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Will Headley nail Pakistan to save himself?

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Himani Kumar Sanagaram

Seven years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, plotter Daood Sayed Gilani aka David Coleman Headley’s position as an approver for the case has put him again in crucial yet sensitive position. Headley agreed to do this in a bid to save himself and shed some crucial intelligence information.

After the trial in Chicago where Headley testified in Jan 2013, he was sentenced to 35 years in American prison. He is willing to take a chance for an early release. The evidence that Headley gives in the trial TADA Indian court on Feb 2016 will help corroborate information disclosed made by co-accused Abu Jundal regarding the role of LeT masterminds and Pakistani state actors in India’s 9/11.

But can Indian government believe whatever he tells them, given that he has had a history of repeating offenses? He breaks the law, cooperates with police and then breaks the law again. After all, he was a double agent for US Drug Enforcement Administration. He was once caught in 1984 on drug-related charges. When he was accused of smuggling heroin from Pakistan to the United States, he cooperated with the American government to provide them information.

The 26/11 accused Hafiz Sayed and Rahman Lakhvi sit free in Pakistan and with no evidence. The speed at which Pakistani courts will try and give a fair trial will only benefit the accused.

It is not only Headley but the United States has its own interests to protect and they will give protection to Headley because he pled guilty and disclosed them his plans for the Denmark bombing. Furthermore, Headley earned the sympathy of the US government when he pled guilty by blaming his biracial intercultural history and past for his actions and doings.

India is a  secular country, and Muslims get special treatment. There are allowances for Imams of mosques but not for priests of temples.

While Bangladeshi Muslims in India get voter’s card, Pakistani Hindus remained deprived. While pensions are allotted for Pakistani terrorists, the Indian army remains bankrupt.

Rs 50,000 for Muslim girls’ marriages but not for poor Hindu girls, subsidy for Haj pilgrims but tax on Amaranth Yatra, ban on DJs in Navratri but loudspeakers allowed for Namaz, subsidy for cow slaughterhouse but tax on Gaushala, free electricity to mosques and funds for madrasas but tax on temples.

According to US laws, for Headley, it is a case of Double Jeopardy as he cannot be tried again on the same charges once he has been convicted here. His friend and accomplice Tahawwur Rana who is also in jail had appealed for another trial in United States. However, he was once convicted in 2013 but due to double jeopardy, he was not tried again.

According to Former Home Secretary of India, GK Pillai, Headley might expect a lighter sentence in America if he helps the Indian government. Headley is scared in his pants. He was as cool as a cucumber in the trial in Chicago. Headley will do anything to grind is axe.

Headley was given a sentence with no parole and no time off for good behavior and it was a break in sentence compared to a life sentence or death penalty because he provided substantial cooperation and sharing of information and an enticement or encouragement for other individuals (terrorists) in the future, who might be thinking whether to cooperate and they might get some benefits for it.

Headley has to cooperate with the US government for the future, according to the plea agreement. If he does not abide by the plea agreement, the US government will have the right to go into court and vacate the sentencing and will be back at square one.

Terror attacks are spreading in Europe and Australia. Recently, Saudi Arabia executed 47 terrorists ,thus taking a hardline stance on the jihadi war on terror. “Fitna” or commotion  that causes discord or controversy within the Muslim community with the division of Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia has lately been seen.

In Attacks in Paris in last November, ISIS jihadists killed 130 people in a series of gun attacks. On Jan 2, 2016 attacks were carried out at the Pathankot base attack in Punjab. The anti-India Kashmiri militant alliance unit, the United Jihad Council (UJC), has supposedly carried out the attacks. According to the BBC, most of the group’s leaders including UJC chief Syed Salahuddin are believed to be living in Pakistan. UJC has been described to be an asset of the Pakistani military. If action is taken against UJC, it will be in line with  Sharif’s policy. Maybe something can be done after all to mend the Pakistani Army or ISI, which has been a training ground for terrorists.

 

Himani Kumar Sanagaram is freelance journalist based in Chicago. She covered Headley’s trial from Chicago from 2010-2012. She is also a former foreign correspondent with Press Trust of India.

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13 Astonishing Facts about India that will Surprise You!

Interesting facts about India

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A monument in India, Flickr

October 27, 2016: India is a country of different colours. Home to several religions, castes and cultures, India is one of the liveliest countries of the world. Here are some facts about India that might surprise you!

  • While many are called India a land of intolerance and doubting the nation’s secularism,the Bhagwat Gita contest was won by a Muslim girl. The winner, Maryam had full support of her parents for participating in the contest.
  • Indian Railways is one of the largest employers in the world. The number of employees working with the Indian railways in 1.4 million! This is equivalent to the combined population of many small countries like Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Iceland, and more!

