | Updated: February 9, 2016 5:17 am

Find this story at 9 February 2016

Copyright © 2016 The Indian Express [P] Ltd.

American says he visited Mumbai 7 times before 2008 attack

NEW DELHI (AP) — A Pakistani-American who helped plan a 2008 attack on India’s financial hub told a court Monday that he traveled to India seven times to scout potential targets for a Pakistan-based militant group.

David Coleman Headley gave the Indian court in Mumbai details of his role in planning the attack, in which more than 160 people were killed over three days when a group of 10 men rampaged across the city.

Headley repeated statements that he has made earlier that Pakistan’s main spy agency was deeply involved in planning the attack’s preparations and execution.

FILE- In this Nov. 29, 2008, file photo, an Indian soldier takes cover as the Taj Mahal hotel burns during gun battle between Indian military and militants i…
FILE- In this Nov. 29, 2008, file photo, an Indian soldier takes cover as the Taj Mahal hotel burns during gun battle between Indian military and militants inside the hotel in Mumbai, India. A Pakistani-American who helped plan a 2008 attack on India’s financial hub has told a court in India that he traveled to India seven times to scout potential targets for a Pakistan-based group. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

Headley said he supplied his handlers in the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba with videos and maps of luxury hotels, a Jewish center and the city’s main railway station that were attacked, Prosecutor Ujwal Nikam told reporters after Monday’s five hours of testimony.

Headley testified that Lashkar-e-Taiba had tried to launch attacks in India twice earlier without success, said Nikam, who questioned him. The third attempt was the November 2008 attack, Headley said.

Nikam said Headley told the court that in one attempt, a boat in which the men were traveling overturned after hitting rocks and their weapons were lost at sea.

Headley said he joined Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2002 and he and other recruits underwent many years of training in Pakistan, where they were taught the use of weapons and bomb making.

Headley, born of a Pakistani father and an American mother, told the court that his name was Dawood Gilani, but he changed it to David Coleman Headley in 2006 to facilitate his travel to India.

Nikam said Headley used his U.S. passport to travel frequently to India without raising suspicion and was able to give Lashkar-e-Taiba information that was used to plan and carry out the attack.

He said Headley told the court that officials from Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence were involved. Pakistan insists that ISI has no links to Lashkar-e-Taiba and denies any connection to the Mumbai violence.

Nikam told reporters that “Headley has given us valuable information,” but declined to comment on the testimony about ISI, saying it was up to the government of India to take it up with the government of Pakistan.

Headley testified by video conference from an undisclosed location in the United States, where he is serving a 35-year prison term for his role in the Mumbai attack.

The Mumbai court investigating the attack gave Headley a conditional pardon in December, which allowed him to become a witness.

___

This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
PUBLISHED: 10:33 GMT, 8 February 2016 | UPDATED: 10:33 GMT, 8 February 2016

Find this story at 8 Februari 2016

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

David Headley: Mumbai plotter ‘visited India’ before attacks

A US man convicted for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks has told an Indian court that he visited Mumbai seven times in advance to gather information.
David Headley gave details of the planning to a court in Mumbai on Monday through a video link from a prison in the US.
Headley, 52, pleaded guilty and co-operated with the US to avoid the death penalty and extradition to India.
More than 160 people were killed by gunmen in the November 2008 attack.
Headley is serving a 35-year jail term in the US for his role in the attacks.
Indian prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said that “this was for the first time that a foreign terrorist” had appeared through a video link in an Indian court to testify.
“This is a very crucial case… I am absolutely satisfied as to what David Headley has revealed in today’s deposition. I may quiz Headley on certain aspects, which were never asked by the FBI,” he added.
Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel under attack in November 2008Image copyrightAFP
Image caption
The Mumbai attack targeted a railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural centre
Mr Nikam added that Headley’s questioning would continue on Tuesday.
The Mumbai court gave him a conditional pardon in December and allowed him to turn witness.
Headley was sentenced in the US in 2013 on 12 counts, including conspiracy to aid militants from the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which India blames for carrying out the attacks.
After initially denying the charges, he eventually pleaded guilty and co-operated with the US to avoid the death penalty and extradition to India.
He admitted to scouting potential target locations in Mumbai ahead of the attacks.
Headley was born Daood Gilani to a Pakistani father and American mother but changed his name to David Coleman Headley in 2006 “to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani”, US prosecutors had said.
Headley is alleged to have told US prosecutors that he had been working with LeT since 2002.
He was arrested by FBI agents in Chicago in October 2009 while trying to board a plane for Philadelphia.
The 60-hour assault on Mumbai began on 26 November 2008. Attacks on the railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural centre claimed 166 lives. Nine gunmen were also killed.
The only attacker captured alive, Pakistani Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, was executed in India in 2012.

8 February 2016

Find this story at 8 February 2016

Copyright © 2016 BBC

Mumbai attack: David Headley deposes before Mumbai court; says failed in 2 attempts before 26/11 attack (2016)

Mumbai attack: In the first deposition on a terror act from foreign soil, Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Headley today told a court here via video-link that Pakistani terrorists attempted to attack Mumbai twice before the 26/11 strikes that killed 166 people but failed both times.

Mumbai attack, Mumbai terror attack, Mumbai attack 26/11, Mumbai attack mastermind, 26/11 attack, David Headley, David Headley latest news
Mumbai attack: David Headley reportedly visited India many times between 2006 and 2008, drew maps, took video footage and scouted several targets for the 26/11 attack including the Taj Hotel, Oberoi Hotel and Nariman House. (PTI)
Mumbai attack: In the first deposition on a terror act from foreign soil, Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Headley today told a court here via video-link that Pakistani terrorists attempted to attack Mumbai twice before the 26/11 strikes that killed 166 people but failed both times.
In his deposition which began at 7 AM, David Headley said that he was a “true follower of LeT” and came to India eight times – 7 before the terror attack on November 26, 2008 and once after that.
Headley, who was made an approver in the 26/11 attack case, said that his main contact in LeT was Sajid Mir, also an accused in the case.
He told the court that LeT made two unsuccessful attempts to carry out terror attacks before finally striking in November 2008, once in September and another in October.
David Headley said that he joined LeT after being “influenced” by its head Hafeez Saeed and took his first “course” with them in 2002 at Muzaffarabad.
David Headley, who is currently serving 35 years prison sentence in the US for his role in the terror attacks, also said he changed his name from Dawood Gilani to David Headley in 2006 so that he could enter India and set up some business.
“I applied for change in name on February 5, 2006 in Philadelphia. I changed my name to David Headley to get a new passport under that name. I wanted a new passport so that I could enter India with an American identity.
“After I got a new passport I disclosed it to my colleagues in LeT of which one of them was Sajid Mir, the person with whom I was dealing with. The objective for coming to India was to set up an office/business so that I can live in India. Before the first visit, Sajid Mir gave me instructions to make a general video of Mumbai,” David Headley told the court here.
Headley also said that in his Indian visa application he had furnished all “wrong” information “to protect his cover”.
He reportedly visited India many times between 2006 and 2008, drew maps, took video footage and scouted several targets for the attacks including the Taj Hotel, Oberoi Hotel and Nariman House.
His reconnaissance provided vital information for the 10 LeT terrorists and their handlers, who launched the attack.
Speaking to reporters, Headley’s lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani said has “he (David Headley) has confirmed that he joined LeT after being influenced by Hafeez Saeed. He told the court that two unsuccessful attempts to carry out terror attacks were also made before 26/11″. He has not explained the role of LeT in attacks”.
The court is currently trying key plotter Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, who is facing trial for his alleged role in the terror attacks, which held the city to ransom for three days.
The deposition of David Headley, assumes significance as it may unravel the conspiracy behind the brazen terror strike, which left 166 people dead.
The court had on December 10, 2015, made David Headley an approver in the case and directed him to depose before the court on February 8.
He had then told Special Judge GA Sanap that he was “ready to depose” if granted pardon.
Judge Sanap had then made Headley an approver, subject to certain conditions and granted him pardon.
Last year, the Mumbai Police had on October 8 moved an application before the court saying that Headley deserves to be tried by this (Mumbai) court together with 26/11 key plotter Abu Jundal in the case as both of them are conspirators and abettors behind the dastardly act.
In the application, the Mumbai Police said that from the judgement passed by the US court against Headley, it was clear that he was a member of LeT and he had played an active role in the criminal conspiracy in the terror attack.
The application also said that Headley had entered into a plea agreement with US in 2010 and thereby willingly and voluntarily agreed that he had conspired.
It is evident, the police had said, that Headley has committed the offences of conspiring with LeT for committing illegal acts in India; waging war against the government of India and offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
He has also been accused of intentionally aiding and abetting the LeT in Pakistan for committing illegal acts in Mumbai, mischief by fire with intent to destroy Hotel Taj, Oberoi and Nariman House, offences under Explosives Act and Explosives Substances Act as also under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
“This is for the first time in the Indian legal history that a ‘foreign terrorist’ will appear before an Indian court and testify,” Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had said yesterday.

By: PTI | Mumbai | Updated: February 8, 2016 12:38 PM

Find this story at 8 February 2016

Copyright © 2016 The Indian Express [P] Ltd.

David Headley writes memoir in prison, reveals details of 26/11 attack (2015)

In one of the passages in the memoir, Headley writes about his first encounter with LeT militants in October 2000.
In one of the passages in the memoir, Headley writes about his first encounter with LeT militants in October 2000.
NEW YORK: Pakistani-American LeT terrorist David Headley, serving 35 years for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, has written a memoir in prison detailing how Lashkar’s “dedication” to the cause of the “liberation of Kashmir” inspired him to join the terror group.
American public affairs TV programme Frontline was given access to a draft of the memoir Headley, 54, wrote in jail.
Excerpts from the draft offer a “unique window” into Headley’s turn towards extremism, his training with Lashkar-e-Taiba and his preparations for the Denmark attack against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
In one of the passages in the memoir, Headley writes about his first encounter with LeT militants in October 2000.
“On one of my trips, October 2000, I made my first contact with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), quite by accident. I attended their annual convection in November. I was very impressed with their dedication to the cause of the liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation,” Headley writes.
READ ALSO: Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi released from Adiala jail
He writes that for the terror attack on Mumbai, the plan was to capture an Indian fishing vessel that would not raise alarm with the Indian Coast Guard as it transported the LeT terrorists to Mumbai’s shores.
“The plan was to capture an Indian fishing vessel, which constantly strayed into Pakistani waters, and commandeer it all the way to Mumbai. The hope was that the Indian Coast Guard would not notice an Indian vessel. The boys would carry a GPS device which would guide them directly to the landing site, I had selected earlier,” he writes.
Headley also writes in detail about his decision to join Lashkar “full time” following the 9/11 attacks, and says that by 2002 the group asked him to take “the Daura Aamma, the basic military training course offered by LeT.”
In 2005, Lashkar asked him to change his name from Dawood Gilani to a “Christian sounding name” so that he could travel easily between the US, India and Pakistan and make it difficult for intelligence agencies to track his activities.
“Finally, in June, my immediate superior, Sajid Mir, instructed me to return to the US, change my Muslim name to a Christian sounding name and get a new US passport under that name. He now informed me I would be going to India, since I looked nothing like a Pakistani in appearance and spoke fluent Hindi and Urdu it would give me a distinct advantage in India,” he said.
Describing the training he got at Lashkar camps, Headley writes “we hid most of the day in caves and under trees, while we were given instructions on various lessons.”
He says most of the “practical aspects” of the lessons were carried out at night and during the course, he was trained in “infiltration, survival, camouflage, raid/ambush tactics, hide out, hiding and retrieving weapons caches, more than a dozen night marches, target practice with AK-47 and 9 mm pistol, RPG, grenades, among other training.
“We also went through an extensive indoctrination process and were required to study many Quaranic Chapters and Hadith,” Headley writes.
READ ALSO: David Headley involved in plot to attack Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s office
In the memoir, he recalls the time in 1999 when after serving his sentence for drug trafficking, he had “decided to turn over a new leaf.”
“To make amends for my unrighteous ways I worked for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). I had spent the past fifteen years frequenting the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, on heroin procuring expeditions,” he says.
Headley writes that the “lawless land” had remained the same, “frozen in time”, since the 18th century. He started leaning more about his religion “as part of my change.”
Headley says he had not been a practicing Muslim for the past fifteen years, “but the seeds of Islam sown in me by my father and in school had never completely died out.”
Another change Headley made was to break away from his Canadian girlfriend, whom he had been planning to marry.
He agreed to an arranged marriage in Pakistan and he kept visiting the country “four times a year, without the knowledge of the DEA or my Probation Officer” to see his new wife, who he had decided to keep in Pakistan.
On his decision to marry a second time, Headley says that “polygamy was aggressively encouraged” by Lashkar and “they were really happy to see me take this step.”

