Reliability of Headley and the Indian position

Photo-The Hindu

The turn around which Indian investigating agencies were expecting in the Tawwahur Rana case finally happened with David Headley testifying that the top leadership of the ISI had nothing to do with the 26/11 attack.

Indian agencies who would be visiting the US during July to interrogate Rana say that they did expect Headley’s testimony to be full of twists and turns. While interrogating Headley we did realize that he was a smart operative and was capable to changing versions. However during his interrogation with both the FBI and the NIA, his versions did remain intact. The NIA will stick to what he has told them during their interrogation and the chargesheet would be filed on that basis. However the final chargesheet would corroborate the statements of both Headley and Rana following which the versions would be matched, NIA sources also said.

Headley’s testimony and versions were always suspect and anyone who thought that he was speaking the whole truth and not trying to save his own skin is a fool. Indian intelligence sources say that it is next to impossible to believe that only a part of the ISI was in the know of the 26/11 attack. The ISI has been a very strong element till date only because of the manner in which they perfectly follow the hierarchy. There have been no defectors from the ISI till date and nothing at all against the top leadership within the ISI is even remotely possible. If  a considerable small person like Sabahuddin claims that he had met with Asfhaq Kiyani, then it is highly unlikely that likes of David Headley and Rana would have been oblivious to the top leadership.

Coming back to Headley, Indian agencies say that they do expect Rana to retort since he must be feeling let down. Rana and Headley who knew each other from childhood are now sort of at logger heads in theChicagocourt. Hence today it becomes even more interesting to see what Rana would have to say against Headley in court.

Indian agencies share the view point of the defence attornerys in thChicagotrial. They had said that Headley’s version is unreliable and he had implicated Rana in the plot with a view of making a deal with the prosecutors. Moreover Headley right from the start was keen on playing safe and immediately entered into a plea bargain with the US authorities. He would do anything to get a better deal from the prosecution now and is capable of spinning a lot of stories in the court. Rana’ attorney, Charles Swift too was forced to mention to the press that Headley hides the truth from everyone and he is like a spider who maneuvers everything in the web so it works out his way.

Indian agencies say that the turn around against Rana was an expected one. The moment he entered into a plea bargain, he donned the role of a government witness. The evidence by such persons is always considered tainted and hence the final call would be upon the judge whether to believe this evidence or not. After examination of the confession and cross examination will the judge take into account the statements. Moreover judges all over the world are more cautious while passing orders on the statements made by approvers.

India however would have to worry too much about these flip flops, sources say. Indian agencies would go strictly by his confession. In Indian terminology Headley would be termed as an approver.Indiacould also exercise a similar option with Headley and also Rana when they commence their case here. While their statements would have to be examined during the trial, it still would makeIndia’s case much easier considering the fact that it is hard to extradite these two men, especially Headley who has entered into a plea bargain.

While the David Headley case appears to an open and shut one for the Indian agencies, the issue would however be the testimony against the ISI. ForIndia, the ISI link to the 26/11 case is an extremely important one and they did have a lot of expectations from these testimonies. At first it appeared as though Headley would nail the top brass of the ISI, but today there clearly is a diversion. We would need to wait for Rana’s testimony and see whether he sticks to his statements. It is not as though we are putting all our eggs into one basket and basing our case entirely on what happens inChicago. We have our independent investigation to show that even the top brass of the ISI was in the know of this attack, sources also pointed out. However we cannot jump the gun on any of the issues since the trial is still on and we have no choice but to wait for that to conclude before we make our move.



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