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David Headley among 'top five' targets arrested by US

February 16, 2013 11:40 IST

United States President Barack Obama's top counter terrorism adviser has listed David Headley, the 26/11 terror attack convict, among the high-value targets arrested by the US in the last four years.
 
Headley is listed on top of the five high-value targets arrested by the US in the last four years, which has been submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee by John Brennan, counter-terrorism adviser to the US President and his nominee to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
 
In January this year, a Chicago court had sentenced Headley to 35 years of imprisonment for his "unquestionable role" in the Mumbai terrorist attack, which claimed 166 lives, including that of six US nationals.
 
"Over the last four years, the American criminal justice system has been used to arrest, detain, interrogate, and prosecute numerous suspected terrorists. Since January 2009, dozens of individuals have been arrested, detained, interrogated, and convicted of
terrorism-related offences in federal court," Brennan said in a written submission of answers to questions asked by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of his confirmation process, the hearing for which was held last week.
 
"Individuals arrested in the United States include David Headley, Mansoor Arbabsiar, Najibullah Zazi, Faisal Shahzad, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Individuals initially taken into US custody overseas include Ahmed Ghailani, Jesse Curtis Morton, Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, and Betim Kaziu, and subsequently brought to the United States for interrogation and prosecution," he wrote in his answers, the unclassified portion of which was released on Friday by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
 
Brennan justified the decision of the Obama administration to kill US nationals if he was a member of Al Qaeda and is considered a threat to US national security.
 
"An operation using lethal force in a foreign country outside an area of active hostilities, targeted against a US citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful," Brennan argued.
 
Such an action will be taken, he said, only after the US government has determined, first after a thorough and careful review that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against US persons; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation is conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.
 
Brennan said terrorists, such as those from the Al Qaeda, do not wear uniforms or carry arms openly or signal that they are about to strike by, for example, massing at the border of the nation they plan to attack.
 
Rather, they take extraordinary measures to hide their plans to strike and cause significant casualties with little warning.
 
"In light of this, and given the government's responsibility to protect the nation and its citizens from attack, direct action must be taken when it is necessary to do so to protect against actual ongoing threats -- to stop plots, prevent future attacks, and save American lives," he added.

Lalit K Jha
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