HOW MUCH did the DEA know about the Mumbai conspiracy? According to sources, an FBI officer who had been seconded to the Special Operations Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration was reviewing the case notes after a Headley mission where he had been wired up with recording equipment.
Inadvertently perhaps, Headley also recorded conversations between himself and LeT members and Pakistani military officers.
Conversations on a fidayeen assault on Mumbai were recorded and the Taj Hotel was specifically mentioned, as well as the sea landing. So the FBI man alerted his own agency.
This was the basis of the September 2008 warning that the US gave to India.
Reportedly, the Indian side failed to gauge the import of the warning.
Headley was drawn deeper into the LeT operations and made a trip to North Waziristan, the heart of the al Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban territory.
Colonel Syed put him in touch with al Qaeda members for the conspiracy to attack Jyllands Posten , the Danish paper, by Ilyas Kashmiri.
It was only in February 2009, more than two months after the Mumbai attacks, that the FBI began to contemplate arresting Headley. In May, he made another trip to North Waziristan and was told that the al Qaeda bosses had agreed to proceed on an attack in Denmark.
Given the fact that six Americans died in the attacks, there should be questions raised about the DEA’s actions. However, as of now, everything has been suppressed.
But there is a great deal that Headley could have told the Indian officials.
Even today, all aspects of the Mumbai case are not clear. We do not know whether there were other helpers who assisted the terrorists to move around with such ease, or the identities of those that planned the attack.