Another Headley wife also warned of his terror and India links

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Less than a year before the November 2008 Mumbai terror mayhem, a second wife of David Coleman Headley warned US officials in Pakistan that she believed her husband was plotting an attack, but she appeared not to have been taken seriously, the New York Times said.

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Headley’s wife, a young Moroccan woman, had also told US officials that her husband was passionately anti-Indian yet travelled to India all the time.

The new revelation about the warning came a day after a report that an American woman who was also married to Headley told federal investigators in New York in 2005 that she believed he was a member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), created and sponsored by Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency.

Despite the warnings by two of his three wives, Headley roamed far and wide on the LeT’s behalf between 2002 and 2009, receiving training in small-calibre weapons and counter-surveillance, scouting targets for attacks, and building a network of connections that extended from Chicago to Pakistan’s lawless northwestern frontier, the Times said.

Headley, 50, it said, was a longtime informer in Pakistan for the US Drug Enforcement Administration whose roots in Pakistan and the US allowed him to move easily in both worlds.

An examination of Headley’s movements in the years before the November 2008 Mumbai attack, based on interviews in Washington, Pakistan, India and Morocco, shows that he had overlapping, even baffling, contacts among seemingly disparate groups – Pakistani intelligence, terrorists, and American drug investigators, the Times said.

The investigative news organization ProPublica reported Saturday that Headley’s American former wife told the authorities that Headley boasted about working as an American informant while he trained with LeT.

The Times said, Headley’s Moroccan wife, Faiza Outalha, claimed she even showed the US embassy officials a photo of Headley and herself in the Taj Mahal Hotel, where they stayed twice in April and May 2007. Hotel records confirm their stay.

Outalha, 27, said that in two meetings with American officials at the US Embassy in Islamabad, she told the authorities that her husband had many friends who were known members of LeT. She said she told them that he was passionately anti-Indian, but that he travelled to India all the time for business deals that never seemed to amount to much, the Times said.

She also revealed to them that Headley assumed different identities: as a devout Muslim who went by the name Daood when he was in Pakistan, and as an American playboy named David when he was in India.

“I told them, he’s either a terrorist, or he’s working for you,” she recalled saying to American officials at the US embassy in Islamabad. “Indirectly, they told me to get lost.”

He was married at least three times, according to the Times. For one period he was married to all three wives – Outalha, who is a medical student half his age; to a New York makeup artist; and to a conservative Pakistani Muslim – at the same time.

Besides Headley’s guilty plea in a US court, seven Pakistani suspects have been charged there. American investigators say a critical figure who has not been charged is Sajid Mir, an LeT operative who became close to Headley as the plans for the Mumbai operation unfolded. Investigators fear he is still working on other plots.

Meanwhile, National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement Saturday: “The United States regularly provided threat information to Indian officials in 2008 before the attacks in Mumbai.”

“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,” he said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])