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Headley used 'electronic dead drop' to communicate

December 17, 2009 14:49 IST

Terror suspect David Headley ensured ways to escape surveillance and was "very careful" about exchange of information with his accomplices either in his country or in Pakistan relying on traditional technique used by militants, US based think tank Stratfor has said. He used a method known as electronic dead drop which facilitates easy exchange of messages without any transfer of emails from one person to another thus ruling out any chances of being tracked down.

"Headley also used a common militant communication method of creating messages and then saving them in the drafts folder of a Web-mail service rather than sending the message. "The person creating such a message can then provide a colleague with the user name and password for the Web-mail account, which enables the second person to log on and read the communication in the draft folder without an e-mail having been sent. This procedure is referred to as an electronic dead drop," Stratfor has said in its analysis.

"In addition to facilitating communication, these dead drops can be used to save notes that a terrorist operative does not want to physically carry on his person for fear of being caught with them. "In September, we noted that Najibullah Zazi used this method to send his bomb making notes from a training camp in Pakistan to himself rather than risk physically carrying the notes into the United States, where they could have been found during a search of his belongings," Stratfor has said.


"One element of terrorist tradecraft that was evident in
the indictment and the October 11 criminal complaint is Headley's careful use of language and of multiple methods of communications, including the use of cell phones and using long-distance calling cards, e-mail communication (using a variety of accounts) and face-to-face briefings. For the most sensitive communications and planning activities, Headley travelled to Pakistan to meet in person with Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Harkat-Ul-Jihad Islami leaders, a very secure way to communicate. He also had numerous phone and e-mail conversations in which he discussed the status of his work or planned reconnaissance trips," it said in a report.

"During such conversations, Headley would use terms to disguise the true objective of his work. For example, when referring to attack plans, Headley and his alleged co-conspirators reportedly called them 'investment plans' or 'business plans'..." Stratfor has said.

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