Pak PM Gilani's PRO Admits Headley Is His Half-Brother

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's public relations officer on Saturday acknowledged that David Coleman Headley, a terror suspect detained in the US, is his half-brother but dismissed as incorrect reports that his family is
pak pm gilani s pro admits headley is his half...
PTI November 28, 2009 23:18 IST

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's public relations officer on Saturday acknowledged that David Coleman Headley, a terror suspect detained in the US, is his half-brother but dismissed as incorrect reports that his family is related to the premier. 

Public relations officer Danyal Gilani said in a statement that Indian media reports "trying to establish a relationship between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the family of detained US terror suspect and my half-brother, Daood Gilani alias David Coleman Headley, is "incorrect, misplaced and totally baseless".

The report is based on speculation and is intended to create "unnecessary hype", Danyal Gilani said.  He said his ancestors migrated to Pakistan from Jastarwal in India's Punjab state and Etawah in Uttar Pradesh while the premier's family has been living in Multan "for centuries" and the two families "have no relationship with each other".

Danyal Gilani also acknowledged that the Prime Minister had issued a condolence message on his father Syed Saleem Gilani's death in December last year and visited his house to offer condolences.

"This he did out of courtesy because I was working as his PRO and also because my father was a renowned broadcaster and a known personality of his time. At that time Daood (Gilani) was not in Pakistan," he said.

Danyal Gilani said he had been working as the PRO to the premier since 2005, when the post was held by Shaukat Aziz, and did not join after the current Pakistan People's Party-led government took over.

He also offered some details about his half-brother Daood, saying, "His having another name or changing his name at some stage in life has come as a surprise to me."

He said he had "very little contact" with Daood since 2002, when he began living in Islamabad after passing the Civil Service examination.

"I last met Daood when he visited Pakistan a few days after my father's death nearly a year ago," he added.  He said Daood was born in 1960 in Washington, where his father was working with the Voice of America and had married an American woman.

"Soon after Daood's birth the tenure of my father's posting ended and the couple shifted to Pakistan. In the late 1960s my father and Daood s mother got divorced, and according to family elders, she went back to the US," he said.

Times of India had reported on Saturday that  David Headley alias Daood Gilani  was the brother of Danyal Gilani, some say step-brother, who is the PRO in the office of Pakistan PM.  

A clue to that came from the report, based on information from FBI, in New York Times. The paper said that Headley was born in Washington DC where his father Syed Salim Gilani was working for the Pakistan embassy. It described Gilani Sr as an avid musicologist and poet.

As it happens, the name of Danyal's father too was Syed Salim Gilani. Gilani Sr was an official belonging to the Pakistan counterpart of the Indian Information Service who rose to be the Director General of Radio Pakistan. Reports in Pakistan media after his death described him as a man who took great interest in music and poetry. The condolence message issued by Pakistan PM Yousuf Raza Gilani mentioned his interests and accomplishments that tallied with the profile of Gilani sketched by FBI for the American paper.

In fact, going by the tradition in the sub-continent where PROs to PM are political appointees who are handpicked for their family and political ties, some suspect that Danyal and, in turn Headley, could very well be related to Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza himself.

According to an agency report, he hailed from an influential political family from Multan, who were descendants of Syed Musa Pak, a spiritual figure of Qadri Sufism order which traces its origins to Gilan province of Iran.

Gilani's marriage with Philadelphia-based Serrill broke down when they came to Lahore to settle down. In 1977, Pakistan's government was overthrown in a military coup and Serrill feared for her children. She withdrew Headley from Hasan Abdal Cadet College and brought him to the US to live with her. Headley and Rana were arrested by the FBI last month from Chicago for allegedly plotting to carry out terror strikes in Denmark and India.

The indications of Headley being related to Danyal and Pakistan PM came at a time when a question of his being possibly used as a US undercover agent left many here to dig out more about him.

The suspicion of his being an American undercover agent stemmed from a number of reasons - his history as an undercover agent working for American drug-enforcement agencies and that he could travel between US and Pakistan without attracting suspicion even when he had a controversial past.

The fact that he was present in India when FBI issued a very crucial specific warning against the attack that LeT had planned for September last year has strengthened the doubts about Headley being a "double agent". PTI

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