“I was definitely ‘one of the guys’ now,” he writes. On the plans to attack the Danish newspaper, he says that after the 26/11 Mumbai attack he was told to “lay low.”
Instead, he eventually connects with al Qaida and with the assistance of a contact he has inside the organization he travels to Denmark to scout the Jyllands-Posten newspaper for a possible strike.
Headley’s contact took him to North Waziristan in 2009, where he met the “al Qaida number four” Ilyas Kashmiri.
“He gave me a further pep talk on the Denmark Project, saying that, both, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri had stressed upon him the need to conclude this matter quickly. I agreed and assured him of my best effort,” Headley writes.
Headley says since he was “short on manpower” for the Denmark project, he decided to “modify the operation” and instead of assaulting the newspaper building, “just take out the cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, and do this deed myself.”
He said all he needed to carry out the operation was a handgun, which he knew he could find in Europe.

Headley was arrested in October 2009 at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on his way back to Pakistan.

PTI | Apr 22, 2015, 07.18 PM IST

Find this story at 22 April 2015

Copyright © 2015 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd

The Memoir of an “American Terrorist” (2015)

David Coleman Headley is not exactly a household name, but his is one of the more unnerving terrorism cases in the post-9/11 era. White male. Government informant. American citizen. In other words, he had the perfect cover.

It was under the safety of that cover that Headley — a former drug smuggler turned informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration — helped stage the November 2008 siege in Mumbai, an audacious attack that left 166 people dead, including six Americans. Working with the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Headley used his U.S. passport to travel to India, scout locations for the plot, film them and even find a landing site for the plot’s attackers.

Within weeks of Mumbai, Headley was working on another plot — this time working for Al Qaeda, planning an assault against a Danish newspaper that had published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The plan: A group of attackers would take hostages at the paper, shoot them, behead them and then throw their heads out the window. Again, Headley worked reconnaissance for the mission until his eventual arrest by the FBI at O’Hare International Airport in 2009.

Today, Headley is serving 35 years for his role in Mumbai. His case, however, has hardly gone away. In the aftermath of the Edward Snowden revelations about NSA surveillance, U.S. intelligence officials pointed to the Headley case as an example of how bulk data collection can thwart a terrorist attack. But tonight, in American Terrorist, ProPublica and FRONTLINE investigate that claim.

In the course of our investigation, FRONTLINE was given exclusive access to a draft of a memoir written by Headley after his arrest. Excerpts from the draft offer a unique window into Headley’s turn toward extremism, his training with Lashkar-e-Taiba and his preparations for the Denmark attack.

In one passage, for example, Headley writes about his first encounter with Lashkar militants, describing how he was “very impressed with their dedication to the cause of the liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation. As Headley tells it:

In 1999, after serving my sentence for drug trafficking, I decided to turn over a new leaf. To make amends for my unrighteous ways I worked … for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) … I had spent the past fifteen years frequenting the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, on heroin procuring expeditions. This lawless land had remained the same, frozen in time, since the 18th century. The British had thought it wise to leave this place alone during their rule of India. I started leaning more and more on my religion as part of my change. I had not been a practicing Muslim the past fifteen years, but the seeds of Islam sown in me by my Father and in school had never completely died out. Another change I made was to break away from my Canadian girlfriend, who I had been planning to marry for the past five years, and agree to an arranged marriage in Pakistan. Still on probation, I kept visiting Pakistan four times a year, without the knowledge of the DEA or my Probation Officer, to see my new wife, who I had decided to keep in Pakistan.

On one of my trips, October 2000, I made my first contact with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT), quite by accident. I attended their annual convection in November. I was very impressed with their dedication to the cause of the liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation.

In a later passage, Headley marks his decision to join Lashkar “full time” following the 9/11 attacks, and says that by 2002 the group asked him to take “the Daura Aamma, the basic military training course offered by LT.” It was one of several training programs he writes about. In a separate section, he recalls a second course that he attended:

We hid most of the day in caves and under trees, while we were given instructions on various lessons. Most of the practical aspects of the lessons were carried out at night. During this course, I was trained in infiltration, survival, camouflage, raid/ambush tactics, hide out, hiding and retrieving weapons caches, more than a dozen night marches, target practice with AK-47 and 9 mm pistol, RPG, grenades, among other training. We also went through an extensive indoctrination process and were required to study many Quaranic Chapters and Hadith.

By 2005, Lashkar’s plans for Headley are coming into focus. He is trained in explosives, but perhaps most importantly, Lashkar asks him to change the name given to him at birth by his Pakistani father and American mother — Daood Gilani. He chooses David, which is English for Daood; Coleman, which was his grandfather’s name; and Headley, which was his mother’s maiden name. It was a bureaucratic act, but intelligence officials say the change made Headley that much more difficult to track.

Finally, in June, my immediate superior, Sajid Mir, instructed me to return to the United States, change my Muslim name to a Christian sounding name and get a new U.S. passport under that name. He now informed me I would be going to India, since I looked nothing like a Pakistani in appearance and spoke fluent Hindi and Urdu it would give me a distinct advantage in India.

As his training continued, so did his embrace of the Lashkar lifestyle. In 2007, for example, Headley takes a second wife. He describes the decision by saying:

Polygamy was aggressively encouraged by LT and they were really happy to see me take this step. I was definitely “one of the guys” now.

Around the same time, Headley was conducting regular reconnaissance of targets in Mumbai. On one trip, he checks into the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which would later be the epicenter of the Mumbai attack, with his new wife for a “honeymoon.” As he cases locations on his trips to the city, Headley says he takes “extensive video.”

The plan was to capture an Indian fishing vessel, which constantly strayed into Pakistani waters, and commandeer it all the way to Mumbai. The hope was that the Indian Coast Guard would not notice an Indian vessel. The boys would carry a GPS device which would guide them directly to the landing site, I had selected earlier.

After the attack, Headley says he was told to “lay low.” Instead, he eventually connects with Al Qaeda and with the assistance of a contact he has inside the organization he travels to Denmark to scout the Jyllands-Posten newspaper for a possible strike.

This paper had published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad and was on the top of the hit list for Al Qaeda. The Major told me that the leadership desired the attack to be carried out ASAP on the Newspaper Head Office. I visited Copenhagen in January 2009 and conducted detailed surveillance of the office there as well as their location in Arhus. I was able to make entry into both locations. …

A few days later he took me to North Waziristan, where I met Ilyas Kashmiri, the Al Qaeda number four. He gave me a further pep talk on the Denmark Project, saying that, both, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri had stressed upon him the need to conclude this matter quickly. I agreed and assured him of my best effort.

Western intelligence would soon learn of the plot, and close in on Headley. At the end of his draft, he describes the days leading up to his arrest.

I received final instructions in Denmark and left for the United States. in July 2009, I flew to England from Chicago and met Kashmiri’s friends. … Both of these men were also under surveillance by British Police, as a result of which I too came under surveillance. They forwarded their information to the F.B.I. From England, I checked out Denmark one last time and returned to the United States. I had now reached the conclusion that since I was short on man power, I would modify the operation and, instead of assaulting the newspaper building, just take out the cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, and do this deed myself. All I would need was a handgun, which I knew I could find in Europe … I was finally arrested on 3 October 2009, at O’Hare Airport, on my way back to Pakistan.

APRIL 21, 2015 / by JASON M. BRESLOW

Find this story at 21 April 2015
Copyright http://www.pbs.org/

Headley writes memoir in prison on 26/11 attacks, Lashkar PTI (2015)

He writes that for the terror attack on Mumbai, the plan was to capture an Indian fishing vessel that would not raise alarm with the Indian Coast Guard as it transported the LeT terrorists to Mumbai’s shores. File photo
AP He writes that for the terror attack on Mumbai, the plan was to capture an Indian fishing vessel that would not raise alarm with the Indian Coast Guard as it transported the LeT terrorists to Mumbai’s shores. File photo

Pakistani-American LeT terrorist David Headley, serving 35 years for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, has written a memoir in prison detailing how Lashkar’s “dedication” to the cause of the “liberation of Kashmir” inspired him to join the terror group.

American public affairs TV programme Frontline was given access to a draft of the memoir Headley, 54, wrote in jail.

Excerpts from the draft offer a “unique window” into Headley’s turn toward extremism, his training with Lashkar-e-Taiba and his preparations for the Denmark attack against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

In one of the passages in the memoir, Headley writes about his first encounter with LeT militants in October 2000.

“On one of my trips, October 2000, I made my first contact with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), quite by accident. I attended their annual convection in November. I was very impressed with their dedication to the cause of the liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation,” Headley writes.

He writes that for the terror attack on Mumbai, the plan was to capture an Indian fishing vessel that would not raise alarm with the Indian Coast Guard as it transported the LeT terrorists to Mumbai’s shores.

“The plan was to capture an Indian fishing vessel, which constantly strayed into Pakistani waters, and commandeer it all the way to Mumbai. The hope was that the Indian Coast Guard would not notice an Indian vessel. The boys would carry a GPS device which would guide them directly to the landing site, I had selected earlier,” he writes.

Headley also writes in detail about his decision to join Lashkar “full time” following the 9/11 attacks, and says that by 2002 the group asked him to take “the Daura Aamma, the basic military training course offered by LeT.”

In 2005, Lashkar asked him to change his name from Dawood Gilani to a “Christian sounding name” so that he could travel easily between the US, India and Pakistan and make it difficult for intelligence agencies to track his activities.

“Finally, in June, my immediate superior, Sajid Mir, instructed me to return to the US, change my Muslim name to a Christian sounding name and get a new US passport under that name. He now informed me I would be going to India, since I looked nothing like a Pakistani in appearance and spoke fluent Hindi and Urdu it would give me a distinct advantage in India,” he said.

Describing the training he got at Lashkar camps, Headley writes “we hid most of the day in caves and under trees, while we were given instructions on various lessons.”

He says most of the “practical aspects” of the lessons were carried out at night and during the course, he was trained in “infiltration, survival, camouflage, raid/ambush tactics, hide out, hiding and retrieving weapons caches, more than a dozen night marches, target practice with AK-47 and 9 mm pistol, RPG, grenades, among other training.

NEW YORK, April 22, 2015
Updated: April 22, 2015 18:23 IST

Find this story at 22 April 2015

Copyright© 2016, The Hindu

AMERICAN TERRORIST (2015)

FRONTLINE investigates American-born terrorist David Coleman Headley, who helped plan the deadly 2008 siege on Mumbai. In collaboration with ProPublica, the film — an updated and expanded version of A Perfect Terrorist — reveals how secret electronic surveillance missed catching the Mumbai plotters, and how Headley planned another Charlie Hebdo-like assault against a Danish newspaper.

APRIL 21, 2015 // 01:23:48
REUTERS/Arko Datta
Find this story at 21 April 2015

Copyright http://www.pbs.org/

AMERICAN TERRORIST A PERFECT TERRORIST (2014)

In 2008 Mumbai Attacks, Piles of Spy Data, but an Uncompleted Puzzle

In the fall of 2008, a 30-year-old computer expert named Zarrar Shah roamed from outposts in the northern mountains of Pakistan to safe houses near the Arabian Sea, plotting mayhem in Mumbai, India’s commercial gem.

Mr. Shah, the technology chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani terror group, and fellow conspirators used Google Earth to show militants the routes to their targets in the city. He set up an Internet phone system to disguise his location by routing his calls through New Jersey. Shortly before an assault that would kill 166 people, including six Americans, Mr. Shah searched online for a Jewish hostel and two luxury hotels, all sites of the eventual carnage.

