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Coffee with David Headley

Malcolm Gladwell says in the book “What the Dog Saw” that the then US National Security Expert Gregory Treverton had famously made a distinction between puzzles and mysteries. Osama bin Laden’s details  are a puzzle he had stated. The US is not able to find him because of  lack of enough information. The key to the puzzle will in all probability come from someone close to bin Laden, and until that source is found, bin laden will remain at large.

The CIA must have felt ecstatic when they latched on to a man called David Headley.

David Headley (Daood Saleem Gilani) born in Washington D.C on June 30th, 1960 was a weird mix of Eastern and Western cultures and made for a near-perfect agent. His mother was Serrill Headley, a socialite from Maryland, and his father was Syed Gilani, a radio broadcaster and diplomat from Lahore.

After his birth in the US, the family had relocated to Pakistan, where Headley was brought up as a Muslim and schooled at an exclusive military academy.

Then his parents divorced and his mother returned to the US to open a bar in Philadelphia, and he rejoined her 17 years later.

He made the most of his dual identities to smuggle half a kilogram of heroin from Pakistan’s tribal areas to New York, selling it through his small video store.

German customs officers caught him four years later at Frankfurt Airport, when Headley was on his way to Philadelphia, with about two kilograms of heroin. He simply informed on his co-conspirators to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and tried saving his skin.

While, his co-accomplices were jailed for between eight and ten years, he very intelligently maneuvered his way to become a paid DEA informer.

He then worked for the DEA and cleverly infiltrated Pakistan’s drug syndicates.

And finally he offered a deal, suggesting he infiltrate Islamist radicals, which was absolutely difficult for the  CIA to refuse.

Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, investigative journalists  authors of “The Siege” now complete the entire picture.

They say Headley was indeed a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) agent,  who scouted targets for the 26/11 terror attack. But the authors say that he was “never anyone’s client” and his game plan was only to “save himself by sacrificing others”.

“Headley is complex and knowing. According to his own mother, an adventuress from Maryland, David was a person whose selfishness was derived from his lack of sense of self,”

“He went to Pakistan to be with his father yet he yearned to be  with his mother,  and soon joined her in the US.”

He began buying drugs in Pakistan in the early 1980s and he did so by manipulating his best friend Rana, a school friend of his and who was then a doctor in the Pakistan army.

“Headley used Rana’s military credentials and truck, to get into the tribal territories of Pakistan on drug obtaining missions, hiding his illicit cache in the military vehicle without Rana’s knowledge.”

The drugs plan was busted in 1984,  and then he gave up the syndicate around him. This happened on two more occasions as well.

On each occasion he made a deal with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and hence by default with the US intelligence as well.

“In 1998 he got arrested for importing heroin. The US Embassies and Africa had been devastated by Al Qaeda which was announcing its arrival on the global terrorist stage.

Headley/Gilani made an irresistible offer to the CIA. The offer was  to penetrate the Islamist movements in Pakistan.

He got into Lashkar but not until 2006, and then slowly edged also towards Al Qaeda, and in particular Ilyas Kashmiri’s 313 Brigade in Waziristan.

This was clearly known to the US Intelligence Agencies that were monitoring his email and phones. They had known all along that a US passport holder was closer than anyone else to capturing  Osama bin Laden at a time when capturing him was their sole and  prime objective.

But the authors Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark maintain through out their investigative account that Headley was never any one organisation’s  client.

He simply betrayed everyone.

He betrayed the LeT, his three wives, who never got to know about each other and his friend and co-conspirator Rana.

Headley even confused the US intelligence and the ISI, the authors quip.

He was finally arrested at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago while on his way to Pakistan in October 2009.

Headley immediately went into bargain plea with the US authorities, under which he could not be extradited to a foreign nation.

A team from India consisting of India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) went to question and  interrogate Headley in his Chicago jail in 2010 to complete the mysteries surrounding the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

After his arrest and guilty plea, Headley cooperated with U.S. and Indian authorities and gave a lot of vital information about his associates.

