Didn't have specific info on Headley: US
The United States has admitted that two of the three wives of Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist David Headley had multiple conversations with its officials in 2007 and 2008 about his radical connection, but they could not provide any specific information about the time and place of the terror attacks.
"In the contacts that we had with his spouses, there was no specific information as to who he was associated with or what they were planning to do," State Department spokesman P J Crowley told reporters at his daily news conference.
Crowley's remarks came after Indian officials in New Delhi asked why Headley's name was not shared by the US with India.
Image: David Headley
'We followed up on the information'
"We want to ask a simple question -- did they share the name? If not, why did they not share the name," an Indian official said, adding such a step could have resulted in his arrest.
Headley, who was arrested in Chicago by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in October last year, has admitted his involvement in Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 which claimed 166 lives. Crowley said his response was based in the context of two meetings that the State Department officials had with one of Headley's spouses in late 2007 and early 2008.
"She did provide us some information. We followed up on that information and provided it to relevant agencies across the US government," he said.
Image: Ajmal Kasab and Abu Ismail leave CST after their murderous rampage
'We have cooperated with India'
Responding to reporters' questions, Crowley insisted that the US authorities followed up with the information provided by Headley's wives. "Did we follow up? The answer is yes. Did we share information with our security partners, including India, you know, prior to the Mumbai attacks? The answer is yes," he insisted.
"We have cooperated with India, you know, since then. You know, I think (US) Ambassador (to India, Tim) Roemer, put out an extensive statement in Delhi over the weekend that highlighted both our cooperation with India, prior to and after," he said.
"Needless to say, I will just say that going back over some of the information they provided to us, there was concern expressed by both spouses; at the same time, the information was not specific. I think everyone should understand that, if we did have specific information on this, we would have absolutely provided it to the Indian government, you know, beforehand," he said.
"The fact is that while we had information and concerns, it did not detail a time or a place of the attack," Crowley said.
Image: The shoes of a killed terrorist and a spent bullet at a 26/11 attack site
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant/Rediff.com
'Security is an area of significant dialogue'
The State Department spokesman said the cooperation with India after the Mumbai terror attack has increased tremendously. "We have an extensive dialogue with India. As we build a strategic partnership with India and security is one of those areas, our cooperation with India has expanded," Crowley said.
"We continue to cooperate extensively with Indian officials. We were doing so prior to the Mumbai attacks. We have done so since the Mumbai attacks. Security is an area of significant dialogue between our law-enforcement and intelligence agencies and those of the Indian government," he said.
"We will continue to cooperate with India on the security front, even as we expand our dialogue and our cooperation with India on many, many fronts. And obviously, this will be part of the President's (Barack Obama) visit to India in October," Crowley said.
Image: A paramilitary trooper keeps watch during the 26/11 attacks
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
'We took what the wives told us seriously'
Meanwhile, a senior US official said, "We took what the wives told us seriously, we passed on the information, we followed up with the information, but all I can say that in both cases the information they provided wherein they expressed their concern was non specific."
The official refuted reports that relevant information was not shared with India with regard to terrorist attacks within the country.
"We shared information with India regularly both before the Mumbai attacks and co-operate the investigation since the Mumbai attack. I am not going to characterise the nature of the information that was shared with India," the official said, adding "on both sides we are satisfied with the level of co-operation on this issue."
Image: Smoke billows from the Taj Mahal hotel during the 26/11 terror attack
Photographs: Rediff Archives