Minister accuses Pakistan’s intelligence agency of co-ordinating the 2008 shooting.
|Headley pleaded guilty to US terrorism charges for the Mumbai attacks and a plot against a Danish newspaper [EPA]|
Two wives of an American man convicted for his role in the Mumbai attacks had tipped off the FBI about their husband’s suspicious movements well before the assaults in 2008, according to media reports.
US authorities had been informed that David Headley was tied to the Pakistani group alleged to be behind the plot, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing a person close to the case.
Headley pleaded guilty in March to a dozen US terrorism charges related to the Mumbai attacks, and to a plot to attack the Danish newspaper that had published cartoons in 2005 that mocked the Prophet Muhammad.
In his trial this year, the businessman admitted to scouting targets for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Pakistan-based group that India has blamed for the attacks. He agreed to help investigators and give testimony against others in exchange for a promise that he would not be extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark.
The first tip came in 2005, when Headley was arrested following a domestic dispute with his wife, who the paper did not name. The wife told the FBI in interviews that he was active in LeT, had trained in camps in Pakistan and had looked for night vision goggles, the Washington Post reported, citing unnamed officials and other sources close to the case.
His second wife, a Moroccan woman named Faiza Outalha, twice informed the American embassy in Islamabad in 2007 that Headley was involved with the Pakistani group alleged to be plotting against targets in India, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
Outalha told The New York Times that she had warned embassy officials in Islamabad of her belief that her husband was plotting an attack.
“I told them, he’s either a terrorist, or he’s working for you,” she said. “Indirectly, they told me to get lost.”
Headley was a longtime informer for the US Drug Enforcement Administration in Pakistan, the paper wrote.
According to the paper, the businessman had at least three wives and it reported that he had been married to all three simultaneously at one point.
‘US co-operates with India’
Speaking in response to the media reports, P J Crowley, a spokesman for the US state department said that “we take our counterterrorism co-operation with India very seriously. The United States regularly provided threat information to Indian officials in 2008. Had we known about the timing and other specifics related to the Mumbai attacks, we would have immediately shared those details with the government of India”.
Government officials, speaking anonymously, told The Associated Press news agency that the information the wives gave to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force had been general and that they had not mentioned any specific plots.
Headley spent his childhood in Pakistan and was originally named Daood Gilani. He reportedly changed his name in 2005 to facilitate travel.
He was apprehended by US authorities a year ago, trying to leave for Pakistan from Chicago. He was carrying several surveillance videos from Denmark that he allegedly intended to deliver to his handlers.