Finally on the 24th of January, 2013,  a US Federal Court  sentenced David Coleman Headley to 35 years in prison for his role in the Mumbai attacks.


  1. “The Siege: The Attack on the Taj” ~by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, published by

Penguin. 2013.

  1.  “What the Dog Saw” ~by Malcolm Gladwell, published by Penguin. 2009.


As he switched on the car radio. On 98.3 FM, he heard a familiar line.

“And as she turns
This way she moves in the logic of all my dreams
This fire burns
I realize that nothing’s as it seems…”

He smiled and kept driving his car. This song had so much of meaning in his life. The lyrics were like the words he actually wanted to tell someone. Just that, he was not really that good in expressing himself in the way that he wanted to.

He accelerated his car and it sped on.

“Sweet desert rose
This memory of Eden haunts us all
This desert flower, this rare perfume
Is the sweet intoxication of the fall..”

He drove on.

An Ode to Solitude

meandering memories

drifting life

wait in the horizon

eloquence of silence

moments of loneliness

touch of  sublime

fleeting happiness

walk in solitude

moments in the room

all alone


An Idol-A Man called Charles Bukowski

An Idol-A Man called Charles Bukowski

One feels pensive and sad, sometimes. Like tonight, I have no reasons for feeling sad. But I am feeling a bit sad tonight.

While thinking about myriad things, I remember a man called Charles Bukowski.

Positive Energy

Positive Energy

I do believe we’re all connected. I do believe in positive energy. I do believe in the power of prayer. I do believe in putting good out into the world. And I believe in taking care of each other.
― Harvey Fierstein

The Fall of A Brave Journalist

When the rich and the people in power think that they can get away with misdemeanors, is exactly when we need to take a moral stand against them. Journalists are no exception to this creed. Today, instead of being the honest reporter, doing his/her job with an unblemished integrity, journalists have actually become the power brokering middle-men and women busy fixing deals. They clamor for a sybaritic existence that is far from the up-righteousness that their profession demands.

Tarun Tejpal, was a man I had a great respect for. He started his journalistic career in  the 80s, with the India Today magazine and later was greatly instrumental in founding the Outlook magazine.

He left Outlook magazine in March 2000, to start, an online independent news and views magazine which shook the whole of India with its sting investigations including the cricket and defense scams. He created a furor in not just the media world. Here was a man who could stand up for truth and honesty. A man with a spine. A man who would fight the high and the mighty and set things correct. A man to be admired and respected.

But alas not any more!

Tarun Tejpal made headlines today, but for all the wrong reasons. He has been accused by a colleague for sexually assaulting her between November 7 and 10 during Think 2013 in Goa.

The  girl complained about him to the managing editor of Tehelka, Shoma Chaudhary and she demanded a written apology from Tejpal and also that his apology be circulated among Tehelka staffers.

Tejpal apologised immediately and unconditionally in an email to his colleagues. The email went viral on the Internet. Numerous calls for legal action against him are now growing louder. The people everywhere are in no mood to forgive Tejpal.  The girl has not yet filed an official complaint but most say police and court can take suo motu notice of the content of the circulated email.

The police have emailed Tehelka’s managing editor Shoma Chaudhury, in the meantime. The Goa government has ordered an inquiry into the woman’s allegations that Mr Tejpal sexually assaulted her at a hotel where the Tehelka team was staying for an event the magazine organised earlier this month.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told NDTV, “We have ordered a preliminary inquiry, it doesn’t require any complaint. If the allegations are found to be true, the police will register a case. From what I see, the crime has taken place.”

In his mail with the subject line “Atonement”,  Tejpal said, “The last few days have been most testing, and I squarely take the blame for this. A bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all we believe in and fight for. I have already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further. I must do the penance that lacerates me. I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Tehelka, and from the Tehelka office, for the next six months.”

He has to get the punishment that he obviously deserves.  But what makes me sad is how a once brave man has fallen low. Now Tarun Tejpal will be remembered, but with the infamous, and with the rotten scums of the world!

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