Tuesday, November 9, 2010

US says no to Headley's extradition

Ahead of the Barack Obama India had raised the pitch on the David Headley extradition issue and as expected during an meeting of the CIA with the Indian intelligence agencies, this issue did crop up.

The meeting between the American and Indian intelligence agencies discussed a host of issues on the problems pertaining to terrorism that emanated out of Pakistan and as expected David Headley was top on the priority chart. Sources who took part in this meeting told rediff.com that their American counterparts were clear about this aspect and said that an extradition will not be possible due to the legal tangles. Moreover the Americans also told India that the information that the National Investigating Agency had managed to extract from Headley was the maximum extent of the information even the Americans had. Moreover there would be nothing new emerging even if he were to questioned after being extradited to India.

The Indians did push the point to the Americans that Headley is more important to India than to America since his primary objective was to facilitate the 26/11 attack which he ended up doing with a lot of success. However the Americans were not ready to accept that argument of an extradition and made it clear that his plea bargain deal prevents an extradition. The Americans tried convincing the Indians that Headley during his interrogation with the NIA had given out all information regarding the 26/11 attack and also what he had been planning in the future. This is the exact same information that he has given the Americans too and there is nothing more on us.

The Indians are however taking solace out of the fact that the information which they have at the moment is enough to nail the Pakistanis who according to Headley were the masterminds of the attack. The information on Zaki-ur-Rehma Lakhvi and Zarar Shah is very crucial and Headley has spoken in length about their role in the attack. Moreover he has also given ample proof about how the Pakistan establishment was involved in the attack and these are good enough for the moment to nail the Pakistan lie.

The Indians however feel that bringing Headley down here and convicting him as per our laws would have sent a stronger message. Moreover they also feel that during the last interrogation by the NIA, he could have concealed some information and they may have been able to do better had he been questioned on Indian soil. However the Americans during the meeting have assured that they would provide information without fail in case something more crops up from him. The Indians feel that Headley should not be a closed chapter as yet since they believe he was no ordinary operative and the more one interrogates him the more regarding the establishment being involved in terrorism against India would come up.

There was also the discussion with regard to the information that the US claims that it had shared on Headley a couple of years prior to the attack. The Indians had pointed out that the warnings were never specific in nature. However the Americans clarified that the information available with them was not specific too and they shared whatever was available with them. Prior to the Obama visit, Home Secretary G K Pillai had also pointed out that the Americans could have informed us about Headley after the attack at least when he came down again to conduct more surveys of targets in the country. This point was also raised at the meeting, but the Americans continued to say that they had given whatever they had on them.

Indian security experts have pointed out that normally information in such cases are vague by nature and it is the duty of the country getting the information to dig and gather more details on it. Some security experts feel that it was a let up at the immigration which helped Headley thrive.

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