As reported in:
December 7th, 2009
Chicago Suspect Linked to Mumbai Attacks
By CAM SIMPSON
WASHINGTON -- A U.S. citizen from Chicago played a leading role in planning the terrorist assault that killed 170 in Mumbai last year, even changing his name to ease five reconnaissance missions to videotape and photograph what would become the bloodiest target zones, U.S. authorities alleged Monday.
The charges against David Headley, the son of a Pakistani diplomat and an American mother raised in the U.S., reveal perhaps the most significant role played a U.S. citizen in a major terrorist operation. They also provide fresh insight into the global reach and sophistication of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terror group responsible for the assault.
The group trained Mr. Headley in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003, then "activated" him in late 2005, including asking him to change his name from Daood Gilani in order to facilitate his travel into India, authorities said. Mr. Headley, who is 49 years old, is cooperating with federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to U.S. officials and his own attorney.
Officials briefed on the case said U.S. and Pakistani officials are tracking fresh leads through his cooperation. There have been least five arrests in Pakistan as a result of information Mr. Headley provided, these officials said.
Mr. Headley is accused of conducting surveillance of the key Mumbai targets: the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, the Leopold Café, a Jewish outreach center, and the bustling train station where more than 50 people were believed killed, authorities said. He took an April 2008 boat trip around Mumbai's harbor where the terrorists would later land to stage their attacks, so he could shoot surveillance video, according to U.S. officials.
The detailed planning behind the two-day assault in November 2008 by a team of well-armed terrorist commandos added to the ferocity of the attacks. Mr. Headley is charged with conspiracy to murder and maim in a foreign country and for providing material support to a terrorist group.
Mr. Headley worked closely with terrorist leaders in Pakistan, authorities say, visiting them after each of his five Mumbai surveillance missions. They were conducted between September 2006 and July 2008. He handed over fresh intelligence to Lashkar-e-Taiba on each trip.
His work for the group the trips were facilitated by a business he established as a cover in Mumbai called First World Immigration Services.
Mr. Headley was charged in October with planning an armed assault on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. New details in that case, also made public Monday, show similar sophistication and tactics, and appear to show how active the terror group is becoming on an international level.