Go to NewsGram and check out news related to political current issues.

  • India is home to the world’s largest planned township. It was developed in 1972 in order to divert the population growth in Mumbai. The township is located near Mumbai and is known Navi Mumbai.
  • The first rocket launched in India was transported on a cycle!
  • 26th May of every year is celebrated as science day in Switzerland in honor of India’s 11th president, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Dr. Kalam had  visited Switzerland on 26th may, 2005.
  • A 13 year boy, named Arshid Ali Khan, is believed to be a God human. Local people seek his blessings to solve their problems. He is also known as Balaji owing to his 7 inch tail!

Look for latest news from India in NewsGram.

  • India is known as the most peaceful country in the world. It has never ever invaded any country in history.
  • The largest post network in the world belongs to India. India post have the highest number of post offices in the world.
  • In August 2011, India inaugurated  its first ever floating post office in Dal lake,Jammu and Kashmir

Go to NewsGram and check out news related to political current issues.

  • Shani Shingnapur is one of the safest village of India. The houses, shops and halls of this village are without doors! This village has not locked away its valuables and yet not a single theft has been reported till date.
  • Akku Yadav was a notorious criminal infamous for kidnapping children and rapping women. He was arrested, but due to the corruption in the local police force, he got bail easily. The local people were tired of this menace. The mob stabbed his over 70 times and threw chilli powder and stones on his face. It was the first time in Indian history that a criminal was murdered by 200 women.
  • Ajmal Kasab was one of the terrorists involved in 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Mumbai police filed a case against him for entering CST Railway Station, Mumbai without ticket!
  • Jaipur, Rajasthan boasts of having a family with 31 doctors! there are 7 physicians, 5 gynecologists, 3 ophthalmologists, 3 ENT specialists, orthopedic, urologist, psychiatrists, pathologists and neurologists in this family.

– by Pragya Arora of NewsGram. Twitter: @Wanderlust6400

 

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Meet Ravi Dharnidhirka: The Soldier whose Raw Courage saved 157 Lives in the 26/11 Mumbai Attack

Ravi Dharnidhirka and some of the South African ex-commandos, used their presence of mind and realised that they need to do something to save the lives of the people

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Taj fire being put out after the people were rescued. Image Source : google.com
  • On 26th November 2008, Mumbai faced the worst day in its history- the terrorist attack on Hotel Taj Mahal
  • On that day, the bravery and experience of Ravi Dharnidhirka, Captain of the US Marine Corp, saved the lives of as many as 157 people
  • He was ably aided by some South African ex-Commandos and the staff of Taj

November 26, 2008, saw one of saddest days in the history of Independent India. The Hotel Taj Mahal at Mumbai was under the attack of terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Taiba. During such a time, Captain of the US Marine Corps, Ravi Dharnidhirka had gone to have lunch at Taj with a few of his uncles and colleagues. He had sensed that something was wrong the moment he had set foot inside the hotel. The metal detectors were not working properly, he had figured. A lot of phone calls were coming to all of them, informing them about the shootings at Colaba. In the meantime, they realised that they were under attack as well.

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Captain Ravi Dharnidhirka. Image Source : betterindia.com
Captain Ravi Dharnidhirka. Image Source : betterindia.com

Ravi Dharnidhirka and some of the South African ex-commandos, who had had an experience of serving in the army used their presence of mind and realised that they need to do something to save the lives of the people. They searched the area and found a strong wooden door. They took the terrorised people through the kitchen to that room. Locked the doors and protected it with tables, chairs and whatever they could find. From the kitchen, they took the sharp cutter and armed the people as well as they could. One of them explained the situation to the people and requested them to keep calm. The Captain and his comrades then informed the Taj officials about that in case they needed to evacuate or something, reported Better India, mentioned the betterIndia report.

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When the terrorists set of the RDX in one of the halls, this group of the Captain and ex-commandos realised that it was time to carry out their evacuation plan because otherwise, the fire would engulf the staircases making it impossible to save the lives of the people waiting impatiently behind the wooden door. They removed the barricades in front of the door and slowly and steadily led them through the fire exits, out of the building. It was a lot of risks considering that every floor had a transparent fire exit through which the entire floor could be seen. They had made sure that all the phones were switched off and shoes were taken off so that they could make a noiseless exit.

As many as 157 lives were saved by the quick thinking and experience of Captain Ravi Dharnidhirka and the South African ex-commandos and the staff of Taj who had ably aided them.

-prepared by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.

