December 7, 2009 - 12:59 PM | by: Mike Levine
A Chicago man who was arrested in October for allegedly planning terrorist attacks against a Danish newspaper has now been charged for his alleged role in the Mumbai terrorist attacks that happened a year earlier, in November 2008, and claimed the lives of nearly 170 people.
David Coleman Headley, 49,(Daood Gilani) was charged in a 12-count criminal information with six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places in India, to murder and maim people in India and Denmark, to provide material support to foreign terrorist plots and another offenses.
This latest development comes after federal prosecutors said months ago that Headley attended terrorist training camps in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003, and that he planned with the group Lashkar e Tayyiba to attack the Danish newspaper for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, which offended many Muslims.
The planned attacks in Denmark never materialized.
Now Headley is also accused of helping Lashkar plan the Mumbai attacks, when 10 men used guns, grenades and others explosives to siege several targets in India's largest city, including the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels. The attack lasted three days and claimed 166 lives.
Six Americans were killed in the November 2008 attack.
"This case serves as a reminder that the terrorist threat is global in nature and requires constant vigilance at home and abroad," David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said in a statement today.
According to federal officials, in 2005 members of Lashkar directed Headley to go to India to perform surveillance of targets there. At the time, Headley's name was Daood Gilani, but the next year he changed his name to David Headley, so he could "present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani," according to authorities.
During five trips to India between September 2006 and July 2008, Headley took photos and made videotapes of various targets, including those attacked in the November 2008 attacks, authorities said.
After each trip, Headley would go to Pakistan to meet with others and hand over the photographs, videos and any other information he collected in India, authorities said.
In March 2008, according to authorities, Headley and others discussed potential landing sites for a team of attackers who would arrive by sea in Mumbai, as was the case when the attacks were actually carried out.
Authorities only first learned of Headley's connection to the Mumbai attacks after he was arrested a few months ago for his alleged role in the Danish newspaper plot, one U.S. official said.
In a criminal information filed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago, federal prosecutors charged Headley with Conspiracy to Bomb Places of Public Use in India, Conspiracy to Murder and Maim in India, and six counts of Murder of U.S. Nationals in India, among other terror-related charges.
Criminal informations are often used when defendants are cooperating with authorities and plan to plead guilty.
The Justice Department said Headley is helping with investigations into the Mumbai attacks and the Danish newspaper plot.
Headley has been in federal custody since his arrest on Oct. 3. An arraignment for the charges announced today has not been set.
Headley's father was a Pakistani diplomat, and his mother was from Philadelphia. The family temporarily lived in Pakistan, before Headley and his mother returned to Philadelphia, where Headley ran a restaurant for some time.
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