Headley ‘misrepresented’ personal information in his visa application

By Mayank Chhaya, IANS,

Chicago : Mumbai terror suspect David Coleman Headley seems to have deliberately kept out information that could have raised suspicion while applying for an Indian visa.

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“In applying for his visa to travel to India, Headley misrepresented his birth name, father’s true name and the purpose for his travel,” according to charges filed by US federal prosecutors against him.

This has been independently borne out by the information gathered by IANS. It was learnt that Headley gave his father’s name as William S. Headley. He seemed to have misrepresented his birth name in his first visa application made in June 2006 and left it unspecified in the second one in July 2007.

Headley’s visa application was supported by a formal letter from Chicago attorney Raymond Sanders, who had also applied for an Indian visa along with Tahawwur Rana and his wife Samraz, privileged sources told IANS. The purpose of the Ranas’ visit was given as monitoring the Mumbai office of their immigration business First World Immigration Services. The Mumbai address was given as Office Number 2 & 3, First Floor, Tardeo Air-conditioned Market, Tardeo Road, Mumbai 400034. This office was subsequently raided by the Indian authorities.

Headley changed his birth name Daood Gilani on or about Feb 15, 2006, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania “in order to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani”, according to the charges filed by the US attorney’s office. Barely four months later, he travelled to Chicago to lay the groundwork for his first visit to India.

According to the official court documents Headley had obtained the Lashkar-e-Taiyyba’s (LeT) approval to open the Mumbai office of First World. A LeT operative, identified by the court documents only as “Individual A”, “instructed an employee of First World to prepare documents to support Headley’s cover story” and advise him on how to obtain a visa for travel to India.

IANS has also learnt that there was at least one supporting letter in the visa applications that came from the Immigration Law Center, which was a properly registered entity in Cook County since 1995.

On the face of it nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary in the visa applications which may have triggered the Chicago consulate to seek intervention from the home ministry in New Delhi. It is not clear what, if any, official explanation has been asked of Consul-General Ashok Kumar Atri. Other than saying that all procedures were followed in issuing the visas to Headley and Rana, the consulate has refrained from any more detailed comment.

While Headley at least had a past criminal record because of his drug related arrest in February 1997 in New York, Rana had no brush with the law until now. Headley’s valid US passport and supporting documents were viewed as enough by the consulate to issue him a visa twice 2006 and 2007. Rana and his wife on the other hand were given a one-year tourist visa in 2008.