Wednesday, March 24, 2010


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MARCH 24, 2010, 2:00 P.M. ET

An Antiterror Rift

U.S.-India cooperation in the war on terror hits a roadblock.


Cooperation between U.S. and Indian intelligence agencies has been a hallmark of the post-9/11 era, and rightly so: The two democracies both understand the existential fight the war on terror presents. But just as the U.S. expects India to be a good partner in the fight, so too does India expect the same of America.

That's why the case of David Coleman Headley, a Chicago-based American citizen of Pakistani origin who allegedly facilitated the Nov. 26, 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai, matters. Mr. Headley traveled to India five times, reportedly to scout targets for Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET). He and his accomplice, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, were arrested by the FBI in October during an investigation into a plot of the LET and other Pakistan-based terrorists to attack a Danish newspaper. Their alleged links to the Mumbai attacks were discovered during the FBI interrogation.

Given Mr. Headley's potentially vital role in one of the most extreme terrorist acts in India's history—an attack that lasted four days and killed 166 people—India understandably wants to extradite him for questioning. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said Saturday during a trip to New Delhi that extradition won't happen, but Indian officials will eventually "get access" to Mr. Headley.

This is a remarkable double standard. When Al Qaeda terrorists Abu Zubaidah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and Abu Faraj al-Libi were arrested in Pakistan, and when Jemmah Islamiyah's Hambali was arrested in Thailand in the years following 9/11, U.S. intelligence officials insisted on taking them into U.S. custody to interrogate them on the future plans of their organizations and on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

When Messrs. Headley and Rana were arrested, Indian authorities didn't insist on extradition, which they knew might be hard to do under U.S. law. They simply wanted Indian investigators to be given immediate access to the terrorists on U.S. soil. Given the growing antiterror cooperation between the two countries, an Indian investigative team traveled to the U.S. to question Mr. Headley after hearing of his arrest. They were taken by surprise when the FBI declined to grant them access and sent them back empty-handed.

Since then, the FBI has been dragging its feet in response to repeated Indian requests to interrogate Mr. Headley—even in U.S. territory. The plea bargain that the FBI and Mr. Headley agreed to last week has created strong suspicions in India that the FBI wants to avoid a formal trial of Mr. Headley. There are even wild rumors that Indian investigators are being prevented from interrogating him because he was a deep penetration agent working for U.S. intelligence.

India isn't asking for much. Its intelligence officers are mature professionals. Their interest will be in questioning Mr. Headley on his role in the Mumbai attacks, LET's terrorist plans, its India-based sleeper cells, and the role of the Pakistani state in the attacks.

U.S.-India intelligence cooperation has been tested over the past few years, first in 2004 with accusations that an Indian intelligence officer, Rabinder Singh, had been recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency. (He was granted asylum in the U.S. just before he was about to be arrested by Indian counterintelligence officers.) The second blow came in 2006 with the discovery of another alleged CIA mole in India's National Security Council Secretariat, which is part of the Prime Minister's Office.

The rift forming over access to Mr. Headley is a serious problem. The intelligence communities of the two countries, which have a long history of cooperation, managed to get over the trust deficit created by the CIA's alleged penetration. It's time to get over this one, too.

Mr. Raman served in India's external intelligence agency from 1968 to 1994 and on the government of India's National Security Advisory Board from 2000 to 2002. He is currently director of the Institute for Topical Studies in Chennai.

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tushar said...

Now when all these things are clear that the US want top help Pakistan and ignore the threat faced to its citizen and the country and not helping india to access hedley and from this is clear that US does not want anything from india and the treaty signed by both the countries are of waste.
and now that everything is crystal clear then why is india still begging for the access to headley and still want to hold the peace talks with pak and rather help taliban in spreading more terror in pakistan.

and it should hold terror attacks in pak as stated by them many times when we are not engaged in such things and now prove them right.

and last but not the least that india should stop begging for access to headley and stop all the talks with pak and yes the UPA govt is very bad when it comes to the security of the country and its citizen.
Its high time that PM manmohan singh should take interest in the security of the country rather than concentrating only on the economic and financial developments or should it be sonia gandhi to whom we should approach.

ambi said...

Hi Tushar I understand your anguish. But believe me, I feel that India don’t have to do anything. Just stay aside & enjoy the show. The way both US & Pakistan have messed up themselves is remarkable.
Pakistan is a royal mess. India don’t have to support Taliban. Taliban’s pockets are full with Saudi Petro dollar. As Pak social scientist Farhat Taj has mentioned that ‘NWFP is Pakistan’s next Bangladesh’.
Pakistan is like that patient, who for long is having bad habits like drinking (Kashmir wine) & smoking (jihadi bidi) day & night, which is severely affecting his body organs. Now that he is detected with cancer & kidney, lung, lever failure & other bad effects as a result of these habits; it is thinking of trying to stop smoking & drinking. But the doctor says ‘You have already entered in the final phase of the disease. It wont save you even if you stop smoking & drinking now. You have a very short future ahead, so do as you please.’
As it is feared, the world economic recovery is expected to be ‘W’ shape instead of ‘V’ shape. Even today Pakistan is finding it so difficult to manage its economy just imagine what will happen in case of ‘W’ shape recovery. Economies like Pakistan, Zimbabwe will just wither away.
As far as Obama uncle is concerned, the less said the better. By annoying the most powerful Israeli lobby he has sealed his fate. He won’t have a chance for second term of the presidency. Out of his 4 yr term, only three are left. Not a big problem. He will be spending these three years in understanding how world politics moves.
Probably u don’t know how closely Indian & Israeli intelligence is working with CIA. In it’s war against terror. Before annoying both these important allies, Obama uncle should have consulted Panetta Uncle. He ld have told him. India is not begging regarding access to Headley. India is asking what is it’s right as a partner. IF both these agencies stop cooperating with CIA Obama uncle will come to know how vulnerable American’s are. Next attack of Al Qaeda on US interests & soil is just round the corner.
I hope sanity prevails in Islamabad & DC n both start listening to saner voices. Or else K sera sera.