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Indian investigators, FBI sleuths to quiz Headley

By Lalit K Jha
October 31, 2009 14:08 IST
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Indian investigators would join their Federal Bureau of Investigation counterparts on Monday to question David Coleman Headley, nabbed by FBI for plotting a major terror attack in India at LeT's behest, as fresh inputs indicated that he was planning to visit Pakistan this month.

The investigators from Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing are also expected to probe the terror-drug nexus as it has come to light that Headley was charged by a federal court in New York in 1997 with smuggling heroin to the US, according to court documents accessed by PTI.

One of Headley's cousins, Farid Gilani of Philadelphia, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he spoke to Headley over the phone about a month ago. "He was supposed to come (and) visit me, but he never came," Farid Gilani was quoted as saying. "He said 'I am going back home to Pakistan." court papers said Headley, alias 'Daood Gilani', was planning to go to Pakistan this month, before which he was nabbed by the FBI.

49-year-old Headley was arrested on October 18 along with Tahawwur Hussein 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. Knowledgeable sources said while the Indian investigators would like to solve the 'Rahul' puzzle, the FBI is keen to gain from the Indian expertise in quizzing known LeT-linked terrorists and acquaintances. 

A mysterious 'Rahul' appeared to have been the prime target of Headley, who had made several trips to India and intended to stay in the country for some time -- two to four weeks -- to execute the Lashkar-e-Tayiba plans, according to US investigators.
An affidavit filed by FBI in a Chicago court stated that Headley in an e-mail on July eight to a senior LeT leader whose, name has not been revealed but who has been identified as 'LeT individual A', said, "I think when we get a chance we should revisit our last location again and say Hi to Rahul".Following his arrest, Headley has stated that the reference was to 'Rahul', a prominent Indian actor with that first name, the FBI said in its complaint.
Home Minister P Chidambaram appeared to suggest in New Delhi that 'Rahul' figuring as a target of Headley is not Congress leader Rahul Gandhi."It is not the Rahul that you think it is. It could be a pseudonym, it could be a code name but please be assured that it is not the Rahul that you think is," he said.
Based in Pakistan, the banned LeT has been mainly involved in terrorist attacks in India, including the Mumbai strikes last year in November. The FBI has told a Chicago court that both Headley, who before 2006 was known as Daood Gilani, and 48-year-old Rana, now lodged in a downtown Chicago jail, were in close contact with LeT leaders in connection with a major terrorist attack in India. 

The bail application of Rana is scheduled to come up before the court next week and that of Headley in December. Childhood friends and students of same military school in Pakistan, Headley and Rana have been charged with aiding terrorists and could face up to life in prison if convicted.
They are also accused of conspiring with another man to plot an attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in 2005. In 1997, when Headley was charged with smuggling heroin, his name was Daood Saleem Gilani; under which name the case is still in the court records which also shows he was living in New York. Then as Gilani, Headley was travelling to Pakistan and bringing heroin back.
Court records show, Gilani was sentenced to a 15-month prison term. In 1999, he sought permission from the Brooklyn Court in New York to travel to Pakistan as his family members lived there. He was granted the permission to travel to Pakistan on parole.
Meanwhile, raids on the goat farm house of Rana have become the talk of the Kinsman town on the outskirts of Chicago. Rana used to supply goat meat to South Asian grocery stores and had a large Indian-American and Pakistani-American
clientele. Incidentally, there are also three nuclear power plants near Kinsman.
Morris Daily Herald, a local daily, quoted residents as saying that the duo "could have blown up the nuclear plants."
Rana's Kinsman slaughter house was raided by the FBI on October 18, when nearly 100 sleuths with helicopters and latest equipment landed up.
Kinsman resident Norman Foster told the local daily that the raid was upsetting as no one was aware of what was going
on until the FBI announcement made public the arrest of the two early this week.
"There are terrorists all over," he was quoted as saying. "It bothers me, but I don't know what I'm going to do about it. You let them into this country; you don't know what they're going to do."

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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