David Headley, one of the most infamous terrorists in the world and the man behind the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, was not a good jihadi. In fact, he probably turned to the cause not out of a sense of duty but due to boredom. Author and journalist Hussain S Zaidi, who was in the city promoting his book, Headley and I, said that more than anything else, Headley’s own relationship with his father dictated his decisions.
The book that gives the perspective of both Bhatt and Headley, the son of Bollywood’s prominent director, Mahesh Bhatt, who—not knowing Headley’s true identity—shared a close friendship with him.
“This book is more about the complicated relationships that both Rahul Bhatt and David Headley shared with their respective fathers and how that, in turn, affected Bhatt’s own relationship with Headley. It is about how an absentee father can be detrimental to his son,” said Zaidi.
In fact, it was that what drew Headley to terrorism. “Headley is an unlikely jihad because he is just a contradiction. If you are a jihadi then you have to believe in the cause and really believe that you are united with God, but this was a man who liked his wine and was a womaniser. This was like a picnic to him. He was just bored with life,” he added.
To understand the psyche of Headley and his friendship with Rahul Bhatt, Zaidi said he did extensive research, going through court documents, speaking to CIA agents involved in the case and got FBI documents as well.
Zaidi said that he was unimpressed with how India has dealt with terrorism so far. “India does not do nearly enough to curb terrorism. There is almost a feeling like the country is inviting terrorists to attack because they are not aggressive enough. In Israel and America, the situation is completely different. If you touch them with a feather, they come at you with bombs. When someone slaps us on the cheek, we actually really do turn the other cheek!” he said.
He was also critical of Afzal Guru’s hanging and the way it was conducted. “When you delay such an act, you end up giving hope to certain communities,” he said.