But he did not know that by September, the British were spying on many of his online activities, tracking his Internet searches and messages, according to former American and Indian officials and classified documents disclosed by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

They were not the only spies watching. Mr. Shah drew similar scrutiny from an Indian intelligence agency, according to a former official who was briefed on the operation. The United States was unaware of the two agencies’ efforts, American officials say, but had picked up signs of a plot through other electronic and human sources, and warned Indian security officials several times in the months before the attack.

What happened next may rank among the most devastating near-misses in the history of spycraft. The intelligence agencies of the three nations did not pull together all the strands gathered by their high-tech surveillance and other tools, which might have allowed them to disrupt a terror strike so scarring that it is often called India’s 9/11.

“No one put together the whole picture,” said Shivshankar Menon, who was India’s foreign minister at the time of the attacks and later became the national security adviser. “Not the Americans, not the Brits, not the Indians.”

Mr. Menon, now retired, recalled that “only once the shooting started did everyone share” what they had, largely in meetings between British and Indian officials, and then “the picture instantly came into focus.”

The British had access to a trove of data from Mr. Shah’s communications, but contend that the information was not specific enough to detect the threat. The Indians did not home in on the plot even with the alerts from the United States.

Clues slipped by the Americans as well. David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American who scouted targets in Mumbai, exchanged incriminating emails with plotters that went unnoticed until shortly before his arrest in Chicago in late 2009. United States counterterrorism agencies did not pursue reports from his unhappy wife, who told American officials long before the killings began that he was a Pakistani terrorist conducting mysterious missions in Mumbai.

That hidden history of the Mumbai attacks reveals the vulnerability as well as the strengths of computer surveillance and intercepts as a counterterrorism weapon, an investigation by The New York Times, ProPublica and FRONTLINE has found.

Although electronic eavesdropping often yields valuable data, even tantalizing clues can be missed if the technology is not closely monitored, the intelligence gleaned from it is not linked with other information, or analysis does not sift incriminating activity from the ocean of digital data.

This account has been pieced together from classified documents, court files and dozens of interviews with current and former Indian, British and American officials. While telephone intercepts of the assault team’s phone calls and other intelligence work during the three-day siege have been reported, the extensive espionage that took place before the attacks has not previously been disclosed. Some details of the operations were withheld at the request of the intelligence agencies, citing national security concerns.

“We didn’t see it coming,” a former senior United States intelligence official said. “We were focused on many other things — Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, the Iranians. It’s not that things were missed — they were never put together.”

After the assault began, the countries quickly disclosed their intelligence to one another. They monitored a Lashkar control room in Pakistan where the terror chiefs directed their men, hunkered down in the Taj and Oberoi hotels and the Jewish hostel, according to current and former American, British and Indian officials.

That cooperation among the spy agencies helped analysts retrospectively piece together “a complete operations plan for the attacks,” a top-secret N.S.A. document said.

The Indian government did not respond to several requests for official comment, but a former Indian intelligence official acknowledged that Indian spies had tracked Mr. Shah’s laptop communications. It is unclear what data the Indians gleaned from their monitoring.

Asked if Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, Britain’s eavesdropping agency, should have had strong suspicions of a looming attack, a government official responded in a statement: “We do not comment on intelligence matters. But if we had had critical information about an imminent act of terrorism in a situation like this we would have shared it with the Indian government. So the central allegation of this story is completely untrue.”

The attacks still resonate in India, and are a continuing source of tension with Pakistan. Last week, a Pakistani court granted bail to a militant commander, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, accused of being an orchestrator of the attacks. He has not been freed, pending an appeal. India protested his release, arguing it was part of a Pakistani effort to avoid prosecution of terror suspects.

The story of the Mumbai killings has urgent implications for the West’s duel with the Islamic State and other groups. Like Lashkar, the Islamic State’s stealthy communications and slick propaganda make it one of the world’s most technologically sophisticated terror organizations. Al Qaeda, which recently announced the creation of an affiliate in India, uses similar tools.

Although the United States computer arsenal plays a vital role against targets ranging from North Korea’s suspected assault on Sony to Russian cyberthieves and Chinese military hacking units, counterterrorism requires a complex mix of human and technical resources. Some former counterterrorism officials warn against promoting billion-dollar surveillance programs with the narrow argument that they stop attacks.

That monitoring collects valuable information, but large amounts of it are “never meaningfully reviewed or analyzed,” said Charles (Sam) Faddis, a retired C.I.A. counterterrorism chief. “I cannot remember a single instance in my career when we ever stopped a plot based purely on signals intelligence.”

The targeting of Mr. Shah’s communications also failed to detect Mr. Headley’s role in the Mumbai attacks, and National Security Agency officials did not see for months that he was pursuing a new attack in Denmark.

“There are small successes in all of this that don’t make up for all the deaths,” said Tricia Bacon, a former State Department intelligence analyst, referring to intelligence and broader efforts to counter Lashkar. “It’s a massive failure and some small successes.”

Lashkar’s Computer Chief
Zarrar Shah was a digitally savvy operative, a man with a bushy beard, a pronounced limp, strong ties to Pakistani intelligence and an intense hatred for India, according to Western and Indian officials and court files. The spy agencies of Britain, the United States and India considered him the technology and communications chief for Lashkar, a group dedicated to attacking India. His fascination with jihad established him as something of a pioneer for a generation of Islamic extremists who use the Internet as a weapon.

According to Indian court records and interviews with intelligence officials, Mr. Shah was in his late 20s when he became the “emir,” or chief, of the Lashkar media unit. Because of his role, Mr. Shah, together with another young Lashkar chief named Sajid Mir, became an intelligence target for the British, Indians and Americans.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, which translates as “the Army of the Pure,” grew rapidly in the 1990s thanks to a powerful patron: the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), the Pakistani spy agency that the C.I.A. has worked with uneasily for years. Lashkar conducted a proxy war for Pakistan in return for arms, funds, intelligence, and training in combat tactics and communications technology. Initially, Lashkar’s focus was India and Kashmir, the mountainous region claimed by both India and Pakistan.

But Lashkar became increasingly interested in the West. A Qaeda figure involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center was arrested in a Lashkar safe house in 2002. Investigators dismantled a Lashkar network as it plotted a bombing in Australia in 2003 while recruiting, buying equipment and raising funds in North America and Europe. In 2007, a French court convicted in absentia the ringleader, Mr. Mir. He remained at large in Pakistan under ISI protection, investigators say.

Lashkar’s alliance with the ISI came under strain as some of the militants pushed for a Qaeda-style war on the West. As a result, some ISI officers and terror chiefs decided that a spectacular strike was needed to restore Lashkar’s cohesion and burnish its image, according to interviews and court files. The plan called for a commando-style assault in India that could also hit Americans, Britons and Jews there.

The target was the centerpiece of Indian prosperity: Mumbai.

Hatching a Plot
Lashkar’s chiefs developed a plot that would dwarf previous operations.

The lead conspirators were alleged to be Mr. Mir and Mr. Lakhvi, according to interviews and Indian court files, with Mr. Shah acting as a technical wingman, running the communications and setting up the hardware.

In early 2008, Indian and Western counterterrorism agencies began to pick up chatter about a potential attack on Mumbai. Indian spy agencies and police forces gathered periodic leads from their own sources about a Lashkar threat to the city. Starting in the spring, C.I.A. warnings singled out the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and other sites frequented by Westerners, according to American and Indian officials. Those warnings came from electronic and human sources, not from tracking Mr. Shah, other officials said.

“The U.S. intelligence community — on multiple occasions between June and November 2008 — warned the Indian government about Lashkar threats in Mumbai,” said Brian Hale, a spokesman for the director of the Office of National Intelligence. “The information identified several potential targets in the city, but we did not have specific information about the timing or the method of attack.”

United States spy agencies also alerted their British counterparts, according to a senior American intelligence official. It is unclear if the warnings led to the targeting of Mr. Shah’s communications, but by the fall of 2008, the British had found a way to monitor Lashkar’s digital networks.

So had the Indians. But until the attacks, one Indian official said, there was no communication between the two countries on the matter.

Western spy agencies routinely share significant or “actionable” intelligence involving threats with allies, but sometimes do not pass on less important information. Even friendly agencies are typically reluctant to disclose their sources of intelligence. Britain and India, while cooperative, were not nearly as close as the United States and Britain. And India is not included in the tightest intelligence-sharing circles of international, eavesdropping agencies that the two countries anchor.

Intelligence officials say that terror plots are often discernible only in hindsight, when a pattern suddenly emerges from what had been just bits of information. Whatever the reason, no one fully grasped the developing Mumbai conspiracy. “They either weren’t looking or didn’t understand what it all meant,” said one former American official who had access to the intelligence and would speak only on the condition of anonymity. “There was a lot more noise than signal. There usually is.”

Leaving a Trail
Not long after the British gained access to his communications, Mr. Shah contacted a New Jersey company posing online as an Indian reseller of telephone services named Kharak Singh, purporting to be based in Mumbai. His Indian persona started haggling over the price of a voice-over-Internet phone service — also known as VoIP — that had been chosen because it would make calls between Pakistan and the terrorists in Mumbai appear as if they were originating in Austria and New Jersey.

“its not first time in my life i am perchasing in this VOIP business,” Mr. Shah wrote in shaky English, to an official with the New Jersey-based company when he thought the asking price was too high, the GCHQ documents show. “i am using these services from 2 years.”

Mr. Shah had begun researching the VoIP systems, online security, and ways to hide his communications as early as mid-September, according to the documents. As he made his plan, he searched on his laptop for weak communication security in Europe, spent time on a site designed to conceal browsing history, and searched Google News for “indian american naval exercises” — presumably so the seagoing attackers would not blunder into an overwhelming force.

Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist who would survive the Mumbai attacks, watched Mr. Shah display some of his technical prowess. In mid-September, Mr. Shah and fellow plotters used Google Earth and other material to show Mr. Kasab and nine other young Pakistani terrorists their targets in Mumbai, according to court testimony.

The session, which took place in a huge “media room” in a remote camp on the border with Kashmir, was part of an effort to chart the terrorists’ route across the Arabian Sea, to a water landing on the edge of Mumbai, then through the chaotic streets. Videos, maps and reconnaissance reports had been supplied to Mr. Mir by Mr. Headley, the Pakistani-American who scouted targets.

“The gunmen were shown all this data from the reconnaissance,” said Deven Bharti, a top Mumbai police official who investigated the attacks, adding that the terrorists were trained to use Google Earth and global positioning equipment on their own. “Kasab was trained to locate everything in Mumbai before he went.”

If Mr. Shah made any attempt to hide his malevolent intentions, he did not have much success at it. Although his frenetic computer activity was often sprawling, he repeatedly displayed some key interests: small-scale warfare, secret communications, tourist and military locations in India, extremist ideology and Mumbai.

He searched for Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” previous terror strikes in India and weather forecasts in the Arabian Sea, typed “4 star hotel in delhi” and “taj hotel,” and visited mapsofindia.com to pore over sites in and around Mumbai, the documents show.

Still, the sheer scale of his ambition might have served as a smokescreen for his focus on the city. For example, he also showed interest in Kashmir, the Indian Punjab, New Delhi, Afghanistan and the United States Army in Germany and Canada.

He constantly flipped back and forth among Internet porn and entertainment sites while he was carrying out his work. He appeared to be fascinated with the actor Robert De Niro, called up at least one article on the singer Taylor Swift, and looked at funny cat videos. He visited unexplainable.net, a conspiracy theory website, and conducted a search on “barak obama family + muslim.”

In late September and again in October, Lashkar botched attempts to send the attackers to Mumbai by sea. During that period, at least two of the C.I.A. warnings were delivered, according to American and Indian officials. An alert in mid-September mentioned the Taj hotel among a half-dozen potential targets, causing the facility to temporarily beef up security. Another on Nov. 18 reported the location of a Pakistani vessel linked to a Lashkar threat against the southern coastal area of Mumbai, where the attack would occur.

