In India, Obama downplays Chicago ties to terror

November 8, 2010 4:25:45 PM PST
During his three-day state visit to India, President Barack Obama and India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, found it necessary to discuss the criminal case against a man currently held in Chicago.

David Headley, also known as Daood Gilani, is from the North Side. Currently locked up at the MCC-Chicago, Headley has pleaded guilty to helping plot the terror attack on Mumbai, India in which 168 people were left dead two years ago this month.

Headley had been working for Pakistani terrorists, and in a private meeting Monday with India's prime minister, Obama found himself having to explain what the U.S. government knew and when.

Behind the pageantry and beyond the public diplomacy, the president had to explain how Headley was working as an American informant at the same time he was scouting attack sites for the Mumbai massacre.

Obama talked tough on terror during a speech to the Indian parliament, but he never mentioned Headley by name. He didn't have to.

The story has been given blanket coverage for months in India and Headley's name is as well known to locals as Jack the Ripper - especially since new reports by Pro-Publica investigators have shown that U.S. intelligence agencies failed to act on at least five instances of warnings since 2001 by Headley's two wives and other sources who had provided tip off about his training with Pakistani terrorists for a special mission against India, the report said.

During his visit, President Obama tried to massage Indian concerns on Headley, sharing with Singh details of the ongoing probe into why U.S. intelligence agencies failed to connect the dots and alert authorities before the Mumbai attack.

Deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes said Monday that the United States had "pieces of information that came in about David Headley." He said Obama told India's prime minister that authorities didn't have enough specific information about Headley's activities to warn against an attack on a certain date.


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