WikiLeaks: Indian Home Minister Told FBI That Terrorist Sleeper Cells Waiting To Strike In India
Friday, 26 February 2010, 06:33
In a meeting early in 2010, FBI director Robert Mueller and P Chidambaram, Indian Home Minister, discussed the case of David Headley, a Pakistani-American in US custody involved in the 2008 Mumbai bombings. Chidambaram said he suspected Headley had not acted alone. Mueller said Headley was giving the US "the best information for months" on Pakistan-based terrorist groups. Key passages highlighted in yellow.
1. (S) Summary: In a February 23 meeting, FBI Director Robert Mueller told Indian Home Affairs Minister P. Chidambaram that the USG would continue to cooperate with the GOI in providing information on the David Headley case and other cases involving terrorism directed at India. Chidambaram requested direct access to Headley, even if such access produces no information, as well as access to Headley's spouse, who he said was in Chicago. Chidambaram asked whether a GOI official could monitor Headley's interrogation and submit questions "in real time." Chidambaram said he had "a feeling in my bones that Headley was not acting here alone," but conceded that he had no evidence to support his supposition that Headley formed sleeper cells in India, one of which may have been involved in the February 13 Pune bombing. Mueller assented to Chidambaram's request for expedited FBI lab assistance regarding forensic cyber and voice recognition analysis. Chidambaram complained that Pakistan had "done damn near nothing" to prosecute Mumbai terror suspects, and Mueller said he would press the Pakistanis to take action during an upcoming visit to Islamabad. End Summary.
2. (S) Director Mueller opened the 20-minute meeting by expressing satisfaction over increasingly close bilateral cooperation. Characterizing the information produced by interrogations of David Headley as among the most important intelligence the USG has gleaned in the past 6 - 8 months, the Director assured Chidambaram that we would continue to pass such information in a timely manner to India. Noting that the process of Headley's proffer of evidence is nearing a critical stage, Mueller observed that Headley has expressed hatred toward India and may "clam up" if his guilty plea is tied in any way to cooperation with the GOI.
3. (S) After thanking Mueller for the "outstanding cooperation" displayed by the USG, Chidambaram stated that he understood from his discussions with Attorney General Holder that the GOI cannot use any information provided by the USG at this time in Indian prosecutions. He noted, however, that GOI investigators had developed information on their own through examination of Headley's computer and emails. Chidambaram insisted that the GOI have access to Headley: "we must be able to say we had access, even if Headley did not speak." He also requested access to Headley's spouse, Shaiza, who he said is in Chicago so GOI investigators can question her on the meaning of her alleged message to Headley that she "saw your graduation." Director Mueller said he would look into both requests. In reply to Chidambaram's observation that the "worst outcome would be a light sentence of 2 or 3 years for Headley," Mueller stated that Headley is looking at a considerably longer sentence.
4. (S) Chidambaram informed Mueller that the GOI would soon send a number of Letters Rogatory to the USG in relation to the Headley case, and Mueller responded that we would welcome such documents. Returning to the issue of access to Headley, Chidambaram asked whether GOI personnel could monitor and pass questions "in real time" to USG personnel conducting Headley's interrogation. Mueller replied that he would look into this possibility. Chidambaram again thanked the USG for providing information and assistance, but asked whether GOI requests could be handled more promptly. The Home Minister asked for increased cooperation in three areas: 1) cybser security; 2) forensic cooperation; and 3) some financial initiatives and cooperation.
5. (S) Chidambaram confided that "I have a feeling in my bones that Headley was not acting alone" in India and expressed frustration over what he characterized as Headley's false claim that he had no accomplices in India. The Home Affairs Minister conceded he had no evidence to support his working hypothesis that Headley formed sleeper cells in India, one of which may have perpetrated the February 13 Pune bombing. He noted that the GOI would not file formal charges against Headley until the trial of Mumbai defendant Mir Kasab is finished for fear that Kasab would use the Headley charges as a way to delay conclusion of his own trial. Chidambaram complained that Pakistan had "done damn near nothing" to prosecute Mumbai-related terror suspects, but added that the GOI would present a list of terror suspects to Pakistani officials when the two sides meet for talks in New Delhi on February 25. Mueller said he was traveling to Pakistan and would press the Pakistanis for increased cooperation. ROEMER