Eventually Mr. Shah did set up the VoIP service through the New Jersey company, ensuring that many of his calls to the terrorists would bear the area code 201, concealing their actual origin. But in November, the company’s owner wrote to the fictitious Indian reseller, Mr. Singh, complaining that no voice traffic was running on the digital telephone network. Mr. Shah’s reply was ominous, according to Indian law enforcement officials, who obtained evidence from the company’s communications records with F.B.I. assistance after the attack.

“Dear Sir,” Mr. Shah replied, “i will send trafic by the end of this month.”

By Nov. 24, Mr. Shah had moved to the Karachi suburbs, where he set up an electronic “control room” with the help of an Indian militant named Abu Jundal, according to his later confession to the Indian authorities. It was from this room that Mr. Mir, Mr. Shah and others would issue minute-by-minute instructions to the assault team once the attacks began. On Nov. 25, Abu Jundal tested the VoIP software on four laptops spread out on four small tables facing a pair of televisions as the plotters, including Mr. Mir, Mr. Shah and Mr. Lakhvi, waited for the killings to begin.

In a plan to pin the blame on Indians, Mr. Shah typed a statement of responsibility for the attack from the Hyderabad Deccan Mujahadeen — a fake Indian organization. Early on Nov. 26, Mr. Shah showed more of his hand: he emailed a draft of the phony claim to an underling with orders to send it to the news media later, according to American and Indian counterterrorism officials.

Before the attacks started that evening, the documents show, Mr. Shah pulled up Google images of the Oberoi Hotel and conducted Wikimapia searches for the Taj and the Chabad House, the Jewish hostel run by an American rabbi from Brooklyn who would die in the strike along with his pregnant wife. Mr. Shah opened the hostel’s website. He began Googling news coverage of Mumbai just before the attacks began.

An intercept shows what Mr. Shah was reading, on the news website NDTV, as the killings proceeded.

“Mumbai, the city which never sleeps, was brought to its knees on Wednesday night as it came under an unprecedented multiple terror attack,” the article said. “Even as heavily armed police stormed into Taj Hotel, just opposite the Gateway of India where suspected terrorists were still holed up, blood-soaked guests could be seen carried out into the waiting ambulances.”

A Trove of Data
In the United States, Nov. 26 was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

A long presidential election fight was over, and many officials in Washington had already drifted away for their long weekend. Anish Goel, director for South Asia at the National Security Council in the White House, left around 6 a.m. for the eight-hour drive to his parents’ house in Ohio. By the time he arrived, his BlackBerry was filled with emails about the attacks.

The Pakistani terrorists had come ashore in an inflatable speedboat in a fishermen’s slum in south Mumbai about 9 p.m. local time. They fanned out in pairs and struck five targets with bombs and AK-47s: the Taj, the Oberoi Hotel, the Leopold Cafe, Chabad House, and the city’s largest train station.

The killing was indiscriminate, merciless, and seemingly unstoppable over three horrific days. In raw, contemporaneous notes by analysts, the eavesdroppers seem to be making a hasty effort to understand the clues from the days and weeks before.

“Analysis of Zarrar Shah’s viewing habits” and other data “yielded several locations in Mumbai well before the attacks occurred and showed operations planning for initial entry points into the Taj Hotel,” the N.S.A. document said.

That viewing history also revealed a longer list of what might have been future targets. M.K. Narayanan, India’s national security adviser at the time, appeared to be concerned with that data from Mr. Shah in discussions with American officials shortly after the attacks, according to the WikiLeaks archive of American diplomatic cables.

A top secret GCHQ document described the capture of information on targets that Mr. Shah had identified using Google Earth.

The analysts seemed impressed by the intelligence haul — “unprecedented real-time active access in place!” — one GCHQ document noted. Another agency document said the work to piece the data together was “briefed at highest levels nationally and internationally, including the US National Security Adviser.”

As early reports of many casualties came in, Mr. Goel said the focus in Washington shifted to a question already preoccupying the White House: “Is this going to lead to a war between Pakistan and India?” American officials who conducted periodic simulations of how a nuclear conflict could be triggered often began with a terror attack like this one.

On Nov. 30, Mr. Goel was back at his office, reading a stack of intelligence reports that had accumulated on his desk and reviewing classified electronic messages on a secure terminal.

Amid the crisis, Mr. Goel, now a senior South Asia Fellow at the New America Foundation, paid little attention to the sources of the intelligence and said that he still knew little about specific operations. But two things stood out, he said: The main conspirators in Pakistan had already been identified. And the quality and rapid pacing of the intelligence reports made it clear that electronic espionage was primarily responsible for the information.

“During the attacks, it was extraordinarily helpful,” Mr. Goel said of the surveillance.

But until then, the United States did not know of the British and Indian spying on Mr. Shah’s communications. “While I cannot comment on the authenticity of any alleged classified documents, N.S.A. had no knowledge of any access to a lead plotter’s computer before the attacks in Mumbai in November 2008,” said Mr. Hale, the spokesman for the Office of the director of National Intelligence.

As N.S.A. and GCHQ analysts worked around the clock after the attacks, the flow of intelligence enabled Washington, London and New Delhi to exert pressure on Pakistan to round up suspects and crack down on Lashkar, despite its alliance with the ISI, according to officials involved.

In the stacks of intelligence reports, one name did not appear, Mr. Goel clearly recalls: David Coleman Headley. None of the intelligence streams from the United States, Britain or India had yet identified him as a conspirator.

The Missing American
Mr. Headley’s many-sided life — three wives, drug-smuggling convictions and a past as an informant for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration — would eventually collapse. But for now, he was a free man, watching the slaughter on television in Lahore, Pakistan, according to his later court testimony. At the time, he was with Faiza Outalha, his Moroccan wife, having reconciled with her after moving his Pakistani wife and four children to Chicago.

Mr. Headley’s unguarded emails reflected euphoria about Lashkar’s success. An exchange with his wife in Chicago continued a long string of incriminating electronic communications by Mr. 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, Mr. Headley hinted at his inside information in an email to fellow alumni of a Pakistani military school. Writing about the young 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.

Almost immediately, Mr. Headley began pursuing a new plot with Lashkar against a Danish newspaper that had published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. He went to Denmark in January and cased the newspaper, meeting and exchanging emails with its advertising staff, according to his later testimony and court records. He sent messages to his fellow conspirators and emailed himself a reconnaissance checklist of sorts, with terms like “Counter-Surveillance,” “Security (Armed?)” and “King’s Square” — the site of the newspaper.

Those emails capped a series of missed signals involving Mr. Headley. The F.B.I. conducted at least four inquiries into allegations about his extremist activity between 2001 and 2008. Ms. Outalha had visited the United States Embassy in Islamabad three times between December 2007 and April 2008, according to interviews and court documents, claiming that he was a terrorist carrying out missions in India.

Mr. Headley also exchanged highly suspicious emails with his Lashkar and ISI handlers before and after the Mumbai attacks, according to court records and American counterterrorism officials. The N.S.A. collected some of his emails, but did not realize he was involved in terrorist plotting until he became the target of an F.B.I. investigation, officials said.

That inquiry began in July 2009 when a British tip landed on the desk of a rookie F.B.I. counterterrorism agent in Chicago. Someone named “David” at a Chicago pay phone had called two suspects under surveillance in Britain, planning to visit.

He had contacted the Britons for help with the plot, according to testimony. Customs and Border Protection used his flight itinerary to identify him while en route, and after further investigation, the F.B.I. arrested him at Chicago O’Hare Airport that October, as he was preparing to fly to Pakistan. For his role in the Mumbai attacks, he pleaded guilty to 12 counts and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

After disclosures last year of widespread N.S.A. surveillance, American officials claimed that bulk collection of electronic communications led to Mr. Headley’s eventual arrest. But a government oversight panel rejected claims giving credit to the N.S.A.’s program to collect Americans’ domestic phone call records. Case files and interviews with law enforcement officials show that the N.S.A. played only a support role in the F.B.I. investigation that finally identified Mr. Headley as a terrorist and disrupted the Danish plot.

The sole surviving attacker of the Mumbai attack, Mr. Kasab, was executed in India after a trial. Although Pakistan denies any role in the attacks, it has failed to charge an ISI officer and Mr. Mir, who were indicted by American prosecutors. Though Mr. Shah and other Lashkar chiefs had been arrested, their trial remains stalled six years after the attack.

Mr. Menon, the former Indian foreign minister, said that a lesson that emerged from the tragedy in Mumbai was that “computer traffic only tells you so much. It’s only a thin slice.” The key is the analysis, he said, and “we didn’t have it.”

James Glanz, of The New York Times, reported from India, New York and Washington; Sebastian Rotella, of ProPublica, reported from Chicago, India, New York and Washington; and David E. Sanger, of The New York Times, reported from Washington. Andrew W. Lehren, of The New York Times, contributed reporting from New York, and Declan Walsh, of The New York Times, from London. Jeff Larson, of ProPublica, and Tom Jennings and Anna Belle Peevey, of FRONTLINE, contributed reporting from New York.

Related Film: A Perfect Terrorist
FRONTLINE and ProPublica teamed up in 2011 to investigate the mysterious circumstances behind David Coleman Headley’s rise from heroin dealer and U.S. government informant to master plotter of the 2008 attack on Mumbai. Also explore our interactive look at Headley’s web of betrayal.

DECEMBER 21, 2014 / by JAMES GLANZ • SEBASTIAN ROTELLA • DAVID E. SANGER The New York Times

Find this story at 21 December 2014
Copyright http://www.pbs.org/

America sacrificed Mumbai to keep Headley in play (2013)

