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Indian intelligence team returns without quizzing Headley

By Lalit K Jha
November 10, 2009 12:30 IST
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A team of Indian intelligence officials left the US disappointed after a week-long stay here as they could not question American national David Coleman Headley, arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges of plotting a major terror attack in India at the behest of Pakistan-based Lashkar-Tayiba.

Sources familiar with the visit of the Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing officials termed "bureaucratic" and "procedural" hurdles as the main reason for them not being successful in interrogation of Headley, who is now lodged in a Chicago jail.

49-year-old Headley, according to the FBI charge sheet, was being used by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba to target among others the National Defence College in New Delhi, the Doon school in Dehradun and Woodstock school in Mussoorie. The Indian team, names of its members have not been revealed to the media so far, arrived in Washington on November 1 and was scheduled to grill Headley the next day. However, the Indian team is believed to have spent most of their time in Washington and they could not make their planned trip to Chicago – where Headley and his co-conspirator Tahawwur Hussain Rana are lodged in a jail – to interrogate the duo, both Chicago-residents. The team left for India through New York on November 8. 

In Washington, officials familiar with the investigations told PTI that the Indian officials had a series of meetings with their FBI counterparts during which the American intelligence officials shared their investigation and interrogation details with them.

However, the Indian team wanted to question Headley on different aspects of the terror plot. The officials were disappointed that they were not able to interrogate either of the two arrested, given that this was the prime objective of their trip, the sources said.

Post 26/11 there has been close cooperation between the Indian and American intelligence agencies. Another source told PTI that the reluctance on the part of the FBI to let a foreign intelligence agency interrogate one of the terror suspects under its custody was because its own investigation had not been completed.

The Indian team is expected to return to the US soon to question Headley, the sources said. Headley was arrested on October 18 along with Rana, a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin, by FBI at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport before boarding a flight to Philadelphia, intending to travel to Pakistan.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
Source: PTI© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.