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India’s baffling conditional pardon and deal with David Coleman Headley

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Chicago: Considering that any intelligence that David Coleman Headley might supply India will necessarily be exponentially dated, it is hard to make sense of a special court in Mumbai granting a conditional pardon to the key Mumbai terror plotter and even making him a witness for the prosecution.

For Headley’s part though he has once again pulled off a crafty deal to save himself more trouble by agreeing to turn approver for India reportedly in return for disclosing the role played by his handlers from the Pakistani military and intelligence services. However, on the face of it one cannot say what specifically India stands to gain by granting him such extraordinary accommodation.

The only plausible explanation behind the Mumbai court’s decision is that the Indian prosecutors are trying to make the best of a bad situation where Headley is a tightly controlled subject by the US authorities access to whom is very limited. Given his history with the US authorities as an informant and rather complicated entanglement with the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba as well as elements of Pakistani intelligence were some reluctance on the US side to expose him to Indian investigators.

While his plea deal with the US prosecutors requires him to cooperate with India and other foreign agencies to the fullest possible extent, it is a matter of speculation how much he is really permitted to reveal. Anything that he might have to say about his relationship with Pakistani intelligence or any other official agency is now a good seven to nine years old. He was arrested in October, 2009 from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport just as he was about to leave the country. Effectively, he was out of any direct touch with any of his Pakistani contacts since his arrest.

He is known to have shared all the intelligence and information that he possessed about the November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks with the US investigators. He was also extensively interrogated by Indian investigators in June, 2010 during which the US Department of Justice had maintained that “There were no restrictions on the questions posed by Indian investigators”. That being the case, coupled with the datedness of his information, the Indian conditional pardon is intriguing.

His 2010 plea deal was incumbent upon the quality of information that he would provide to the US authorities. At the time the prosecutors here had said that Headley “has provided substantial assistance to the criminal investigation, and also has provided information of significant intelligence value”.

Subsequently, even at the time of his sentencing in January, 2013, both the prosecution and defense repeatedly and greatly emphasized the extent and quality of his cooperation. His attorney John Theis, in requesting for a lighter sentence, had said the information that Headley provided was “so profound that it calls for extraordinary downward departure.”

He also said because of the information provided by Headley barely 30 minutes after his arrest, lives were saved not just in India and the United States but elsewhere in the world.

For its part even the defense described Headley’s case as “uniquely aggravating” and “uniquely mitigating” and frequently pointed out his unprecedented cooperation. It was perhaps for the first time in a major case of global terrorism that one of the key players chose to cooperate without any coercion and so immediately after his arrest.

Against this backdrop, Headley, who is already serving a 35-year-long sentence, has nothing to lose by turning approver on India’s behalf because the quality of what he has to offer is already fairly diminished because of his past cooperation. Unless there has been some behind-the-scenes deal-making between the Indian and American investigators over some still crucial bits of information that Headley will reveal, there does not seem to be anything significant to be gained by extending him such remarkable accommodation yet again.

One instance of Headley’s usefulness was illustrated with him pointing the authorities to the whereabouts of Ilyas Kashmiri, the Al Qaeda/Harkat ul Jihad al Islami leader, who was killed June 3, 2011, during a drone strike on an orchard in South Waziristan. Then regarded as one of the fiercest commanders, Kashmiri was one of the seven people to have been charged them with involvement in both the Mumbai case as well as the abortive attack on the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten which published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed offensive to Muslims in September, 2005.

Headley had even proposed to the investigators that they should send him back to Pakistan with an ornate sword embedded with a locator chip which he could gift Kashmiri. The US then could use the signal from the chip to locate and target him.

The government’s position paper on his sentencing, while referring to his extraordinary cooperation, said, “Headley similarly provided extensive detail about Ilyas Kashmiri and his network.” When asked to elaborate on the kind of information that Headley provided about Kashmiri, the prosecutors had said it was classified and they could not share it.

It had baffled many then why a man once so deeply immersed in an extreme version of Islam known as Salafism could change so radically as to seriously undermine its other adherents by exposing them. One plausible explanation could be what even Judge Harry Leinenweber zeroed in on. He had pointed out how Headley had a history of being arrested and then finding his way out of it by cooperating with the authorities. He was referring to Headley’s two arrests in the past in connection with narcotics smuggling and how he managed to come out of prison on fairly positive terms in exchange for cooperation.

His plea deal to escape the death penalty and extradition to India was yet another deal that he struck. Now with the Indian deal, Headley has yet again excelled at finding a way out of a potentially terrible situation.

(By Mayank Chhaya, IANS)