Five years on, this is what we now know. A valued CIA proxy, who infiltrated the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a banned Pakistani Islamist outfit, planned the Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed, and more than 300 injured. David Headley, an American citizen, conceived, scoped and ran supplies for the terrorist ‘swarm’ operation, so called because several independent units simultaneously hit their enemy in multiple locations, coming out of nowhere, multiplying fear and panic.
Headley selected Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, as the theatre of operations while acting as a ‘prized counter-terrorism asset’ for the United States, according to senior officers in the Joint Terrorism Task Force, who described his covert career as running for eleven years. When the LeT’s ten-man suicide squad sailed from a creek in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi, at dawn on 22 November 2008, they navigated towards a landing spot in Mumbai, marked on a GPS provided by the Washington DCborn maverick. Reaching the world’s fourth largest metropolis four nights later, LeT’s team fanned out, following routes plotted by Headley over an intense two-year period of surveillance . Shortly before 10pm, the gunmen shot dead tourists at the Leopold Cafe, massacred more than 60 Indian commuters at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station, and then laid siege to a Jewish centre and two five-star hotels, including the luxurious Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai’s most famous landmark. Ten men would keep the mega-city burning for more than three days.
This month sees the fifth anniversary of the Mumbai attacks, and the most complete survey to date of former and serving intelligence agents, diplomats, police, and survivors from 12 countries, reveals that the CIA repeatedly tipped off their counterparts in India to an imminent attack, using intelligence derived from their prize asset Headley. What they did not reveal was that their source, a public school educated Pakistani-American dilettante and entrepreneur, was allowed to remain in place even as the attack was realized. His continuing proximity to the terrorist outfit would eventually lead to a showdown between Washington and New Delhi.
Researching ‘The Siege’, we learned that Indian intelligence agents accused their US counterparts of protecting Headley and leaving him in the field, despite the imminent threat to Mumbai. Irate Indian officials claimed that Headley’s Mumbai plot was allowed to run on by his US controllers, as to spool it in would have jeopardized his involvement in another critical US operation . Having infiltrated the LeT, Headley also won access to al-Qaida, making him the only US citizen in the field who might be able to reach Osama bin Laden. Three years before America’s most wanted terrorist was finally run to ground in Abbottabad, this was an opportunity that some in the US intelligence community were not willing to give up.
Phone and email intercepts seen by us confirm how Headley had become trusted by Ilyas Kashmiri, a former LeT commander and senior al-Qaida operative, who led an al-Qaida military affiliate, known as Brigade 313. Based in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, Ilyas Kashmiri was, at one point, considered as a potential successor to Osama bin Laden until his death in June 2011.
In 2009, several months after the Mumbai atrocity, agents from the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s foreign intelligence agency, confronted the CIA with these claims, according to accounts seen by us. India is said to have accused the US of pursuing ‘a narrow self-interest’ and having some responsibility in the deaths in Mumbai.
However, the CIA stood firm, one senior agent claiming that ‘Indian incompetence’ was to blame for the attack. In 2006, the US had warned India that the LeT was forming a suicide squad to attack India from the sea. More than 25 increasingly detailed bulletins followed that named Mumbai as the prime objective, and identified several targets, including the Taj hotel. Additional bulletins suggested that a team of highly trained gunmen using AK47s and RDX, military-grade explosives, would seek to prolong the attack by taking hostages and establishing a stronghold, before a final shoot-out that they hoped would be broadcast live around the world on TV.
Some of these bulletins were eventually distilled into notices that reached the police patrolling Mumbai . However, the assessments were ‘ignored or downplayed’ until July 2008 when a senior police officer, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) with responsibility for security in the district of South Mumbai where the Taj was located, took action . On 12 August 2008, DCP Vishwas Nangre Patil spent nine hours with the Taj’s security staff, writing a report to his seniors that concluded: ‘Overall, the [Taj] management has done very little to adapt the hotel to the changing security environment in the city.’ When a truck bomb devastated the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 20 September 2008, Patil drew up an urgent list of enhanced security measures for the Taj, including snipers on the roof, blast barriers on the driveway and armed guards on all doors. Although security was tightened as a result, most of these measures were withdrawn again after DCP Patil went on leave in the second week of October 2008.
David Headley was a bizarre mix of Eastern and Western cultures and made for a near-perfect mole. His mother was Serrill Headley, a socialite and adventuress from Maryland, whose great-aunt had funded women’s rights and Albert Einstein’s research . His father was Syed Gilani, a renowned radio broadcaster and diplomat from Lahore, who had been seconded to Voice of America. When Headley was born in Washington DC in 1960, he was initially named Daood Saleem Gilani. Within a year, the family had relocated to Pakistan, where Gilani was brought up as a Muslim and schooled at an exclusive military academy. After his parents divorced and Serrill returned to the US to open a bar in Philadelphia, named, suitably, the Khyber Pass, Gilani, aged 17, rejoined her. He lived with her in a flat above the Khyber Pass — and soon immersed himself in the American way of life. Later he moved to the Upper West Side in New York, where he opened a video rental shop, Fliks.
By 1984, Gilani was a six-foot-two American boy, with a fair complexion, broad shoulders and an impressive mop of curly blond hair. Only his distinctively mismatched eyes — one blue one brown —hinted at his mixed heritage and muddled ancestry. Dressed in crumpled Armani jeans, a leather jacket slung over his shoulder, and a £10,000 Rolex Submariner poking out of his cuff, he was already looking for more lucrative opportunities than video rental. That year, he used his dual identities to smuggle half a kilogram of heroin from Pakistan’s tribal areas to New York, selling it through the video store. When German customs officers caught him four years later at Frankfurt airport en-route to Philadelphia, with two kilograms of heroin, Gilani informed on his co-conspirators to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). While, his accomplices were jailed for between eight and ten years, he became a paid DEA informer, infiltrating Pakistan’s drug syndicates . Some US agents warned that Gilani was too volatile to be trusted, and in 1997, he was arrested again in New York for trafficking. He offered another deal, suggesting he infiltrate Islamist radicals who were starting to worry the CIA and FBI.
A letter put before the court reveals prosecutors conceded that while Gilani might have supplied up to fifteen kilograms of heroin worth £947,000, he had also been ‘reliable and forthcoming’ with the agency about ‘a range of issues’ . Sentenced to fifteen months in the low-security Fort Dix prison, New Jersey, while his co-conspirator received four years in a high-security jail, he was freed after only nine months. In August 1999, one year after hundreds had been killed in simultaneous Al-Qaeda bomb attacks on American embassies in Africa, he returned to Pakistan, his ticket paid for by the US government.
By 2006, Daood had joined the inner circle of Lashkar-e-Toiba, which had been proscribed by the UN five years earlier. Coming up with the plan to attack Mumbai and launch LeT onto the international stage, he changed his name to David Headley and applied for a new US passport. He would use it to travel incognito to India on seven surveillance trips, selecting targets in Mumbai which he photographed using a camera he borrowed from his mother-in-law .
Headley was chaotic and his Mumbai plan was almost undermined by his private life. By 2008, he was married to three women, none of who knew of the others’ existence, two living apart in Pakistan and one in New York. The wife in the US, however, grew suspicious after he championed the 9/11 attackers, reporting him to the authorities. Shortly before the Mumbai operation, his cousin Alex Headley, a soldier in the US Army also considered reporting him after Headley announced that he was naming his newborn son Osama and described him as ‘my little terrorist’ . His Pakistani half-brother Danyal Gilani, who worked as a press officer for the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, disowned him.
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Eventually, Headley’s mother informed on him to the FBI. Her son was only ever interested in himself, she warned, arguing that his selfishness was born out of his lack of a sense of self. None of the complainants heard anything back, with Serrill Headley, who died ten months before Mumbai, confiding in a friend that her son ‘must have worked for the US government’ .
Five years on, with American officials continuing to remain silent over Headley (and the conflict of interest that enabled him to run amok in the field), and with New Delhi still prevented from accessing him, the full truth about Washington’s culpability in 26/11 remains muddied. In India, where no postmortem of any depth has been carried out into Mumbai, the scale of the intelligence failings — the inability of IB and RAW to develop the leads passed them by the CIA and others — will also never be fully exposed.

Adrian Levy & Cathy Scott Clark | Nov 24, 2013, 05.15 AM IST

Find this story at 24 November 2013

Copyright http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/

A PERFECT TERRORIST (2011)

It has been called the most spectacular terror attack since 9/11. On the night of Nov. 26, 2008, 10 men armed with guns and grenades launched an assault on Mumbai with a military precision that left 166 dead. India quickly learned the attackers belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group associated with Pakistan’s secretive intelligence agency, the ISI. But what wasn’t known then was that a Lashkar/ISI operative had been casing the city for two years, developing a blueprint for terror. His name was David Coleman Headley, and he’d been chosen for the job because he had the perfect cover: he was an American citizen. FRONTLINE and ProPublica reporter Sebastian Rotella team up to investigate the mysterious circumstances behind Headley’s rise from heroin dealer and U.S. government informant to master plotter of the 2008 attack on Mumbai.

NOVEMBER 22, 2011 // 53:40

Find this story at 22 November 2011
Copyright http://www.pbs.org/

Colombia Calling: The Other Wiretap Scandal (2009)

ILLUSTRATION BY LEO GARCIAWhen the editorial staff of Semana, a feisty Bogotá-based weekly news magazine, was closing out their Feb. 21 edition, they couldn’t help but notice an unmarked car parked for several hours in front of their building. This came as no surprise to editor- in-chief Alfonso Cuéllar, who supervised a six-month long investigation of illegal wiretapping by Colombia’s domestic intelligence agency, the Administrative Department of Security, known in Colombia as the DAS.

“We knew that both the good guys and the bad guys were aware that we were working on the story,” said Cuéllar in a recent interview from Bogotá. “That’s partly why the DAS was shredding all of the evidence a month before it broke.” Backed up by numerous sources and documents, Semana exposed how members of the DAS were illegally spying on Supreme Court judges, former Colombian president César Gaviria, opposition politicians, prominent journalists and even high-ranking members of the ruling party.

Amongst a roster of Machiavellian allegations — from KGB-like tactics used to create “vice files” on prominent politicians, to the selling of sensitive intelligence to narco traffickers and those with links to illegal paramilitary organizations and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerillas — is one charge that will be of particular interest to the United States, especially as the country contemplates the fallout from its own domestic surveillance scandal. The U.S. government, according to the Semana report, supplied the sophisticated interception devices used by the spies in Colombia.

NOT EVERYBODY IS SO AGNOSTIC

“It will be interesting to see if the rumors that are circulating in Bogotá, that the U.S. Embassy had a role in the wiretapping operation, turn out to be true,” said Joseph Fitsanakis, senior editor of IntelNews and a longtime intelligence analyst. “It won’t be the first time.”

According to sources in Bogotá, the DAS used a system called Phantom 3000, marketed by a company called TraceSpan Communications, a private U.S. company with a development center in Israel. “In this age of high security threats, when foreign terrorists and local criminals use the Internet for communication, TraceSpan is proud to provide Law Enforcement Authorities a new means to fight back,” said Hanan Herzberg, TraceSpan founder and CEO, in a press release for the product. “The system’s small footprint makes it an ideal solution for any law enforcement agency as well as the perfect solution for the Central Office.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that U.S.- supplied intelligence gear was used by the Colombian government. In 2006, the U.S. State Department awarded a $5 million contract to California-based Oakley Networks to provide “Internet surveillance software” to a specialized unit of Colombia’s National Police. The details of that deal emerged when the National Police were accused of spying on a variety of Colombian human-rights groups, as well as U.S.-based interfaith organization, Fellowship of Reconciliation. Oakley Networks, now a subsidiary of the U.S. defense contractor Raytheon Co., bills itself as a “leader in insider threat monitoring and investigations,” that offers “sophisticated monitoring and discovery technologies.”

The Oakley Networks contract came as part of the more than $5 billion the United States has sent to Colombia since 2000 to fund Plan Colombia, ostensibly an effort to eradicate production of the coca leaf. The funding has continued despite the Colombian military’s ties to right-wing paramilitary groups and to the killing of union leaders, human rights activists and indigenous people.

U.S. REMAINS A KEY FRIEND

In Bogotá, the ramifications of the Semana investigation were immediate. The offices of the DAS were raided by the Colombian prosecutor general’s office, the day following Semana’s original story, and the agency’s director general, Capt. Jorge Alberto Lagos, resigned the following week. The entire high command of the agency submitted letters of resignation and Colombia’s attorney general recently declared that 22 DAS detectives had been fired and would face “judicial and administrative investigations,” while also intimating that more dismissals are coming down the pike. Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, for years the Bush administration’s staunchest ally in Latin America, quickly denied any role in the imbroglio and declared that wiretapping would be immediately reassigned to the National Police. As this was the third such scandal in the DAS under Uribe’s watch, not everybody is taking the denial at face value.

The scandal broke just four months after the former head of the DAS resigned after admitting it spied on a prominent leftist politician who had exposed ties between Uribe and rightwing death squads.

“I don’t think it’s a very plausible argument that these were just low-level characters in the DAS, who were setting up these illegal wiretaps on their own initiative,” said Lorenzo Morales, online editor at Semana. “The DAS receives its orders directly from the [Colombian] president and his inner circle.”

The spy scandal does not appear to have dampened U.S.-Colombian relations. Semana broke the story just before Colombia sent a highlevel delegation to meet with Obama administration officials. On Feb. 25, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermúdez Merizalde by saying, “It’s a real pleasure to have the representative of a country that has made so many strides and so much progress, and we have a lot to talk about because there is so much we have in common to work on.” Less than two months later, at the Summit of the Americas, President Barack Obama sat next to Uribe and discussed the possibility of a U.S.-Colombian “free trade” agreement — a deal Obama opposed on the campaign trail.

In Bogotá, U.S. embassy officials have not denied playing a role in the Colombian spy operation.

“We have worked with the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) in joint and regional counter-narcotics efforts in a positive and straightforward manner, including providing equipment,” states a diplomatic official at the embassy. “We have no knowledge that any equipment has been misused.”

Semana’s Alfonso Cuéllar says he hopes the paper’s report will put an end to illegal spying.

“I think that one thing we found in our investigation, at least amongst the DAS officials, was that some of these guys don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, they think it’s normal,” he said. “They say, what’s wrong with checking out people that could be potential enemies of the state, or adversaries of the president? Hopefully, one of the things these revelations will get people thinking about is that no, this is not normal.”

Joseph Huff-Hannon is an independent journalist based in Brooklyn who writes on politics and culture.

A coalition of U.S. organizations have called on the U.S. embassy in Bogotá to pressure Colombian officials to stop spying on human rights and peace organizations.

Between 2006 and 2008, Colombian agencies reportedly intercepted more than 150 email accounts of groups including the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest interfaith peace organization in the United States.

