David Headley is a Pakistan origin American—American mother and Pakistani father. His US passport and American credentials gave him instant and suspicion free access to India and his Pakistan origin credentials made him welcome in Pakistan. The US was quick to identify him as a Grade A material for undercover drug enforcement (DEA ) work in Pakistan and consequently he was recruited, his past ignored and for a decade he was a US DEA agent in Pakistan. Just like the US, Headley was quick to understand his potential for those who wanted access to India and he was taken up by militant organizations to reconnoiter and plan terrorist activities. Thus began the saga of double agent David Headley alias Daud Gilani.
Headley was arrested on October 3, 2009 from Chicago and as part of a plea bargain has pleaded guilty to 12 charges of terrorism and that includes the Mumbai attacks--- now known as 26/11 to give it the stature of 9/11. He will thus evade the death sentence and most likely will get life imprisonment and at age 49 that may lead to a parole under the US legal system. Though the US informed India of Headley’s arrest there is suspicion in India that the US arrested him to forestall Indian action against Headley. The US has not refused to share information with India nor have they decided finally on not extraditing him to India but Indians are blaming the US for with holding information, for not warning them about 26/11 and generally ignoring Headley’s anti Indian activity and for dragging their feet on extradition. It is unlikely that the US will compromise on its interests to please India. Headley may know too much and in any case there will be details in the plea bargain that are not fully known.
India’s single point agenda is to home in on Headley’s connections with Muslim militant organizations. This agenda has dominated the Mumbai investigation and has led to complications with Pakistan. Pakistan takes a wider view of terrorism and its experience of counter terrorism takes it into all possibilities---including India’s domestic terrorism environment with Hindu terrorists at the core.
Lt Col Srikant Prasad Purohit was arrested for complicity in the Malegaon blasts and his arrest opened up the whole can of worms. Other names have surfaced—Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Major Ramesh Upadhay, Sameer Kulkarni and outfits like the Vishva Hindu Parishad, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the Durga Vahini, the Abhinav Bharat, the Bajrang Dal, Parbhani Jalam and the Bhonsala Military School to name a few. There are many others and they make Muslim Madressahs ( the object of Indian venom ) pale into insignificance.
It is now known that crazed fanatic Hindu terrorist groups were behind the July 06 Malegaon blasts and the Delhi Jamia Masjid blasts in 2006, the Hyderabad blasts in 2007 and the Malegaon and Modessa Blasts in 2008---all against Muslim targets. The most sinister aspect of Hindu terror is the detailed planning to shift blame on Muslim groups like the SIMI that are fighting against oppression and discrimination. Beards, Muslim clothes and other artifacts meant to incriminate Muslims have been found during investigations into Bajrang Dal in April 2006 and the Vishva Hindu Parishad in August 2008. Even more sinister and potentially explosive is the emerging link between militant Hindu organizations and the Hindu dominated Indian Army---this has been conclusively proved by the arrest of Indian Army officers, the discovery of the Army’s RDX explosive in terrorist hands and the link to the Samjhota Express burning of Muslims. The general impression is that the arrests and investigations so far have only uncovered the tip of the iceberg---much remains hidden and simmering because of connections between Hindu militant organizations and politicians, law enforcing agencies and intelligence outfits as was evident in the shooting death of the top investigator into Hindu terror during the Mumbai standoff. Hindu militancy is against any peace overtures to Pakistan that has ominous overtones for the region.
The Hedley conundrum needs to be seen in a wider perspective of the Indian mindset against Muslims and their efforts to shift all blame on Pakistan—this being the easiest way to cover up the boiling pot in India. In the interest of the region and indeed the world India and Pakistan need to get down to talks that focus on the common threat that they both face.