Establishments that believe in creating excuses...
Why are we like this?
Why are we like this? I have no comment to make. I
think this is a matrix where narrow self-interest from the West meets dogfighting
in the subcontinent. And that is what
You have tried to understand Headley’s
psyche. Can you tell me what his under-
standing of India is?
It is so conflicted. I think we wrote this
in the book really clearly that he loves
Mumbai. He thinks it is a really rambunctious city of enormous energy. A city of
enormous wealth, a city of enormous color.
A city with a large Muslim population. He
loved the city’s traditions.
And he understood all of that. He liked
the political hucksters, he understood the
evolution of the Shiv Sena ideology. The
evolution of Muslim gangsters. And you
see all this in the way he wrote about the
city, in the way the relationships that he
His love of the Taj Mahal hotel is recorded. He hung out at the Taj all the time.
And a lot of that time he wasn’t working in
the hotel. He hung out at the Taj because
he liked the Harbour Bar. He liked the Sea
Lounge. He liked to be seen sipping champagne with his rich friends, living the high
life in Mumbai. Figure that out.
You got this split, whereby on one hand
he loves the city, but he hates the country;
what the country stands for. On one hand
he loves the people. But he can justify his
hatred of certain people, some Hindu people, some Jewish people, some American
people. You know he is not really a political
When you call him a psychopath, what do
Well in a sense that ultimately he cares
about himself. The deal with Headley is
Headley. The deal with Daood Gilani is Daood. He has
always sacrificed all the people around him.
His mother, as you know, was Caucasian. She was from
Maryland and from a remarkable family, an adventuress.
And she got together with his father, who was a very
famous, wonderful Lahori broadcaster. Syed Gilani was a
And they got together during the 1950s and their son,
the product of this mixed marriage, was born in 1960 as a
cross fertilization between a liberal intellectual from
America and liberal intellectual from Lahore.
David, according to his mother, was suffering from lack
of self. He was divided between two communities so
much that he almost couldn’t find himself.
Was he the Pakistan boy? He went to the military academy in his teenage years.
Was he the all-American kid who lived on the Upper
Westside in New York and opened a video store and dealt
Which one of these conflicted identities was his?
And in the midst of the fight between Pakistani Daood
and American David, he got lost.
Because when you or I, if we have a sense of self, we
have the morality, social conscience, friendships, we don’t
sacrifice our friends, family. Where are those things? They
have all gone. They have all been stripped away.
The friends, he turns over, he sacrifices them. Rana he
betrays. He was his best friend from school. All of his
criminal associates he betrays. The Lashkar-e-Tayiba, he
You said America gave so much information to India and
other countries like France about a possible terror attack.
Why would Headley give such important information
about the terror operation in Mumbai to the Americans in
first place? He was not forced to do that. He could have
given any other fake or real information.
I think he also had a bigger plan. He is always trying to
play people off against each other because Headley
believes he is cleverer. Headley is a survivor.
If you talk to DEA agents who interrogated Headley and
who worked with him and if you talk to the people within
the intelligence community who interrogated him, they
found he was amazingly charming, amazingly convincing.
If you see Headley in action on any of the tapes, when
eventually he was interrogated by the FBI in 2009 and
2010 after the Mumbai attacks — there are 80 hours of
footage — he is the most remarkable communicator. He
puts everyone at ease in the room.
When you say remarkable, what do you mean?
He is very convincing. He is a human being who under-
The center point of your story, your book,
stands the weaknesses of other human
beings. He understands the need of people
to be loved and liked. He is a salesman. He
goes into these situations and he knows
everyone has a weakness.
Well, no. I think, actually, he is the evolution of the plot. What comes out of this
is the conflicts of interest of America.
On the broader scale, the backdrop is the
conflicts of interest. But actually you know
it is the people who drive this story.
Tell us about the Karachi plot. How did
the actual training of the terrorists hap-
pen? How did the Lashkar move ahead
with this terror plan?
The plan didn’t actually move to Karachi
till a later date. The really interesting thing
is that they themselves couldn’t work out
how to get the plan going.
They began with a core group of 32 men
and those men trained very hard, they
were religiously indoctrinated... that is not
really a fair word...
The Le T, you know, is quite principled —
Who was the head?
to them the religious dogma is very impor-
tant. It will not take anyone willy-nilly like
The Le T has a bit of a secular view. So all
of these people went through complex
It was run by two, three people who were
effectively involved — there is a military
coordinator, who is called Qahafa, it is a very strange nom
Then the second in command for foreign operations is
Sajid Mir, which is his real name.
The third man involved is a military trainer who was
primarily the Le T commander in Kashmir, in the valley
for many years, who was brought out specifically for this
And those three were put in charge. And they got
through their religious indoctrination, which is very
detailed. And they do that in Muridke, the Le T headquarters outside Lahore. And they are put through a whole
series of experiences that none of them have had.
The philosophy of religion, it is quite challenging. It is
not simply — as people portray in movies — like rote
learning. They go through some very deep debates.
Like Ajmal Kasab (the terrorist who was captured
alive and later hung)?
Yes, like Kasab. He had to confront for the first time a
school of thinking. It is not just about reach for the gun;
he had to actually listen to a process of thinking that he
hadn’t heard before.
They (the killers) meet a community within the Le T
because what the Le T does is to remove the need for
everything outside the Le T. So if you were from a fractured family and you get swept into the organization, they
slowly chip away at the bonds so that your family is the
I tell you how this works with the group of 32. Many in
that group grew scared when it became clear that a plot
‘THEY KNEW HOW A MUMBAI POLICE
‘AMERICA CONCEALED ITS KNOWLEDGE, ITS TRUE
CONTROL ROOM WORKED, THEY KNEW
HOW THE GPS SYSTEM WORKS IN MUMBAI
CARS. IN KARACHI, THEY BUILT A MODEL
OF THE TAJ HOTEL USING BLUEPRINTS
SO THEY HAD A KIND OF A SCHEMATIC
OF THE TAJ.’
KNOWLEDGE OF THE GROWING RISK ON MUMBAI’
Policemen inspect a car at Girgaum Chowpatty after
shooting dead a terrorist and capturing another alive,
November 26, 2008.