“[This] puts at risk our field team and the communities we work with, by suggesting that those working for peace and human rights are subversive, legitimate targets for right-wing violence,” said John Lindsay-Poland, co-director of the Fellowship’s Task Force on Latin America.

The spy operation began after the U.S. State Department awarded a $5 million contract to the California-based Oakley Networks to provide “internet surveillance software” to the intelligence unit of the Colombian National Police as part of Plan Colombia.

“U.S. taxpayers were apparently paying for Colombian agencies to spy on legitimate U.S. and Colombian humanitarian organizations,” wrote the authors of a December 2008 letter to U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield in Bogotá.

In addition, the Fellowship of Reconciliation fears a June 2007 break-in at the organization’s Bogotá office was connected to the surveillance campaign.

“We’ve also now learned that the Colombian military paid for computer hard drives of interest to intelligence’ agencies … These stolen laptops contained sensitive files on our work with members of Colombian peace communities,” Lindsay-Poland said.

BYJOSEPH HUFF-HANNON
MAY 14, 2009 ISSUE #135 —MIKE BURKE
Find this story at 14 May 2009

Copyright https://indypendent.org/

Colombia’s Secret Narco-Police (2006)

Claims of Collaboration with Drug Traffickers and Paramilitaries Sting the Country’s DAS Security Service and Support Allegations of DEA Corruption Published in Narco News

Though it has barely registered in the U.S. press, a national scandal is currently unfolding in Colombia, where a jailed high official of the Administrative Department for Security (DAS, in its Spanish initials) has been speaking freely with journalists about the extensive collaboration between the secret police agency and right-wing paramilitary groups.

Rafael García lost his post as DAS’ information technology chief after being charged with taking bribes from rightwing paramilitaries and narcos (often, one and the same). He now claims that DAS has been working for years, at least since Uribe’s 2002 election, in conjunction with the paras and their narco allies, sharing documents and intelligence to help kill and intimidate activists and unionists, help powerful drug traffickers avoid prosecution and murder informants. And investigative journalists in Colombia have verified and shed more light on a number of these claims.

Sound familiar? Narco News for the past four months has been uncovering a web of corruption linking the U.S.’s own DEA agents and other law enforcement personnel with drug traffickers and paramilitaries in Colombia. The new allegations about paramilitary and narco infiltration of the DAS make the “Kent Memo” (the internal Justice Department document claiming corruption in the DEA’s Bogotá office) all the more believable. They give a picture of a war on “drugs and terror” in Colombia that is corrupt to the core, and in which the most powerful narcos are seasoned experts at working with the same law enforcement entities charged with bringing them down.

Jorge Noguera on the cover of Cambio magazine.
The DAS is a strange beast, jumping in to many roles that in most countries would be handled by several different agencies. It handles immigration and tourist visas in the airports, provides security to important political figures, does intelligence work for the ongoing civil war (occasionally combating rebels alongside the army), and functions as a secret police force that can arrest and interrogate anyone deemed to be a security threat. What narco with half a brain wouldn’t try to infiltrate an organization that holds the keys to so many doors?

The DAS does not fall under any justice department but rather is directly controlled by the president’s office. It is small wonder, then, that such revelations about the DAS would surface under the watch of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, the narcopresidente himself. The scandal has been brewing since last fall, when a DAS chief — who received his post shortly after Uribe took office — resigned after the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo discovered some tapes that let the cat out of the bag. As Ramón Acevedo reported for Narco News in November:

After many years of international and national pressure to abide by international human rights, the Colombian government continues to use the military and paramilitary “death squads” as main weapons against the civilian population and political opposition. For decades, the Colombian military and their paramilitary allies have enjoyed a high level of impunity from judicial processes. Most recently, on October 23rd the head of Colombia’s secret police (DAS), Jorge Noguera, resigned after the discovery of tapes discussing the agency’s alleged plans to give intelligence information to the paramilitaries. In addition, the paramilitaries have boasted many times of how they control more than 35 percent of the Colombian congress.
Until this scandal broke, Noguera had been living with his family in a luxury Bogotá penthouse that the DNE (Colombia’s drug control administration) had seized from a drug trafficker and turned over to him, with the DAS footing the bill for the hundreds of dollars a month in administration and utilities, according to Cambio magazine. The Colombian government claims it is now investigating Noguera, but Uribe quickly took him out of the spotlight by whisking him away to work at the Colombian consulate in Milan, Italy.

Semana magazine, one of the two major glossy newsmagazines in Colombia along with Cambio, published an extensive interview earlier this month with Rafael García. García spoke mainly of “Jorge 40,” one of the most powerful paramilitary chiefs in the country (and under indictment for drug trafficking in the U.S.). Semana’s journalists asked who else wielded influence over the spy agency.

SEMANA: Apart from paramilitary groups, was there also infiltration from and collaboration with known narco-traffickers?
R.G.: Giancarlo (Auqué, a former DAS intelligence director) and Jorge Norguera passed privileged information to Diego Montoya, and the idea wasn’t for him to hide but to warn him that there was a snitch in his organization who was reporting his location. Giancarlo himself told me this while he was working as intelligence director. Giancarlo told me that an intelligence report had arrived that said “Don Diego” was being pursued around the Cimitarra valley, and that we had to find a way to warn him because there was a snitch inside of his organization. If it was someone from the DAS, the police or the attorney general’s office, I don’t know. But we had to help him so that he could locate the informant. Jorge Noguera used Jimmy Nassar (one of his advisors) as his messenger because it was Nasser who had direct relations with the North Valley Cartel.

Wílber Alirio Varela
Photo: State Department
García is not the only one who has talked. DAS sub-director José Miguel Narváez turned on his boss, Noguera, last fall and was one of the main forces behind Noguera’s downfall. In September, Carlos Moreno, an agent who claimed he had been fired unfairly came to complain to Narváez, who recorded their conversation. Cambio obtained a copy of the recording and revealed its contents two weeks ago. According to that story:

The conversation’s content is hair-raising, and refers to extrajudicial killings apparently ordered by DAS’ Intelligence Directorate, deaths of informants that were no longer useful or represented some danger because they had too much information; theft of files from the Fiscalía (attorney general’s office) which mentioned DAS officials, such as files on drug trafficker Wílber Alirio Varela, alias “Jabón,” and the theft of reports from intelligence files on paramilitary boss Martín Llanos in return for huge payments.
Moreno says on tape that he personally stole files from the Fiscalía and believes that Varela requested this.

Damage Control: Attacking the Messenger

With just weeks to go in Colombia’s presidential race, in which Uribe stands for reelection on May 28, the DAS scandal threatens to tarnish his golden-boy image and dent his popularity, often seen by supporters and demoralized opponents as invincible.

Former DAS information chief Rafael García, for one, doesn’t buy Uribe’s cries of innocence. From his interview with Semana:

SEMANA: On several occasions you accompanied Noguera to the Palacio de Nariño (Colombia’s White House). How much did President Álvaro Uribe know about all this?
RG: I can’t answer that for you. I will tell the Fiscalía or a foreign government after I know my family is protected.

What I would say to the public is, could it be that (Peruvian president) Fujimori didn’t know what Vladimiro Montesinos was doing? I don’t know how someone could have done so many things without his superior finding out. What I am saying is the truth. If I have to pay with my life for daring to tell the truth, I will assume the consequences.

Predictably, both Noguera and Uribe have responded by lashing out at their critics in the press. Instead of any substantial reply to their questions or response to García’s claims, Cambio’s reporters received these answers when they contacted Noguera by phone at his bunker in Milan:

“I don’t care what a delinquent like Rafael García says about me.”
“García is capable of selling his own mother to get away with what he’s done. His claims are the product of an old grudge.”

“His words should have the same credibility as Pablo Escobar’s did in his time.”

“For a long time I have asked the Fiscalía to take my statement in order to definitively close this chapter.”

“I don’t trust the journalists of Colombia because they have done me a lot of damage. They publish whatever they want.”

Intimidating the press is certainly nothing new to DAS, though it is usually done more subtly. Last June, journalist and friend of Narco News César Jérez of Prensa Rural, who with his all-volunteer staff fearlessly reports on rural struggles in Colombia, especially around the paramilitary-infested oil town of Barrancabermeja and the Cimitarra valley, found himself being followed through the streets of that city by DAS agents.

And President Uribe has lived up to his reputation of total intolerance toward any criticism from civil society. In a recent interview with RCN radio, he said:

…You see, I am very respectful of the media and never take any action against them. But the media cannot hope to, they have to decide if they are serious or if they practice yellow journalism. If they are media that are part of a the democratic rule of law, or if they are media that stand in for the justice system. If they are media that respect instructions and exercise their right to the free press within those, or if they stand in for the justice system. If they are media that respect the Constitution, that respect people’s basic rights such as the right to their own dignity, or if they are media that commit any act of responsibility just to make sales.

The thing is that they are making hasty accusations here. Who knows what kind of political manipulation is behind journalism to create scandals or produce yellow journalism. These media outlets, like the one you cite [referring to Semana magazine], to make money, without daring to look at the other side, take people down and condemn them without even listening to them. They attack the good names of people and institutions if they feel like it, without listening to them…

This is Uribe’s favorite tactic: to separate his critics, be they human rights groups or commercial journalists, into “bad guys” and “good guys.” It reminds one of Joe McCarthy’s flailing in the face of Ed Murrow’s journalism, answering serious charges supported by evidence with accusations of subversion and communism.

That arrogant contempt for the press, for honest, independent investigation of elected officials, was eventually McCarthy’s downfall.

Overlap with Alleged DEA Corruption

Drug warriors will point to cases such as this one as proof that the U.S. needs to be involved in Colombia, as a sort of check to the corruption of local law enforcement. But the DAS is not the only law enforcement agency now accused of outing informants to help drug-trafficking allies.

Among the claims in the Kent memo is the allegation that corrupt Bogotá DEA agents leaked the name of one of their informants as part of their work protecting an unnamed narco-trafficker. The informant, former North Valley Cartel leader Jose Nelson Urrego, was trying to help Miami DEA agents investigate the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and their supposed involvement in the drug trade. But the Bogotá agents put as many obstacles in the Miami agents’ path as possible, eventually revealing him as an informant. As Bill Conroy reported in February:

Not only was Urrego in a position to reveal intimate details about the operations of Colombian drug traffickers, including possibly any links they might have to the allegedly corrupt DEA agents in Colombia, but he also could have opened up a can of worms with respect to narco-financing of Colombian political candidates.
In any event, the efforts by Fields and his fellow DEA agents in Miami to bring Urrego in-house as an informant came to an abrupt end, according to the Kent memo, when someone sent a document to Urrego containing confidential DEA information that revealed he was cooperating with the DEA. Whoever sent this document to Urrego was essentially threatening Urrego’s life, as being pointed out as a DEA collaborator can be a death sentence in the drug underworld.

A narco-trafficker alleged to be the source of that fax later took a lie detector test and told investigators he had received internal documents from DEA agents. Though he passed the polygraph, sources told Conroy, the results were covered up.

Other informants for the Florida agents also mysteriously ended up dead after running up against the allegedly corrupt Bogotá agents. From Conroy’s original story:

During the course of an investigation into a Colombian narco-trafficking operation, a group of DEA agents in Florida had zeroed in on several targets, with the help of several Colombian informants. Once the targets were identified as being part of the drug ring, they began to cooperate with the Florida-based agents.
“… They made startling revelations concerning DEA agents in Bogotá,” Kent writes. “They alleged that they were assisted in their narcotics activities by the [Bogotá] agents. Specifically, they alleged that the agents provided them with information on investigations and other law enforcement activities in Colombia.”

The traffickers eventually gave the Florida agents copies of confidential DEA reports, which the Bogotá agents allegedly had handed over to the traffickers. After the Florida agents turned these documents over to the OPR and OIG, one of them was put on “administrative leave” — the first sign that a cover-up was underway.

While the Florida agent was out on leave, the Bogotá agents set up a meeting with one of the informants.

“As the informant left that meeting, he was murdered,” Kent states. “Other informants … who also worked with the DEA group in Florida were also murdered. Each murder was preceded by a request for their identity by an agent in Bogotá.”

