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Monday, Aug. 25, 2008 at 4:34 PM
People may recall the curious case of Michael Meiring, who in 2002 was found to have had a bomb in his hotel room in Mindanao Philippines. It blew up and he was sent to hospital before being spirited away by the FBI.
Now meet Kenneth Haywood
First Meet Michael Meiring:
FAQs about Kenneth Haywood
Saturday, August 23, 2008 23:00 IST
When the name of Kenneth Haywood emerged soon after the Ahmedabad blasts, no one knew what to make of it. A mail warning of the bomb blasts had been sent using the IP address of Haywood. Why should an American, based in Sanpada in Navi Mumbai be in any way connected with an act of terror in a far away place? It didn’t make sense.
The crack investigating team soon established the following facts — 1) Haywood’s computer had been hacked into and used to send the mail; 2) He worked for a technology company. This didn’t help much, till other facts began to emerge: Haywood’s company was a smallish affair that apparently helped local BPOs improve their staff’s English language skills and he himself was also a lay pastor linked to a small evangelist Christian organisation.
Armed with this basic information, the investigators conducted all manner of tests on him and though they found nothing incriminating, were planning to conduct the dreaded brain-mapping test. To be on the safe side, they issued a ‘look out’ notice for him, which meant that he would not be allowed to leave the country without the police’s say so. But one day, while no one was looking, Haywood packed his bags and along with his family left India, leaving behind his furnished apartment and his deposit.
This has made what was a routine investigation into a mystery. But the media is no longer interested and Haywood has told journalists in the US he doesn’t want to comment, so the story has disappeared from the radar.
But it shouldn’t. Even if he is entirely innocent, a sudden disappearance always raises questions; morever, in this case, the state’s Anti-Terrorist Squad is admitting that it has been completely taken by surprise. Beyond that nobody wants to say anything. So all we are left with is conjecture and questions, some of which are:
1.Who was Kenneth Haywood?
This one is easy to answer on the face of it. But there could be more in it. His church links could provide a hint. There are many such organisations working in India, mainly to preach and perhaps to proselytise. None of this is illegal, but in the present climate against active conversions, such outfits tend to keep a low profile. Besides, there is also the question of what his legal status in India was. If he got a residence permit on the basis of working for a tech company and was doing something else, then it may require further investigations.
2.Could he possibly be something more sinister, say a spy?
Intelligence agents do not all look like James Bond — they in fact tend to be everyday, ordinary people who merge with society. This helps them study people closely and also pick up information. By that token Haywood could fit this description. But then he is known to have kept to himself and his kids did not even go to school, preferring to study at home. This means he did not wanted to mix with anybody, which makes him a strange kind of spy.
3. How did he escape?
This one is tricky. The simple explanation is that he just went out, bought tickets, went to the airport and got on to a plane to go home. But, and there are a lot of buts, wasn’t he being watched? Who did he buy tickets from? And the most important one of all did his name not flash in the immigration counter computer? The excuse that his name was not physically ‘fed’ into the system because of a stupid clerical error is hard to swallow.
So was he helped by someone important or was there any pressure from the US government? The US embassy, aware that this is being speculated, issued a statement denying it was involved in any way. This lets all kinds of conspiracy theories do the rounds.
4. Can he be brought back?
His local friends say he will return soon, but that has not been independently confirmed. Legally, India has no case to pursue, because he is not a fugitive. In any case, the local cops have obligingly said he is innocent. But investigators usually like to seek closure for all their cases and this string will be left dangling. Besides, doesn’t he want his deposit back?
5. Any other possibilities?
There are many — he was somehow connected to the attacks is the obvious one, but it looks highly implausible. Another is that Haywood was worried about his church work opening up other line of inquiries. But there is a third, somewhat tantalising possibility-that someone associated with the Ahmedabad terror attacks hacked into his computer and ‘outed’ him. Why would anyone choose the computer of an American, living in a skyscraper far away from the scene of the blasts to send an email?
All these remain theories and speculation. Our investigators have not shown any great success in apprehending terrorists so there is nothing to suggest that they will find out the whole truth about Haywood. Or they might know but are in no position to talk about it. As for the media, it has already moved on to our Olympic stars. The Haywood case will remain one of those perpetual mysteries, unless he decides to talk or write a book, which he has promised to do soon.
Ken Haywood’s exit facilitated by US Embassy: Reports
Ahmedabad, Aug 19: A day after US national Ken Haywood fled India, even after a lookout notice against him; reports now suggest that his exit was facilitated by the US Embassy in Delhi. Meanwhile, US Embassy have denied any such involvement in Haywood's exit.
Sources claimed on Tuesday that US Embassy officials had closed a door meeting with Intelligence officials following which Haywood’s exit became a reality. However, there are also reports that Haywood has assured that he would be ready to join the investigations at a later stage of the probe if required.
He left by Jet Airways flight JW-230 to New York via Brussels on Sunday. Haywood was not stopped from boarding the flight to US as he had appropriate documents. The glaring question remained that why his passport was not seized after his name figured in the investigations.
The Mumbai ATS, which was investigating his any possible role in the blasts threat mail that was sent from an email account IP address traced to Haywood's wi-fi computer connection, at his residence in Navi Mumbai, are also under the scanner as to how could he simple slip away when the investigations into the Ahmedabad blast are far from over.
Moreover, ATS is also under scanner as Haywood had planned his trip well in advance yet the premiere investigating agency was unaware of his moves. Haywood had reportedly left Mumbai for Delhi soon after the press conference of Ahmedabad Police - who claimed to have cracked the case.
When asked to comment on Haywood fleeing the country, the red-faced ATS only said that their efforts at contacting Haywood were not fruitful for the last 2-3 days. There is a meeting in Mumbai where top police officers are mulling over the incident.
Haywood underwent a lie-detector and brain-mapping test along with eight others from Navi Mumbai, including some residents of Sanpada’s Gunina building, on August 14.
Haywood had said his computer could have been hacked and volunteered for the advanced tests when informed about it, the ATS added.
He had earlier alleged that an ATS officer had asked for bribe to let him go scot free in the case.
However, the ATS is awaiting the examination report of the Internet router and the final reports on both (the computers and router) is expected to be ready in the next few days. In the email sent to media organisations minutes before the synchronised terror attacks in Ahmedabad, an outfit calling itself the Indian Mujahideen had warned: "The Indian Mujahideen strike again! Do whatever you can, within five minutes from now, feel the terror of death!"
Haywood works as a general manager with the Navi Mumbai operations of a US-based company, Campbell White, which also has a branch in Bangalore. He has been posted to India for a four-year period of which Haywood, a specialist in executive soft skills, has completed a year. He has also been pastor at a church in Arizona, US.
Was his computer 'hacked'?
'Haywood's computer may not have been hacked: Police
August 11, 2008 22:03 IST
Investigations into the threatening email sent prior to the Ahmedabad [Images] serial blasts have revealed that it is unlikely someone hacked into the suspected American national's computer to send the message, police said on Monday.
"We asked some private consultants regarding the email and the general opinion was that it is unlikely that Ken Haywood's computer was hacked to send the message," Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Hemant Karkare said.
The use of the unsecured wireless Internet router at the American national's residence is suspected to have been used to send the email, he said.
The IP (internet protocol) address from which the email was sent to some media channels a few minutes prior to the Ahmedabad blasts was traced to the residence of Haywood, an American national residing in Navi Mumbai.
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