Friday, January 25, 2013

David C. Headley in the News Again

This morning, an article in the New York Times (“Planner of Mumbai Attacks is Given a 35-Year Sentence”) reported that David C. Headley, aka Daood Gilani, was going to prison, but not for life, as one might have expected.

No surprise, Daood always was good at making deals. He’s 52 now, but when he and I bartended in his mom’s Khyber Pass North bar he was 23. That was in 1984.

He had pro-Shiite posters on the walls of his Second Street Philadelphia apartment and an arsenal of AK47’s. I saw them.

Daood’s mom, Serrill Headley, had to go to Pakistan with a shitload of money to get him out of jail the next year, 1985. He had been running drugs. Serrill told me this.

The thing that irritates me about Daood/David’s lenient prison sentence and about his terrorism is that the USA’s Drug Enforcement Agency made them possible.

The DEA is on record that it used David C. Headley as an informant. But the DEA says its relationship with Headley started in 1998. The DEA also says that Headley was convicted of drug trafficking in Pakistan in 1989. Both those dates are wrong and the DEA knows it.

Daood Gilani/David Headley became an informant in 1985. That’s how he got out of the Pakistani jail. Serrill’s bribe money was all well and good, but had the USA not stepped in, he would not have been freed for months. Serrill made a weekend trip to Pakistan and brought Daood back on a return flight.

The DEA has been willing to overlook David Headley’s terrorist activities in order to keep him as their informant. All the time that Headley was planning attacks against the USA in general and the Mumbai Attacks in particular, he was a DEA informant.

What on earth could the DEA have gotten from David Headley regarding drugs that could have been worth allowing him to continue his activities in the terrorist circles?

Yeah…this whole thing irritates me...alot.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting perspective, thanks for sharing.

I think there is a LOT of murkiness surrounding this case, especially Headley's role as an informant for the DEA, possibly the CIA. I don't think any of the agencies who utilized Headley as an informant have been completely honest about exactly what he was doing for them. I mean just the fact that there were at least separate warnings about him and he still slipped through the cracks in a post 9/11 world is astonishing, and I'm certainly no conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination.

But, I guess my question would be, if Headley was a DEA informant as early as the mid 1980s, why wouldn't the DEA admit this? What would be the reason for saying he became an agent in 1997, or 1988 for example, instead of 1983? From everything I read about the case, the consensus seems to be that he joined Lashkar-e-Toiba around 1999/2000, during the same time he worked as a DEA informant. I'm not saying that it's not true (that he was working for the DEA back in 1983), just that I'm not sure what the DEA would gain by denying that Headley was their guy back in 1983 instead of 1997?

One really, really minor point, and I hope this isn't construed the wrong way, but from everything I've read on the case, Headley never plotted against America, or U.S. embassies abroad. This is in no way, shape or form, to mitigate the crimes he committed-he is an admitted and now convicted terrorist, who plotted against India & Denmark. That of course doesn't make him any less of a terrorist than had he plotted against New York City. Of course, by making videotapes of popular hotels & cafes in Mumbai, he's had to know that U.S. citizens would almost certainly get murdered during the terrorist attacks.

I certainly don't begrudge anyone for feeling cheated by his sentence, least of all anyone associated with any of the victims of Mumbai terrorist attacks. But the fact of the matter is, he did essentially get a life, or very close to a life sentence. What I personally, find even more upsetting, is the fact that the guys who mastermined and directed the Mumbai attacks, and whose ultimate responsibility for the mass killings are probably even greater than Headley's,(Major Iqbal, Sajid Mir, Pasha), will probably, never, ever see the inside of a jail cell. The fact that everyone knows who these guys are is even more frustrating.

BTW, great blog.

Anonymous said...

Quick follow up, I also read your entry about the Superbowl and your earlier interactions with Gilani/Headley. Really interesting. Were you ever approached by Frontline for their "Perfect Terrorist" documentary?

The Headley case really brings the use of informants, whether in the "war on drugs" or the "war on terrorism" to the forefront. It certainly seems that Headley's role as an informant, performing both anti-drug work, and ironically enough, anti-terror work, inoculated him from anyone in the government from taking the many warnings against him seriously.

The government asked for the 30-35 year sentence because, according to them, he provided tons of information on terrorist organizations, their structure and leadership and other potential terrorist attacks. Of course, that's probably cold comfort to the families of the Mumbai victims. Hopefully for the families and survivors there is at least some minor "consolation"-however small and fleeting in knowing that he's in prison now and won't be able to plot anymore acts of terrorism.

Hopefully one day, everyone else involved in this horrific act will also be brought to justice as well.

Thanks again for your sharing your personal perspective.