Beyond the similarity in the DEA and DAS agents’ alleged behavior — both outing informants to protect narcos — the names of the narco-traffickers involved also overlap.

David Tinsley, a supervisor with the DEA’s Miami office, oversaw “Operation Cali-Man,” and a follow-up operation called “Rainmaker.” Both were undercover operations targeting Colombian drug traffickers. Rainmaker, though, focused in part on corrupt Colombian law enforcers. It was just when Cali-Man was wrapping up and Rainmaker was beginning that Bogotá agents, including Leo Arreguin who was at the time in charge of the DEA’s Bogotá office, complained to headquarters about the operations and eventually convinced Washington to shut them down and place Tinsley on administrative leave. (Arreguin accused Tinsley of corruption involving one of his informants, Baruch Vega.) Several of the major traffickers that Tinsley had made cases against in Cali-Man were not indicted or prosecuted for years due to the charges against him.

A source in the DEA familiar with operations Cali-Man and Rainmaker has confirmed to Narco News that the same North Valley Cartel leaders that infiltrated the DAS — Diego Montoya and Wílber Varela — were Tinsley’s targets with Cali-Man. Conroy’s investigations have suggested that the Bogotá agents did everything possible to shut down Rainmaker, Cali-Man and other operations run by the Florida office, either to protect allies in organized crime or to protect themselves from the revelation of embarrassing information.

Former FBI, DEA and CIA informant Baruch Vega told Narco News that Wílber Varela and Diego Montoya were both players in what he calls the “Devil’s Cartel.” As Bill Conroy reported on March 18:

Vega says the many pieces of this dark mystery make it appear very complicated to unravel.
“But, if they are lined up in the right way, it becomes easy to understand,” he adds. “It’s a matter of putting the right players in the right place.”

The way things lined up, according to Vega, involved what amounts to the perfect narco-trafficking organization, which he describes as the “Devil’s Cartel.”

This so-called Devil’s Cartel was an alliance of North Valley traffickers, many of them former Colombian National Police officials, along with active members of the Colombian National Police under the direction of a corrupt Colombian National Police colonel named Danilo Gonzalez.

Paramilitary forces under the leadership of Carlos Castaño, who headed the murderous United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (the AUC), provided the muscle and protection for this Devil’s Cartel and its operations, Vega contends.

The U.S. government indicted Castaño in 2002 on narco-trafficking charges. Two years later, Castaño disappeared, after a reported attempt on his life in Colombia. He is presumed dead, although his body was never found.

The intelligence arm of this Devil’s Cartel, Vega claims, was composed of corrupt U.S. federal agents with DEA and U.S. Customs.

Read the full story for more background on Vega. Not all of his claims can be independently verified, but as more and more comes out about the DAS scandal, what Vega says sounds more and more plausible.

It’s also difficult to imagine that DEA and CIA agents in Colombia haven’t worked with Noguera and other DAS officials named in the scandal at some point. In fact, early in the tape obtained by Cambio, Carlos Moreno, the fired DAS agent, refers to a CIA agent that worked with alleged DAS hitmen:

AGENT THAT ACCOMPANIED MORENO: Look, doctor (Narváez), the thing is that they had this boy here, Carlos… as a hit man. Ariza [then chief of intellegence] told him that he had to do it. They bought him the motorcycle, the gun, all that, and they went around knocking people off, throwing them (in the garbage). That’s the truth.
MORENO: Yes, that is the truth, doctor.

JOSÉ MIGUEL NARVÁEZ: But how did it work? Tell me more…

MORENO: When Enrique Ariza was approved as chief of intelligence, they called me to have me meet with some guys that are in a little group that works with Scott. I know Scott, he’s from the CIA. At that time there was a group forming, out of DAS people themselves, to do “limpieza” [literally, “cleansing”]. Many times, I did the job of killing informants. They ordered me to do it, so I did it.

OTHER AGENT: Yes, he has done this for the institution… They are looking for him in order to kill him, and he doesn’t deserve to be left out in the cold, doctor…

No further information has come out regarding this supposed CIA agent. Nor is it clear in the transcript what exactly is meant by “cleansing” — whether this meant cleansing the DAS of agents that were somehow problematic, or something more sinister such as eliminating informants and witnesses.

Narco News continues to dig deeper into the DEA and other U.S. agencies’ corruption and involvement with narco-traffickers, trying to flesh out the connections, separate the fact from the fiction, the truth from the spin. Hopefully, the few honest reporters among the Colombian media — usually as bought and sold as their U.S. counterparts — will continue to reveal the depths to which the DAS and other Colombian state entities have sunk. Uribe may well survive this scandal and win his reelection… with the usual help from his DAS, narco and paramilitary allies, along with his friends in Washington. Either way, how much longer will people in Colombia and the U.S. put up with life in the crossfire of a war on drugs in which the two sides have become so indistinguishable?

By Dan Feder
April 29, 2006

Find this story at 29 April 2006

Copyright http://www.narconews.com/

Data Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas

The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country’s cellular telephone network, enabling it to covertly record and store the “full-take audio” of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay those calls for up to a month.

SOMALGET is part of a broader NSA program called MYSTIC, which The Intercept has learned is being used to secretly monitor the telecommunications systems of the Bahamas and several other countries, including Mexico, the Philippines, and Kenya. But while MYSTIC scrapes mobile networks for so-called “metadata” – information that reveals the time, source, and destination of calls – SOMALGET is a cutting-edge tool that enables the NSA to vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation in an entire country.

All told, the NSA is using MYSTIC to gather personal data on mobile calls placed in countries with a combined population of more than 250 million people. And according to classified documents, the agency is seeking funding to export the sweeping surveillance capability elsewhere.

The program raises profound questions about the nature and extent of American surveillance abroad. The U.S. intelligence community routinely justifies its massive spying efforts by citing the threats to national security posed by global terrorism and unpredictable rival nations like Russia and Iran. But the NSA documents indicate that SOMALGET has been deployed in the Bahamas to locate “international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers” – traditional law-enforcement concerns, but a far cry from derailing terror plots or intercepting weapons of mass destruction.

“The Bahamas is a stable democracy that shares democratic principles, personal freedoms, and rule of law with the United States,” the State Department concluded in a crime and safety report published last year. “There is little to no threat facing Americans from domestic (Bahamian) terrorism, war, or civil unrest.”

By targeting the Bahamas’ entire mobile network, the NSA is intentionally collecting and retaining intelligence on millions of people who have not been accused of any crime or terrorist activity. Nearly five million Americans visit the country each year, and many prominent U.S. citizens keep homes there, including Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey.

In addition, the program is a serious – and perhaps illegal – abuse of the access to international phone networks that other countries willingly grant the United States for legitimate law-enforcement surveillance. If the NSA is using the Drug Enforcement Administration’s relationship to the Bahamas as a cover for secretly recording the entire country’s mobile phone calls, it could imperil the longstanding tradition of international law enforcement cooperation that the United States enjoys with its allies.

“It’s surprising, the short-sightedness of the government,” says Michael German, a fellow at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice who spent 16 years as an FBI agent conducting undercover investigations. “That they couldn’t see how exploiting a lawful mechanism to such a degree that you might lose that justifiable access – that’s where the intelligence community is acting in a way that harms its long-term interests, and clearly the long-term national security interests of the United States.”

The NSA refused to comment on the program, but said in a statement that “the implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false.” The agency also insisted that it follows procedures to “protect the privacy of U.S. persons” whose communications are “incidentally collected.”

Informed about the NSA’s spying, neither the Bahamian prime minister’s office nor the country’s national security minister had any comment. The embassies of Mexico, Kenya, and the Philippines did not respond to phone messages and emails.

In March, The Washington Post revealed that the NSA had developed the capability to record and store an entire nation’s phone traffic for 30 days. The Post reported that the capacity was a feature of MYSTIC, which it described as a “voice interception program” that is fully operational in one country and proposed for activation in six others. (The Post also referred to NSA documents suggesting that MYSTIC was pulling metadata in some of those countries.) Citing government requests, the paper declined to name any of those countries.

The Intercept has confirmed that as of 2013, the NSA was actively using MYSTIC to gather cell-phone metadata in five countries, and was intercepting voice data in two of them. Documents show that the NSA has been generating intelligence reports from MYSTIC surveillance in the Bahamas, Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, and one other country, which The Intercept is not naming in response to specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence. The more expansive full-take recording capability has been deployed in both the Bahamas and the unnamed country.

MYSTIC was established in 2009 by the NSA’s Special Source Operations division, which works with corporate partners to conduct surveillance. Documents in the Snowden archive describe it as a “program for embedded collection systems overtly installed on target networks, predominantly for the collection and processing of wireless/mobile communications networks.”

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A top-secret description of the MYSTIC program written by the NSA’s Special Source Operations division

If an entire nation’s cell-phone calls were a menu of TV shows, MYSTIC would be a cable programming guide showing which channels offer which shows, and when. SOMALGET would be the DVR that automatically records every show on every channel and stores them for a month. MYSTIC provides the access; SOMALGET provides the massive amounts of storage needed to archive all those calls so that analysts can listen to them at will after the fact. According to one NSA document, SOMALGET is “deployed against entire networks” in the Bahamas and the second country, and processes “over 100 million call events per day.”

SOMALGET’s capabilities are further detailed in a May 2012 memo written by an official in the NSA’s International Crime and Narcotics division. The memo hails the “great success” the NSA’s drugs and crime unit has enjoyed through its use of the program, and boasts about how “beneficial” the collection and recording of every phone call in a given nation can be to intelligence analysts.

Rather than simply making “tentative analytic conclusions derived from metadata,” the memo notes, analysts can follow up on hunches by going back in time and listening to phone calls recorded during the previous month. Such “retrospective retrieval” means that analysts can figure out what targets were saying even when the calls occurred before the targets were identified. “[W]e buffer certain calls that MAY be of foreign intelligence value for a sufficient period to permit a well-informed decision on whether to retrieve and return specific audio content,” the NSA official reported.

“There is little reason,” the official added, that SOMALGET could not be expanded to more countries, as long as the agency provided adequate engineering, coordination and hardware. There is no indication in the documents that the NSA followed up on the official’s enthusiasm.

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A 2012 memo written by the NSA’s International Crime & Narcotics division

The documents don’t spell out how the NSA has been able to tap the phone calls of an entire country. But one memo indicates that SOMALGET data is covertly acquired under the auspices of “lawful intercepts” made through Drug Enforcement Administration “accesses”– legal wiretaps of foreign phone networks that the DEA requests as part of international law enforcement cooperation.

When U.S. drug agents need to tap a phone of a suspected drug kingpin in another country, they call up their counterparts and ask them set up an intercept. To facilitate those taps, many nations – including the Bahamas – have hired contractors who install and maintain so-called lawful intercept equipment on their telecommunications. With SOMALGET, it appears that the NSA has used the access those contractors developed to secretly mine the country’s entire phone system for “signals intelligence” –recording every mobile call in the country. “Host countries,” the document notes, “are not aware of NSA’s SIGINT collection.”

“Lawful intercept systems engineer communications vulnerabilities into networks, forcing the carriers to weaken,” says Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Host governments really should be thinking twice before they accept one of these Trojan horses.”

The DEA has long been in a unique position to help the NSA gain backdoor access to foreign phone networks. “DEA has close relationships with foreign government counterparts and vetted foreign partners,” the manager of the NSA’s drug-war efforts reported in a 2004 memo. Indeed, with more than 80 international offices, the DEA is one of the most widely deployed U.S. agencies around the globe.

But what many foreign governments fail to realize is that U.S. drug agents don’t confine themselves to simply fighting narcotics traffickers. “DEA is actually one of the biggest spy operations there is,” says Finn Selander, a former DEA special agent who works with the drug-reform advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “Our mandate is not just drugs. We collect intelligence.”

What’s more, Selander adds, the NSA has aided the DEA for years on surveillance operations. “On our reports, there’s drug information and then there’s non-drug information,” he says. “So countries let us in because they don’t view us, really, as a spy organization.”

