[In testimony that prosecutors said offered a “rare look” inside a major terrorist plot, David C. Headley said he had trained with the Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba between 2002 and 2005 in preparation for scouting locations to attack in India. In 2006, Mr. Headley said, he met a member of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency who offered to provide financial support for that surveillance.]
|Bombay's Taj Hotel under terrorist attack:: Image > Computer Weekly|
CHICAGO — The government’s leading witness in a high-profile terrorism trial told jurors here Monday that the group behind the 2008 attack on Mumbai, India, had ties toPakistan’s intelligence service.
In testimony that prosecutors said offered a “rare look” inside a major terrorist plot, David C. Headley said he had trained with the Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba between 2002 and 2005 in preparation for scouting locations to attack in India. In 2006, Mr. Headley said, he met a member of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency who offered to provide financial support for that surveillance.
In testimony so painstaking that the judge and some jurors seemed to nod off at the mundane details of a plot that left 163 people dead, Mr. Headley described how he changed his name and used his American passport to portray himself alternately as a tourist or a businessman, concealing his Muslim faith and his Pakistani roots so he could travel easily across borders. He said he provided hours of video of potential targets in Mumbai to his handlers in both ISI and Lashkar.
“I understood these groups operated under the umbrella of the ISI,” he said, referring to Lashkar. “They coordinated with each other.”
In her opening statements, the federal prosecutor, Sarah Sweitzer, echoed that comment, saying that both Lashkar and Mr. Headley’s ISI contacts wanted him to “conduct surveillance on targets in India.”
Mr. Headley’s testimony comes at a time of deepening concerns about Pakistan’s links to Islamic militants, less than a month after the United States discovered Osama bin Laden hiding out in a prominent Pakistani garrison town. Ms. Sweitzer did not make clear on Monday whether the government believed the Mumbai attack was plotted at the highest levels of ISI, or had the support of only a handful of rogue agents.
Still, by presenting Mr. Headley as its lead witness, the government was at least tacitly supporting his story and asking jurors to convict a defendant based largely on his testimony.
The defendant is a Chicago businessman, Tahawwur Rana, who is accused of providing support for the Mumbai attacks. In court on Monday, Mr. Rana appeared in a drab olive sport coat and smiled dolefully at members of his family seated in the front row, as if trying to console them.
Prosecutors say Mr. Rana, who runs an immigration service here, allowed Mr. Headley to portray himself as an executive of the company and open an office in Mumbai as a cover for his terrorist activities.
Defense attorneys said that Mr. Rana had no idea Mr. Headley, a friend with whom he attended an elite Pakistani military academy, was plotting with terrorists and that he had been duped. One of Mr. Rana’s lawyers is Charles Swift, who successfully represented Bin Laden’s driver in the landmark Supreme Court case that struck down the military commissions President George W. Bush had established to try Guantánamo Bay detainees.
In his opening statement on Monday, Mr. Swift talked more about Mr. Headley, who pleaded guilty in an attempt to avoid the death penalty, than he did his own client, describing Mr. Headley’s history of deceit, including multiple marriages and working as an informer for the Drug Enforcement Administration while he was trafficking heroin into the country from Pakistan.
Mr. Swift said Mr. Headley was working as a D.E.A. informer when he started training with Lashkar, balancing his work for the militants, ISI and the D.E.A. the same way he balanced three wives.
“David Headley was living multiple lives,” Mr. Swift said. “And he was very good at it.”
Wearing a rumpled sweat suit and with his gray hair shaved close to his head, Mr. Headley appeared far from swashbuckling. He spoke so softly that the judge asked several times for him to keep his voice up. His answers often seemed more coached than spontaneous. And he became testy with prosecutors in a way that sometimes made it hard tell which side he was on.
Still, the case is likely to hinge on whether the jury believes his account.
On Tuesday, the defense is expected to begin its effort to poke holes in his credibility.
Calling Mr. Headley a “master manipulator,” Mr. Swift told the jury that this trial is not the first time the witness has pleaded guilty in order to avoid severe sentences. Court records show he previously pleaded guilty and testified against friends in two drug convictions more than a decade ago.
“I am convinced,” Mr. Swift told the jury, “that the lies and manipulations stop here.”
[This volume lacks the intimacy of the author’s two affecting memoirs about Zimbabwe (“Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa” and “When a Crocodile Eats the Sun”), and it sometimes assumes a little too much familiarity on the part of the lay reader with that country’s tragic history. But it remains a document that should be read by anyone interested in the sacrifices that people are willing to make for the sake of democracy — a timely document, indeed, given the democratic uprisings taking place this spring in northern Africa and the Middle East. Not only is “The Fear” a valuable work of testimony — filled with firsthand accounts of witnesses to the most horrific crimes — but it is also a haunting testament to those survivors’ courage and determination.]
An authoritarian government willing to use the most brutal means to hold on to power; a dictator whose thugs have murdered, tortured, imprisoned or intimidated tens of thousands of civilians; and individuals who have risked their lives simply to exercise their most fundamental rights — this is the state of affairs not only in Libya today, but also in Zimbabwe, which has suffered the ravages of more than 30 years under the autocratic rule of President Robert Mugabe.
In his chilling new book, “The Fear,” the journalist Peter Godwin gives readers an unsparing account of the horrors that Mr. Mugabe’s regime has inflicted on the people of Zimbabwe. During his three decades in office the country’s economy has tanked: agricultural production has plummeted, unemployment and food shortages have multiplied, inflation has soared, and much of the country’s middle class has fled. AIDS cases have exploded, and medicine and medical help are in increasingly short supply.
Hopes that Mr. Mugabe’s days as president might actually be numbered were dashed in the weeks leading up to a runoff election in June 2008, when supporters of the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change came under violent attack, and Mr. Tsvangirai announced his withdrawal as a presidential candidate, saying he could not ask people to come out to vote for him “when that vote would cost them their lives.”
