Currently in Morocco, David Headley’s estranged wife Faiza Outalha accompanied him as he surveyed targets for the 26/11 attacks. She even visited Pakistan after her India visit. Vicky Nanjappa reports
A year ago, a high-level operation was being planned by Indian agencies to establish contact with Faiza Outalha, the estranged wife of David Headley, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative sentenced for his role in 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. A letter was shot off to the Moroccan government seeking permission to question her in connection with Headley’s role in the strike. Towards the end of 2012, the mission dubbed ‘Operation Morocco’ was aborted, said insiders.
Today there are several questions that are being raised about Outalha, who visited India with Headley as he surveyed targets for the attacks. Once dubbed as a ‘crazy’ woman by the American embassy, she had tried complaining about Headley but was never taken seriously.
Intelligence Bureau sources said that the Americans knew all along what Headley was up to. They were entering a plea bargain deal with him so that only the required amount of information was revealed. What was more embarrassing for the US was that Headley was an agent who turned rogue.
The National Investigation Agency is still trying to gain access to Outalha, who is in Morocco. “There is no official communication from Morocco, but we are on the case,” NIA officials said. At the moment, it appears that they make get access to her, said sources.
“The Outalha case is strange. She accompanied Headley throughout his India trip. The case against him in the US is also connected to the Mumbai attacks, but strangely she was never a part of the trial. She ought to have been the star witness in the case,” an officer pointed out.
A dossier on Outalha prepared by Indian agencies pointed out that she stayed back in India even after Headley left and then visited Pakistan. She was in awe of 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed and complained to him about Headley’s unruly behaviour.
Indian investigators cannot explain why she was left out of the US trial, but according to them she is an unsteady witness and can’t be trusted. They suspect that she was intentionally kept away owing to pressure on the US from Pakistan.
The US and Outalha have no plea bargain deal so there no stopping Indian investigators from questioning her or bringing her down as one of the witness to the 26/11 trial. Why then was Operation Morocco aborted abruptly?
Indian agencies deny suspending the operation; they insist it’s still on. Also, investigators would like to establish a contact with Outalha and avoid interference by the media.