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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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How could David be a terrorist?

Memories... Memories are the stuff of life. Man is memory after all. When I look within, I find that I don’t have memories of me with my son. A flourishing career, a second marriage, my quest for truth, all perhaps contributed in a way to clutter my life up, and leave me less and less time to spend with my son… Though I always continued to be a provider in every way, and a parental figure who stood by him through thick and thin, I guess the small things were overlooked. I was not able to give him the time of day when it came to the everyday things, the mundane, the “normal” time that father and son get to spend with each other…

And then one day fate intervened to give me what I wanted. In fact, it seemed like the entire universe, no less, had conspired to give me a very bizarre chance to realise this desire! “I think this David Headley that the intelligence agencies are talking about is the guy I got to know through my fitness buddy Vilas Warak. I am certain that the Rahul they keep referring to is me,” said my son to me over the phone. It was just another day, but with that the curtains to one of the most trying phases of my life opened. For the world, it was entertainment. For me, it was nothing short of a catastrophe.

“What should I do? Pooja and Mummy are saying that I should seek your advice and go to the police. What should I do, Pops?” he asked, trying to sound normal, but I could hear the dread in his voice.

It was bizarre. Of all the cities in the world, it seemed that a terrorist called David Headley had picked this one. And then, on top of that, of all the millions of people in this teeming metropolis, he had chosen my son to befriend! I was in possibly the biggest dilemma of my life... Don’t we train our children to seek out safety, to be wary of strangers, to fasten their seat belts, and to look all over the place before crossing the road?

Mahesh Bhatt, in the Foreward to the book

***

As I heaved the 250-pound weight off my shoulder, the tiger on my back expanded its maw and roared. I slowly raised the weight, my eyes on the feral animal in the mirror behind me. The roar faded as I brought the weight back down. It rose again in fury as I lifted the weight, in tandem with my own screaming muscles. As I held up the weight, sweat trickled down my arms and over its feline face, which was distorted by the silent but angry roar.

I saw people in the gym looking at me curiously, watching the magnificent tiger on my back. The tattoo was very well done, and it gave me grim satisfaction to know that it expressed my feelings at that moment perfectly...

But how could I have known? David, a terrorist? A laughable thought. How could David be a terrorist? A Pakistani terrorist? No way in hell, not the David I knew. There had to be some explanation. But no, everything pointed to that. However much I tried, I simply couldn’t ignore the facts, couldn’t ignore the hard evidence. How ironic that he was the one who taught me never to do that. David Coleman Headley. The man I trusted with my life, who meant the world to me — a terrorist. Daood Gilani…

Before they came for me, I had to do something. Damn. I could tell my mother, but I knew what she would say. I knew we would have to bring Mr Mahesh Bhatt, my so-called father, into the picture.

Damn, damn, damn!

“He is your father, Rahul. He must know. If there is anyone in the world who can help you now, it is your father. Regardless of what you think of him, he is the only one who can save you.”

I realised she was right. I knew that I would have to call him sooner or later. But I hated it. I hated having to call Mahesh Bhatt.

Why did God always throw me at the mercy of the man whom I hated the most in this world?

Rahul Bhatt

***

My name is Daood Gilani. Although everyone here knows me as David Coleman Headley, I acquired this name later, because it suited me and helped me in what I was doing. But I was born Daood Gilani, and that is the person I have always been.

I was born in Washington DC on 30 June 1960. My father, Sayed Salim Gilani, was a Pakistani diplomat and had been posted, at various times, in various parts of the country. His last posting was with the Voice of America in Washington. My father was not a hard man, but he believed in discipline and morality and had a strong sense of what was right and what wasn’t.

My mother is Serrill Headley. She is from Maryland, and is an extraordinarily resourceful person. She is the daughter of L. Coleman Headley, a former football star. Mom was working as a secretary at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, where my father was a diplomat and her boss. That’s where they met, fell in love, and got married. But ours was not an idyllic family. Far from it. My parents slowly became disillusioned with each other, and finally, in 1966, they filed for divorce. My father then remarried, and Syeda Begum became my mother...

I have been married four times myself. My first wife was a Canadian national and we were married in 1985. We soon divorced as we couldn’t get along due to cultural differences. I married a Pakistani woman next. Shazia Gilani is my second wife… My third marriage was to my girlfriend of eight years — I married her in New York. Finally, I married Faiza. I don’t see any reason why any of them should be dragged into this affair.

***

Shazia was an exemplary woman. She gave me two sons, Hyder and Osama, and two daughters, Somaiya and Hafsa. Yes, I did name my son Osama. You may ask why, and the answer is simple. Amir Osama bin Laden is my hero. He always was and always will be, both for the person he was and for what he accomplished. Naturally, I named my son Osama. It certainly didn’t surprise any of my handlers. Oh, yes, I didn’t have just one handler, I had three: one from the LeT, one from the ISI and one from the Pakistan Army.

Now, I have no idea how much you people know, but I can tell you that if you are concentrating all your efforts on the LeT, you will be wasting your time. Although the LeT is the most visible jehadi group, there are many others, of whom three are the most prominent. Actually, they all conform to the LeT in one way or another; they are all arteries of the mother group Lashkar…