- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 8, 2010

HIGHEST LEVELS

The U.S. ambassador to India is promising authorities in New Delhi that the White House is reviewing their request to question a Pakistani-American man who pleaded guilty to helping terrorists attack the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008.

“This is an issue that is being taken up at the highest levels of the U.S. government day and night constantly,” Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer told reporters after meeting earlier this week with Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram.

India has been trying to question David Coleman Headley since he confessed in March to his role in helping plan the attacks of Nov. 26, 2008, that killed 173 people and wounded more than 300 in at least 10 coordinated assaults on the port city of 14 million on India’s west coast.

However, Headley, born Daood Sayhed Gilani, entered into a plea agreement with the FBI that prevents him from being extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark. He confessed to scouting locations in Mumbai for attacks by the Pakistani-based terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. In addition to Mumbai, Headley scouted the Copenhagen office of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which enraged many Muslims by printing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2006.

Mr. Roemer added that he understands India’s desire to question Headley, especially because he served on the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

“As a former commissioner of the 9/11 probe, somebody who has experienced loss of life, … we emphasized here in Mumbai with the Indian people the tragic loss of life here, and we want to make sure that justice is brought forward to all of those involved in that kind of attack,” he said.

“It is in both the government of India’s and the government of the U.S.’s interests to work together to protect the common people from attacks wherever they may come from.”

NUCLEAR TALK

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told foreign ambassadors this week that their governments have a responsibility to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists and to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

“Nonproliferation is one of our highest priorities, and it will be something we continue to talk with each of you about; and we welcome your ideas,” she told the ambassadors gathered in the ceremonial Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department.

“This is an area where — whatever differences may exist between and among countries — any authority in any country must stand against the threat of nuclear terrorism fomented by extremist networks who have no conscience and no concern for life and for the kind of future that we all hope for our children and generations to come.”

Mrs. Clinton noted that President Obama has tried for 15 months to reset relations with Iran, to “reach out” and “have a normal engagement.”

“That outreach has not been reciprocated,” she said. “So it is clearly a very high national and international priority for the international community to come together to make it clear that Iran is not entitled to nuclear weapons.”

‘CULTURE OF IMPUNITY’

Nigeria’s failure to prosecute religious extremists responsible for thousands of slayings is fueling sectarian violence and creating a “culture of impunity” in the West African nation, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

“No perpetrator of sectarian violence has been convicted for their crimes in this violence, creating a culture of impunity,” the commission said as it welcomed the creation this week of the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission.

More than 12,000 people have been killed in religious attacks since 1998 in the nation of 148 million, about evenly divided between Muslims and Christians.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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