Amer­i­can charged in Mum­bai mas­sacre plot

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security - BY BEN CONERY

An Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen trav­eled to Mum­bai mul­ti­ple times in re­cent years to scout po­ten­tial tar­gets and en­try points for the 10 Is­lamist guer­ril­las who killed 166 peo­ple last year dur­ing a sev­er­al­day ter­ror­ist at­tack, fed­eral au­thor­i­ties said Dec. 7.

David Cole­man Headley, who al­ready stood ac­cused of plot­ting to at­tack the Dan­ish news­pa­per that pub­lished the no­to­ri­ous Muham­mad car­toons, is the first Amer­i­can charged in the Mum­bai at­tacks.

Au­thor­i­ties with the Jus­tice Depart­ment say Mr. Headley, who is co­op­er­at­ing with coun­tert­er­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tors, ad­mit­ted to tak­ing part in the Mum­bai plot.

Mr. Headley, 49, was charged Dec. 7 in fed­eral court in Chicago with con­spir­acy to bomb places of pub­lic use in In­dia, con­spir­acy to mur­der and maim in In­dia, and mur­der in the deaths of six U.S. na­tion­als in In­dia.

The charges were filed in a doc­u­ment known as a crim­i­nal in­for­ma­tion, which typ­i­cally sig­nals that a de­fen­dant plans to plead guilty. Mr. Headley is be­ing held in fed­eral prison in Illi­nois.

The six Amer­i­cans — Ben Zion Chro­man; Gavriel Holtzberg; San­deep Jeswani; Alan Scherr; his daugh­ter, Naomi Scherr; and Aryeh Leibish Teit­el­baum — were killed by mem­bers of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Is­lamist group that aims to ex­pel In­dia from the dis­puted state of Jammu and Kash­mir.

Au­thor­i­ties said the group called on Mr. Headley in 2005 to help plot the at­tack.

Mr. Headley, a U.S.-born Mus­lim of Pak­istani de­scent, was named Daood Gi­lani at the time, au­thor­i­ties said. But he changed his name so that he could travel to In­dia and ap­pear to be an Amer­i­can with no re­la­tion­ship ei­ther to Is­lam or to Pak­istan.

Dur­ing mul­ti­ple trips to Mum­bai be­tween 2006 and 2008, au­thor­i­ties said, Mr. Headley took pho­to­graphs and recorded video of the Taj Ma­hal ho­tel, the Oberoi ho­tel, and other lo­ca­tions in the city that ul­ti­mately be­came the tar­gets of ma­chine-gun and gre­nade at­tacks.

Au­thor­i­ties said Mr. Headley also took boat trips and recorded video around Mum­bai har­bor, which ul­ti­mately served as the launch­ing site for the at­tack.

Mr. Headley trav­eled to Pak­istan af­ter his trips to In­dia to meet other mem­bers of Lashkare-Taiba and give them the im­ages he had taken and de­scribe the var­i­ous lo­ca­tions he had scouted. Au­thor­i­ties said Mr. Headley’s re­la­tion­ship with the ter­ror­ist group be­gan sev­eral years ear­lier and that he had at­tended mul­ti­ple train­ing camps in Pak­istan beginning in 2002.

The 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba guer­ril­las were all from Pak­istan; nine were killed by In­dian com­man­dos, and one was cap­tured alive.

Mr. Headley re­turned to In­dia ear­lier this year to scout for fu­ture pos­si­ble tar­gets, in­clud­ing the Na­tional De­fense Col­lege in Delhi, au­thor­i­ties said.

Each time he re­turned to In­dia, au­thor­i­ties said, Mr. Headley used the same cover story: He was looking for new lo­ca­tions for First World Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices, an Amer­i­can im­mi­gra­tion-ser­vices com­pany.

Au­thor­i­ties said Mr. Headley used the same cover story when he trav­eled to Den­mark as part of the plot to at­tack the news­pa­per, Jyl­lands-Posten, which pub­lished a dozen car­toons in 2005 that many Mus­lims found of­fen­sive, in­clud­ing one in which the Is­lamic prophet Muham­mad has a bomb nes­tled in the tur­ban on his head.

The owner of the im­mi­gra­tion busi­ness, Ta­hawwur Hus­sain Rana, a 48-year-old Pak­istani na­tional and Cana­dian ci­ti­zen, also has been charged in that plot, which in­ves­ti­ga­tors said the con­spir­a­tors dubbed “The Mickey Mouse Project.”

Mr. Headley was ap­pre­hended Oct. 3 at Chicago’s O’Hare In­ter­na­tional Air­port be­fore board­ing a flight to Philadel­phia. Au­thor­i­ties say his fi­nal des­ti­na­tion was Pak­istan.

In his lug­gage, in­ves­ti­ga­tors say they found a phone num­ber for Ab­dur Rehman Hashim Syed, a re­tired ma­jor in the Pak­istani army who is a mem­ber of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Au­thor­i­ties say he was in­volved in plot­ting the at­tack against the news­pa­per.

Mr. Syed was in­dicted Dec. 7 in U.S. court on charges of con­spir­acy to mur­der and maim per­sons in a for­eign coun­try, and pro­vid­ing ma­te­rial sup­port to a for­eign ter­ror­ism con­spir­acy.

Mr. Syed is not in cus­tody and is thought to be liv­ing in Pak­istan. The in­dict­ment says he had been ar­rested by Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties last sum­mer, but was later re­leased. The in­dict­ment does not de­scribe the de­tails of his ar­rest or release.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Dan­ish car­toon­ist Kurt Wester­gaard sits in the offices of Dan­ish news­pa­per Jyl­land­sPosten, which pub­lished car­toons that out­raged many Mus­lims. The news­pa­per of­fice is said to have been tar­geted by a pur­por ted Mum­bai mas­sacre plot­ter.

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