A so-called power-sharing government has been in place since 2008, but Mr. Mugabe has remained firmly in control; more than a quarter of his opponents in Parliament have been arrested, according to the Movement for Democratic Change and human-rights lawyers. Despite rumors about his health, Mr. Mugabe declared last week that he intended to run for president this year at the age of 87, and political violence is reportedly already increasing.
In “The Fear” Mr. Godwin chronicles the savagery of Mr. Mugabe’s regime in harrowing detail. Some observers, he notes, call what has happened in Zimbabwe “politicide”: “As genocide is an attempt to wipe out an ethnic group, so politicide is the practice of wiping out an entire political movement.”
The murders carried out by the president’s supporters and riot police around the time of the 2008 election, Mr. Godwin says, were “accompanied by torture and rape on an industrial scale, committed on a catch-and-release basis”: “When those who survive, terribly injured, limp home, or are carried or pushed in wheelbarrows, or on the backs of pickup trucks, they act like human billboards, advertising the appalling consequences of opposition to the tyranny, bearing their gruesome political stigmata. And in their home communities, their return causes ripples of anxiety to spread.” The people have given this time of violence and suffering its own name, chidudu — meaning “the fear.”
In reporting this book Mr. Godwin traveled back to the country where he grew up, despite the dangers: “not only from Mugabe’s banning of Western journalists, but also because I was once declared an enemy of the state, accused of spying.” He uses his intimate knowledge of Zimbabwe to introduce readers to opposition leaders, church authorities, foreign diplomats and ordinary people who have ended up in hospitals or as refugees — beaten, mutilated, raped and terrorized, their houses burned to the ground.
This volume lacks the intimacy of the author’s two affecting memoirs about Zimbabwe (“Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa” and “When a Crocodile Eats the Sun”), and it sometimes assumes a little too much familiarity on the part of the lay reader with that country’s tragic history. But it remains a document that should be read by anyone interested in the sacrifices that people are willing to make for the sake of democracy — a timely document, indeed, given the democratic uprisings taking place this spring in northern Africa and the Middle East. Not only is “The Fear” a valuable work of testimony — filled with firsthand accounts of witnesses to the most horrific crimes — but it is also a haunting testament to those survivors’ courage and determination.
Among the ordinary citizens depicted in these pages is Tichanzii Gandanga, who worked for the Movement for Democratic Change. Mr. Godwin reports that Mr. Gandanga was kidnapped by thugs he believes were members of President Mugabe’s spying agency, lashed with whips made from tire rubber and kicked in the face. His tormentors then dragged him naked into the road and ran over his legs twice with their car.
Denias Dombo, a farmer who also worked as a district organizing secretary for the movement, Mr. Godwin writes, watched as Mugabe supporters burned down his house, and he was then assaulted with rocks, iron bars and heavy sticks. According to Mr. Godwin, one leg was broken, an arm was shattered and several ribs fractured. His means of making a living, his plow and cultivator, were stolen; his cattle killed. He was unable to find his wife and children.
Dadirai Chipiro, a former nursery school teacher and the wife of an electoral organizer for the Movement for Democratic Change, did not survive an attack by government agents. They hacked off her right hand and both her feet, Mr. Godwin says, dragged her back into her house and set it on fire with a gasoline bomb.
The litany of suffering in this book is devastating, and the accounts that Mr. Godwin has collected, as the saying goes in Zimbabwe, are “just the ears of the hippo.” There are many more stories and much more pain right below the surface. Thousands of people, he says, have simply gone missing: “Bodies are being found bobbing at the spillway of dams; other are discovered in the bush, dumped by their murderers, miles and miles from where they were abducted. In some particularly gruesome cases, the victims have been castrated, their testicles stuffed in their mouths, or their eyes gouged out. Many will never be found. Some 10,000 people have been tortured. Twenty thousand have had their houses burned down — up to 200,000 are now displaced.”
As for prison conditions in the country, Mr. Godwin contends, they are miserable — another index “by which to measure the depths of depravity of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.” A freelance saw miller named Shane Kidd, who was thrown in prison after renting a room to the Movement for Democratic Change to use as an office, recounts in these pages how policemen would spray freezing water and sometimes throw buckets of urine through the prison bars, dousing the prisoners and their thin blankets and leaving the cell floors ankle-deep in water.
The opposition leader Roy Bennett reports that in Mutare Remand Prison rations had been cut to one meal from three, and that many inmates suffer from pellagra, a severe vitamin deficiency that was common in Soviet labor camps. Without outside food or medicine, Mr. Godwin writes, “the average inmate is dead within a year.”
One of the most haunting stories in this volume is that of Chenjerai Mangezo, who was nearly beaten to death after winning as a movement candidate for a rural district council. Though his body was completely immobilized in plaster, Mr. Godwin says, Mr. Mangezo insisted on attending the swearing-in ceremony, and he was driven there lying on foam mattresses heaped in the back of a pickup truck. He has continued to attend council meetings, sitting alongside some of the very Mugabe supporters who oversaw his beating.
What, besides courage, has enabled Mr. Mangezo to sit there with his persecutors? “Is it fatalism, a quality that Westerners see in Africans?” Mr. Godwin asks. “Westerners often mistake African endurance, and the lack of self-pity, for fatalism. No, I think the other quality in Chenjerai Mangezo is patience, a dogged tenacity. He hasn’t given up on getting justice. But he will wait for it.”
“People like Chenjerai,” he goes on, “are the real asine mabvi — the men without knees. Not only were his legs covered by plaster casts for months, but he has refused to kneel, refused to prostrate himself before the dictatorship, whatever the consequences.”
@ The New York Times
@ The New York Times