Wednesday, November 11, 2009

UP police picks up Headley's scent

LUCKNOW: Latest revelations that Daood Gilani alias David Coleman Headley (49), had visited Lucknow and Agra apart from Delhi and an unidentified
place during his visits to India, has set alarm bells ringing in the state and Central intelligence setups. Though the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of the Uttar Pradesh Police (UPP) has fanned out six teams in Lucknow and Agra to gather further details of Headley's visits, the exercise seems to have hit a roadblock owing to limited information about Headley's UP connections.

On Wednesday, Central agencies also issued a terror alert to UP, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi and Uttarakhand warning them of a possible terror strike in any of these states on the eve of 26/11 anniversary.

Interestingly, the FBI had recorded telephonic conversations between Headley and his Canadian friend of Pakistani origin, Tahawwur Hussain Rana (32), on September 7 in which the two discussed "targets'' including prestigious National Defence College in New Delhi. The reference to the other targets in the conversation is believed to have been made in context of locations in Lucknow, Agra and Ahmedabad apart from Delhi.

On the basis of documentary evidences and other telephonic conversations of the suspects, the FBI is believed to have deduced that the two were targeting Israeli and American tourists and establishments linked to them in the country. The idea was to trigger off a repeat of 26/11 to mark the first anniversary of the Mumbai mayhem that claimed 166 lives in November last.

Additional director general of police (ADG) ATS (UP) AK Jain confirmed that inputs from Indian intelligence agencies have been received in Headley's case and his connection with Lucknow and Agra. He refused to part with any further details on the issue.

Sources, however, claimed that the information available in the case about Lucknow and Agra is too limited but with whatever little was available, sleuths have started scanning travel agencies in the two UP cities. The move is based on the clue that Headley's business links have been traced to some select districts of UP.

Investigations in India have so far established that Headley had set up an agency involved in processing of travel documents of skilled and unskilled labour and help them acquire visas for the US and Canada. The office of this agency has been traced to Tardeo's AC Market in Mumbai and a rented apartment in upmarket Breach Candy area as well.

Sleuths in UP were also tracing the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) modules active in the state during the period Headley visited the state. This move was based on the arrest of Mufti Harun Izahar, Shahidul Islam and Al Amin alias Saiful in Bangladesh on the basis of clues collected in the Headley case. The three were arrested from Jaimaitul Ulum al-Islamiya Madrassa in Chittagong (Bangladesh) and had surveyed the US and Indian embassies in Dhaka with the aim of triggering a terror attack in the near future.

Reports said that the Indian intelligence agencies were yet to get details of Headley case since the team of officials that flew down to the US to interrogate him, was not allowed an audience with him by the US. They had returned empty handed. Whatever information was presently available, was based on an FBI report sent to the Indian government in Delhi by their US counterparts on Monday.

Headley and his Pakistani-born Canadian cohort living in Chicago were arrested by the FBI on October 18 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport while they were about to board a flight to Philadelphia.

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