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David Headley mess: Why FBI needs to pull its socks up

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

A report published recently has concluded that FBI even after being a top notch crime fighting organizations needs to pull up its socks. It needs faster reforms to transform itself into a threat-based, intelligence-driven organization.

In the 26/11 terror assault on Mumbai, Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley was left free by FBI.  The report noted that Headley had previously come to the attention of US law enforcement authorities but FBI officials repeatedly concluded that Headley did not pose a threat at the time.

In December 2007, Headley’s Moroccan wife accepted to US officials at the US embassy in Islamabad that her husband was a terrorist. But the FBI investigation did not start until 2009.

“One of the main lessons from the Headley case is that absent an intelligence effort across the US Intelligence Community to understand the connections among cases and complaints across field offices, relevant intelligence may fall by the wayside,” report said.

Headley had previously worked as a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informant in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, following two heroin trafficking arrests.

“The Headley case raises the important question faced by all intelligence agencies – certainly important to the FBI – of how to scan and assess voluminous amounts of collected information strategically and identifying valuable intelligence leads,” the report said.

“Still, more than a decade after 9/11, the FBI must prioritize empowering and equipping its analytic cadre to make these connections with cutting edge technology, to minimize the risk of the FBI missing important intelligence information,” it said.

In the Headley case, it was the effort of an analyst who was able to connect him to an ongoing plot in Denmark. The report noted, “he conducted his activities with all the skills of a trained intelligence operative-able to travel to and from the United States, Pakistan, and India with relative ease and eluding authorities.”

The FBI had no information on Headley’s connections to Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT) until they were provided with clue later in 2009. In Chicago, National Security Letters helped the FBI track David Headley and better understand his involvement in the Copenhagen plot directed by Ilyas Kashmiri, Al Qaeda’s chief of external operations and the head of the Pakistani extremist organization, Harakat ul Jihad al Islami.

 

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