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India will ask Obama for Headley's extradition

Last updated on: November 3, 2010 15:46 IST

India will ask Obama for Headley's extradition

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Is the home ministry's outburst against the US directed at obtaining David Headley's extradition? Vicky Najappa reports.

A week ago, tempers rose between sections of the governments in India and the United States over alleged revelations involving terror operative David Coleman Headley.

The United States claimed it had shared specific information with the Indians on Headley who had conducted reconnaissance of terror targets in Mumbai which enabled the Lashkar-e-Tayiba to carry out the 26/11 attacks.

But New Delhi retorted that the information shared by US agencies was general and not specific.

Home Secretary G K Pillai surprised many by his comment that had the US shared such information in time, the Indian authorities could have acted against Headley during his subsequent visits to the country.

Security experts wonder if this outburst against the US is planned to turn on the pressure on US President Barack Obama during his visit to India and seek Headley's extradition.


Image: Home Secretary G K Pillai

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While speaking to investigators involved with the Headley case, Rediff.com learnt that India will seek Headley's extradition again.

Although the Indian team has been clearly told by the US that extradition would not be possible in the wake of the plea bargain arrangement struck by Headley, the Indians refuse to give up.

"We know the chances are bleak, but as we continue to investigate the matter, we realise that the case would be a lot stronger if he were handed over to us," a source in the National Investigative Agency told Rediff.com

"We did question him (Headley in Chicago) and we have derived the maximum possible information from him."

"It is not like Headley has no more information on him," the source added, "but given the present situation and the plea bargain deal, that is all we could get out of him. We believe that if we have access to him with no interference, we can get much more out of him," he said.


Image: Smoke billows from the Taj Mahal hotel during the 26/11 attacks
Photographs: Reuters
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India will ask Obama for Headley's extradition

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Sources in the Intelligence Bureau point out that Indian agents only have information about Headley's activities related to the 26/11 attacks.

"We believe he has much more information," the IB source said. "He visited India after the attacks and shot pictures and videos of many more targets. We need to know what he has done with that material. We also need information about who he has shared that material with."

"We believe his reconnaissance has been precise in nature and could be used for future attacks against India," the IB source felt. "It is important for us to interrogate him again, without any interference."

Even if the Obama administration permits Headley's extradition, the American legal system will bar such an attempt, thanks to the plea agreement.


Image: Different images of David Coleman Headley

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According to these sources, the Indian side will make a strong case for Headley's extradition during Obama's visit.

"Even if additional interrogation and extradition is not possible, Indian agencies would at least request the US for additional information and also for video tapes of the interrogation to build up a stronger case," the sources added.

Indian interrogators believe Headley has still not revealed crucial information about terror cells operating in India.

"We are sure he has not carried out such a huge operation all by himself," one source said. "He has passed on crucial information from his last trip to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and extracting this information would help India prevent another horrific attack on Indian soil." the sources said.


Image: US President Barack Obama
Photographs: Reuters
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