Selander’s first-hand experience is echoed in the 2004 memo by the manager of the NSA’s drug-war efforts, which was titled “DEA: The Other Warfighter.” The DEA and the NSA “enjoy a vibrant two-way information-sharing relationship,” the memo observes, and cooperate so closely on counternarcotics and counterterrorism that there is a risk of “blurring the lines between the two missions.”

Still, the ability to record and replay the phone calls of an entire country appears to be a relatively new weapon in the NSA’s arsenal. None of the half-dozen former U.S. law enforcement officials interviewed by The Intercept said they had ever heard of a surveillance operation quite like the NSA’s Bahamas collection.

“I’m completely unfamiliar with the program,” says Joel Margolis, a former DEA official who is now executive vice president of government affairs for Subsentio, a Colorado-based company that installs lawful intercepts for telecommunications providers. “I used to work in DEA’s office of chief counsel, and I was their lead specialist on lawful surveillance matters. I wasn’t aware of anything like this.”

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A 2012 memo written by the NSA’s International Crime & Narcotics division

For nearly two decades, telecom providers in the United States have been legally obligated under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act to build their networks with wiretapping capabilities, providing law enforcement agencies with access to more efficient, centrally managed surveillance.

Since CALEA’s passage, many countries have adopted similar measures, making it easier to gather telecommunications intelligence for international investigations. A 2001 working group for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime went so far as to urge countries to consider permitting foreign law enforcement agencies to initiate international wiretaps directly from within their own territories.

The process for setting up lawful intercepts in foreign countries is largely the same as in the United States. “Law enforcement issues a warrant or other authorization, a carrier or a carrier’s agent responds to the warrant by provisioning the intercept, and the information is sent in sort of a one-way path to the law enforcement agency,” says Marcus Thomas, a former FBI assistant director who now serves as chief technology officer for Subsentio.

When U.S. drug agents wiretap a country’s phone networks, they must comply with the host country’s laws and work alongside their law enforcement counterparts. “The way DEA works with our allies – it could be Bahamas or Jamaica or anywhere – the host country has to invite us,” says Margolis. “We come in and provide the support, but they do the intercept themselves.”

The Bahamas’ Listening Devices Act requires all wiretaps to be authorized in writing either by the minister of national security or the police commissioner in consultation with the attorney general. The individuals to be targeted must be named. Under the nation’s Data Protection Act, personal data may only be “collected by means which are both lawful and fair in the circumstances of the case.” The office of the Bahamian data protection commissioner, which administers the act, said in a statement that it “was not aware of the matter you raise.”

Countries like the Bahamas don’t install lawful intercepts on their own. With the adoption of international standards, a thriving market has emerged for private firms that are contracted by foreign governments to install and maintain lawful intercept equipment. Currently valued at more than $128 million, the global market for private interception services is expected to skyrocket to more than $970 million within the next four years, according to a 2013 report from the research firm Markets and Markets.

“Most telecom hardware vendors will have some solutions for legal interception,” says a former mobile telecommunications engineer who asked not to be named because he is currently working for the British government. “That’s pretty much because legal interception is a requirement if you’re going to operate a mobile phone network.”

The proliferation of private contractors has apparently provided the NSA with direct access to foreign phone networks. According to the documents, MYSTIC draws its data from “collection systems” that were overtly installed on the telecommunications systems of targeted countries, apparently by corporate “partners” cooperating with the NSA.

One NSA document spells out that “the overt purpose” given for accessing foreign telecommunications systems is “for legitimate commercial service for the Telco’s themselves.” But the same document adds: “Our covert mission is the provision of SIGINT,” or signals intelligence.

The classified 2013 intelligence budget also describes MYSTIC as using “partner-enabled” access to both cellular and landline phone networks. The goal of the access, the budget says, is to “provide comprehensive metadata access and content against targeted communications” in the Caribbean, Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, and the unnamed country. The budget adds that in the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Philippines, MYSTIC requires “contracted services” for its “operational sustainment.”

SSO_Dictionary_Excerpt
Definitions of terms related to the MYSTIC program, drawn from an NSA glossary

The NSA documents don’t specify who is providing access in the Bahamas. But they do describe SOMALGET as an “umbrella term” for systems provided by a private firm, which is described elsewhere in the documents as a “MYSTIC access provider.” (The documents don’t name the firm, but rather refer to a cover name that The Intercept has agreed not to publish in response to a specific, credible concern that doing so could lead to violence.) Communications experts consulted by The Intercept say the descriptions in the documents suggest a company able to install lawful intercept equipment on phone networks.

Though it is not the “access provider,” the behemoth NSA contractor General Dynamics is directly involved in both MYSTIC and SOMALGET. According to documents, the firm has an eight-year, $51 million contract to process “all MYSTIC data and data for other NSA accesses” at a facility in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, down the road from NSA’s headquarters. NSA logs of SOMALGET collection activity – communications between analysts about issues such as outages and performance problems – contain references to a technician at a “SOMALGET processing facility” who bears the same name as a LinkedIn user listing General Dynamics as his employer. Reached for comment, a General Dynamics spokesperson referred questions to the NSA.

According to the NSA documents, MYSTIC targets calls and other data transmitted on Global System for Mobile Communications networks – the primary framework used for cell phone calls worldwide. In the Philippines, MYSTIC collects “GSM, Short Message Service (SMS) and Call Detail Records” via access provided by a “DSD asset in a Philippine provider site.” (The DSD refers to the Defence Signals Directorate, an arm of Australian intelligence. The Australian consulate in New York declined to comment.) The operation in Kenya is “sponsored” by the CIA, according to the documents, and collects “GSM metadata with the potential for content at a later date.” The Mexican operation is likewise sponsored by the CIA. The documents don’t say how or under what pretenses the agency is gathering call data in those countries.

In the Bahamas, the documents say, the NSA intercepts GSM data that is transmitted over what is known as the “A link”–or “A interface”–a core component of many mobile networks. The A link transfers data between two crucial parts of GSM networks – the base station subsystem, where phones in the field communicate with cell towers, and the network subsystem, which routes calls and text messages to the appropriate destination. “It’s where all of the telephone traffic goes,” says the former engineer.

Punching into this portion of a county’s mobile network would give the NSA access to a virtually non-stop stream of communications. It would also require powerful technology.

“I seriously don’t think that would be your run-of-the-mill legal interception equipment,” says the former engineer, who worked with hardware and software that typically maxed out at 1,000 intercepts. The NSA, by contrast, is recording and storing tens of millions of calls – “mass surveillance,” he observes, that goes far beyond the standard practices for lawful interception recognized around the world.

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company did not respond to repeated phone calls and emails.

If the U.S. government wanted to make a case for surveillance in the Bahamas, it could point to the country’s status as a leading haven for tax cheats, corporate shell games, and a wide array of black-market traffickers. The State Department considers the Bahamas both a “major drug-transit country” and a “major money laundering country” (a designation it shares with more than 60 other nations, including the U.S.). According to the International Monetary Fund, as of 2011 the Bahamas was home to 271 banks and trust companies with active licenses. At the time, the Bahamian banks held $595 billion in U.S. assets.

But the NSA documents don’t reflect a concerted focus on the money launderers and powerful financial institutions – including numerous Western banks – that underpin the black market for narcotics in the Bahamas. Instead, an internal NSA presentation from 2013 recounts with pride how analysts used SOMALGET to locate an individual who “arranged Mexico-to-United States marijuana shipments” through the U.S. Postal Service.

marijauna
A slide from a 2013 NSA Special Source Operations presentation

The presentation doesn’t say whether the NSA shared the information with the DEA. But the drug agency’s Special Operations Divison has come under fire for improperly using classified information obtained by the NSA to launch criminal investigations – and then creating false narratives to mislead courts about how the investigations began. The tactic – known as parallel construction – was first reported by Reuters last year, and is now under investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

So: Beyond a desire to bust island pot dealers, why would the NSA choose to apply a powerful collection tool such as SOMALGET against the Bahamas, which poses virtually no threat to the United States?

The answer may lie in a document that characterizes the Bahamas operation as a “test bed for system deployments, capabilities, and improvements” to SOMALGET. The country’s small population – fewer than 400,000 residents – provides a manageable sample to try out the surveillance system’s features. Since SOMALGET is also operational in one other country, the Bahamas may be used as a sort of guinea pig to beta-test improvements and alterations without impacting the system’s operations elsewhere.

“From an engineering point of view it makes perfect sense,” says the former engineer. “Absolutely.”

Beyond the Bahamas, the other countries being targeted by MYSTIC are more in line with the NSA’s more commonly touted priorities. In Kenya, the U.S. works closely with local security forces in combating the militant fundamentalist group Al-Shabab, based in neighboring Somalia. In the Philippines, the U.S. continues to support a bloody shadow war against Islamist extremists launched by the Bush administration in 2002. Last month, President Barack Obama visited Manila to sign a military pact guaranteeing that U.S. operations in Southeast Asia will continue and expand for at least another decade.

Mexico, another country targeted by MYSTIC, has received billions of dollars in police, military, and intelligence aid from the U.S. government over the past seven years to fight the war on drugs, a conflict that has left more than 70,000 Mexicans dead by some estimates. Attorney General Eric Holder has described Mexican drug cartels as a U.S. “national security threat,” and in 2009, then-CIA director Michael Hayden said the violence and chaos in Mexico would soon be the second greatest security threat facing the U.S. behind Al Qaeda.

Photo credit: Marcelo A. Salinas/MCT/Zumapress.com
Photo credit: Marcelo A. Salinas/MCT/Zumapress.com

The legality of the NSA’s sweeping surveillance in the Bahamas is unclear, given the permissive laws under which the U.S intelligence community operates. Earlier this year, President Obama issued a policy directive imposing “new limits” on the U.S. intelligence community’s use of “signals intelligence collected in bulk.” In addition to threats against military or allied personnel, the directive lists five broad conditions under which the agency would be permitted to trawl for data in unrestricted dragnets: threats posed by foreign powers, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, cybersecurity, and “transnational criminal threats, including illicit finance and sanctions evasion.”

SOMALGET operates under Executive Order 12333, a Reagan-era rule establishing wide latitude for the NSA and other intelligence agencies to spy on other countries, as long as the attorney general is convinced the efforts are aimed at gathering foreign intelligence. In 2000, the NSA assured Congress that all electronic surveillance performed under 12333 “must be conducted in a manner that minimizes the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of information about unconsenting U.S. persons.” In reality, many legal experts point out, the lack of judicial oversight or criminal penalties for violating the order render the guidelines meaningless.

“I think it would be open, whether it was legal or not,” says German, the former FBI agent. “Because we don’t have all the facts about how they’re doing it. For a long time, the NSA has been interpreting their authority in the broadest possible way, even beyond what an objective observer would say was reasonable.”

“An American citizen has Fourth Amendment rights wherever they are,” adds Kurt Opsahl, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Nevertheless, there have certainly been a number of things published over the last year which suggest that there are broad, sweeping programs that the NSA and other government agencies are doing abroad that sweep up the communications of Americans.”

Legal or not, the NSA’s covert surveillance of an entire nation suggests that it will take more than the president’s tepid “limits” to rein in the ambitions of the intelligence community. “It’s almost like they have this mentality – if we can, we will,” says German. “There’s no analysis of the long-term risks of doing it, no analysis of whether it’s actually worth the effort, no analysis of whether we couldn’t take those resources and actually put them on real threats and do more good.”

It’s not surprising, German adds, that the government’s covert program in the Bahamas didn’t remain covert. “The undermining of international law and international cooperation is such a long-term negative result of these programs that they had to know would eventually be exposed, whether through a leak, whether through a spy, whether through an accident,” he says. “Nothing stays secret forever. It really shows the arrogance of these agencies – they were just going to do what they were going to do, and they weren’t really going to consider any other important aspects of how our long-term security needs to be addressed.”

Documents published with this article:

SOMALGET memo
SIDToday: DEA – The “Other” Warfighter
SSO Dictionary Excerpt
MYSTIC
SSO March 14, 2013
SSO April 18, 2013 – What’s New
SSO May 2, 2013
SSO May 3, 2013 – MYSTIC
SSO May 3, 2012
Black Budget

By Ryan Devereaux, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras19 May 2014, 12:37 PM EDT 395

Find this story at 19 May 2014

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