David Headley’s wife, associate ‘refuse’ to answer NIA questions

New Delhi: The US-based wife of American-born Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Headley, one of the main conspirators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, and his business partner have “refused” to answer questions posed by NIA, citing a privacy clause.

The agency had approached Shazia, Headley’s wife, and Raymond Sanders, his busines partner, through the US Department of Justice, for helping it get answers to some of the questions related to the 55-year-old terrorist, undergoing a prison term of 35 years in an American jail, for his role in plotting the terror strikes in Mumbai and Denmark.

Official sources said both of them “refused” to answer any questions, citing a “privacy” clause. As per the US law, since neither of them is an accused in the case, they can accept or deny requests for examination by a foreign law enforcement agency.

The investigators had approached them as they feel Headley had stonewalled information about his family and that they had knowledge of his activities in India and his links with the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba.

According to the 106-page dossier of the NIA, Headley had told the Indian investigators that they should not ask him any questions pertaining to his immediate family. The dossier was prepared after the detailed questioning of Headley in the US in 2010.

“I got married to Shazia Gilani in Pakistan in the year 1999…I do not want to discuss the details of my in-law’s family as they have nothing to do with my activities…,” Headley is quoted as having said in the dossier.

Further stonewalling information about his immediate family, especially his first wife, Headley told the NIA team that “my request would be not to ask questions relating to my immediate family members.” According to the Chicago court records, Shazia watched on TV the terror strikes unfold in Mumbai and used code words like “I am watching cartoons” to describe the 26/11 strikes.

“I’ve been watching these cartoons (attacks) all day and I am proud of you,” Shazia wrote in an email to Headley during the strikes. In her congratulatory message, she also said how proud she was at his graduation (success of attacks). This was stated by Headley on May 27, 2011, the fourth day of the trial of co-accused Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana.

He told Defence Attorney Patrick W Belgan that after the Mumbai attacks began many people congratulated him, besides Shazia, who was even aware of his plans for Denmark attacks and had booked plane tickets for him from Denmark to Frankfurt to Dubai and Pakistan.