Secret agent man? Terror suspect and the CIA

December 17, 2009 4:23:34 PM PST
CIA officials deny a Chicago terror suspect was working for them as a double agent.David Coleman Headley is one of two men now held in Chicago on overseas terrorism charges.

There has been a storm of news stories in India and Pakistan the past few days suggesting that David Headley was a secret agent for the CIA at the same time he was working as a radical Islamic terrorist.

Considering that Headley is now charged in Chicago with scouting targets for last year's Mumbai massacre, the stories have whipped up the winds of anti-Americanism in India.

At CIA headquarters, Langley Virginia comes a rare and blunt rebuttal to the Headley secret agent stories.

Agency spokesperson Marie Harf told India's largest press agency, "I can't comment on an ongoing investigation, but any suggestion that this individual worked for the CIA is flat wrong."

Since Headley, a Pakistani-American was arrested in Chicago by the FBI on October 3, there have been numerous reports that he was a double agent working for the CIA as well as Pakistani terror groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba which carried out the Mumbai terrorist attack more than a year ago.

Regardless of the CIA denial issued in Washington, Indian authorities are still said to be investigating whether Mr. Headley was working with U.S. intelligence prior to the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai that left 175 people dead and a city in chaos.

As the ABC7 I-Team reported in early December, Headley was convicted in New York of trafficking heroin from Pakistan and sentenced to prison in 1998. He did provide some information to the U.S. drug enforcement.

Underlying the reports that Headley worked in a broader foreign intelligence-gathering role is the fact that Washington will not allow Indian authorities to interrogate Headley over the Mumbai attacks.

Also, Headley's co-defendant Tahawwur Rana have had their visas canceled by the Indian government along with Rana's wife and his business partner, according to the Indian press agency.

As the ABC7 I-Team reported in early December, Headley allegedly scouted terrorist targets while traveling on a five-year multi-entry business visa. It was issued to him under mysterious circumstances in July 2007 and Indian officials in Chicago refused to discuss the matter.

Complicating matters for the Indian consulate in Chicago: their own government began investigating how visa records for the two accused terrorists vanished.

On Thursday in New Delhi, the Indian foreign minister reported that Chicago visa records have been found for one of them but not the other. They apparently have located Headley's but not Rana's. Whether or not they find his, the Indian government has ordered a complete investigation.


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